‘We need to be treated better’: Besse Forest Products employees raise awareness for contract negotiations

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 6:53 PM EST
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GLADSTONE, Mich. (WLUC) - Union workers rallied in Gladstone to bring awareness to their ongoing negotiations and to the conditions they’re seeking.

“We need better wages. We need to be treated better. Better working environments, safer, cleaned up, just better all around,” said Kayla McKnight, a head grader at Besse Forest Products.

Besse Forest Products manufactures veneer, lumber and specialty plywood. Employees grade, glue, strip and help ship the product.

The union president says most people are paid $12-$14 an hour but the industry standard is at least $15.

“A lot of the employees have second jobs working at fast food and making more per hour at a fast food place than they are at a factory, which we don’t see is right,” said Nate Meyer, the president of Local 800.

Employees marched through the downtown trying to raise awareness in the community and hoping community members will support them.

“Social media goes a long way,” said McKnight. “Word of mouth goes a long way. Even hearing something or seeing something.”

The current contract is extended until Dec. 3. Local 800 hopes to reach a new agreement before then.

“They have verbally agreed to it but they are hesitant to put it in writing,” said Meyer. “That’s one of our biggest sticking points too - we need it in writing because if it’s not in writing, it’s not going to happen.”

TV6 and FOX UP called and emailed Besse Forest Products for comment but have not heard back.

We will keep you updated as this story develops.