Leader Schumer, Sen. Gillibrand Push for a First Contract for Machinists Union at Cascades Containerboard

Machinists Union members working at Cascades Containerboard in Niagara Falls, NY got the backing of two political heavy-hitters this week when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) called on Canada-based Cascades, Inc. to negotiate in good faith and reach a first contract with the union negotiating committee.

The group of more than 100 workers voted to join the Machinists Union in April 2019, and have been attempting to bargain for a fair contract for more than two years.

“We write to urge Cascades management to return to the table and negotiate in good faith with representatives from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) on a new labor contract at the Niagara Falls containerboard plant,” write Schumer and Gillibrand. “We have long believed that our economy functions most effectively and fairly when there is a good faith bargaining and contracts between labor and management.”

Read the entire letter from Schumer and Gillibrand to Cascades, Inc. President and CEO Mario Plourde.

Members recently rallied to call for a first contract. It has now been more than two years since the National Labor Relations Board certified Cascades workers’ vote to join the IAM in June 2019. It is highly unusual for companies to delay bargaining to this extent after workers organize with the IAM.

“I appreciate Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand stepping up to shine a light on the unfair treatment of our members from Cascades Containerboard management,” said IAM District 65 Directing Business Representative Ron Warner. “Our members work hard to make this company profitable, and all they want in return is a voice on the job. It feels good to see our senators fighting to make life better for our members at Cascades. The Machinists Union won’t stop until we get a first contract.”  

READ: Gillibrand, Schumer call on Cascades, Inc. to negotiate with union Spectrum News 1 Buffalo

U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) also wrote to Cascades President Charles Malo, urging the company to “negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement expeditiously.”

Working conditions at the facility are key issues for Cascades employees. Cascades hired a notorious union-busting law firm to thwart the organizing campaign and hired another firm after the campaign to stall negotiations.

“The Machinists Union will continue to mobilize to help our brothers and sisters at Cascades secure a first contract,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Brian Bryant. “It is shameful that after voting to join the IAM over two years ago, our members still can’t get a first contract. The National Labor Relations Act is broken, and this is why the IAM is urging the United States Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. If the PRO Act were in place today, our members would have the ability to settle impasses like the current one at Cascades. Our members at Cascades deserve fair treatment and basic respect and dignity at work.”

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Updated: July 8, 2021 — 8:24 pm