Monday Morning Minute: April 22, 2019

Union Work

Domtar Benefits Committee Meeting

On April 11, the Domtar-USW benefits committee—consisting of Domtar labor and benefits leadership and the Domtar union council chair and three local leaders, met at the Plymouth, N.C., fluff pulp mill. The group reviewed the well-being program, which has resulted in increased participation through their efforts; 2019 open enrollment and 2018 health care plan performance, among other topics. The three local leaders on the committee are Dane Condino, Johnsonburg mill, Local 10-701; Keith Frazier, Ashdown mill, Local 1329; and Randy Meverden, Rothschild mill, Local 319. Randy Knott, president of maintenance local 1356 at Plymouth, also joined the meeting.

Letter to the Editor from USW Assistant to the International President, Leeann Foster, on Greenwashing Initiatives for Earth Day

“Stating that you will not print your newspaper and instead go digital in recognition of Earth Day for environmental and sustainability reasons offers your readership a false choice.  I represent over 100,000 workers in the paper industry that your newspaper prints on and paper is an environmentally sustainable product. In fact, the North American industry is held to very high sustainability standards and affiliates with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For every tree that is cut down by the paper industry, at least two are planted. Further, the logging that is done frees the forest of smaller logs and prevents forest fires.

Paper mills are also highly efficient facilities that use every possible piece of a log to manufacture paper. In fact, black liquor produced in the papermaking process is used to provide energy to run the mills, and excess energy is often sold back to the grid. The water used in the process is cleaned many times and returned to the rivers purer than it was when the mill first came into contact with it.

It simply is not black and white to say that digital communication is green and paper is not.  In 2016, for example, 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste were generated globally. The US collects approximately 22 percent of its e-waste.  Paper, however, is a highly and easily recyclable product that is used again and again to make more paper and boxes.

Here are some websites that provide more information:

Finally, since becoming a subscriber, I have been very disappointed that you deliver the paper in a plastic bag that is marked recyclable but that I am not in reality able to recycle.  Plastic bags are banned from recycling because they get caught in the sorting machines at recycling facilities.  I understand the need to keep the paper dry, but a bamboo plastic bag as they already use at Trader Joes and other supermarkets would be a compostable choice that is even more environmentally friendly.

I have intended to write about the plastic bags for some time, but upon seeing the sticker this morning, I felt compelled to write to educate on environmental issues as they pertain to your business.”

Greenwashing is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as, “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is. Environmentally-conscious consumers rely on corporate messages to inform their purchasing choices.  Yet, it is not uncommon for organizations to make misleading environmental claims that promote switching from paper to electronic services as better for the environment, i.e.  ‘go paperless – go green’ and ‘save trees.’ The misleading aspects of most paperless marketing slogans also fail to meet the requirements of many published environmental guidelines and laws. 

To challenge major organizations found to be misleading consumers by using false environmental claims about the use of paper, please send information on the greenwashing to: For more information, please visit


Center for Chemical Process Safety Beacon – Information on Undetected Ball Valve Failure

Upon investigation of this incident, it was discovered that the ball inside a hand valve on the thermal oxidizer line between two units was in the open position, even though the valve handle was in the closed position. A day or two after one of the units was locked out, the other unit began venting toxic gas through the shared line to the thermal oxidizer. Fortunately, there were no injuries, but had this event happened on another system, injuries could have occurred           

What you can do

For more information, copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Did you Know?

According to the American Forestry and Paper Association, the pulp and paper industry is one of the lowest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions as compared to other major industrial manufacturing industries. This result is due in part to energy efficiency improvements as well as the relatively high use of carbon-neutral biomass (and low use of fossil fuels) in pulp and paper manufacturing. Clean production by the pulp and paper industry is controlled and improved by ensuring compliance with environmental regulations, utilizing best-available technologies to reduce water and energy use, controlling and reducing emissions to air, treating wastewater, reducing solid waste to landfills, and replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.

Industry Update

Information from Analysts -- March Containerboard and Box Data

Box demand in March was much weaker than analysts expected and is down by 3 percent from the same time period last year. Mill operating rates are also down to 86.4 percent, which is the lowest level in almost a decade, and didn’t have the impact on inventories that some analysts expected. Inventories fell by 47.2k tons, which is short of the seasonal 69.5k tons drop. The USW represents approximately 30,000 workers in the packaging industry and all major companies.

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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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