Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 11, 2019

Union Work

WestRock Union Council Meeting

On February 7-8, over 100 local union representatives from 30 WestRock mills and 40 box plants across the country convened in Nashville to build a strategic plan for upcoming bargaining. The WestRock Union Council is the USW paper sector’s second largest council, and the company is the largest global packaging producer. Last August, the USW led the way in forming the West Global Union Alliance, and it has formed a coordinating committee.

The council has been ramping up its coordination across the sites with bi-annual meetings and monthly conference calls, and the meeting discussed ways to further engage not only local union leaders, but local union members in solidarity across the Council in preparation for bargaining.



The USW’s Health, Safety & Environment Conference will be held September 9 – 13, 2019 at the Westin Convention Center, in Pittsburgh, Pa. Online registration opens May 1, 2019.

USW Local 2-21, IBEW 906 and Teamsters 406 – Verso – Escanaba, Mich.

Local Union Safety Committee Completes Two-Day Training, part of the United Steelworkers/Tony Mazzocchi Center’s “Preventing Fatalities and Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector” project.

On January 24, 2019, the local unions’ leaders and safety committee members participated in the first day of training. They were joined on January 25 by management counterparts for the second day, and focused on “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.” Steve Sallman of the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department and Frank Helebrant, a USW Tony Mazzocchi Center worker-trainer and member of local union 2-213, facilitated the workshops.

Participants discussed the strengths of the mill’s health and safety committees, such as the amount of union input and having the right structure in place and an open format. Other discussion topics were suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of the safety and health sub-committees and enhancing the review of workplace changes to assess potential health or safety impacts.

In addition, participants talked about enhancing the review and participation in accident/incident/near miss investigations to include root cause(s), contributing factors leading to system failures, reviewing corrective actions to address system failures, and creating a more in-depth inspection and audit process with union participation.

Participants developed specific action plans to address several current health and safety concerns, such as lockout/tagout ID tags missing, steam leak on E1, crane inspections, equipment modification process, work requests feedback, and fixing the Super Cal sump discharge.

The workshop received a positive response. Some of the remarks afterward included the following: “Excellent opportunity for labor and management to work together – Don’t do a lot of this off-site;” “Very apprehensive going into this, what the agenda would be like, but it was excellent and professionally done;” “Very well organized and eye opening;” “CSC [Central Safety Committee] will not be just a meeting anymore;” “Commitment agreement from both parties on making today’s shared information, work & be followed in future;” “Good flow and examples;” “Encouraged interaction,” and “Excellent discussion, very optimistic of site collaboration moving forward.”

Industry Update

Samsung to Replace Plastic Packaging With Pulp-Based Sustainable Materials

Samsung has announced plans to replace its plastic packaging with paper and other environmentally sustainable materials. The initiative begins in the first half of 2019, as the company will utilize recycled/bio-based plastics and paper for the packaging of everything from mobile phones and tablets to home appliances. Samsung is designating a new task force to lead in design and development, purchasing, marketing and quality control for innovative packaging ideas.

Plastic used for holder trays for mobile phone, tablet and wearable products will be replaced with pulp molds, and bags wrapping accessories will be replaced with eco-friendly materials. The company’s phone charger design will no longer feature a glossy exterior, instead opting for a matte finish to eliminate plastic protection films and reduce the use of plastics.

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

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