Fraser aims to heal pain of workers

MADAWASKA, Maine — Having just completed a painful contract negotiation with its largest American union, Fraser Papers Inc. now will work to heal divisions within the local paper mill and to finish the company’s emergence from bankruptcy protection, its chief contract negotiator said Tuesday.

“We are pleased that the agreement is ratified,” said Bill Peterson, Fraser’s human resources director. “We know it was difficult for people and it is one giant step that had to occur in order for [a new company] to be born, or to emerge into existence.

“We are obviously closer to the finish line today than we were yesterday,” Peterson said Tuesday.

About 65 percent of the 460 members of United Steelworkers Locals 291, 365 and 1247 approved a new three-year deal Monday that put into effect an immediate 8.5 percent wage cut. Union votes on Nov. 22 and Dec. 30 had rejected the contract overwhelmingly.

Management declared last week that the new deal is among three conditions the re-formed, post-bankruptcy Fraser company, temporarily called Newco, must meet to prevent the closing and scrapping of the 680-worker mill and its sister pulp mill across the St. John River in Edmundston, New Brunswick.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s story by Nick Sambides Jr. of the Bangor Daily News.

 

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