RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WTVM) - A strike could be on the horizon for workers at one of Russell County’s largest employers. The employees say their issue is not wanting more money but keeping what they already get, as outlined in the following:
A labor dispute is brewing at the WestRock Paper mill in Russell County, which could soon lead to a strike or a lockout. Valuable family time outside of work is what Bobby Watson says the union workers he represents are unwilling to give up for less money. As a result, WestRock will no longer be paying a lot extra to work, for instance, on a day off or a Sunday.
“They ask our people to work all these hours and give away all that time for their profits. We don’t get that time back. They want to start squeezing, taking away from us.” said Watson. “They take away these labor protections so they can work you even longer and not have to pay that penalty, which reduces your wages, so not only are you losing time with your family, you’re losing the money as well. They’ve offered them $10,000 to buy that language, that protection that says if you work me over 16, if you work me over seven days a week, if you work me over 24, there’s a penalty. They want to buy that penalty. They’re just throwing a bunch of money at them.”
We reached out to Westrock about the union’s concerns. We received the following responses;