Union calls for complete ban on all Russian timber imports

WASHINGTON — One of North America’s largest unions is calling for a complete halt to all hardwood and softwood imports from Russia and Belarus. In a letter to the Biden administration, the International Assn. machinists and aerospace workers union wrote:

“Our union, which has 600,000 members, supports the rejection of Russia’s violent military aggression against Ukraine. That said, our union believes that your administration’s ongoing series of sanctions against Russia and Belarus should also include the banning of all of its wood products, which are often used for items such as furniture making. Stopping imports of Russian and Belarusian wood, because it is conflict wood and therefore illegal to import, would also reduce the financial gains used to further this unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The IAM, which claims to represent 20,000 workers in the nation’s lumber, pulp and paper industries, believes the move could help create new jobs in the U.S. lumber industry. See the full letter here.

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

Russia supplies about 10% (or 567 million square feet) of the hardwood plywood used by America, with the vast majority (97%) being birch plywood products, according to the Wood Resources Blog TimberCheck.

This number will be “difficult to replace”, according to Assoc. decorative hardwoods. President Keith A. Christman.

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