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Log haulers strike targets Plum Creek

| June 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Northwest Montana log haulers for Plum Creek went on strike Monday morning in a protest of inadequate wages that the timber giant pays for log hauling.

In a prepared statement for the media, log haulers said the company continually displayed indifference to the "financial plight of log haulers."

A "show of support" was planned for Tuesday morning at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell.

"I can no longer maintain safe operating trucks and pay a reasonable living wage to drivers at the current Plum Creek rates, so I'll just have to stop hauling logs for Plum Creek," said Ron Cummings of Cummings Hauling in Libby.

Cummings noted that costs of a vehicle have increased substantially as have fuel prices since the existing rates were negotiated in the fall of 1995 - also preceded by a log truck driver strike.

In 1995 more than 300 log haulers went on strike in northwest Montana for several days before a 10 percent increase was negotiated with Plum Creek.

"With the rising cost of doing business, and no haul rate adjustments over the last 10 years beyond some inadequate fuel rate adjustments, log truckers have come to the end of their rope," said a press release circulated on Monday afternoon.

The log haulers said Plum Creek has been unwilling to negotiate.

In the 1995 negotiations, both sides agreed to the 10 percent rate increase, discussions about water dips on Plum Creek roads and the company offered an "open door policy" to haulers to discuss issues.