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Western Welcomes Return to Bargaining Table; Responds to NAFTA Challenge Panel Decision

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 04, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Western Forest Products Inc (WEF.TO) (“Western” or the “Company”) announced today that the Company and the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937 (“USW”) expect to begin mediation with independent-mediator Vince Ready on September 13, 2019.

“We look forward to resuming discussions with the USW to negotiate a collective agreement that creates certainty for our employees, while maintaining Western’s competitive position during this particularly challenging time for the forest industry,” said Don Demens, President and CEO of Western. “It is important that we resume operations to supply our customers who, through their purchases, create thousands of jobs in BC.”

The strike, which commenced on July 1, 2019, affects all the Company’s USW certified manufacturing and timberlands operations in British Columbia, impacting approximately 1,500 of the Company’s hourly employees and approximately 1,500 employees working for the Company’s timberland operators and contractors.

Western also responded to the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) Binational Panel’s (“Panel”) decision issued today in relation to a prior US International Trade Commission (“USITC”) ruling.

“While we are pleased with the Panel’s decision to send the US Lumber Industry’s injury case back to the USITC for review, we are disappointed that the Panel did not make a similar finding in relation to the USITC’s ruling that cedar/redwood is a distinct product group from commodity structural lumber”, said Don Demens. “Softwood lumber duties continue to disproportionately impact high value, specialty wood products including Western Red Cedar, that have been unfairly brought into the dispute over structural lumber. We will continue to explore options to protect high value products and in particular the coastal forest industry from this disproportional impact.”

About Western Forest Products Inc.

Western is an integrated forest products company building a margin-focused log and lumber business to compete successfully in global softwood markets. With operations and employees located primarily on the coast of British Columbia and Washington State, Western is a premier supplier of high-value, specialty forest products to worldwide markets. Western has a lumber capacity in excess of 1.1 billion board feet from eight sawmills and four remanufacturing facilities. The Company sources timber from its private lands, long-term licenses, First Nations arrangements, and market purchases. Western supplements its production through a wholesale program providing customers with a comprehensive range of specialty products.

Forward-looking Statements

This press release contains statements that may constitute forward-looking statements under the applicable securities laws. Readers are cautioned against placing undue reliance on forward-looking statements. All statements herein, other than statements of historical fact, may be forward-looking statements and can be identified by the use of words such as “will”, “may”, “expect” and similar references to future periods. Forward looking statements in this new release include, but are not limited to, statements relating to the likelihood of success of mediation between the parties and the potential to reach an agreement with respect to a labour dispute. Although such statements reflect management’s current reasonable beliefs, expectations and assumptions, there can be no assurance that forward-looking statements are accurate, and actual results or performance may materially vary. Many factors could cause our actual results or performance to be materially different, including strike activity, the inability to predict the outcomes of any such activity, the inability to predict the outcome of mediation, the timing it may take to resolve a labour dispute, a change in the Company’s financial situation, general economic conditions, internal trade disputes, and other factors referenced under the “Risks and Uncertainties” section of our MD&A in our 2018 Annual Report dated February 12, 2019.

For further information, please contact:

Media Inquiries:
Susan Dolinski
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
(604) 648-4556
Investor Inquiries:
Stephen Williams
Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
(604) 648-4500