Monday Morning Minute: April 8, 2019

Union Work

IndustriALL Global Pulp and Paper Working Group Video Conference Call

The IndustriALL Global Pulp and Paper Working Group held its quarterly video conference call on March 27. Labor leaders and activists from across the globe convene this quarterly call to report on developments in the global pulp and paper industry, including collective bargaining, safety and the upcoming global safety action. We’re all in different time zones, but we stand together in solidarity. Many thanks to those who stayed up late into the night or got up very early for the call!

Harley-Davidson Negotiations

USW membership of Locals 2-209 and 460 who work at Harley-Davidson facilities in Tomahawk, Wis., and Milwaukee, Wis., overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer by the company on Monday, April 1. Negotiations have been led by District 2 Director Michael Bolton. The company has refused to move on core labor movement issues like seniority rights, temporary workers’ rights, job security and scheduling.

The company has maintained a “status-quo” position on many contract provisions. Mark Eilers, president of Local 2-209 representing the flagship Milwaukee facility, said that the committee has stressed that ratification bonuses and wage increases are short-term gains. When the company continues its surge employment of casual employees to over-produce its supply—it is utilizing cheaper labor and then laying off hard-working union members during normal production times—it is not beneficial to the local union in the long run. “No one is happy—the casual workers who are dues-paying members, those close to retirement, and workers in the middle of the road who still have a number of years to go. We have full support from the membership and that is comforting. Everyone has each other’s backs.”

While this is not specifically related to the paper sector, we express solidarity with our brothers and sisters across all industries and understand the importance of standing up to any company that impedes our fundamental principles.

Safety

USW Hazard Alert - Fatal Accident Involving a Train and Worker on Foot

Although this accident is not from a paper location, like or similar hazards appear in many of our workplaces. A train of only two engines was heading eastbound at approximately 35 MPH in heavy rain. A worker was walking from the north side of the public crossing to the south side to get to his car when he was struck around 11:30 pm. The engineer did not see the worker on foot, but believed something had happened and brought the train to a stop.

The employee parking lot is on the southwest side of the crossing; the plant is on the northeast side. Workers must walk across a double set of tracks going to and from work. The tracks carry a high volume of trains, making it difficult to cross.

Before the worker attempted to walk across the railroad crossing, a separate train had passed westbound on a parallel track.  It appears the worker waited for the westbound train to clear before walking across the first set of tracks and never saw the two-engine train traveling eastbound at the same time the  westbound train was clearing the crossing.  The crossing was equipped with active warning devices, but the heavy rain and noise from the passing train appears to have created additional hazards and a blind spot. In addition, swing-down barrier gates were only provided in the lanes for oncoming vehicles, even though pedestrians can and do cross the tracks on both sides of the street.

To view the Hazard Alert in its entirety, click here.

PRODUCT ADVISORY – 3M™ DBI-SALA® Self-Rescue – 3M Fall Protection identified a manufacturing issue within a limited number of 3M™ DBISALA® Self-Rescue devices manufactured prior to December 2018. There have been no reports of injuries or accidents associated with this issue. The fall-arrest performance of the Self Rescue is not affected by this issue, but it may impact the self-rescue function of the unit. The manufacturing issue can be visually inspected and is easily identified through a pre-use inspection.

To address the situation, 3M Fall Protection is launching a global Inspection Notice. As set out in the attached Notice, the impacted model #s 3320030 and 3320031 require inspection prior to use, and users are provided several options including free inspection and/or replacement at 3musfpserviceaction@mmm.com.

Industry Update

Potential Containerboard Closures

Analysts think that containerboard closures could be on the horizon over the next couple of months due to a rationalization of capacity across the industry as supplies increase and demand slows.  Containerboard shipments are highly correlated with production of non-durable, or “soft,” goods like cosmetics, cleaning products, clothing, etc. and in late 2018, these types of goods experienced a decline. While e-commerce shipments continue to rise, it represents a smaller percentage of total retail sales than traditional retail, which has declined due to a slowdown in the overall economy. Sustainability initiatives also impact demand as outlets like Amazon realize greater packaging efficiency.

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