A fundraiser for more than 100 Franklin River loggers who have been out of work since Dec. 22, 2015 was held on June 30 in the Blue Marlin Inn parking lot.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go to United Steelworkers Local-185 union to help pay for the unemployed loggers’ medical benefits that ran out last week.
A variety of food and merchandise vendors were set up,a celebrity dunk tank, music, wood carvings and a barbecue were available to those in attendance.
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“It’s great to see the community come together and support the people that work and support the community,” said Craig Rowlinson, a Franklin River logger who has been out of work for seven months.
“When we’re working and doing well we support the community and right now with the bad situation it’s great to see the community coming to our support.”
Rowlinson, who has been logging for 23 years, said the rate dispute between Western Forest Products and their woodlands contractor, Island Pacific Logging, is frustrating for the loggers involved and he has no idea why it’s taking so long to be resolved.
“I know six [loggers] whose wives have cancer…I have an ill son myself, he’s had a few brain surgeries in the last two years; benefits are important to myself.”
Dale Oberg, first vice president at the United Steelworkers Local-185, said the fundraiser is a fantastic way to show support from different community sectors to the laid off Franklin employees.
“It’s so gratifying and I believe it’s going to send a message to Western Forest Products that it’s the whole community affected, it’s not just the 150 people at Franklin,”Oberg said.
“When you’re living on $1,600 a month from E.I., how can you go buy new tires…or go for dinner?”