Strike still looms

There are 20 comments on the Jan 2, 2007, Roanoke Times story titled Strike still looms. In it, Roanoke Times reports that:

There is no immediate resolution in sight for labor contract disputes between MeadWestvaco officials and union members who work at the international company's paper mill in Covington.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Roanoke Times.

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Covington Resident

Covington, VA

#1 Jan 10, 2007
I've lived in Covington all my 44 years. Worked here for the past 27. I make no where near what westvaco employees make. I live and have raised 2 children on an average of $8.00 an hour. I think the employees ay wesvaco should be happy with what they have. Also I'd like to see one of them live off my salary. It aint easy!
Number 019

Eugene, OR

#2 Jan 14, 2007
Maybe you should get a Union job. Then you can deal with people who envy the wages you have worked so hard to protect through collective bargaining.
Virginia Resident

Richmond, VA

#3 Jan 20, 2007
It's amazing to see unions outlive their usefulness. It's no wonder all the jobs are going overseas. If you think you can get better wages elsewhere, then go. I'm sure there are plenty of people in Covington that would love to work for what you guys are working for. I grew up near the coal fields. I had a 21 year old buddy who was a union coal miner. Back in 1989 he made about $80,000 a year driving an earth mover for a strip mine. He had two houses (one a rental house), two cars and little debt. He made much more than he needed and he managed his money. Then he went on strike. I asked him why and he said "Because the union wants us to." He was doing it to show solidarity for another union mine. It was a good thing he had saved so much money and had houses to sell. At least he was able to support himself while he was on strike. I hope MeadWestvaco doesn't pull out of Covington because of your strike.
Virginia Woodsmen

Princeton, WV

#4 Jan 23, 2007
While a lot of discussions seem to focus on whether the Covington Mill will strike or not. Has anyone heard about the proposed sale of all or some of MeadWestvaco's land? John Luke Jr. promised a statement would be made in early January. Maybe the workers at Covington might not be aware of a much larger problem lurking in the near future.
Covington Native

Virginia Beach, VA

#5 Apr 7, 2007
Man I'm from Covington and those guys for the most part make plenty of money. There's barely any other place in that town to work in. I moved 10 years ago after I graduated high school but everytime I go back to visit family it looks worse each time! They had better be greatful or they'll be nothing there to strike over!
Bud3

United States

#6 Apr 8, 2007
"Greed"...it cosumes many!lots of people would wrk for less!!
KPTexan

Richmond, VA

#7 Aug 24, 2007
Sounds like a bunch of republicans out there. If you wish to live in poverty so be it. Have you looked at John Luke's salary? He would not be making what he is making if mwv was not making lots of money!
DMP unionmember

Richmond, VA

#8 Apr 27, 2008
Sure they do make good money...but gas is climbing, and their insurance premiums are out of this world. The reason why jobs are going overseas is not because of unions...it is because of the corporate greed. Wouldn't you move your business if you could pay workers $1.50 an hour , offer them no health care, no pension, treat them like garbage, no environmental laws to abide by, and let's not talk about the tax breaks...and if your friend was going on strike because the union said to, there was a reason they said to. You have no idea what unions do behind the scenes to keep jobs, pensions, and salaries for workers in America
Gopher Sidney

South New Berlin, NY

#9 May 22, 2008
Most of us workers are laid of due to no work,but Im sure they have plenty of work,in China and
New Mexico. this is where MWV built their new
state of the art plants.
UMW

Stone Mountain, GA

#10 Jun 17, 2008
The work that is done @ the paper mill is extremely hard - atleast at the MWV in Cottonton, AL. My husband comes home exhausted often working well over 8 hours in very high temperatures. It is also very dangerous. You make the wrong move & you can die. Upper mgmt's pay increases dramatically b/c of the work that the union members do. The union member's expect to be treated somewhat equally. Since WestVaco merged with Mead, the company doesn't seem to care about the employees. The company is already trying to outsource the maintenance dept. It won't be long before they go overseas.
pimpedout

Richmond, VA

#11 Jul 29, 2008
laziness+greed=union.
only reason its coming to a strike is because of the idiotic union members making absurd demands and refusing to budge or negotiate at all. most of the workers out there are the laziest sob's you've ever seen. granted there are good people that work out there but they are outnumbered but the idiots.
mahrtmillmama

United States

#12 Oct 16, 2008
everyone who complains about the wages that the union members make, say that they are lazy and should be greatful really make me mad. sure alot of people would like to have the job but, can they. I think it would be very hard to fill their shoes. Did you know that they have to be considered multi-crafted. oh that means that they are journeymen in more than one field. I am speaking about maintenance. They work long hard hours to keep things running. If Its broke they fix it. they go in all hours on call-outs for various problems, they are skilled in electrical, mechanical HVAC and the list goes on. Who are some of you people protecting, the company, if profits go up. and they have. then you just want to see the ceo's wallets get fatter while they cut key benefits to the workers. health care cost are going up. the union fights to make sure that they get a cost of living raise to offset the out of pocket expenses (due to coverage benefits decrease) retirement benefits should also increase through the years. It will cost more to live in the future than it does now If you do not know this and understand the concept you are in for a rude awakening. these guy's and women do not move from job to job they come here with plans of retiring and they deserve something for the efforts they put into the company.
concerned

Stone Mountain, GA

#13 Nov 1, 2008
Most of the Meadwestvaco wannabees cannot handle just what it takes to make the effort to get a job. They are too lazy. Then when you get the job, watch out...the real fun begins. Try it...you might like it. You may make a lot of money, but your family suffers. I am not complaining b/c this is what it takes for our family, but I get sick and tired of people insulting Mead employees when they are too lazy to go through the process of even getting an interview....lazy people.
mahrtmillmama

United States

#14 Nov 2, 2008
to pimpedout- absurd demands like the 2% raise be retroactive. wow that is absurd the company wants to give a lump sum to make up for it. that means that it will not be counted in the forward years base pay. if you cant see that that is saving the company tens of thousands of dollars in the coming years then you just dont want to open your eyes. oh and they are absurd for fighting for the people that are expected to retire in the near future. you are probably one of those people that if it doesnt affect you then its ok. I will give to the fact that no matter where you work there are some lazy people but, there are more that bust their humps when it comes to keeping things going. they do break production records and you dont do that by sitting around on your ars.
Neverforget

AOL

#15 Nov 2, 2008
I support your efforts 100%
unknown

Richmond, VA

#16 Nov 3, 2008
Mahrtmillmama...stop your whinning as I dont want to hear it.

2% pay raise - you better take it because that is all your going to get. Saw it with other contracts in MWV and the unions accepted them.

Lump sum - part of the above and the union took it. The company is not going to make your raise - that you choose to bargain for - retroactive. Yep the increase wont be included in your wage base pay....same as happened to the salaried employees a few years back. Sign of the times and probably more to come.

The employees break production records..goody for you. When another MWV division went on strike in 98' the replacement workers (from all over the company) set record after record on the same machines the union employees ran. The records you refer to will probably be broken by the employees hired to run the mill when the union strikes. What does that say about the union worker running the machine on a day to day basis...they are loafing.

You make it sound like the mills are sweat shops and that the company does not care about you. Instead of complaining about it, and threating a strike....why do you stay? Instead maybe you should put your efforts into finding a new job and leaving your highly paid job for someone else. There is no shortage of unemployed people these days.

Take your MWV provided and paid for trained skills as an electrician, HVAC mechanic, maintenance technician on a paper machine and go put them to use making more money, better benefits, in an air conditioned environment, etc... and be on your way.

Oh by the way...also take a look at union membership over the past 20 years...it has been declining steadily and why.....because there is no need for them any more. They like the dinasour have run their course and serve no purpose.
DMP unionmember

Richmond, VA

#17 Nov 3, 2008
You see Unknown...this contract proposal is exactly why there IS a need for unions! If there were no union, the offer wouldn't even be what it is right now...if there were no union, they would have no retirement...terrible healthcare..and poor working conditions. How do I know...here in Texas there are other plants that are non-union...one that has shut down twice...and all that pay just above minimum wage,no retirement, poor working conditions, and no voice in any decision made in there workplace. You sound awfully jealous of what unions do for people...I'm willing to guess you don't work for a union facility, and if you do you are on the salary side of the fence.Again...unions don't shut down plants or force jobs overseas...CEO's close them to move overseas for cheap labor and no environmental laws...bet you still buy those products don't you...so NOW who is helping shut down our jobs??? Every americandeserves a voice and representation in their workplace but BIG BUSINESS won't allow it...why..because they know the union is right and will keep them from bagging all the profits and living the fat cat lifestyle while you and I go paycheck to paycheck...Open your eyes America...support your unions
unknown

Atlanta, GA

#18 Nov 3, 2008
DNP Unionmember,
You are correct I dont work in a union plant today, but have worked in both union and non union MWV plants. I think I might have a better understaning of how the business is run and the cost then the union folks do. The non union plants receive the same benefits and smiliar wages as union plants. I have the same benefits and pay the same amount as union employee do. As a matter of fact for several years I actually paid more for my benefits then the union employees I managed did.
I have run profitable facilities as well as a plant that I tried to save that was losing millions. It was closed and I sent well over 100 non union employees packing. We had a union campaign that was thwarted as the employees there were educated and knew what they had and appreciated it.

Have any of you folks looked at the company sales and compared them to profits...as a % of sales. Do you really think MWV is making huge profits compared to other Wall Street companies? You may see it as huge profits but in the grand scheme of things, and as a shareholder, they are marginal.
Do the math and then compare it against other Fortune 500 companies.

As of my background yep I was born and raised in a UAW then Teamsters home and environment. I lived the union life and saw it first hand as my father was not only a union member, but also a business agent for the Teamsters for many years.
My dad worked for International Harvester who put dinner on the table, paid the bills, assisted in putting me through college, etc... Have you folks looked at the other big union companies (GM, Chrysler, Ford,etc...) and other big union industries...have you seen where they are and what is happening.
Couple questions for you: Why did the paperworkers unions have to merge with the USW if the unions are so strong and have the muscle? Could it be that union membership has been declining for the past 20 years and they are dinasours?

I feel for the uninformed union employees that have been brainwashed by union officials who continue to take their 2 - 3% or whatever your union dues are on a monthly basis (maybe $75 per member a month) so they can be your voice. Do you think the union officials that you are paying with your dues really care about you? Ask yourself that question when you are on strike with no pay check, no benefits, no insurance, and those same union officials are not walking the line and are still collecting their paychecks that you pay for.
Trust me I am not jealous of you folks that need others to negotiate and speak for you folks that cant speak for themself. I am very happy with the way MWV has treated me and appreciate MWV for the job I have, more so today then ever before. It pains me to see others so ungraetful for a good job, making good wages, with good benefits, pension package, 401K, etc..when so many companies are downsizing, closing, laying off, etc..
As for jobs being moved overseas you probably should be talking to the folks in Washington, D.C and not negotiating a contract with MWV officials. Those are the folks that are making it harder for business and company leaders to keep jobs in the US of A. Yep I buy some of those products and so do you. I also have 3 US made cars in my garage. 2 Chevys and a Chrysler..and you know what...I overpaid for every one of them. Why you ask. Because of the costs associated with UNION LABOR that built them. Again go do the math or ask GM / Ford / Chrysler and see what % of the selling price of a new car goes toward union benefits and retire benefits....again you want those benies dont you....but who is paying for them. EVERYONE.
I wish you the best in your negotiations but from what I have read and see you have seen the last offer from MWV and now you have a choice to make. I just hope you make the right choice for yourselves and can deal with the consequences based on your educated
mahrtmillmama

United States

#19 Nov 6, 2008
unknown, have you looked at any of the reports for mwv. i have. last years profits were inflated due to land sales and the selling off of smaller assets. granted profit margin is down somewhat because of inflation of input cost. fuel moving product cost more so on. however sales are up. this economy is bad at the present time. is it worse for john Jr. just look at some of the decisions he has made in the last couple of years.
you really can't compare the auto industries woe's with the likes of mwv. they have been in trouble for a long time. you want to pin the blame on union wages. what about the fact that quite some time back none of the auto makers were designing any fuel efficient vehicles when fuel prices jumped sky high. they were not being competitive with the foreign auto makers. also they market to dealerships who they extend credit to until a vehicle sells. have you heard about bill heard chev. millions of dollars the factories are not going to see. we market to buisness such as coke wal-mart packaging solutions and so on. yes some of mwv is directed at the consumer by way of office products and the like micro section of mwv. honestly the bigest thing we are concerned with is preserving what we have been working with for language for all this time and it hasn't hurt the company one bit. mahrt took the vote the contract was rejected. i respect everyone's views but see things differently. this is something we have to do for our future. if it is a mistake then we will own it.
Spizzerinctum

Hot Springs, VA

#20 Nov 6, 2008
Unknown,
I work at the MWV Covington plant. I drive a Chevy pickup made in the USA by Union workers. The same model is also made in Mexico by workers that make less wages and enjoy less benefits than do the workers that assembled my truck.

Yet the two trucks cost the same when they are sitting on the dealer's lot here in the USA. GM got the second truch made cheaper in Mexaco but they cost the same here, WHO is the GREEDY ones??

We here in Covington are behind out brother and sisters at our other two locations. All they are asking for is what is fair and to keep what they have. The company needs to wake up and bargon, rather than dictate to all of us what we will be giving up!! All three locations going down at the same time would be hurtful on us all, but I will go if the company continues to force us out.
Oh and I am confident that no matter who they bring in to TRY and run these machines, they will not be setting any records. And I do not think the company wants all three locations comming back off a strike with a case of the red azzes. It will take a long time for me to forget.....

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