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Negotiated Contract Helps Smooth Transition in Weyerhaeuser Sale to International Paper
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 07 August 2008 -- /PRNewswire/ -- No former employee in Weyerhaeuser's containerboard packaging business that is represented by the United Steelworkers (USW) will lose their job or see a change in their contract due to the sale of Weyerhaeuser's containerboard packaging and recycling business to International Paper (IP).

"In this age of mergers and acquisitions in the paper industry, having a contract protection clause (successorship) is essential for workers and their communities," said Leo W. Gerard, USW International president. "These clauses protect workers' jobs, wages, and benefits and lend stability to the workplace and the community when a new owner comes in."

Due to the contract protection clause the USW negotiated last year with Weyerhaeuser and IP in framework agreements, this is the first seamless event of its kind in an asset sale. The contract, pensions, benefits, and wages members enjoyed at 26 USW-represented Weyerhaeuser containerboard packaging sites were simply transferred to IP's ownership.

"USW members of the Weyerhaeuser Council had the foresight to negotiate a comprehensive successorship clause which guaranteed seamless continuity of employment, income, and critical benefits like a pension," said Jon Geenen, USW International vice president. "This clause, while obviously benefiting USW members, also provides the company with seamless transition of production and efficiency during an asset sale, which is not always the case in these types of transactions."

Usually, when a new owner takes over a facility, employees have to reapply for their jobs, but not with a USW-negotiated contract protection clause. USW members at the former Weyerhaeuser plants did not have to re-apply for their jobs and avoided the accompanying physicals, drug tests, and probationary periods. They also maintained their seniority rights.

"The Weyerhaeuser council knew successorship was an important issue. Little did we realize eight months later that successorship language was going to be the most important thing we negotiated," said Robert Tapp, USW Local 380 president, who works at the former Weyerhaeuser facility in Barrington, New Jersey, and is president of the Weyerhaeuser council.

The USW represents approximately 2845 workers at Weyerhaeuser's containerboard packaging facilities. Overall, the union represents 130,000 workers in the pulp, paper, and forestry industry and more than 850,000 in the United States and Canada.

Web Site: http://www.usw.org/

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