Monday Morning Minute: April 15, 2019

Union Work

USW Locals 10-448, 1421, 1575, 2-86, & 2-482 – Kimberly-Clark – Chester, Pa., Mobile, Ala., Marinette, Wis., & Neenah, Wis. – Kimberly-Clark Global Solidarity Campaign and Day of Action in Response to Company’s Decision to Close Ingleburn, Australia Facility and Restructure Northfleet, United Kingdom Plant

On April 3, Kimberly-Clark announced the closure of its plant in Ingleburn, Australia and the restructuring of its facility in Northfleet, UK. Two hundred twenty (220) workers in Ingleburn, who are members of the Australian Union CFMEU, will lose their jobs as the work will be transferred to other existing facilities in Asia. Up to 130 employees, which is about half of the workforce, will be laid off in Northfleet due to global restructuring.

The announcement that the company would be shutting down and restructuring the two facilities came very shortly after the Kimberly-Clark Global Network Meeting took place between corporate management and union delegates from around the world. During this discussion, the company failed to inform union representatives about the cutbacks, even after the delegation offered for a core group to engage in consultation with appropriate confidentiality agreements. The company has agreed only to comply with the laws as they stand in each country. A photo from the meeting is below.

The CFMEU was notified of the Ingleburn plant closure via text just two minutes before the company told workers that they would be losing their jobs. In response, UNI Global Union, IndustriALL and affiliate unions, including the USW, quickly coordinated a day of action on April 11 in conjunction with the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting. The unions wrote a joint declaration, condemning Kimberly-Clark’s blatant disregard for input from its workers. Share the joint declaration via social media with the hashtag #CleanUpKimberlyClark

Union Plus Free College Program

USW members in the paper sector are eligible for an exciting new educational benefit available through Union Plus. This free, college online program, offered through Eastern Gateway Community College in Northeastern Ohio, is open to USW dues-paying members and/or their immediate and extended family. Members can earn an associate’s degree in a number of fields like business administration, finance, cyber security, advertising, etc.

The free college program is entirely funded through grants, and is regionally accredited. Tuition, books and other fees are free, and credits earned through the free college program are transferable to other schools, which can save you thousands of dollars if you are thinking about enrolling in a full bachelor’s degree program.

Copy and paste the following link into your browser for more information: https://freecollege.usw.org/

HOLD the Date – PCA, Georgia-Pacific, International Paper and Graphic Packaging Council Meetings

We are working on scheduling council meetings for the PCA, GP, IP and Graphic Packaging councils in August in Pittsburgh. The PCA Council will meet the week of August 12. GP, IP, and Graphic Packaging locals will meet the week of August 19. Hard dates and logistics will be forthcoming in an official call letter in the next couple of weeks.

Safety

Von Drehle Facility located in Natchez, Miss., Faces $300k in OSHA Fines

Von Drehle, a paper company that produces personal care tissue and towel products, is facing $303,657 in fines at its Natchez, Miss., facility due to workplace hazard violations cited by OSHA. One of the penalties is the maximum amount allowed by law. The citations include exposing employees to electrical hazards, lack of machine guarding, allowing combustible dust to accumulate on surfaces, failing to lockout machinery to control hazardous energy, and allowing slip, trip and fall hazards.

The USW does not represent any Von Drehle locations; however, this is a good example of a paper company being held accountable by the existing resources at hand.

Industry Update

Graphic Packaging Business Update

According to analysts, Graphic Packaging has struggled with meeting pricing and cost targets in packaging over the past couple of years. All of the USW-represented facilities are producers of either coated board, bleached board or corrugated boxes. The company’s food service operations are picking up new business, and growth could be supported by price/cost tailwinds and improved volumes. Graphic Packaging holds about 30 percent of the North American paper cups market.

USW Locals 2-21, 2-94, 2-116, 2-187, & 676 – Verso Corporation – Escanaba, Wis., Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Stevens Point, Wis., & Luke, M.D. – Verso President and CEO Steps Down

On April 11, it was announced that Christopher DiSantis, Verso president, CEO and board member, stepped down from his positions effective April 5, 2019. Leslie Lederer, former chairman, interim president and CEO of Catalyst Paper Company, has been named as interim CEO.

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 ldonovan@usw.org, or at 412-562-2504.

Click here to download this as a PDF.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222