Workers at UPM Blandin Paper on strike

The 166 members of Teamsters Local 346 working at UPM Blandin Paper in Grand Rapids voted on Friday to strike. Union officials telling WDIO News that the strike will go into effect starting at 6:00 am on Saturday July 15th.

According to Teamster leaders, there are several open issues, but the major issues are insufficient wages, an unfair 2-tier economic and benefit system in place for newer employees, staffing levels, and supervision performing their work. 

We also spoke with Teamsters Local 346 President Jeff Oveson. He said union members and their families will end the strike when there is a satisfactory offer made by management and accepted by members.

“It’s as simple as that,” Oveson said, adding “We have offered to sit in bargaining with the employer any time of any day, starting right now. We do have some time scheduled with them in August, but they had no other time available before then, which frustrated our members that they couldn’t meet earlier, so they chose to take this action.”

The current employment contract ended on July 1st.

Blandin sent a statement which reads: “Hourly workers at UPM Blandin Paper authorized a strike on Friday, July 14.  Following this authorization, the strike commenced at 6 am on Saturday, July 15.  As a result, production at the mill will cease for the time being.

The Company has confirmed that negotiations will resume with the Teamster Local 346 membership on Tuesday, July 18th.  We remain hopeful that we can move forward and reach an agreement.