Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 19, 2018

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Union Work – Collective Bargaining, Organizing, Arbitration, Worker Rights, Community Work, Political Work, Labor History

USW Local 1259 – PCA – Minneapolis, MN – Local Bargained Additional Days of Vacation for Minneapolis Earned Safe & Sick Time (EEST) Ordinance

Australia’s CFMEU Pulp & Paper Unions Support Letter for USW Kimberly-Clark Workers

Workers at Kimberly-Clark’s Millicent Tissue Mill in Australia, represented by CFMEU, wrote a letter to USW members of local 2-482 in light of the announcement that the Company would close its Cold Springs facility in Neenah, WI.

The letter states, “CFMEU Pulp & Paper Workers at the Kimberly-Clark Tissue Mill in Millicent South Australia, express their thoughts and support for workers at the Kimberly-Clark, Neenah, Cold Spring & Fullerton plants in the United States.

We wish to express our extreme disappointment and anger in the manner in which the Kimberly-Clark Corporation have made the announcements to close these facilities without providing the employees and their Unions the opportunity to discuss alternatives to closure.

Kimberly-Clark’s decision shows total disdain and lack of respect for not only the workers but also their families and the communities in which they live.

CFMEU members call on Kimberly-Clark to halt any further announcement or actions until they have genuinely and properly consulted with workers and their Unions.

 

Safety

USW Locals, 462, 1458 & 1978 – International Paper Mill – Prattville, AL – Local Union Committees Completes Two-Day Workshop under USW Tony Mazzocchi Center project, “Preventing Fatalities and Life Altering Injuries While Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector”

 On February 7th USW Local Unions’ 462, 1458 & 1978 leadership, safety committee members and those who support the safety committee participated in the first day of training.

On February 8th, they were joined by management counterparts for the program titled, “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.” Steve Sallman of the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department presented the training.  Participants discussed the strengths of their labor-management safety and health committees, such as: their common interests in having equal leadership from the USW and the company, the fact that the committees are not employer-dominated, and that they have support systems in the safety language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They also discussed challenges facing the committees, such as following through on items, avoiding the deep dark hole, establishing labor-management safety sub-committees, increasing communications between mill-wide and departmental committees, and, members having prep time before the labor-management meetings.

The group worked on a process for committees to regularly engage in research, reviews of toxic and hazardous substances, inspections and investigate incidents, handle workplace changes, keep records, track progress and evaluate success.

Small groups identified projects that need long-term plans, the tools available for making detailed work plans for getting specific health and safety concerns addressed, such as: improving walking/working surfaces (including scaffolding), operation of cooking heater isolation control valves, vehicle and pedestrian safety, and, short staffing/green-on-green (new-training-new).

The training received a positive response. Some of the remarks afterwards included the following: “We have action items to go work on,” “I like the fact that there was not one PowerPoint presentation – There was total class participation,” “Great balance of team tasks and discussion,” “It left us with practical applications to employ on the mill site,” and “Overall, great meeting between Union and Management – it opened the door for better communications and results in the mill.”

   

USW HSE Conference

Conference Workshop descriptions are now available on the USW website at:  www.usw.org/hseconference! The list of workshop titles are subject to change.

OSHA Adjusts Penalty Amounts for 2018

On January 2, civil penalty amounts for violations of workplace safety and health standards increased by two percent from last year. In accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, the Department of Labor is required to adjust penalties for inflation each year. New penalties for willful and repeat violations are $129,336 per violation; serious, other-than-serious, and posting requirements are $12,934 per violation; and failure to correct violations is $12,934 for each day the condition continues.

 

Industry Update

Cenveo Bankruptcy and USW on the Creditors Committee

Earlier this month, Cenveo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and noteholders representing more than 50% of its first lien debt have signed off on a Restructuring Support Agreement for financial reorganization. Lenders agreed to provide the company with up to $290 million of debtor-in-possession financing (DIP), giving it access to up to $100 million to pay suppliers and other business partners for goods and services provided during the Ch. 11 process.

Cenveo operates a network of print and converting plants that primarily make envelopes and label, and direct mail items. In its most recent quarterly filing, the firm reported a third quarter net loss of $28 million versus income of $9 million in the third quarter of 2016. Cash and cash equivalents at Sept. 30 totaled $6.3 million, while outstanding long-term debt was approximately $1.1 billion.

There are 7 USW-represented locations affected by the bankruptcy, including: Local 198 in Mt. Pleasant, PA; Local 308 in Williamsburg, PA; Local 318-11 in Jersey City, NJ; Local 348-16 in Kirksville, MO; Local 1999-32 in Indianapolis, IN; Local 6521-17 in Altoona, PA; and Local 4-513 in Chicopee, MA.  The USW has achieved a position on the Creditor’s Committee to protect our members’ interests during this process.

USW Local 507 – Evergreen Packaging – Canton, NC – Evergreen Packaging Received Final Approval for Local Property Tax Break Tied to Upgrades

A major investment to replace coal-fired boilers with natural gas at Evergreen Packaging in Canton is increasing the mill’s property value, which in turn means a higher property tax bill. The mill is being forced to upgrade its coal-fired boilers to meet tighter federal air pollution standards. It is replacing two of its coal-fired boilers with natural gas, and installing the latest pollution control measures on two other coal-fired boilers.

Commissioners said the tax break is an economic development incentive designed to retain jobs. Four years ago, the mill faced the choice of being shut down or coming into compliance with modern air pollution standards. As the mill weighed its options, it sought economic development incentives from the state and county.

For more information, go here.

USW Local 264 – WestRock – Rochester, MN

On February 13th, the Company notified the membership that the Rochester Sheet Plant will close and cease production by the end of March. There are currently 21 members at the plant. The Local is currently in effects bargaining.

 

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Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Wayne Ranick at 412-562-2444

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222