Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 28, 2019

Union Work

Fair Day’s Wage for a Fair Day’s Work

Unions won wage and hour standards like the establishment of a federal minimum wage and 40-hour workweek with paid overtime due to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In a message to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that America should be able to give "all our able-bodied working men and women a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.”

Just before the weekend, the government announced it would reopen for three weeks; however, for more than a month, over 800,000 employees were either furloughed or reported to work without pay. No matter your stance on the issues, as fellow union brothers and sisters, we should all stand in solidarity with any worker who is not being compensated while being required to work.

Labor History

In 1893, the United Brotherhood of Paper Makers, which originally began as a social club for machine tenders in Wisconsin paper mills, was chartered as a new labor union by the American Federation of Labor. By the early 20th century, the big fight for Paperworkers was to reduce working hours— eliminating the Saturday night shift in particular—and the establishment of a minimum wage of $2/day.

In January 1902, workers staged a strike at the Strange Company, Whiting Paper, Menasha, and Winnebago mills— those which had not already agreed to shut down on Saturday nights. To try to avoid a strike, some of the companies capitulated and offered either double wages on Saturday night, or to close down completely, but only on the condition that no union representatives attend a meeting between mill ownership and workers. The Appleton and Neenah-Menasha lodges voted to continue the strike and to present their demands on hours to every paper manufacturer in Wisconsin.

After a few contentious years and incidents between union workers and mills, including one where a Kimberly-Clark company guard shot at a crowd of strikers, the fight for the elimination of Saturday night shifts ended, unsuccessfully. However, paper mill workers did not give up fighting for shorter hours; instead, they transitioned to fighting for eight-hour workdays.

Over a hundred years later, USW paper workers are still confronting  similar issues  across the industry over working hours.

Safety

Employers Must Post OSHA’s Form 300A for 2018 Injury/Illness Summary Beginning Feb. 1, 2019

OSHA is reminding employers of their obligation to post a copy of OSHA's Form 300A, which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2018.  

Employees and their representatives have a right to this information under the OSHA Recordkeeping Standard, 1904.35(b)(2)(iii). If an employee or representative asks for access to the OSHA 300 Log, when does an employer have to provide it? When an employee, former employee, personal representative, or authorized employee representative asks for copies of the company’s current or stored OSHA 300 Log(s) for an establishment the employee or former employee has worked in, the employer must give the requester a copy of the relevant OSHA 300 Log(s) by the end of the next business day.

Each year, from February 1to April 30, the summary must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are usually posted. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees and those in certain low-hazard industries are exempt from OSHA recordkeeping and posting requirements.

We encourage labor-management safety and health committees to review these records to understand what is on the forms and to see how we can improve the safety and health systems in our workplaces so we can eliminate and control the hazards that are causing injuries and illnesses to our members. The labor-management safety and health committees should also discuss non-recordables and other adverse events to prevent recurrence.

Additional information is available on OSHA's Recordkeeping Rule webpage.

Industry Update

USW Locals 9-925 & 9-1924 – Resolute Forest Products – Catawba, S.C. – Resolute Forest Products Completes Sale of Catawba Mill to New-Indy

New-Indy Containerboard announced on Jan. 11 that its purchase of Resolute Forest Products’ Catawba, S.C., pulp and paper mill closed. The sale is worth $360 million.

The mill currently produces coated printing and writing paper, and will continue to do so for approximately two years. The company may transition to making ultra-light linerboard at the mill, which would be unique for the domestic corrugated market.

The USW represents three other New Indy facilities located in Peoria, Ill., Hartford City, Ind., and Oxnard, Calif. New-Indy is a privately-held company that was created in 2012 as a joint venture by the Kraft Group, LLC and Schwartz Partners, LP after acquiring two divested mills from International Paper. 

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.

Click here to download this as a PDF.

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