Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 26, 2018


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

WestRock Council Meeting

Earlier this month, local union leaders and staff from WestRock locations mill and box locations from across the country met in Atlanta, GA. The group discussed the council’s strengths and weaknesses, evaluated communication methods both within and across the locals, and also worked on a plan to address outreach to global unions.

The Council meeting was scheduled around the WestRock Shareholders’ Meeting, which took place the following day. 35 USW representatives attended this meeting.

Paper Industry Unveils First-Ever Animated Characters to Strengthen Consumer Connections Nationwide

The Paper & Packaging – How Life Unfolds campaign revealed two new animated characters to further strengthen the consumer connection established by the campaign over the past three years. The new industry brand ambassadors are a springboard for inspiring creativity, connection and achievement–qualities consumers around the world appreciate when using paper and paper-based packaging products.

 “We literally brought paper and packaging to life as animated characters to highlight paper’s timeless power and relevance in our increasingly digital world,” said Todd Stone, group creative director at Cramer-Krasselt. “Through decades of technological innovation, paper remains one of the most effective ways to learn, communicate and share ideas. And nothing keeps the items you care about safe during transit better than corrugated packaging.”

For more information, click here.



Packaging Corporation of America: One Year after Catastrophic Explosion in DeRidder Killing Three

February 8, 2018 marked the one-year anniversary of the explosion at PCA in DeRidder that killed 3 employees. According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,  three contract workers were climbing down from an elevated pipe rack when what's called a foul condensate tank exploded. The blast hit the employees and tossed their bodies 200 yards, killing all three.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, based in Washington D.C., sent a team to DeRidder to do an independent probe of the blast. A full report from the investigation is forthcoming but we know that the CSB is working on a video on the incident and its findings. Board Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland in California said that "Our team has done a great job so far, finding out that the explosion itself involved a large tank, and when that exploded it flew 370 feet over a six-story building before landing on process equipment and we have uncovered that of course that was caused by hot work that was probably being done under and near the tank before the fire occurred," said Sutherland.

Sutherland says deaths and injuries from hot work happen often and they're trying to address it and improve hot work safety: "Due to the frequency of events we really wanted to uncover why do they happen and what might we learn from this additional incident. Hot work is actually one of our critical safety issues at the Chemical Safety Board.  We are focusing our attention and resources on bringing this issue to light, because a targeted effort, we hope, will reduce the continued, recurring events we see literally on an almost on a weekly basis," she said. 

Click the link to view a segment that a Local News Station in Louisiana (KPLCtv) aired on the anniversary of the tragic event

BLS Releases Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released its National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016, which reports 5,190 workplace fatalities in 2016 — a 7 percent increase from 2015. The fatal injury rate also increased from 3.4 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in 2015 to 3.6 in 2016.

More workers lost their lives in transportation incidents than any other event in 2016, accounting for about two out of every five fatal injuries. Workplace violence injuries increased by 23 percent, making it the second most common cause of workplace fatality. The report also shows the number of overdoses on the job increased by 32 percent in 2016.


Industry Update

USW Locals 1441 & 1444 – International Paper, - Riverdale (Selma), Alabama – International Paper to Increase Investment in Alabama Mill

In September 2017, International Paper announced that it would invest around $300 million at the Riverdale (Selma) mills to convert its No. 15 paper machine from uncoated freesheet paper to containerboard. The conversion was part of a strategic plan to grow its industrial packaging business. The Company now plans to invest an additional $222 million, to total $522.7million, as it optimizes the facility and boosts productivity.

Dallas County officials said IP is making the largest industrial investment in the county in many years. Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Wayne Vardaman said in an interview with local development newsletter, Made in Alabama, “IP is Dallas County’s largest employer with over 750 employees and numerous indirect jobs. These employees now know that the Riverdale Mill is here to stay.”

Sun Paper Boosting Investment in Proposed Arkansas Paper Mill

Sun Paper announced plans to increase their investment from $1.3 billion to $1.8 billion. The projected number of employees that they plan to hire will also go up by 100, to 350 new jobs. The Company expects to manufacture linerboard in response to growing demand in the market.


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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
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222