PITTSBURGH (News release) -- Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union approved a new four-year master agreement with WestRock that sets standards for wages, benefits and working conditions for more than 9,400 union workers at 62 facilities across 26 U.S. states.
WestRock is the second-largest packaging company in the United States and one of the world's largest paper and packaging companies, operating in more than 30 countries.
The contract includes annual wage increases totaling nearly 10 percent over the four-year term, preserves affordable health care coverage, enhances retirement benefits, and improves health and safety provisions.
"The USW's bargaining committee, consisting of local union leaders from every location and international leaders, entered these negotiations knowing that we were facing a number of challenges," said USW International Vice President Leeann Foster, who oversees bargaining in the union's paper sector. "These challenges included the company's proposals, but also overcapacity in the board market, a shaky economic outlook, especially in manufacturing, and related falling box demand. All of these factors combined to create uncertainty."
"Through the strength and solidarity of the members in an over year-long campaign involving all locations, we achieved a package with no concessions, no givebacks, only gains. In short, we achieved security for our members," Foster said. "Our members stood together nationally and our local leaders joined together at one bargaining table and spoke with one united voice to win a fair agreement."
The contract, which runs through 2023, covers workers at WestRock paper mills, converting and merchandising display facilities in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
"This contract sets a standard for the industry - it positions the company to succeed and invest in our facilities while making sure that workers, families and communities continue to share in that success," Foster said.