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Members of United Steelworkers Local 1840 filed a grievance against their employer, Fusion Paperboard in Sprague, Wednesday because they say the company violated the collective bargaining agreement between the local union and the boxboard company.
The company announced July 23 that it would be closing in September and laying off 145 employees. The company accepted a $2 million low-interest loan from the state’s Department of Economic and Community development last year to upgrade its paper machine and signed a six-year contract with the union in March.
“I am hoping it works but that is all I can say,” said Rich Harrelle, president of United Steelworkers Local 1840. “I was directed by the attorney to do this, and that’s what I am doing, and we will follow through on the legal end.”
Harrelle said he has a meeting with Fusion Paperboard on Aug. 5.
The company and local union spent 18 months negotiating a 6-year contract, Harrelle said, only to hear months later that the company was closing.
“I think the company knew,” Harrelle said. “They didn’t just make a decision yesterday about closing the mill down. I think they knew when we were negotiating, and that’s not fair.”