SPRINGFIELD — Mandatory overtime shifts and frozen pensions remain on the table in contract negotiations between Roseburg Forest Products and union employees, prompting a rally in front of RFP’s new Springfield headquarters Wednesday morning.

Nearly 40 people, mostly staffers from the Douglas County area, rallied at the headquarters.

Union workers are preparing for an additional negotiation session slated for Oct. 3 and 4. They last met with the company Sept. 12.

So far, Roseburg Forest Products’ proposed contracts included mandatory 12-hour overtime shifts and freezing retirement pensions.

The mandatory overtime shifts could force workers to miss out on family obligations, union organizer Miles Cook said.

“Right now, if you go in and they want you to work overtime, they can’t make you stay,” Cook said. “So if you have children in daycare, you don’t have to worry about being stuck at work and not being able to pick up your children.”

The workers’ previous contract expired in June. They have been working under that contract since then.

The new contract will impact almost 2,000 employees, mostly in Douglas and Coos counties.

Lathe operator Mike Axtel said he has stuck with the company for 33 years for its benefits package. Now he finds himself rallying at union events to keep it.

“Part of the reason you go to work there is it’s a good place to work and it has good benefits,” he said. “Now they want to take those away.”

When reached for comment, Roseburg Forest Products released the same statement it did earlier this month.

“We respect the fact that our employees have chosen to belong to a union, and we continue to bargain in good faith,” the statement reads. “However, we are dealing with several complex issues that don’t always fit neatly on a handheld sign or banner. Part of our challenge as an employer is ensuring that our employees get accurate information throughout the bargaining process. As a company, we prefer to do our negotiating at the bargaining table and opt not to discuss contract negotiations specifics publicly at this time.”

April Ehrlich is a reporter for The News-Review. Follow her on Twitter @AprilEhrlich

April Ehrlich covers city halls in Douglas County for The News-Review. She formerly reported for the Independent-Enterprise and the Argus Observer on the Oregon-Idaho border. Follow her on Twitter @AprilEhrlich.

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