Monday Morning Minute: April 1, 2019

Union Work

***Correction to 3/25/2019 Issue of Monday Morning Minutes – Last week we mistakenly stated that Bob Tapp is the local union president of Local 381, when he is actually the president of another large, amalgamated Local: 4-380***

WestRock Council “Rock Solid Unity” Sticker Action

At their council meeting in August last year in Destin, Fla., the WestRock locals, with help from the USW Strategic Campaigns Department, brainstormed slogans that could be used to launch a campaign going into master bargaining this year. At the most recent council meeting in Nashville in February, “Rock Solid Unity” was debuted as the winning slogan along with sticker and leaflet designs for upcoming collective actions.

The week of March 17 was chosen for the council’s first action. Locals picked any day during the week to coordinate with their membership the wearing of stickers that had been mailed to the local union. Members and local leadership were encouraged to take photos and share them with the USW paper sector team. On a conference call during the week of the action, locals shared that the action was overwhelmingly successful. Gino DiChiara, president of Local 381 representing the Newark, N.J., box shop, stated “[they] had a ball and we even got management wearing the stickers. It was quite an event and I think we should do it again every week.”

Jesus Alvarez, the unit 13 chair of USW Local 12-477 in Denver, Colo., is shown below wearing his “Rock Solid Unity” sticker.

In the next photo, officers of Local 10-286 in Philadelphia wear their stickers to show solidarity in support of WestRock members at the Aston, Pa., box shop. The third photo shows local members Joe Lindsey, Wayne Stokes and Daren Hill from the Aston shop.

USW Locals 365, 936, 956, 1247, 1300, 1438, 13-935 & 4-291 – Twin Rivers Paper Company – Madawaska, Maine; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Lyonsdale, N.Y., & Little Falls, N.Y. – SEC Says No Harm Shown in Paperless Shareholder Reporting Rule Challenge

On March 12, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) defended its process for approving a new rule that allows mutual fund companies to release most shareholder reports online rather than by mail. Rule 30e-3 makes electronic delivery of shareholder reports the default option for mutual fund investors, and is scheduled to go into effect in 2021.

According to the SEC, investors who still want to receive paper reports can elect to do so by calling a toll-free telephone number set up by their fund or by using some other method that allows investors to easily communicate that choice; however, this clearly places the burden on investors to change what is now considered the default option.

Twin Rivers Paper is a preeminent manufacturer of the type of coated fine papers that are used to create financial publications like annual reports, 10Ks, and other SEC filing documents. The USW represents six sites and over 600 members at Twin Rivers Paper. The locals are part of the Atlas Holdings Council, which is also comprised of USW-represented sites at Finch Paper, Novipax, and Soundview Paper; all are owned by the aforementioned private equity group for which the council is named. Late last year, the council met for the first time to discuss its common ownership and various issues.


USW Local 7-103A-1 – International Paper – Newport, Ind., USW District 7 – Local Union Safety Committee Completes Two-Day Workshop, part of the United Steelworkers/Tony Mazzocchi Center’s “Preventing Fatalities and Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector” Project

On March 20, 2019, local union leaders and safety committee members participated in the first day of the workshop; on March 21 they were joined by management counterparts for the second day, and focused on “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.”

The Newport mill is the eighth International Paper mill to participate in this type of workshop, along with two box shops. Union and management participants discussed strengths of the mill’s health and safety systems and structures, including the committee representing the major departments/shifts. They talked about the members’ commitment, and discussed suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the safety and health committee by identifying specific actions to improve workplace change that can impact safety and health. Other topics addressed included developing more collaborative ways to conduct union-management accident/incident/near-miss investigations to identify root causes and system failures; implementing regular audits/walk-around inspections, and having adequate time for the committee and the newly identified co-chairs.

Participants developed specific action plans to address several current health and safety concerns, such as addressing problems with green-on-green (including training and Lock-out/Tag-out), mill-wide ventilation, and powered-industrial truck interface with pedestrians in the short-term storage area. 

The workshop received very positive feedback from participants, including: “Extremely informative & very good process;” “The book is a great resource;” “The interaction with teams was very beneficial;” “Great learning experience,” and “Spot-on, great job.”

Industry Update

Containerboard Industry Update

According to analysts, several USW-represented containerboard companies across the industry are taking downtime to control oversupplied inventories and manage lower demand growth. The largest producer, International Paper, has been taking rolling downtime across its entire system, and WestRock extended downtime at its flagship West Point, Va., mill beginning at the end of March. Smaller companies in the market like Greif are also reportedly taking downtime and pulling back production as market conditions have worsened.

Tell Us Your Stories!

Has your local done something amazing? Have you had a great solidarity action? Done something huge to help your community? Made significant connections with other labor groups? Is your Women of Steel or Next Gen committee making waves? Have you had success in bargaining, major accomplishments? We all stay so busy working to improve our workplaces and communities that we often do not take 5 minutes to reflect, share and celebrate our accomplishments.

Tell us your story so we can all be part of it! Contact Laura Donovan at, or at 412-562-2504.

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Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

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