Brandon Ferguson, president of USW Smoky Mountain Local 507, confirmed that talks began earlier this spring and will start back up the first week of June. Neither Ferguson — nor administration at the paper mill — is ready to discuss the negotiations.
Mike Culbreth, from Evergreen’s human resources department, described negotiations thus far as “an amiable meeting environment.”
“Our current labor agreement is a five-year agreement,” Culbreth explained, “so it’s just a normal contract negotiation.”
According to the Local 507 website, United Steelworkers bargaining committees from Athens, Ga., Clinton, Iowa, Olmsted, Ohio, and Canton met with Evergreen management in March and April.
“The discussions were wide-ranging and covered a number of areas of concern,” states a contract update, listing topics discussed as attendance policies and benefits. “While no agreements were reached, we were able to narrow the differences on a variety of issues.”
The next round of negotiation talks between the union and Evergreen begin June 2. Evergreen employs nearly 1,200 workers at its two Haywood County paper mill facilities.