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Forestry workers take their case to Washington

Steelworkers demand “fair access” for Canadian lumber to U.S. market
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A Canadian delegation of United Steelworkers (USW) representing the wood products industry is in Washington to tell senators and members of Congress that workers in both countries will benefit from a negotiated settlement on lumber trade.

They’re calling for an end to U.S.-imposed countervailing duties on Canadian exports of softwood lumber.

"The only way forward is together," said Bob Matters, USW Canadian Wood Council Chair, in a June 12 news release. "Canadians and Americans have a long history of working together and we are here this week to advocate for a fair deal that will benefit both Americans and Canadians."

USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann said the lack of understanding by Americans about the Canadian industry stands to hurt the American economy as wood products sold in the U.S. will be more expensive with tariffs attached.

"Canada has faced more unfair trade disputes from the U.S. over softwood than any other country. All of these actions failed and Canada's forestry industry was not found to be subsidized.

“Canada is at a disadvantage now when compared to other countries that export wood products to the U.S. All we want is to have fair access to the U.S. market and the recognition of how integrated our economies are. In America, attacking Canada is like attacking your own economic stability."

USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt said the current situation is setting the stage for displaced workers and communities in Canada.

"Hundreds of Canadians have already been laid off or are facing a layoff," Hunt said. "This is the fifth time that we have tried to get a fair deal on softwood; it's time that we all start putting working families first."

The delegation is hoping to inform U.S. representatives of the realities of the Canadian forest industry and how important it is to work together.