Truckers, loggers strike at J.D. Irving mill

PORTAGE LAKE, Me. — Maine Truckers and loggers contracted to Canadian forestry and transportation giant J.D. Irving formed a collective association and shut down operations yesterday in an attempt to get higher rates from their employer.

The labour conflict began after truckers refused to sign a new contract with J.D. Irving’s Maine Woodlands operation after it had expired on Dec. 31, citing the contract’s new rates didn’t cover rising costs. The loggers, who usually negotiate their contracts in the spring, also agreed to stop work in solidarity with the truckers. Contractors from both camps voted 47-3 last week to form the International Loggers Association before parking their equipment.

Irving Woodlands manager Chuck Gadzik told the Associated Press it has offered a10 per cent increase in logging rates, a 12 per cent raise in off-highway trucking rates and a seven per cent in highway trucking rates. However the truckers have said they are seeking increases of 25 to 30 per cent, plus fuel surcharges.

An ongoing strike is expected to cause hardship on wood deliveries to Maine pulp and paper mills. Gadzik would not speculate on the impact at Irving’s lumber mills in Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.

The owner-operators also went on strike three years ago against Irving, staying off the job for a week before returning to work with a renegotiated contract.

J.D. Irving is the parent company of Dieppe, N.B.-based Midland Transport, Sunbury Transport in Fredericton, and liquid and dry bulk carrier RST Industries.

— Via Associated Press

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