United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2019-08-17 09:43:45 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 How the DOE Funds Your Paycheck: Part One https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/how-the-doe-funds-your-paycheck-part-one Fri, 09 Aug 2019 09:04:57 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/how-the-doe-funds-your-paycheck-part-one If you are an atomic worker, your paycheck is dependent on federal government funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the agency’s allocations for clean-up activities.

Of course, your paycheck directly comes from the DOE contractor, but the contractor gets its funding for cleanup and other projects from the agency.

The funding process is like a maze and subject to administrative and congressional policies, priorities and politics. Now that Congress and President Trump have signed a two-year budget deal, they have until October 1—the beginning of the federal government’s fiscal year—to pass 12 funding bills. Whether that happens depends on the political and policy roadblocks along the way.

House Passes Energy Funding Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives took the first step by passing 10 of the 12 funding bills. This included on June 19 a package of four appropriations bills that will fund federal departments, including the DOE, from October 1, 2019 to September 30, 2020.

Under the House bill the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) would receive $7.175 billion in funding for nuclear waste cleanup at 16 sites—an amount equal to money received for fiscal year 2019, but an increase of $706 million above President Trump’s budget request.

Uranium enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) work would receive $873 million, an increase of $32 million above the fiscal year 2019 level and $158 million above the President’s budget request.

Funding Process

Ten of the 12 funding bills contain provisions Republicans oppose, so it may be unlikely these bills will pass the Republican-controlled Senate.  The Senate Appropriations Committee has not taken action on any of the 12 funding bills, and with the House and Senate recessed for August, there will only be three weeks after Congress returns to resolve funding issues.

This is a short timeframe considering the appropriations process. The House and Senate appropriations committees divide the budget resolution allocations among 12 appropriations subcommittees in each chamber. These subcommittees hold public hearings and prepare appropriations bills. Next, the Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate vote on each subcommittee’s funding bill. Then, the full House and Senate vote on each appropriations bill.

A House-Senate conference committee would resolve any differences between the House and Senate appropriations bills. Then, they would go to the President to sign or veto.

If Congress and the President cannot reach a formal funding agreement, Congress will have to pass and the President will sign a Continuing Resolution (CR) or an omnibus bill containing any unfinished funding bills to prevent a government shutdown. The CR funds the government at 2019 levels to give negotiators more time to get a funding deal. It usually goes into early or mid-December, setting up another funding deadline before the holidays.

Next Steps

The media reported that Senate Republicans are thinking of merging three appropriations bills—defense; labor, health and human services; and energy and water development—during Senate debate in September. If this happens and the Senate passes the bills, a large chunk of the federal government would be immune to a shutdown.

At the 2019 National Cleanup Workshop on Sept. 10-12 in Alexandria, Va., Congressional leadership and staff will discuss current and future funding for DOE’s Environmental Management program.

The DOE then determines how much money to allocate to each cleanup site, and its budget gives an idea of its priorities. Read about the DOE’s budget and factors influencing the money allocated to each site in Part Two of “It is Time to Fund Your Paycheck” next month.

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Local 9-288 President Wins Safety Award https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-9-288-president-wins-safety-award Thu, 08 Aug 2019 14:23:12 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-9-288-president-wins-safety-award Health and safety is Billy Edington’s passion.

For 28 years the USW Local 9-288 president has trained and mentored thousands of people and made significant contributions to local, regional, national and international health and safety. He also writes safety curriculum, investigates incidents, and conducts safety audits and inspections.

“I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or killed,” he said, when asked what motivated him to become a health and safety activist.

An instrumentation technician, Edington said he has always worked for nuclear contractors who participated in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). He also has worked with the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center for more than 15 years.

USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo acknowledged Edington’s commitment to health and safety: “His work ethic, attention to detail and desire to spread the knowledge of safety and health is a benefit to all who receive his instruction and guidance.”

Edington’s extensive work with VPP and the TMC also caught the attention of his employer, UCOR, in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The cleanup contractor’s VPP health and safety coordinator, Michelle Keever, nominated him for a national safety award.

In July, the 2019 Voluntary Protection Programs Participants Association (VPPPA) announced Edington had won, and at the end of August, he will travel to New Orleans to accept the VPPPA Safety and Health Outreach Award at the National VPPPA Safety & Health Conference.

“While much of Billy’s dedication to safety can be seen through the legacy of his safety and health training efforts, he ultimately demonstrates the traits of an exemplary safety leader through his everyday actions and words. He is a deliberate and effective communicator who actively cares for the health and safety of others,” Keever wrote in the award application.

UCOR is the prime cleanup contractor at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) East Tennessee Technology Park (former K-25 site).

“Billy has been a strong leader in our union when it comes to health and safety issues,” said retired International Vice President Carol Landry. “We are very proud of his work over the years. It is nice to see him get this recognition.”       

Safety Audit

Last March, Edington participated as a Special Government Employee (SGE) in the evaluation of the Sherwin-Williams Company’s Atlanta Distribution Center in Buford, Ga., to determine if it should be re-certified for VPP Star status. It was his first time conducting a VPP audit.

“I asked a lot of questions and tried to participate as much as I could,” he said. “I went in there with a student’s attitude.”

His dedication and hard work impressed the OSHA administrator overseeing the project, who noted his performance in a letter to UCOR’s president and project manager.

Enacting USW Systems of Safety

Though Edington is involved in VPP through his employer, he understands and applies the USW’s Systems of Safety to his work as a trainer for the USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC).

“I like the USW’s philosophy on the Systems of Safety because you identify the failed systems instead of blaming somebody. That way, you fix the problem in the first place instead of disciplining somebody who has been exposed to the hazard,” he said.

Edington has served as a TMC trainer for more than 15 years, spending much time selecting, mentoring, coaching and training USW worker-trainers. He is also a key member of the TMC curriculum development team.

Through National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) grants and the support of the USW and UCOR, he conducts health and safety training at DOE sites around the country and at other industrial sites throughout USW District 9.

He also applies his teaching skills as a TMC Specialized Emergency Response Trainer (SERT), traveling to natural and manmade disaster areas to show people how to use health and safety techniques during recovery activity.

Preparing Next Generation

Since 2016, Edington has been conducting OSHA 10-hour General Industry and 40-hour HAZWOPER outreach classes at east Tennessee high schools and vocational schools through a NIEHS grant in cooperation with the USW and UCOR.

Last year, he said he trained about 400 students to prepare a new generation of environmental cleanup workers. “With high school students, I tell them war stories, my experience, and it really opens their eyes,” he said.

In early March 2019, Edington taught the OSHA General Industry class to a group of students from the Tennessee School for the Deaf. He said the class required two oral interpreters—one to translate his southern accent to the New York interpreter, who signed to the students.

“These students were very enthusiastic about the training, which made it easier for me to do my job,” he said. “All of them got a big kick out of the chemical protection clothing and personal respirator.

“Having that OSHA certification will add to their resume, and help them go into any general industry work environment.”

Edington said the best part of teaching is the “interaction with people. I learn as much from them as they learn from me. If I can save one person from getting hurt, it’s all worth it.”

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Stat Facts: Aug., 6, 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-aug-6-2019 Tue, 06 Aug 2019 09:42:31 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-aug-6-2019 Locked-out members at CarePartners holding strong

On May 31, CarePartners locked out approximately 30 USW Local 2020 Unit 79 members, who have been on the picket line ever since.

The members, holding strong throughout this struggle, now need your help. Please sign this petition to demand the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Health, which largely funds CarePartners, step up and force management back to the table!

How Black Pharmacists Improve Care

There are all kinds of gaps in our health care system when it comes to black and white patients. Black men and women, for example, are at greater risk for illnesses like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

There’s also a cultural gap, and it makes a big difference when black patients seek medical help.

Only 6 percent of doctors and 7 percent of pharmacists are black. That means black patients are more likely to be treated by someone who doesn’t look like them or share their experience. And multiple studies show that when patients feel like their social, cultural, and racial backgrounds are acknowledged as part of their medical care, they can see better health outcomes.

In Illinois, though, some of that care is being provided by independent, black-owned pharmacies.

Take a listen to a podcast on The 21st by Cara Anthony, who reported on this for Kaiser Health News. This episode features Dr. Lakesha Butler, a professor of pharmacy practice at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and president of the National Pharmaceutical Association, as well as Bernard Macon, who works as a computer programmer and lives in O’Fallon, Ill. wh his wife and two kids.

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USW Participates in Global Union Nuclear Meeting to Address Energy Policy https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-participates-in-global-union-nuclear-meeting-to-address-energy-policy Fri, 02 Aug 2019 08:23:09 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-participates-in-global-union-nuclear-meeting-to-address-energy-policy Climate change is forcing many countries to rethink their energy policies, with ramifications for employment and labor relations in the nuclear sector on a global scale.

To discuss the changing energy mix and other developments within the industry, IndustriALL’s International Nuclear Workers’ Union Network (INWUN) met the end of June in Ankara, Turkey.

Jim Key, president of the USW’s Atomic Energy Workers Council, attended the two-day meeting. “There is much value to our council in reaching out to help other unionized workers in our communities, states and countries,” he said. “The cooperation between unions in the network is critical for exchanging information and sharing experiences.”

IndustriALL, a global federation formed in 2012, represents 50 million workers in 140 countries through its affiliates, including the USW. It creates international networks so unions in a particular sector or company can exchange information, mobilize and support one another.

The Turkish union— Energy, Water and Gas Workers Union (Tes-İş)—hosted the recent INWUN meeting. The union is working to increase its presence in the sector, as Turkey added nuclear power to its energy portfolio and will start operating its first nuclear power plant in 2023.

Besides the USW and Tes-İş, the meeting drew union participants from Belgium, France, Japan, Malawi, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Country Reports

Various government and academic representatives joined a Russian labor leader and a company representative from the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) in a panel discussion about Turkey’s nuclear energy future. ROSATOM is building the Turkish nuclear power plant.

The Ukrainian delegation discussed the fallout and entombment of Chernobyl since this year marked the 33rd anniversary of the nuclear reactor core meltdown. What the Ukrainians said impacted Key.

“One of the mind-provoking items discussed was that 1,600 workers who were sent into the Chernobyl reactor core are no longer with us. These workers did not have any medical or life insurance coverage.

“Valeriy Matov, co-chair of IndustriALL’s energy section for nuclear power and president of Ukrainian union Atomprofspilka, said that workers who bought medical and life insurance were taxed so highly by their government that it was cost prohibitive for them to own these policies,” Key said.

Delegates addressed occupational health and safety through a discussion on the differences between radioactive substances and particles, and how they penetrate the body. They also reaffirmed the importance of the right to know workplace hazards, the right to refuse or shut down unsafe work, and the right to participate fully in decision-making through joint health and safety committees.

Long-Term Policy Needed

The network concluded on the need for long-term energy policies that provide a balanced energy mix and do not change with every new government.

“Energy policies should serve the general interest through legislative and regulatory framework supporting social cohesion, equal treatment, environmental protection and better access to energy for the world,” said IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan. “IndustriALL fully supports our affiliates worldwide in their fight against further liberalization and deregulation of energy markets.”

The INWUN unanimously approved a statement about the future of the nuclear sector.  It focused on developing a balanced energy mix through democratic participation, consideration of nuclear energy in a low carbon mix, and more research for new technologies and reactors.

The statement also emphasized that sustainable industrial employment is needed so that changes in the energy sector are done with fairness and justice to workers, their families and their communities.

After the meeting ended, the delegates visited the Sarayköy nuclear research and training center in Ankara.

Link to INWUN statement: usw.to/INWUStatement

Link to IndustriALL article: usw.to/INWUArticle

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The Oilworker: August 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-august-2019 Thu, 01 Aug 2019 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-august-2019 FROM THE UNION

August Update from the NOBP Chair

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As bargaining for NOBP winds down, Mike Smith and I traveled to a number of locals and attended council meetings asking for feedback on the recent round of negotiations.

We received suggestions for improving the process next time, as well as advice on refining the strategies that worked well. We also got feedback about the Building Power trainings we did in advance of this round of bargaining and are working to ensure that they are available at as many locations as possible prior to the next time we head to the table.

The USW has also been working with a variety of stakeholders at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) in the aftermath of the fire that occurred June 21, trying to secure a future for the facility.

If PES closes, it will be a huge blow not only to our members but the community as a whole.

One of our immediate goals has been helping people find jobs at other locations within the industry.  Several other USW employers attended a job fair recently and were impressed with the caliber of talent they met from PES.  Hopefully, we can get as many of these folks as possible back to work soon.

I hope the summer season is good for everyone and we don’t suffer too many hurricanes, floods or fires. Try and spend some quality time with your friends and family and put work on the back burner if you get a chance.

In the meantime, please check out the stories below for important news about the industry.

In solidarity,

Kim Nibarger
NOBP Chair
knibarger@usw.org


IN THE NEWS

Click to read more from lenconnect.com
Enbridge Moves Forward with Tunnel Plans, Despite Lawsuit

Enbridge Energy is continuing its plans to dig a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan, last month sending a drilling vessel into the straits to take geological samples. This is despite opposition from state Democrats, including a pending lawsuit. The tunnel would replace an existing pipeline transporting oil and gas liquids from Superior, Wis., to Sarnia, Ontario.

Click to read more from Reuters.
Fight Over Waivers Escalates as Small Refineries Threaten to Sue EPA

The fight over biofuel waivers escalated last month as small refineries threaten to sue the EPA if it fails to issue waiver rulings in a timely fashion. Waivers are important for small refineries that do not have the resources to blend ethanol into gasoline in compliance with the U.S.’s biofuel laws.

Click to read more from the AP.
Montana, North Dakota Ask Trump Administration to Overrule Washington State Law on Oil Shipments

Attorneys general for Montana and North Dakota filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Transportation in July, pushing back against a new Washington state rule requiring oil shipped by rail through the state to have more volatile gasses removed.

Proponents of the rule say it makes the transportation safer, but opponents argue that it cuts Pacific Northwest refineries off from crude in the Bakken region on the Montana-North Dakota boarder.


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Has your local organized a group of workers, won an award, participated in a community event, won an arbitration, helped achieve a legislative victory, settled a safety issue, etc.?

Please contact Lynne Hancock at lhancock@usw.org, (Office) 412-562-2442 or (cell) 615-828-6169.

Get updates via text! Text OIL to the phone number 47486.  

By opting-in, you agree to receive recurring messages from the USW; message and data rates may apply. To opt out, text STOP. For help, text HELP. Full terms and conditions at usw.org/text. No purchase necessary.

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SOAR Story: Andres "Andy" Rosas, District 13 SOAR Executive Board Member https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/soar-story-andres-andy-rosas-district-13-soar-executive-board-member Wed, 31 Jul 2019 14:48:06 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/soar-story-andres-andy-rosas-district-13-soar-executive-board-member In February, 1968, at age 28, I was hired at Reynolds Metals Sherwin Plant and started my 33 years as a union member of Aluminum Brick and Glass Local 235A (later USW Local 235). Ten years later, I went through the three-year Union Millwright apprenticeship program where I learned what I needed to work as a mechanic until I retired in 2001. My union involvement includes work as a shop steward, maintenance negotiating committeeman, financial secretary, grievance chairman and local union president.

I am husband to Enedina, who I married in 1962, and father to four children, Cynthia, Debra, Andres and Brian.

When I retired, I wanted to stay politically involved, found out about SOAR, and I applied for a charter. Our SOAR Chapter 13-1 was chartered on February 3, 2009, and we celebrated our 10th anniversary on February 3, 2019.

Editor’s Note: Int’l President Leo W. Gerard, in consultation with District 13 Director Ruben Garza, appointed Andres “Andy” Rosas as the District 13 SOAR Executive Board Member. On February 1, 2019, Andy began fulfilling the remaining term of John Patrick. 

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Members mobilize in Minneapolis for civil and human rights https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/members-mobilize-in-minneapolis-for-civil-and-human-rights Wed, 31 Jul 2019 10:29:59 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/members-mobilize-in-minneapolis-for-civil-and-human-rights “Welcome union members, we are in your presence. Hand in hand together, we make the union strong.”

Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) President Elise Bryant led the more than 500 attendees of the USW Civil and Human Rights Conference in song to kick off the three-day triennial event in Minneapolis. The collective refrain set the tone for the massive meeting, which boasted the theme “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now—Forward As One.”

District 11 Director Emil Ramirez then took to the stage and spoke to the crowd on the importance of educating and mobilizing their fellow members to fight for the soul of the country together.

“We are a better nation than what we are witnessing today,” he said. “That should anger all people who are for fairness and justice.”

The conference featured dozens of other inspirational leaders and speakers including former Congressman and current Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Robin Williams of the UFCW, British Columbia’s Minister of Labour Harry Bains, and Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile who was shot and killed by a Minnesota policeman in 2016. Philando was in his car with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter.

After her son’s tragic murder, Valerie moved forward despite her grief to keep her son’s legacy alive by starting the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.

“It would have been so easy for me to withdraw,” she told the crowd during a panel. “But I love my son and I love my community, and I knew I had to do something.”

The lively, moving plenaries were punctuated by a variety of workshops that focused on immigrants’ rights, workplace violence, Islamophobia, LGBTQ+ equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, and more.

The large group of revved-up activists also took to the streets on Tuesday, July 23, to march to City Hall in support of legislation to prevent wage theft from workers and comprehensive reform of the broken immigration system.

“Everywhere we go we want to make it perfectly clear to the world that the United Steelworkers stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the southern border and we will not be quiet until justice prevails,” USW Vice President Fred Redmond said to a storm of cheers and chants.

Newly installed International President Tom Conway addressed the crisis at the border during the conference as well, calling on the labor movement to draw a line in the sand and stand with immigrants and their families as ICE raids terrorize communities across the United States.

“We’ve got to be a part of that resistance,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants.”

Outgoing USW President Leo Gerard reiterated the union’s responsibility to calling out the crisis and fighting to make it right in a video address to the conference.

“There’s a violation of human and civil rights staring us right in the face,” he said. “The best thing we can do is mobilize our membership and educate our membership and tell them this isn’t the kind of union we are.”

The USW, Gerard said, is the kind of union that brings people together, not tears them apart.

“This union stands for justice for everybody,” he said. “Everyone is welcome into our union as they should be in our society.”

New USW Vice President at Large Roxanne Brown, the Executive Board’s first black woman, spoke to the conference on the final day about this idea of unity and about what her momentous appointment signifies.

“It’s not about me,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for all of us to lead this union. It’s about what I represent for the present and future of this union. It’s about what you represent.”

Redmond closed the conference by honoring the legendary William “Bill” Lucy, a prominent labor leader who was vital in organizing the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike. The landscape-shifting moment in labor caught the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, who was shot and killed in the Tennessee city while supporting the workers.

Redmond also reminded the attendees of the earnestness required in the many fights the movement must take on moving forward.

“We’re living in a time that Dr. King referred to as ‘the fierce urgency of now,’” said Redmond. “We need to vigorously, and with a vicious sense of completion, make sure that we take action now. We need to move outside of our comfort zone so we as a union and as a movement can make real change.”

2019 USW Civil & Human Rights Conference

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Stop Use & Product Recall! 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Rope Grab AC202D https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stop-use-product-recall-3m-protecta-cobra-rope-grab-ac202d Tue, 30 Jul 2019 13:08:19 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stop-use-product-recall-3m-protecta-cobra-rope-grab-ac202d

From Gravitec Systems Inc.:

“3M Fall Protection has determined that the 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Mobile/Manual Rope Grab AC202D is incorrectly stamped for use with 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter rope on the exterior body of the unit. This Cobra Rope Grab is certified for use ONLY with 5/8 inch diameter polyester or polypropylene rope. All marketing information and the Instructions for Use (IFU) for this rope grab correctly identify the size of rope to be used as 5/8 inch polyester/polypropylene rope.

In the event of a fall from height, a Cobra Rope Grab used with 1/2 inch diameter rope may not arrest the fall and could result in serious injury or death to the worker. To remedy this situation, 3M is launching a Stop Use & Product Recall to replace all AC202D and related Cobra Rope Grabs that are stamped 1/2"—3/4" Dia.”

- 3M Fall Protection
Stop Use & Product Recall! 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Rope Grab AC202D

 

 



 

 

 

To view the recall notice and check your equipment click here. To view Gravitec's notice click here.

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July Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/july-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein Mon, 29 Jul 2019 14:53:40 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/july-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein Passing the Torch

We know that union pride is often passed down through the generations.  We feel it when a son or daughter gets a job in the same union shop their parent had retired from; when a union salary makes it possible to send a child to college as a first-generation college student; or when a dental procedure or pair of eyeglasses is affordable because the union negotiated for quality health care. 

Oddly enough, anti-union pride can also find its way down through the lineage. 

In mid-July, the untimely resignation of Alexander Acosta (a story itself too lengthy to get into here) prompted President Trump to nominate Eugene Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, to be the next Secretary of Labor. 

Following in the footsteps of his father (Antonin), who died in 2016 before he could cast the deciding vote in the anti-union Supreme Court case, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, Eugene Scalia has long-represented the likes of Walmart and other companies who strongly oppose workers’ rights. 

The most glaring example of Eugene's favoritism toward employers is his opposition to a regulation intended to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries.  In 2001, the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate blocked his nomination to the Labor Department on the grounds he had dismissed the regulation because he believed it was based on “unreliable science.”

Eugene Scalia also prevailed in a 2006 case where he served as legal counsel to Walmart, helping them defeat a Maryland law that would have required employers of 10,000 or more to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on employee health care costs.

Come 2020, please remember the power to decide who is the next Secretary of Labor rests in the hands of the United States Congress and President who WE elect. 

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/18/us/politics/eugene-scalia-labor-secretary.html
https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/02/scalia-friedrichs/462936/
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/mar/29/supreme-court-scalia-public-sector-unions

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Activists talk workplace violence at USW Civil and Human Rights Conference https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/activists-talk-workplace-violence-at-usw-civil-and-human-rights-conference Mon, 29 Jul 2019 10:29:58 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/activists-talk-workplace-violence-at-usw-civil-and-human-rights-conference In a packed room in the Hilton Minneapolis, USW members last week discussed the epidemic of workplace violence at the Civil and Human Rights Conference. The participating activists came from all districts and a variety of industries, from health care and steel to higher education and the public sector.

The workshop was one of dozens that took place throughout the three-day triennial conference and focused on the causes of workplace violence, as well as what unions can do to curb the endemic.

For many workers, especially in the health care sector including where violence has increased by 30 percent since 2012, much of the problem stems from understaffing and lack of resources.

“We’re told it’s just part of the job,” said Marketa A. Anderson of Local 9439 in Northern Minnesota. “I have some aides who have to care for 16-20 patients on their own.”

The members brainstormed methods for preventing violence at work such as using collective bargaining to hold managers and employers accountable, putting extra security controls in place, and hosting de-escalation trainings.

To get involved with the USW’s #SafeJobsNow postcard campaign that is pushing for passage of the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, click here.

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Home-care workers mark 7th week of lockout by CarePartners https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/home-care-workers-mark-7th-week-of-lockout-by-carepartners Mon, 29 Jul 2019 09:56:13 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/home-care-workers-mark-7th-week-of-lockout-by-carepartners Seven weeks after being locked out of their jobs by for-profit service provider CarePartners, home-care workers and their community supporters rallied on the picket line on Thursday, July 18, in Sudbury, Canada, where they called for greater accountability from the Ontario government.

About 30 employees at the CarePartners Sudbury office, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, were locked out of their jobs on May 31 after they refused to accept the company’s contract offer that did not address key issues including low wages, workplace stress, sick leave and turnover.

"CarePartners decided to lock out its employees rather than negotiate a fair collective agreement. They tried to bully workers into accepting a contract that doesn't address their serious concerns," said USW Staff Representative Mike Scott.

The locked-out employees work as home-care coordinators and administration staff. All but one of the employees are women and their top wage, regardless of length of service, is $16.15 an hour.

"CarePartners is a private, for-profit company that is funded by our provincial tax dollars," Scott noted. "We will be calling on the Ontario government to take a serious look at this situation and whether it condones what is happening here."

The locked-out workers were also joined on the picket line by France Gélinas, MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament) in Ontario.

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July Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/july-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta Fri, 26 Jul 2019 14:09:21 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/july-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta Lady Liberty and the Pursuit of American Freedom

I recently visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York and came away with some strong feelings on the present immigration issue. My grandfather came to the United States from Poland, alone when he was 17 without any other family members and no immediate family living in the U.S.  We found the documents recording his arrival and saw some of the questions required to enter the country. He declared that he was not insane and was not a criminal. He also possessed no real skills. It was very emotional to see his name, where he came from, the ship he was on and other information like his lack of knowledge of the English language in document form.

I felt something special when I was reminded of the rebuilding of Lady Liberty and the small role his descendants played in the rebuilding. His son and grandson worked at a mill that donated stainless steel rod towards the rebuilding of the Statue of Liberty to replace the old steel skeleton that had rusted.

I was less surprised to learn that two of the top three jobs held by Polish immigrants were working in mines and steel mills. My grandfather worked digging ditches and ultimately became a boss for a small gas company in Western New York. My grandfather’s legacy lives on through my grandchildren, who are the fourth generation of Americans born in this country.

I wonder what would happen today if an unaccompanied 17-year-old boy who could not read, write or speak English, and had no identifiable skills, showed up at immigration and asked to enter our country to start a new life.


Lady Liberty y la búsqueda de la libertad americana

Hace poco visité la Estatua de la Libertad y Ellis Island en Nueva York y obtuve algunos sentimientos fuertes sobre el tema actual de la inmigración. Mi abuelo vino a los Estados Unidos, desde Polonia, solo cuando él tenía 17 años sin ningún otro miembro de la familia y ninguna familia de los Estados Unidos viviendo en los Estados Unidos. Vimos los documentos que registraban su llegada y vimos algunas de las preguntas necesarias para ingresar al país. Declaró que no estaba loco y que no era un criminal. Tampoco poseía habilidades reales. Fue muy emocionante ver su nombre, de dónde venía, el barco en el que viajaba y otra información como su falta de conocimiento del idioma inglés en forma de documento.

Sentí algo especial cuando recordé la reconstrucción de Lady Liberty y el pequeño rollo que su descendiente jugó en la reconstrucción. Su hijo y su nieto trabajaron en un molino que donó varillas de acero inoxidable para la reconstrucción de la Estatua de la Libertad para reemplazar el viejo esqueleto de acero que se había oxidado.

Me sorprendió menos ganar que dos de los tres trabajos principales ocupados por inmigrantes polacos estaban trabajando en minas y fábricas de acero. Mi abuelo trabajó cavando zanjas y finalmente se convirtió en jefe de una pequeña empresa de gas en el oeste de Nueva York. El legado de mi abuelo vive a través de mis nietos que son la cuarta generación de America nacidos en este país.

Me pregunto qué pasaría hoy si un niño de 17 años no compenetrado que no pudiera leer, escribir o hablar inglés y que no tuviera habilidades identificables se presentó en la inmigración y pidió ingresar a nuestro país para comenzar una nueva vida.

Presidente de SOAR, Bill Pienta

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Health and Safety Reps Receive Training to Improve Working Conditions https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/health-and-safety-reps-receive-training-to-improve-working-conditions Thu, 25 Jul 2019 12:58:48 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/health-and-safety-reps-receive-training-to-improve-working-conditions USW members in the union’s atomic sector understand they face unique health and safety risks in their workplaces. So when they requested sector-specific information at the Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) meeting last March, the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department and the Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) teamed up to plan a weeklong training to help them stay safe and healthy on the job.

In early June, sixteen health and safety representatives from seven different worksites traveled to Pittsburgh to learn essential skills to help them in dealing with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) health and safety regulations.

The training also featured basic health and safety, communication mapping, the Systems of Safety, and the logic tree for incident and near-miss investigation. The instructors and representatives analyzed and discussed the DOE’s safety culture, and they strategized about how to get health and safety issues resolved at their facilities.

The health and safety representatives also learned about the resources available to them from the USW HSE Department and the USW Emergency Response Team. Plus, they heard presentations on the medical monitoring program and pertinent legislation.

Participants came from the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and Holtec Manufacturing.

Diane Stein, TMC staff, said there was a good mix of new and experienced representatives who provoked a healthy exchange of ideas and discussion.  This was important, she said, because the participants were able to learn about each other’s sites and how their work impacted the other facilities.

“This training helped them gain a better understanding of the big picture, and they will likely stay in touch with each other,” Stein said. “It was a really fun week, and it will be good to do it again.”

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Stat Facts: July 22, 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-july-22-2019 Mon, 22 Jul 2019 11:52:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-july-22-2019 New leaders sworn into International Executive Board

Last week, the USW swore in a new group of leaders to the International Executive Board, including a former Health Care Workers Council member. The ceremony in Pittsburgh came after the monumental leadership changes were announced late this spring.

As the union’s eighth International President, Thomas M. Conway plans to ensure there are enough talented young leaders to carry on the Steelworkers’ core mission of fighting for working people.

“When we look at what we do, how we operate nationally, the biggest change that I see for the union over the next five, six or seven years is that we need to strengthen our bench,” said Conway. “We need to build a successor plan and make a path for young talented people to bring themselves forward and shine within the union.”

Conway is joined by new leaders John Shinn as Secretary-Treasurer, David McCall as Vice President (Administration), Roxanne Brown as Vice President at Large, Leeann Foster as Vice President, Donnie Blatt as District 1 Director, and Del Vitale as District 4 Director. Vitale previously served on the Health Care Workers Council as a staff coordinator.

To watch a tribute video dedicated to the retired leaders, click here.

CHC releases video on strengthening health care system

Canadian National Health Coalition released a video last week focusing on the need for proper federal funding in order for people to receive the best possible health care. It also calls for a national strategy so all seniors can age with dignity and respect. To watch it, click here.

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The Oilworker: July 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-july-2019 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:14:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-july-2019 FROM THE UNION

USW Submits Shareholder Proposals to Oil Company Annual Meetings

The USW continued its commitment to engaging companies at the shareholder level in 2019 by filing proposals at ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum and HollyFrontier.

Click here to read more.

PES Workers’ Response to Fire Saves Community From Disaster; Company Announces Shut Down

Thanks to the quick thinking of USW Local 10-1 operators during the June 21 fire and explosion in the hydrofluoric acid unit at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), a dangerous cloud of hydrogen fluoride (HF) did not move over heavily populated neighborhoods.

Click here to read more.

Oil Industry Prepares to go to Court over EPA Rule Allowing Year-Round Sales of Ethanol

The oil industry is fighting a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule issued on May 31 that allows E15 gasoline to be sold year-round across the country.

E15 has higher ethanol content and a high vapor pressure than conventional E10 gasoline. This makes the E15 gasoline evaporate more quickly and contribute to smog, which is why the EPA used to block its sale from June 1 to September 15 in smog-prone areas.

More ethanol affects the amount of oil in gasoline. With more ethanol, the integrated oil companies that explore, produce and refine oil cannot sell as much and must spend more to blend the biofuel into gasoline.

Click here to read more.

Robot Inspection of Phillips 66 Tank Foreshadows Greater Automation

Phillips 66 announced at the end of May that a robot successfully inspected the interior of one of the company’s above-ground diesel storage tanks in California. Using a robot enabled the company to inspect the tank while it was full. Normally, a tank would have to be drained for workers to enter it and inspect the tank bottom’s integrity.

Click here to read more.

PBF Will Buy Shell Martinez Refinery

Shell Oil plans to sell its Martinez, Calif., refinery in the San Francisco Bay area to PBF for around $1 billion.

Both companies announced the sale on June 11.

Click here to read more.


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Has your local organized a group of workers, won an award, participated in a community event, won an arbitration, helped achieve a legislative victory, settled a safety issue, etc.?

Please contact Lynne Hancock at lhancock@usw.org, (office) 412-562-2442 or (cell) 615-828-6169.

Get bargaining updates via text! Text OIL to the phone number 47486.

By opting-in, you agree to receive recurring messages from the USW; message and data rates may apply. To opt out, text STOP. For help, text HELP. Full terms and conditions at usw.org/text. No purchase necessary.

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PBF Will Buy Shell Martinez Refinery https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pbf-will-buy-shell-martinez-refinery Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:54:51 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pbf-will-buy-shell-martinez-refinery Shell Oil plans to sell its Martinez, Calif., refinery in the San Francisco Bay area to PBF for around $1 billion.

Both companies announced the sale on June 11.

PBF is expected to offer jobs to the more than 700 employees at the site. The company also said it will continue Shell’s community partnerships.

The sale is expected to close by the end of 2019. 

According to Shell, the refinery has been operating since 1915 and is one of the most complex facilities in the world. The site converts crude into vehicle gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and asphalt, and other products.

USW Local 5 represents about 325 workers at the Martinez refinery.

To read more about the sale, go to:

https://www.kqed.org/news/11754005/shell-to-sell-martinez-refinery-for-1-billion

To read about PBF’s commitment to the employees, community and safety, go to:

https://martinezgazette.com/pbf-officials-pledge-to-keep-shell-employees-community-involvement-safety-measures/

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Robot Inspection of Phillips 66 Tank Foreshadows Greater Automation https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/robot-inspection-of-phillips-66-tank-foreshadows-greater-automation Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:52:39 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/robot-inspection-of-phillips-66-tank-foreshadows-greater-automation Phillips 66 announced at the end of May that a robot successfully inspected the interior of one of the company’s above-ground diesel storage tanks in California.

Using a robot enabled the company to inspect the tank while it was full. Normally, a tank would have to be drained for workers to enter it and inspect the tank bottom’s integrity. Phillips 66 said the robot obtained high-clarity visual images of the tank’s interior, which enabled the company to gain insight into the tank’s condition.

Phillips 66 plans to have a robot inspect full storage tanks of crude and gasoline, and anticipates using robots for inspections at all of its facilities.

Expect More Robot Inspections

Phillips 66 is not the only oil company trying out robots. BP uses robots to inspect vessels at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington state. It takes a robot one hour to inspect a hydrocracker reactor by using ultrasound technology to find microscopic cracks in the vessel walls.

In contrast, workers spend 23 hours physically inside the hydrocracker unit during a planned shutdown to do the inspection.

According to GlobalData, a data analytics and media company, the volatility of crude prices is prompting the oil and gas industry to use robots for various applications in the upstream (production and exploration), midstream (pipeline inspection and monitoring) and downstream (refining and petrochemical) segments to increase productivity and efficiency.

Drones and robots in the downstream refinery and petrochemical sector are used for piping inspection, leak detection, corrosion monitoring, emergency response and the surveillance of an entire asset.

Reinventing Work

There will be a need for technicians to take care of robots like the ones that Phillips 66 and BP used.

According to one robot manufacturer, there are not enough plant technicians to service the automation being introduced into U.S. manufacturing plants.

Oxford Economics, an independent global advisory firm, said that automation will replace 20 million jobs worldwide by 2030, but its report also wrote about how to respond to the rise of robots. It also gave a framework for action by business leaders, educators, technology companies, workers and government policy-makers.

Industry Week ran a series about robots, and one of its reporters, Travis Hessman, wrote that the key issue is transitioning people into productive work that uses their ideas, creativity, insights and perspectives that no machine or software can duplicate.

To read about Phillips 66’s robot inspection, go to:

https://www.rigzone.com/news/phillips_66_tank_gets_robot_inspection-31-may-2019-158959-article/?utm_campaign=DAILY_2019_06_03&utm_source=GLOBAL_ENG&utm_medium=EM_NW_F7

To read more about “On Humans, Robots and the Future of Work”:

http://www.industryweek.com/technology-and-iiot/humans-robots-and-future-work

To read “Big Oil Has Finally Joined The Digital Revolution”:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-oil-finally-joined-digital-230000932.html

To read an opinion piece on “Don’t Expect Robots to Take Everyone’s Job”:

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-01/don-t-expect-robots-to-take-everyone-s-job

How Robots Change the World, What Automation Really Means For Jobs and Productivity

http://resources.oxfordeconomics.com/how-robots-change-the-world

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Oil Industry Prepares to go to Court over EPA Rule Allowing Year-Round Sales of Ethanol https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/oil-industry-prepares-to-go-to-court-over-epa-rule-allowing-year-round-sales-of-ethanol Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:45:09 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/oil-industry-prepares-to-go-to-court-over-epa-rule-allowing-year-round-sales-of-ethanol The oil industry is fighting a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule issued on May 31 that allows E15 gasoline to be sold year-round across the country.

E15 has higher ethanol content and a high vapor pressure than conventional E10 gasoline. This makes the E15 gasoline evaporate more quickly and contribute to smog, which is why the EPA used to block its sale from June 1 to September 15 in smog-prone areas.

The change in regulation fulfills President Trump’s promise to allow more ethanol sales.

More ethanol affects the amount of oil in gasoline. With more ethanol, the integrated oil companies that explore, produce and refine oil cannot sell as much and must spend more to blend the biofuel into gasoline.

Oil refineries that do not have an ability to blend ethanol into gasoline at their sites must purchase more Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits to prove compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The manipulation of these credits causes RIN prices to skyrocket, forcing small refiners to pay more money toward RIN credits than on needed maintenance.

Oil industry trade groups charge that the new regulation violates the Clean Air Act and that Congress previously rejected the year-round sale of E15. Another major refiner argues that EPA’s consideration of E15 being similar to E10 is “arbitrary and capricious.” Judges use the “arbitrary and capricious” standard when judging administrative agency rule-making.

The EPA, at the urging of the Trump administration, included changes in the rule to increase the transparency in the RIN market and prevent manipulation of RIN prices during trading. The agency initially proposed greater trade limitations, but the integrated oil companies opposed it.

Increased transparency in the RIN market is welcome, but greater trade limitations would prevent integrated oil companies and other traders from hoarding RINs to drive up the market price.

Greater Transparency in RFS Waivers

Last year, the biofuel industry accused the EPA of being too liberal in the RFS exemptions the agency granted small refiners without back-up information or congressional oversight.

In response, U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced on June 14 the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act of 2019.

The legislation would require small refineries to petition for RFS exemptions by June 1 of each year, and the EPA would be held accountable for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligation it sets every November.

The EPA would also have to reveal to the public key information about the exemptions and tell Congress how it determined which small refiners were eligible.

While transparency is favorable, this legislation does not resolve the problems with the unregulated RIN market that forces small refiners to request waivers.  These refiners would not need to apply for RFS waivers if the blenders they take their gasoline to for ethanol blending were held accountable for upholding the RFS.

Is RFS Decreasing Emissions?

One of the reasons for the RFS is to help prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on June 3 that said the RFS has had a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of the reliance on corn ethanol. Advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, that could impact emissions have not been produced in mass quantities.

To read the story about EPA’s rule, click here.

To read the Progressive Farmer story about the RFS’s limit in reducing emissions, click here.

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PES Workers’ Response to Fire Saves Community From Disaster; Company Announces Shut Down https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pes-workers-response-to-fire-saves-community-from-disaster-company-announces-shut-down Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:38:04 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pes-workers-response-to-fire-saves-community-from-disaster-company-announces-shut-down Thanks to the quick thinking of USW Local 10-1 operators during the June 21 fire and explosion in the hydrofluoric acid unit at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), a dangerous cloud of hydrogen fluoride (HF) did not move over heavily populated neighborhoods.

HF exposure can cause severe burns and damage the eyes, skin, nose, throat and respiratory system. HF also can cause internal damage in the body, and at high levels, it can be deadly.

Local 10-1 operators took action quickly and followed their training protocol. They shut down process units immediately. An operator in the central control room pushed a button on the board to empty the hydrofluoric acid from the alkylation unit caught on fire, and this action averted a potential tragedy of an HF release.

Local 10-1 and PES are part of the USW’s Triangle of Prevention program that involves frequent training, and workers investigate near misses and incidents. Oil refining is dangerous, and incidents can happen that are beyond workers’ control.

Only the HF unit was damaged. The rest of the refining complex was unharmed. Despite this, PES decided to shut down the facility on June 26 and plans to prepare it for sale.

More than 1,000 employees stand to lose their jobs, and the closure will affect the building trades, contractors, suppliers and other businesses that sell goods and services to the refinery and its workers. Schools and local governments will lose tax revenue.

Local 10-1 held a meeting with members and elected officials on July 2 to discuss the abrupt closure of the plant. The refinery’s former CEO, Philip Rinaldi, met with labor, business and political leaders, the same day in a private meeting to lay out a strategy to save the facility.

Reportedly, some potential employers from Arkansas, Louisiana and Saudi Arabia came into the refinery to interview employees. Job fairs are also being discussed.

The USW negotiated a successorship clause into the National Oil Bargaining Program pattern agreement, which is in the Local 10-1 contract, so any new owner would have to accept the union and the existing labor agreement.

During a bargaining session between Local 10-1 and PES on July 3, the company said it would extend the termination date for employees from July 12 to Aug. 25 in order to prepare the refinery for resale or a restart.

To read more about what happened during the PES fire and explosion, click here.

To read about the PES closure, click here.

To read about the extension of the employees’ termination date, click here.

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Local 1355 scores bargaining win against health care giant https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-1355-scores-bargaining-win-against-health-care-giant Mon, 15 Jul 2019 17:32:11 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-1355-scores-bargaining-win-against-health-care-giant Members of amalgamated Local 1355 this spring faced off against their employer, health care giant UPMC, to win a new, vastly improved contract at long-term nursing facility Avalon Place in Mercer County, Pa.

UPMC, a $9 billion health care system based in Pittsburgh that employs more than 80,000 people, took over the private facility in fall 2018. When they first came to the table in January of this year, they had no plans to budge on wages and overtime, two of the local’s biggest concerns. The bargaining committee didn’t back down and proposed an aggressive package, showing their employer that business was not going to be as usual.

Though many of the bargaining committee members were new to the negotiations process, Local 1355 President Tim Guriel said their greenness was outweighed by their commitment and solidarity.

“There were a lot of new leaders, which can sometimes make it hard, but they really kept their nose to the grindstone,” said Local 1355 President Tim Guriel. “Without that member support, we’re just going through the motions.”

Amber Morgan, a certified nursing assistant who has worked at Avalon Place for seven years, jumped into a leadership position as the local’s grievance officer, a position that was previously vacant. Her first time at the bargaining table was an interesting and challenging one.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Morgan. “It was difficult because you’re arguing with UPMC all day and then trying to work things out with your staff at night, and not everyone is happy.”

After the first contract was voted down in April, the team was able to keep pushing UPMC toward its goal of improving conditions for all workers at the facility. This summer, their persistence paid off when they ratified a strong contract with numerous gains.

“When you look at where our contract was and what we got, it is truly one of the best contracts I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Morgan said.

The new wage scale increases range from six percent to 15 percent over the three-year contract. Overtime was adjusted as well, and the members also gained long-term disability language and paid parental leave. Part-time workers will also now pay up to 50 percent less for their health care coverage. Previously, they were paying up to $600 a month for a family plan.

The approximately 65 Steelworkers at Local 1355 include licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, as well as support staff including dietary aides, kitchen staff, and maintenance workers.

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