CEP members at White Birch's Stadacona paper mill in Quebec City, Quebec, vote again, this time accepting company's final offer; workers at company's mills in Rivière-du-Loup and Gatineau, Quebec, to vote on same offer March 26-27

LOS ANGELES , March 26, 2012 () – White Birch Paper Co.’s final contract offer at its Stadacona paper mill in Quebec City, Quebec, has been accepted by 79% of those casting ballots in a new vote, reported The Canadian Press (CP) on March 25.

The majority of workers rejected the same offer, which includes significant employee concessions, last December. The company subsequently decided to permanently shut down the mill which makes newsprint, directory paper and paperboard.

The idled mill could restart within one month after a settlement with the union, according to a March 15 filing by court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young Inc., the CP reported.

Ratifying the offer, however, does not come with a guarantee that the mill will restart, noted Renaud Gagné, VP of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) for the Quebec region.

Workers at White Birch’s paper mills in Rivière-du-Loup and in Gatineau, Quebec, are scheduled to vote on the same offer on March 26 and 27, respectively.

The offer includes a 10% pay cut, plus annuity reductions of 30% for retirees and 55% for current workers, reported the CP.

Without a guarantee that ratifying the contract will ensure the mill’s survival, “workers have sort of bought a lottery ticket on the chance they might save their jobs.” said Gagné.

When White Birch Paper filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2010, it was North America’s second-largest newsprint producer, the CP reported.

The U.S.-based papermaker had 1,300 employees at three pulp and paper mills and a sawmill in Quebec, plus a fourth pulp and paper mill in Virginia, according to a March 2 CP report that was carried on IndustryIntel.com on March 5.

The primary source of this article is The Canadian Press, Toronto, Ontario, on March 25, 2012.

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