Picketers in Front of Washington Mills Are Drivers Protesting New Health Insurance Plan

Picketers are in front of saw mills and chip plants across Western Washington again today. The supporters and members of Teamsters Local #313 are not striking against the many businesses where you may see them. For the third day in a row the drivers are striking against the trucking company Veneer Chip Transport Inc. out of Fife, Washington.

Union Member Betty Davis waits for a VCT truck to arrive at the company behind where she sits today along the Port Industrial Road. She said, “The company implemented a new medical plan without even waiting for us to vote on one per our union contract. It’s an unfair labor practice.”

They may (or may not) be waving signs over what Betty Davis calls unfair labor practices. Davis added, “We can’t strike down here unless there is a VCT truck on premises moving. That’s why our signs are down right now.” You might see what looks like a picnic in front of the mill, or you might see a wall of signs. Davis said their Union Rep was on his way to Tacoma to picket in front of a mill that had active VCT trucks.

On a regular day, about 50 drivers from the company pick up the chips from mills spanning 200 miles of Western Washington, Davis said “[from] Burlington all the way to Longview, we haul out of Cle Elum all the way to Aberdeen.” They are usually by-products of other timber industry, or the chips are made from the smaller logs and the tops of the bigger trees of a harvest.

Through companies like VCT, the chips are delivered to mills and eventually become everyday items from hard plastics like TV screens and dashboards to toothpaste, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. If the mill has the equipment the chips can become a power source for other processes.

Betty and her husband Mike Davis said that other unions and companies are showing support for their cause, and that the ripple effect may begin to put more pressure on the company.

Jonathan V. Lucich, Vice-President of Veneer Chip Transport, Inc. said Wednesday afternoon, “At this time Veneer Chip has no statement.”

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