Unionized workers at the Sappi paper mill in Westbrook have agreed to a new three-year contract that includes 3 percent raises and a $3,800 bonus, union leaders announced Friday.

The new contract for 100 members of the United Steelworkers Local 1069 was finalized after only a week of negotiations between management and the union, said Ron Rondeau, a 40-year mill employee and president of the union local. He said the contract does not expire until Aug. 21 but company officials agreed to start negotiations beforehand. He said 95 percent of union members voted to accept the agreement.

Rondeau said the one-time bonus will help workers keep pace better with sky-rocketing inflation. He said he was happy that both sides were able to agree on terms quickly without the “table pounding” he’s seen at some past bargaining sessions.

“It’s a pretty decent contract and the negotiations went quickly and fairly smoothly. I’ve been at the bargaining table when there’s been some table pounding in the past, but this one went fairly well,” said Rondeau.

Besides a 3% wage increase each year of the contract and the $3,800 bonus, the contract includes improvements to the retirement package, a new long-term disability insurance plan, and an increase in the short-term disability benefit as well as the option to take vacation days individually, instead of just in week-long blocks. The latter was included to make it easier for members with less seniority to take time off, Rondeau said.

The Westbrook Sappi mill has about 200 employees, Rondeau said. Papermaking on the site dates back to the S.D. Warren Company in the 1850s. For many years the mill made traditional paper products and the smell would carry to Portland.


In 2020, Sappi permanently shut down a paper machine at the Westbrook mill and announced the layoff of 75 people, nearly 30 percent of the workforce at the time.

Today the mill has been converted to produce textured surfaces, including “release papers” that are used in the production of synthetic leathers, coated fabrics, and decorative laminate panels, according to the Sappi website.

Rondeau said the mill sells its newer products around the world.

“Westbrook is successful in a very challenging industry,” said Rondeau. “Our products are exported all around the world.”

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