BASTROP, La. (AP) — Union workers at International Paper's Louisiana Mill in Bastrop have voted to accept wage cuts with hopes that the concessions will preserve the plant and their jobs.
Workers said they were told during an employee meeting on Tuesday that the wage cuts were essential to keeping the plant open.
''It was definitely an ultimatum,'' said Ricky Halterman, recording secretary for the United Steelworkers local union.
He said the measure passed by a 3-to-1 margin in Wednesday's voting. Workers agreed to wage reductions of 3 percent in May 2008 and 3 percent more in May 2009. Halterman said that he believes the workers' decision to accept the cuts will be the difference in keeping the plant open.
''I'm optimistic that this will keep us running for four or five more years,'' Halterman said. ''But there are no guarantees.''
''Our employees recognized the importance of a competitive cost structure to the future success of the mill. They have voted for the wage and benefit agreement that will help position the mill to compete in the global marketplace,'' IP corporate spokeswoman Amy Sawyer said in a news release.