Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 17, 2018

The Monday Morning Minutes will resume again in the New Year on January 7

UNION WORK

USW Locals 692, 899, 1504, 9-790, 9-925, & 9-1924 – Resolute Forest Products
Coosa Pines, Ala.; Calhoun, Tenn.; Augusta, Ga. & Catawba, S.C. – Resolute Forest Products Council Meeting

The USW locals of the Resolute Forest Products Council, along with representatives from the IBEW and Plumbers/Steamfitters unions, met in Atlanta on December 6. The council is preparing a bargaining agenda for a new Master Agreement next year.

DID YOU KNOW?

Over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the United States each year, compared with around 500 million e-cards sent each year. Sixty-five percent of people, in a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, planned on sending Christmas or holiday cards. Those age 65 and over were most likely to do so, but more than half of millennials surveyed also said they planned on sending cards. Look for Made in the USA cards when making your purchasing decisions, as they will be more likely to be made with USW-made paper.

SAFETY 

From the Center for Chemical Process Safety – Common Cause Failures

A common cause, or single-event, failure can occur in process plants, both in normal operations and in emergency situations. For example, a reactor has two high temperature shutdown sensors. Both are calibrated at the same time by the same technician following the same procedure. Unfortunately, the technician is not properly trained and does the calibration incorrectly for both sensors, so both give an incorrect temperature reading. What can you do?

INDUSTRY UPDATE

Business Leaders Expecting a Recession to Hit within the Next Year

Increasingly, the stock market has shown volatility, and paper stocks have taken a dive in the last few months. There is a growing chorus of “economists” who are predicting an economic slowdown, despite the enormous corporate tax breaks that, in many cases, were used for stock buy-backs instead of capital or workforce investments.

U.S. chief financial officers expect a recession as soon as next year, adding to signs that the outlook is souring among businesses and consumers amid a trade war and volatile financial markets. While about 49 percent of respondents see an economic downturn by the end of 2019, 82 percent expect that a recession will have begun by the end of 2020, the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook fourth-quarter survey showed.

The recession concerns suggest the business community is significantly more downbeat than economists. One of the widest measures of what the latter expect, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's Survey of Professional Forecasters, puts the odds that the economy will be shrinking in a year's time at 23 percent.

Companies also pared their plans for investment and full-time hiring for the next 12 months compared with the September Duke survey, which had already shown deterioration from June. The results come on the heels of a report Tuesday, Dec. 11, from the National Federation of Independent Business, which showed the net share of small firms expecting the economy to improve in six months plunged in November to a two-year low. A separate survey of consumers from the University of Michigan last week showed a gauge of expectations dipped to the lowest level in a year.

Falling Pulp Prices

Due to a sharp drop in Chinese demand and above-average inventories in China, falling pulp prices are expected to continue to decline even more sharply. According to analysts with BMO Capital Markets, Chinese pulp demand was down 50-75 percent in November, and in December, it has come to a halt.

Furthermore, pulp demand is entering a seasonally slow period which implies that prices could drop even further. The effects could have global implications, as European prices have also begun to fall last month.

To compensate for the over-supply and low prices, companies typically scale back production and take downtime to reach market equilibrium. USW-represented paper companies like Domtar and International Paper are large fluff pulp producers that are most exposed to pulp and may be impacted.

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