Campbell River city council will be taking an urgent message to the annual Truck Loggers Association convention when three council representatives attend the event this week.
“We’ll be speaking out at every opportunity about the devastating effects on Campbell River of the prolonged labour dispute between Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers, and the urgent need to resume talks,” says Mayor Andy Adams.
“Thousands of people in Vancouver Island communities are severely affected by this strike,” Adams says. “The need to continue to negotiate will be first and foremost on our mind when we meet with forestry representatives at the convention. As the urban hub for the forest industry and north island communities, we see the struggles of families and businesses in our community and in our region because of the unacceptable length of this dispute.”
In November, Campbell River City Council sent a letter to both Western Forest Products and the United Steelworkers, copying the Province, emphasizing the urgent need to return to the bargaining table in good faith.
And it can’t be said that Campbell River city council isn’t putting its money where its mouth is in terms of supporting those struggling in the forest industry, as it donated $20,000 in December to the Loonies for Loggers campaign in recognition of the far-reaching effects of the strike that began in July.
“We wrote that (November) letter in consultation with many Vancouver Island mayors who are advocating for talks to resume,” the Mayor says. “We will be reinforcing this message at every opportunity, and urging the province that this dispute needs to be resolved – and to do everything they can to help get people back to work.”
One of those other mayors has been taking some heat recently for her stance on the issue.
Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom has been vocal on social media about the disastrous effect the strike has had on her town, prompting a response from United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, which says municipalities are “assisting either wittingly or unwittingly a select number of logging contractors, who continue to beat drum for WFP in an effort to undermine workers’ rights.”
Wickstrom, for her part, responded to the USW press release by saying, in part, “We will continue to advocate for our community members, we will continue to put pressure on, and we mean no disrespect to the members that are currently on strike — if that’s what they want to do that’s fine, all we want is a resolution so that our communities can survive and thrive, that’s all we are asking for.”
Mayor Adams and Councillors Charlie Cornfield and Kermit Dahl will represent Campbell River at the upcoming Truck Loggers Association convention, which runs Jan. 15 to 17 in Vancouver.