BAILEYVILLE, Maine, Nov. 9, 2023 –Woodland Pulp workers, members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 1490 (District 4), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 330-3 and Millwrights Local 1121 have become the first striking workers in Maine to be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Approximately 22 Machinists Union members, along with 20 Millwrights and 38 oilers and steam and water plant operators from SEIU Local 330-3 and Millwrights Local 1121, at a northern Maine wood pulp facility have been on strike since Saturday, October 14. This united front of dedicated union workers at the Woodland Pulp facility is taking a stand for their job security, seeking a fair contract that safeguards their core trades.
“The solidarity displayed by our members sends a powerful message,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “Paying unemployment benefits to strikers helps to level the playing field between workers and employers. They are standing up for themselves and the entire community that relies on the stability provided by strong union jobs at Woodland Pulp. On behalf of all striking workers in Maine, the IAM would like to express our sincere gratitude to Maine Gov. Janet T. Mills and Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman for their unwavering commitment to securing unemployment benefits for us.”
A bipartisan group of 50 Maine Legislators — including Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc) and Assistant Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Cumberland) — have signed a letter urging Woodland Pulp in Baileyville to settle a fair contract with its union employees who have been on strike since mid-October.
“The overwhelming community support for this strike is a testament to their unwavering dedication to preserving their jobs and the well-being of their community,” said IAM District 4 Business Representative Danny Loudermilk. “We are proud to kick down the door and make history by being the first workers on strike eligible to receive unemployment benefits. This is about more than just a contract; it’s about securing a future for our members and the generations to come.”
Woodland Pulp workers continue to express concern over the company’s proposal, which threatens job security by introducing a new job classification aimed at replacing millwrights, pipefitters, machinists, and auto mechanic positions. The workers remain resolute in their demand for a fair and just resolution that upholds their rights and ensures the continued prosperity of Woodland Pulp and its workforce.
This achievement underscores the strength of our solidarity and sends a powerful message about the importance of job security,” said IAM Woodworkers Director Robert D. Walls. “We are determined to negotiate a fair contract that safeguards our livelihoods and the integrity of our trades. This is a historic moment, and we appreciate the bipartisan group of 50 Maine Legislators who have voiced their support.”
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America and represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members in the manufacturing, aerospace, defense, airlines, transportation, shipbuilding, woodworking, health care, and other industries.