by Duluth News Tribune
November 28, 2012 at 6:00 pm in Duluth News Tribune
United Steelworkers Local 11-63 members voted Tuesday to authorize a strike at Cloquet’s Sappi Fine Paper mill.
Tags: Business, cloquet 49 Comments »
Be nice if the writer explained the rationale for authorizing a strike.
Hey strikers – you might have legitimate grounds or you might think you have Sappi over a barrel but a global co can still afford to walk away from Cloquet. Can you afford to live without that paycheck? Winter heating bills, Xmas coming, health insurance, bad job market in the timber industry. You had really better sort yourselves out or the market will.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 88 23
Trust me there are a lot of people willing to work those jobs if you dont want them. In this economy dont expect alot of public support and for most the jobs they work are not transferable. So think twice before you bite the hand that feeds you.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 90 24
The basic problem with the steelworkers union is that they are always looking for a confrontation. They don’t care about what is realistic, or fair, or even what is good for their members. They were willing to sacrifice the Sappi employees at Muskegon, just to look tough. A sad excuse for a group that claims to have its member’s interests at heart.
The situation is this. Sappi is investing a pile of money in the Cloquet facility. The Steelworker’s Union thinks that this is the opportune time to try to extort something from them. The days when unions actually fought for the underprivileged are long gone. There are plenty of folks in and around Duluth who could benefit from some representation. But the steelworkers just take aim at what they perceive as someone with money and plan to put, figuratively, put a gun to their head.
Sappi has a history of staring down unions worldwide. I doubt that they will do any different here in Minnesota. The rank and file may wish to consider how much of their own livelihood they are willing to sacrifice to a pissing contest between the thugs in the USW and a foreign corporation.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 77 20
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I am so proud of, and happy for the Sappi workers for keeping the Union honest for all of the dues that you all pay them every year. I am proud of you all for standing up for one another, and each others families. I am so proud of you all for preserving what Union workers did for you in the past by way of literally spilling blood, sweat, and tears for you all to have what you have had up until now. You all NEED to preserve what will be for you in the future because once they take it YOU WILL NEVER GET IT BACK! If the Sappi plant in Cloquet is successful and is not faltering or failing you all HAVE TO stand strong through to the end! We recently ratified our first contract with Calumet Refinery in Superior (the former Murphy Oil Refinery). Just over half of our employees agreed to let Calumet take our pensions, cut pay, eliminate retiree benefits, cut vacation, and allow for absolute minimum pay increases over the nest five years after all that, and the list goes on and on. Employment at the Refinery is now JUST A JOB after all these years that it was a career that people in the area dreamed to end up at. Just to make it perfectly clear, just over half of our employees did this to us….and our families, while the Calumet Refinery in Superior is profiting WELL over 1 million dollars a day……PROFIT……after all costs! Don’t be like half of the Calumet employees and don’t be like some others in the country! Don’t be cowards! Fight for what you have coming to you if Sappi is successful in Cloquet! You have it coming to you….and your families! You individuals were LARGELY responsible for your plants success! It is yours!
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 48 80
In this economy, why not just be glad you have a job?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 77 34
That’s the attitude of someone who sounds defeated. Workers need to stand up and fight back against these corporations who continue to bleed the middle class and turn them into beggars just so they can give more money to the millionaire share holders. With that attitude, why don’t they just work for minimum wage and no benefits? Stupid….
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 41 77
Millionaire shareholders? Anyone with a 401K or other non-pension retirement plan is a shareholder in corporations like this. Personally, I’m far from being a millionaire, but those profits you’re so against go into not only my retirement plan, but multitudes of others as well, most likely even into the workers who are complaining.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 80 23
Do you really think your union leaders go home to their 1500 sq. foot ranch-style house via their 1996 Saturn?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 21 6
“In this economy, why not just be glad you have a job?”…………………….says all the folks that never work or strive to attain the really good jobs in the area like Sappi that won’t stay one of the premier jobs IF THE WQRKERS DON’T FIGHT TO PRESERVE IT! There’s a million “job-jobs” in the area. I CAN, and HAVE gotten them on any given day in the past. Highly ambitious and courageous people tirelessly pursue and get these “really good” jobs in the area (i.e. Sappi, Calumet, etc.) for a reason. For the Sappi employees to let the Company take away what the job IS makes it just a “job-job” like all the others! You stay where you are and the Sappi employees will continue to fight to keep this major economic impacting employment in the area to continue to benefit the Cloquet area to the max!
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 40 76
Paul….I don’t want to bring you back down to earth. You stated…. “Highly ambitious and courageous people tirelessly pursue and get these “really good” jobs in the area (i.e. Sappi, Calumet, etc.) for a reason. For the Sappi employees to let the Company take away what the job IS makes it just a “job-job” like all the others!”…. Now that might be true to a point….What happens if you fail and the mill shuts down? Guess what? All those “courageous people” will be cleaning toilets and asking if you want fries with your burger. Superwood just closed…Northwest shut down the maintenance base….the taconite plant in Silver Bay just had a layofff….the paper mill in Sartel closed not too long ago. So before you dig your heels in…..you could all wind up in the big pool of former workers who are now on the outside looking in. I’m guessing your union leaders will all be employed no matter what happens.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 79 21
John R, I’m not sure what your point is with me but I had to reply to you to confirm with you that you are absolutely right. If those things happened I would be right back to places I have been in the past. Layed off, out of work, and whatever else you stated. You are also right that those fat@ass Union reps would still be getting paid somewhere and somehow. You are absolutely right. So, now, from there I would do as I have always done. I would “dig my heels in” and with all of my experience, education, skills and abilities I would go out and get myself a job and do the best that I can to continue to take care of my family.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 27 44
I’m sure you are a good hardworking family person just like those at Sappi. It’s sad that we don’t have more good paying jobs in this area. I’m not anti-union….just realistic. We are in a global economy…and the demand for paper is going down. The economy doesn’t run on paper anymore it runs electronically. Yes…you could go out and find a new job if you lost the one you have. I would guess you would be taking a huge pay cut and would be lucky to find a job with any benefits. But look how many people are out of work in this area. Magnitation just announced they were building a pellet plant over in Indiana rather than locate in our area. The point is the pool of good paying jobs has been going down for the past 40 + years in our area. For that matter good jobs across this country are hard to find. So if you still have one of these jobs you are both hardworking and fortunate. Hope the strike can be avoided!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 70 7
I too hope that the strike can be avoided…….
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 46 6
If the union pushes hard enough, they should be able to get the goose to lay two golden eggs a day.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 19 48
If the goose lays ANY eggs it is because of the nurturing, care, experience, know-how, dilligence, dedication, sacrifice, and hard work of the workers.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 27 62
Trixie, you got your answer from the guy up above. He’s complaining about having benefits cut (to levels more like you or I might have)and about having a contract that guarantees pay increases every year. Seriously – you are going to complain about a contract that guarantees you pay increases every year????? That sums up union mentality right there, entitlement, entitlement, entitlement.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 70 25
You union bashers are the same people that complain about everyday costs going up and how life is a struggle. Whose stopping you from improving you’re situation and bettering yourself? Could be that rotton attitude some of you have.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 31 53
look what the unions did for Hostess…….. great job
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 70 28
In the hostess situation, the union people and the non union people were making concessions to keep the co. afloat. However the ceo’s were getting huge salary and bonus increases. Those workers were trying to save their jobs so if you want to blame someone, start at the top.
Hmmm…. the top 2% income has increased 2 fold over the years. The rest of the people have not gained anything. But you go ahead and blame the average person that buys the products and keeps the economy going. It’s all their fault to want a decent life. Keep that thumb on them.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 21 41
You’re right! But, like most people here you are dramatically missing all of the points. SOME unions fail. SOME members of unions fail (like in the case of half of the members at the Calumet Refinery in Superior), but the Sappi union members in Cloquet..and their Union are NOT failing!
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 25 43
Paul U., sorry buddy but you are wrong. Sappi isn’t going to roll over and play dead to the thugs. The Steelworkers have partnered with the Sierra Club, which fights every single natural resource economic development project in our area. While the rank and file still have their chance to reverse their vote and keep a job, USWA District 11 Director Bob Bratulich will still keep his job, paying him approximately $175,000 per year and sub-district director John Rebrovich will still keep his job at approximately $125,999 per year, whether the Sappi rank and file return to work or not. You workers are darn stupid if you follow your leadership. You deserve to lose your jobs and others willing to take them happily can start a new life. Remember what happened at Conwed?
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 66 19
look what the unions did to the Postal Service
Like or Dislike: 1 1
Yes quagmire, kperks speaks on behalf of all those that CAN NOT, or WILL NOT try to attain that level of employment. For MOST of us no one just knocked on our front doors and told us we had jobs at these places. For me it was a lifetime of perserverance and determination to get where I am. MOST of us can’t get into these places sitting on our couches, or a bar hopin’ and wishin’ someone would just “gift” us with a good job!!!! I have earned every bit, every step of the way the accomplishments that I have achieved in my life. I am at one of those “good” jobs in the area that I never quit striving for til I got there…..for me and my family. We “chose” to be in a union FOR the higher pay and protected benefits for a reason. We ALSO pay heavily for that protection of which we ARE entitled to certain things! BTW, myself along with Sappi employees are NOT in government unions we are part of public unions. There is a huge difference!
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 18 55
You are absolutely right we should all race to the bottom. Instead of this “I don’t have it, so they should not have it either” attitude, how about “They have it, I should have it too!”
Just because you don’t have some benefit that someone else has, you want to take it from them. How about getting it for yourself. All workers should be able to provide for their families, have a retirement and have health care!
Hot debate. What do you think? 22 18
Hey you Steelworkers at Sappi. Think about what you are doing to the loggers that supply you with raw material in order for you to have a job. What happens to those hard working families when you play your power games? Are you folks going to bring groceries to the houses of the loggers who will be out of work? Are your union leaders going to give them strike benefits because you are striking? Are their children going to have to go without this Christmas because you put them out of work? Unions are supposed to be socially conscientious, but the Steelworkers Union has become the most crass and cruel labor organization in the world! Think about it. We are too small a region to think only about ourselves and our 4 wheelers, big boats, snowmobiles, gun collections, trips to the Bahamas and Hawaii and Las Vegas. Come on, you can work this out with Sappi, there are many people affected by this action. And it seems as if you don’t care about them!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 61 21
skidoolund, sorry pal but following leadership IS what destroyed the Calumet employees in Superior and destroyed the heavy economic impact that employment at Murphy Oil had on the Superior area. The company and community has not yet locally felt it, but with the new dramatic pay cuts, future retention of employees will continue to decline, and turnover will continue to increase like all the other mediocre jobs in the area. You like most everyone here have not been paying close attention to my words, or not understanding. I don’t give a rats @ss about Union leadership or protecting them. I am for workers protecting what they have earned, and what they PAY for! The only thing I need Union leadership to do is to do the job WE pay them to do for us when we tell them to. If the workers at Sappi don’t fight for and preserve what they have Cloquet will become a ghost town. Scabs cannot maintain the level of production that the original workers can. If the Sappi workers let the Company take it away without a fight, all associated industries (logging, etc.) will be decimated along with them. They are fighting for all your lives!
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 19 39
Paragraphs are free here by the way.
Like or Dislike: 4 7
Don’t go on strike. It’s a huge mistake in this economy. Workers aren’t in a position to win and management knows it. This is not the right time to make this move.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 41 12
Lets be real here. How’s is it working out for the Crystal Sugar workers in the Western part of the state? This is not a good time to strike.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 43 14
Please, educate all of us. When is a “good time” to strike?
Hot debate. What do you think? 14 20
Strike 101 … The best time to strike is when the economy is doing well, jobs are plentiful, and unemployment rates are low.
Like or Dislike: 19 10
“Strike 101 … The best time to strike is when the economy is doing well, jobs are plentiful, and unemployment rates are low.”
Wrong answer. The topic is a Union employer. Something you also know nothing about. You all comparing anything else to this is like comparing apples to lightbulbs.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 13 24
Like or Dislike: 3 4
Does anyone know how far apart labor and management are? I mean as far as pay and benefits go? Heaven forbid the newspaper would do a complete story.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 30 3
Price fixing and collusion by management: Illegal and punishable by law.
Price fixing and collusion by employees: Labor unions.
I hope they strike. I’ll be first in line to apply for a job.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 36 17
Just stay at your garbage job now. That’s all that will be left for you after the Company takes everything from you..
Hot debate. What do you think? 17 25
Paul please inform us lowlife non union people how Calumet employees have been “destroyed” by management. I know someone who recently started there and he quote “Can’t believe how much money he gets paid to do as little as he does”. And this guys is a hard worker – he absolutely can’t believe the lack of work ethic that his fellow union employees at Calumet have. If he were to try and introduce a new idea that would improve a process or potentially save the company some money, the old union dogs would run him out and blacklist him because they don’t want to have to work one ounce harder, even if it would save the company time and money.
Actually Paul U. I am non union and very successful, and am still thankful every day to have a job in this economy. No guaranteed raises for me, my company rewards me when I perform well and when they are doing well financially. If I don’t like it, I go find a different job – that’s how the real world works.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 39 15
Finally!!! Common sense. I am in a union too and that is exactly the way it is. Do as little as you can and whine when asked to contribute a little more. File a greivance is the battle cry.
Like or Dislike: 15 3
Check Sappi’s stock price. Down almost 85% since 2007. Was nearly $20 a share. Now $3.
But let’s not worry about the fiscal health of the employer….If Hostess taught us anything, it is that people before profits DOES NOT WORK. Liberal lackeys like Ranger and Paul don’t understand that you can have a company with revenues in the billions and still lose money.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 33 13
Good point WW…..paper is slowly fading away. That’s why Sappi is investing in the mill to produce new products. The workers at Sappi should be happy to have a job. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can’t be replaced. Anyone can be replaced….sad but true. Sure….if replacement workers are hired they may not be able to match the production levels by current workers. I’m sure over time production would run quite well. Think before you walk!
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 28 10
If our state government actually had some testes swinging between its legs they would allow MN farmers to grow hemp, which could benefit companies like Sappi, and its workers, along with the area.
Hundreds of uses, good for the environment, easy to grow, could get farmers off subsidies and also lesson demand on corn (thus potentially lowering food prices for families), so of course it’ll never happen.
Like or Dislike: 7 7
Heard this morning Crystal Sugar union employees, who have been off the job for 16 months are now voting again for the fourth time on the very same contract they voted down the first time. Now you tell me who is the winner here.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 31 7
Even if they agree on the contract it will be months before the workers are transitioned back into the work place. The company orchestrated this perfectly. They had seven years to plan for it.
Like or Dislike: 9 17
It’s in the back-to-work agreement. If passed they will slowly be called back to work as needed. They don’t just go back to work on Monday.
Like or Dislike: 5 5
John: It’s not a matter of wanting what they have. It’s a matter of fundamentally disagreeing with the heavy-handed manner in which organized labor operates. Artificially inflating wages, benefits and pension plans over the years has caught up with the employers–especially in the area of health care.
The workers can go ahead and strike if they want…..the company has to remain profitable, lest they cease to exist. “People before profits” sounds like a good mantra, but it is unworkable as a business plan.
Hot debate. What do you think? 20 11
In the good old days, makers of paper could count on demand increasing in line with advertising spending, and could plan capacity expansions. With advertising dollars flowing increasingly to nonprint media in many markets (i.e. Internet), this correlation has weakened, and plant closures have become more common than expansions. Sappi’s shrinking margins have borne witness to the changing times. It’s difficult to pass on rising costs – price increases meet with resistance from customers struggling with their own cost concerns. Low-priced Asian competition remains a threat and long-term outlook for catalogs looks less than rosy. Hope the union members can see the big picture and appreciate the declining demand for their product.
Like or Dislike: 19 7
Speaking of the “good old days” bargining in good faith was the accepted norm and both sides had respect for each other. Then one side or the other started to lie and take advantage. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a company say the’ve got no money, and the contract is settled. Then a few days later the bigwigs celebrate by giving huge multi-million dollar bonuses to themselves. What a slap in the face to workers. If it wasn’t for workers buying things there would be no company, if it wasn’t for the company there would be no workers. To minimize the impotance of people that work for a living is like cutting your own throat.
Like or Dislike: 10 16
Quagmire: Examples of these bonus-mongering companies and bigwigs please.
Keep in mind: Executives and management typically have contracts as well. If the contract stipulates a bonus for achieving certain criteria or benchmarks, who are you to denigrate their hard work and sacrifices?
Like or Dislike: 10 4
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