Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 7, 2019

Union Work

Effects of Coated Paper Dumping on U.S. Markets

The coated paper industry has shed millions of tons of capacity—much of it as a result of dumping paper into our markets at prices lower than the cost of production.

Dumping has caused a number of bankruptcies, the loss of thousands of jobs, and a lot of personal and community heartache.

Every time one threat is erased, another arises. This is due, in part, to the lack of aggressive trade prosecution and the fact that, by the time the evidence is gathered to prosecute a case, much of the damage has already been inflicted.

Unfortunately, trade issues are once again on the rise with imports in certain markets trending up, while exports continue to decline.

For example, offshore imports of coated paper for the last four months of available trade data (July through October) surged 24 percent, while exports sank 13 percent.

What does this mean? It means that, when imports and exports are out of balance, there is an oversupply of paper availability for US domestic buyers. The laws of supply and demand almost always lead to falling prices when such conditions become normalized.

In fact, prices have already started to decline in some European and Asian markets, and this will amplify if the trade imbalance and dumping continue. This is horrible news for workers in the industries that have repeatedly been victims of unfair trade built on cheaters—not value.

WestRock Council Meeting

WestRock locals are reminded that we have scheduled a council meeting in Nashville on February 7-8. You are responsible for making your own hotel arrangements. Please contact Laura Donovan (ldonovan@usw.org; 412-562-2504) if you need a copy of the call letter or instructions on making your reservations.

Did You Know?

Sales of physical books have increased every year since 2013. In October 2018, bookstore sales were at $699 million, which is up by $50 million from the previous year. Print book sales were up 10.8 percent in 2017 from four years earlier, and between 2016 and 2017, e-book sales dropped by 10 percent.

Safety

Full-Time Safety Representative Training is FULL

The class is full and has reached its limit of 40 participants. We can no longer accept any more applications. Please do not make any travel arrangements unless you have already been notified of your acceptance. We will keep you advised of any future safety training opportunities. Thank you to everyone for your interest!

Fatal Incident at Non-Union Kimberly-Clark Mill in Paris, Texas

An employee of the non-union Kimberly-Clark mill in Paris, Texas, was fatally injured on December 11, 2018 when he was struck by a vehicle at the loading dock. Employees were sent home, and the mill shut down for the rest of the day. The complete details are unknown at this time, but OSHA is investigating the incident. While the facility in Paris is not represented by the USW, we are monitoring the situation to understand if the hazard could exist across the industry.

Industry Update

USW Locals 983 & 1803 – Graphic Packaging – Augusta, Ga. – Graphic Packaging to Invest $350M in Augusta Mill

Graphic Packaging announced that it will be making $350 million worth of improvements to modernize the mill in Augusta. It purchased the facility from International Paper in January 2018. The modernization project is expected to take about six years, and will improve the quality of the bleached paperboard that the mill produces for various food-service and consumer-product companies, according to an interview conducted by the local newspaper, The Augusta Chronicle.

The investment includes enhancements to existing machinery, installation of a new recovery boiler, and improvements to the woodyard.

The USW represents approximately 450 members, and the updates will help maintain the mill’s workforce.

USW Locals 279, 318, 675, 743, 796, 1149, 1216, 1286, 1327, 1852, 9036, 1-243, 1-346, 1- 609, 1-716, 4-513, 757, 3610, 7234, 1329,and 4-607 – Greif Inc. and Caraustar Industries – Tacoma, Wash.; Newark, N.J.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Tama, Iowa; Crossett, Ark.; Atlanta, Texas; Chicago, Ill.; Mobile, Ala.; Oshkosh, Wis.; York, Pa.; Saginaw, Mich.; Minerva, Ohio; Oregon, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Baltimore, Ohio; Chicopee, Mass.; Florence, Ky.; Massilon, Ohio; Alsip, Ill.; Van Wert, Ohio; & Tonawanda, N.Y. – Greif to Acquire Caraustar

Greif announced plans on December 20, 2018 to acquire Caraustar for $1.8 billion in a cash transaction expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Greif is the largest producer of steel and fibre drums and industrial closures in the world, as well as flexible, intermediate bulk containers. The company is also a leading producer of recycled containerboard, and focuses on specialty corrugated products. Caraustar manufactures uncoated recyclable paperboard, tube & core products, and specialty products.

Greif’s CEO stated that Caraustar’s “complementary paper packaging and recycled fiber operations will drive significant free cash flow growth, improve balance and profitability within the Greif portfolio, and increase Greif's exposure to U.S. industrial and consumer end markets.

Between the two paper councils, the USW represents approximately 1,000 members across 21 facilities in the U.S.

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 or have major accomplishments? We all stay so busy working to improve our workplaces and communities that we often do not take five 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