Without a contract for almost a year, union workers in Lowville send message to corporate executives

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - As company executives traveled to Lowville Wednesday, union workers at the former Neenah paper plant used it as an opportunity to tell new management, they want a fair contract.

Representatives with the United Steel Workers Union said 90 people at the Lowville Mativ plant haven’t had a contract since November of last year.

The signs in the windows of the cars and trucks said it all. Workers at the Lowville Mativ mill want a fair contract, intended to be seen as corporate executives visited Wednesday.

Mativ is a result of a merger between Schweitzer-Mauduit International and Neenah, Incorporated. It was finalized in July.

90 union workers have been without a contract for almost a year, and the union used management’s visit as an opportunity.

“We just wanted to send a peaceful positive message. We had some very high-up company executives here today, and wanted to send a message that we’re together,” said United Steel Workers Local Union President Jason Walseman.

Because of the merger, negotiations weren’t happening. Last week though, talks started up again.

Two things top the union’s list.

“Wages and benefits. Retirement is important to people, general wages are important to people in these times, and we haven’t had a wage increase in this entire time that we’ve been waiting. We’ve been nearly twenty months without a wage increase,” Walseman said.

A Mativ spokesperson released the following statement:

“Our contract negotiations remain in progress. We greatly value our longstanding relationship with United Steelworkers and the Lowville community. We recognize the interest in completing these negotiations quickly and believe both sides have demonstrated an interest in achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Workers said they want to keep pushing for a fair deal, especially since the cost of living has increased so much in the past year. There’s no set date for the next round of negotiations.