Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 10, 2018

UNION WORK

USW Locals 266, 10-422, & 2-469 – Appvion – West Carrollton, Ohio; Roaring Springs, Pa.; Appleton, Wis. – Appvion ESOP Lawsuit

The United Steelworkers strongly supports a lawsuit filed on behalf of participants in the Appvion Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to recover the value of their investments – lost when the company was liquidated in bankruptcy court earlier this year.

Through the ESOP, unionized hourly employees as well as salaried personnel purchased Appvion in 2001 and continued to buy its stock for nearly 16 years, until the company filed its bankruptcy case in 2017.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the ESOP Administrative Committee, seeks to hold former Appvion executives and other parties who performed services associated with the ESOP accountable for allegedly breaching their fiduciary responsibilities and misrepresenting the value of the company to its employee-investors for the purpose of fraud.

A group consisting of the company’s former lenders purchased Appvion’s business in a sale that closed in June 2018. Through the years, the USW and its predecessor unions have represented thousands of workers at Appvion operations in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Oil Sector Bargaining

In mid-November, the 220 USW units that are part of the National Oil Bargaining Program (NOBP) ratified the National Oil Bargaining Policy that delegates to the NOBP conference in September approved. The policy had to pass by 75 percent of the voting units. By ratifying the policy, the membership voted to authorize the USW leadership to call for a strike if an agreement is not reached by 12:01 a.m. on February 1, 2019.

The International will begin negotiations with Shell Oil Co. in mid-January and address the issues in the National Oil Bargaining Policy to reach a national pattern agreement. At the same time, oil units will conduct their local bargaining over issues affecting their own facilities and units. Examples include: refinery work rules, shoe and meal allowances and seniority.

The USW is pushing to return to council bargaining. Oil units and local unions that work for the same employer can negotiate together in their company councils to push for company-wide issues, such as healthcare plan design and retirement benefits. This level of council bargaining is similar to the Master Agreements achieved within the paper sector in that locals across a paper council get together in the same room to discuss economic issues like wages, pensions, and healthcare, and return to the local bargaining table to bargain the issues specific to that site.

DID YOU KNOW?

Research has shown that locally-sourced natural Christmas trees have less environmental impact than artificial ones. An independent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study released by the Montreal firm Elliposos determined that real trees have less overall impact in terms of distribution, disposal, and average carbon emissions than their artificial counterparts.

When it comes to artificial trees, the key to achieving environmental gains lies in the amount of time they are kept and reused. Average households replace an artificial tree about every six years.  Evidence shows that, in general, artificial trees need to be reused for at least 20 years if they are to compare favorably with natural trees.

For more information, click here.

SAFETY

USW Locals 1435 & 9-508 – Kapstone Paper – North Charleston, S.C. – Family of Brian Allen Settles Lawsuit with Suppliers and Transporters

Brian Allen was a member of local 9-508 who, in October of 2015, suffered severe burns on over 90 percent of his body after preparing to weld on an overhead pipe in an elevated aerial lift. He and another worker were above a storage tank that should have contained non-flammable sodium hydrosulfide, a chemical used in paper manufacturing; however, later analysis by the plaintiffs' experts showed that one or more of the tanks actually contained gasoline, which ignited.

Brian was not expected to survive overnight, but managed to hang on for about eight months. His nurses nicknamed him Brian “Strong.” Many of you will remember signing cards for him at the 2016 Paper Conference, which were delivered to him in the burn unit that he stayed in until his death later that year.

Brian’s family settled with the companies that supplied the sodium hydrosulfide and the companies that transported it after an emotional, three-year battle. According to labor law firm Provost Umphrey, which represented the family, the case required the taking of over 40 depositions and the production of over 45,000 pages of documents, and there were more than 200 exhibits.

While the settlement will assist Brian’s family, it is important to note that it was achieved only because the actions of the non-employer suppliers and transporters created liability for them. The current state of law in the United States allows for only OSHA fines that are paid to the government and a minor workers compensation payout.  It was only due to a third-party’s involvement that the Allen family was able to get anything of real substance to compensate for their loss. Third-party recovery is not available in most worker fatalities or life-altering injuries.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

USW Locals 731 & 988 – Pixelle Specialty Solutions – Chillicothe, Ohio – Pixelle Specialty Solutions to Invest $35 Million in Chillicothe Mill

The specialty paper mill in Chillicothe was recently purchased by Pixelle Specialty Solutions, an affiliate of private equity company, Lindsay Goldberg. The new owners plan to invest $35 million into the facility over the next couple years to make improvements that will boost production and paper machine re-winder rates to increase paper converting efficiency. This investment will also improve a liquor loop process and batch digester controls, and it will reduce fiber loss to increase pulp mill efficiency. Other improvements will be made as well.

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.

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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