Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 21, 2019

UNION WORK

USW Local 795 – PCA – Mascot, Tenn.

A box shop in Mascot, Tenn., sent in the photo below of a sign that they have displayed outside their shop. The small local is doing its part to promote the USW to nearby industrial parks.

USW Local 9525 – Dunn Paper – Wiggins, Miss. – Vacation Pay Arbitration

The employer failed to credit workers with increased vacations or vacation pay on their anniversaries after changing accrual from in the previous year to the current year. The contract had an effective date of July 1, and was executed in the following September, and the union was claiming increased vacation for those with anniversary dates between July 1 and the end of the year. The employer argued that the union was trying to get retroactivity and that economic items came into effect January 1 of the following year. To rule otherwise would prejudice employees who reached anniversary dates under the old contract. Award: grievance granted.

DID YOU KNOW?

To reduce the need to purchase energy, pulp and paper mills self-generate the majority of electricity needed to run their facilities. In 2016, 55 percent of electricity needed to power processes was self-generated. Forty-six percent of mills generate more than half of their needed electricity. Twenty-two percent of US paper mills also sold excess power – much of it renewable – to the grid.

SAFETY

Employees Evacuated Verso (Androscoggin) Mill in Jay, Maine, after Chemical is Released

On January 9, four contractors at the Verso Androscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, were taken to a hospital and employees working on paper machines were evacuated after a valve was left open and chlorine dioxide gas was detected. According to a company spokesperson, the mill was making a normal transition from unbleached to bleached paper grades on the paper machines. The valve was closed and the air in the mill was tested and determined to be clear, and employees returned to work.

While the Androscoggin mill is not currently represented by the United Steelworkers, the USW represents nearly 2,000 workers at four other Verso mills in Escanaba, Wis., Luke, Maryland, Stevens Point, Wis., and Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

USW Locals 335 & 1334 – Georgia-Pacific – Zachary, La. (Port Hudson mill) – Uncoated Paper Machine Shut and Impact to the Community

In addition to the 650 jobs that will be lost at the mill when the company shuts down its only remaining uncoated paper machine, the surrounding community also stands to lose an additional 2,150 jobs according to estimates by LSU economists.

A ripple effect is often felt in towns with a major employer, such as the large paper mill in Port Hudson. Restaurants and stores depend on local workers to patronize their shops and provide a steady source of revenue. Entities that are directly related to and depend on mill operations, like commercial loggers and, truck drivers will also feel the effects of the partial plant closure and subsequent reduced operations.

According to an interview with The Advocate newspaper, Shaun Tanger, a forest economist for the AgCenter, indicates that commercial logging could lose 135 jobs and nearby restaurants would lose just over 130 jobs. Other areas that could be big losers include management of companies and other enterprises, which would lose nearly 90 jobs; service to building, which would take a hit of just under 80 jobs, and truck transportation, over 60 jobs.

In addition to job losses, tax revenue for state and local governments are also expected to decrease by about $22 million, and the prices that landowners get for their hardwood and pulpwood is expected to fall because of the reduced demand from Georgia-Pacific. The local school board could also face a monetary issues in the future, as the property taxes that the mill pays heavily subsidizes the school’s budget.

Containerboard Markets in Early 2019

According to market analysts, containerboard pricing remains under pressure in some markets, but domestic demand appears steady/modestly higher, and prices in domestic markets appear to be under only modest pressure. The period of Christmas through February is the slowest of the year. Compared to last year, there is a more cautious outlook on future box demand growth amongst industry executives.

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