Corner Brook mill workers worry U.S. tariffs will mean lost jobs
Union rep believes Kruger should look for markets outside the United States
The union which represents hundreds of workers associated with the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper mill says employees are angry about American newsprint tariffs and nervous about the future of their jobs.
"I'm angry too! I worked in the mill for 18 years. Most of the people there are my friends and family. It is hard. It is hard to swallow," said Monty Fudge, national representative for UNIFOR in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The U.S Department of Commerce announced an anti-dumping duty of 22.16 per cent on the Kruger-owned mill on March 13. The new duty, along with the nearly 10 per cent duty set two months ago, puts mill workers on edge.
"I worked alongside everyone there. I take it personally. I hate to see this. We've had numerous struggles over the years and here we are again with these American tariffs. It's very unfortunate," said Fudge.
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"There have been job cuts, notices are sent out. People are going to get shuffled around. And that was just with the first tariff that came down. With this latest one, the 22 per cent, is very concerning.
The 32 per cent tariffs applied to newsprint heading to the U.S. are the highest duties of any mill in Canada and, according to Premier Dwight Ball, will cost the Corner Brook mill about $30 million annually.
Fudge believes the only solution is to eliminate the duties. In the meantime, he believes Kruger should look at selling newsprint to other markets.
"Worldwide markets are still pretty good. We've got a lot of customers. When we have been relying on the U.S., it doesn't just happen overnight. You can't just shift from the U.S., especially when you are shipping so much there," he said.
The Corner Brook mill produces 120,000 tones a year specifically for the United States, which is about half its total production.
Mill won't close over this
Although this is a difficult time, Fudge does not see the last paper mill in Newfoundland and Labrador closing.
"They do have a good operation. A very good one. They are a low-cost producer and we already have many customers in India and other markets. If we can grow those markets we will come around. It may take a while, but we will survive."
Fudge said he has been in talks with Kruger managers and feels the company will fight the U.S. to eliminate the high duties.