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Contract Ratified at GP's Mill in Brewton, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 23 May 2008 -- /PRNewswire/ -- Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 888 and Local 941 ratified a four-year labor agreement by a margin of three-to-one yesterday at the Georgia-Pacific (GP) paper mill in Brewton, Alabama. The agreement provides wage and benefit increases, improves retiree health care and pensions, and restores all seniority rights that existed on 27 September 2007, under the plant's previous owner.

"When Smurfit Stone sold our mill to Georgia-Pacific in September of 2007, we all had to re-apply for our jobs," said Dennis Shipp, Local 888 president. "Our labor agreement did not have a successorship clause, so while we stood in line and filled out job applications, we also mobilized our membership and our community in a struggle to see that every worker who wanted to keep working here would have the opportunity," he said.

"With the help of our International Union and the unyielding solidarity of our sisters and brothers in other paper mills, we were successful in preserving our seniority and vacation schedule that we had worked decades building up," Shipp said. "The new contract has a strong successorship clause and the overwhelming ratification vote shows how solidarity among workers can work miracles."

Workers will receive wage increases of 2% the first year, USD 1000 lump sum in the second, 2% the third year, and USD 1000 lump sum in the fourth year, which is in line with the USW/GP umbrella framework agreement negotiated by the International Union. The initial wage increase will be paid retroactive from 01 November 2007.

"This new contract gives us stability in our health care plan and costs," said Thomas Miller, Local 941 president. "GP won't be able to change our health care without negotiating with our union first, and our contribution toward premiums is limited at 25%.

Important strides were also made in retiree pensions and health care. "Our pension will be USD 60 per month times years of service going forward for all employees working for the company prior to May 26, 2008. Employees hired after that date will get a USD 50 multiplier. All workers hired at the Brewton mill between September 27, 2007, and November 1, 2007, will be fully vested in the pension plan," Miller said.

"There also is an addendum to the Retiree Health Plan that gives access to the plan to employees who retire on or after January 1, 2009, are between the ages of 55 and 64 [years], and who were hired between September 27, 2007, and November 1, 2007," Miller said.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing more than 850,000 members, including some 130,000 paper workers. The union represents 10,000 GP workers at 43 locations.

Source: United Steelworkers (USW); www.usw.org

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