Labor union calls for complete ban on all Russian wood imports


WASHINGTON – One of the largest labor unions in North America is calling for a complete halt on all imports of Russian and Belarusian hardwoods and softwoods. In a letter to the Biden administration, the International Assn. of Machinists & Aerospace Workers union wrote:

“Our 600,000-member union stands in support of rejecting Russia’s violent military aggression towards Ukraine. That said, our union believes your administration’s ongoing series of sanctions against Russia and Belarus should also include banning all its wood products, which are often used for items such as furniture manufacturing. Halting imports of Russian and Belarusian wood, because it is conflict timber and import is therefore illegal, would also cut off the financial gains used for furthering this unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

The IAM, which says it represents 20,000 workers in the nation’s wood, pulp and paper industries, believes the move could help create new woodworking jobs in the U.S. See the full letter here.

The U.S. suspended normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus on April 8, raising tariffs immediately on Russian birch plywood to 50% in many cases.

Russia supplies around 10% (or 567 million square feet) of the hardwood plywood America uses, with the far majority (97%) being birch plywood products, according to wood resource blog TimberCheck.

That number will be “hard to replace,” according to Decorative Hardwoods Assn. President Keith A. Christman.

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