A "Fair Contract Now!" light shines on the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine on the evening of Nov. 17, 2022. Credit: Courtesy of Mike Higgins

Union employees at a Baileyville paper mill will go on strike starting tonight. The machinists will walk out just after midnight, followed by employees with the Service Employees International Union Sunday night and millwrights sometime next week.

The three unions are at an impasse with Woodland Pulp over a proposal from the company to classify all employees as general workers to be trained in all job duties, eliminating classified positions such as millwright or pipefitter.

Danny Loudermilk is the representative for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

“And I’ll just give you an example: picture a welder who’s gone to school to learn how to weld,” he said. “The company is now saying ‘Hey you’re a general mechanic, we want you to go hang pipe, or we want you to go align a motor.'”

Loudermilk says the company brought the proposal up midway through negotiations, and has been slow to provide detailed information. The unions are calling it bad faith bargaining, and have filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

“All three unions are very strongly united that they do not want a tiered system that eliminates their core trades,” Loudermilk said.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.