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Union rejects latest Lewiston, Idaho Clearwater Paper contract offer
LEWISTON, Idaho (From news reports) -- Clearwater Paper union members "soundly rejected" the company's latest contract offer this week, with a near-unanimous vote.
Mark Rhodes, president of United Steelworkers Local 712, said that 99.6 percent of workers opposed the contract, with 85 percent of members voting.
The company issued a statement Friday morning saying it was "disappointed" by the vote. However, it also said the union has expressed interest in continuing the discussions.
"We are awaiting a formal request," the statement said. "In the meantime, we are operating normally, and the existing contract remains in effect."
The terms of the proposed contract have not been made public. Earlier this year, union officials indicated that health insurance and wages were the main sticking points in the negotiations. They said the company floated the idea of providing newly hired employees with high-deductible catastrophic health care plans and lower wages than current employees.
Company officials, though, say that information is now out-of-date and no longer part of the contract offer.
Clearwater Paper CEO Linda Massman described the proposed contract as the company's "best and final" offer during a conference call with stock market analysts Thursday.
The company issued its third-quarter earnings report this week. It recorded a loss of $11 million on sales of $445 million during July, August and September.
Through the first nine months of 2019, Clearwater Paper has lost $7.56 million on sales of $1.32 billion. During that same period last year, it reported a $44 million profit on sales of $1.3 billion.
Rhodes noted that there are a lot of "moving parts" in the negotiations.
"We've reached out to the company and requested to continue bargaining to address those items that we are apart on, with the intent of reaching an agreement," he said in an email. "We are currently waiting for the company's response. For now, we will continue to work as we have been under the terms of the expired contract."

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