Monday Morning Minute: March 25, 2019

Union Work

USW Local 9-952 – Georgia-Pacific – Naheola, Ala. – Vacated Arbitration Decision

Georgia-Pacific has filed a suit to vacate an arbitration award that was decided on January 4, 2019. The decision reinstated a USW member with a 90-day suspension following his termination at the Naheola mill for failing a random drug screening.

The grievance and arbitration process is a cornerstone of our collective bargaining agreements. The integrity of our agreements is tied to the parties agreeing to live by the results of the enforcement of these mechanisms within the grievance and arbitration process. Unions relinquished the right to strike during the term of an agreement in exchange for a system of industrial jurisprudence that is not consumed by courts and huge pocketbooks. If we can no longer count on the processes we agreed to, the integrity of the entire process is called into question.

USW Locals 709, 1-662, 1-728, 9-1411, 4-380, 381, & 848 – International Paper – Waterloo, Iowa; Wooster, Ohio; Eaton, Ohio; Morristown, Tenn.; Barrington, N.J.; Milltown, N.J., & St. Anthony, Ind.

On March 19, staff and local leaders from the International Paper locations with local collective bargaining agreements expiring between June and August 2019 met in Atlanta with the USW paper sector leadership, general managers, senior labor relations and local HR leadership. These sessions are held a few times per year for the company and union to facilitate the local and master bargaining process.

A union-only session was held prior to the start of the renewal bargaining session with the company to review new materials for new hire orientations and internal organizing initiatives. Local 4-380 President Bob Tapp can be seen below, and a photo of the full group is also below.

USW Local 4-9 – Sappi Fine Paper – Skowhegn, Maine (Somerset mill) – USW Member Elected to Local School Board

USW Local 4-9 Paperworker Kathy Wilder won a write-in election for school board in Maine School Administrative District (MSAD) 54 earlier this month. Wilder, who works as a chemical prep operator at Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan, says that her priorities will be student achievement, fiscal responsibility, clear communications and social justice.


IndustriALL/UNI Safety Sticker Action

A reminder that the USW paper sector, in conjunction with global partners UNI Global Union and IndustriALL, is kicking off a full year of safety actions on Workers Memorial Day, April 28, 2019 with a press release. The actions will center around three fundamental rights needed to make work safe: (1) the Right to Know; (2) the Right to Act; and (3) the Right to Participate.  As we discussed at the USW Paper Conference last year, we are calling these the three “R’s”, and they address workers’ rights to know the hazards and risks in their workplace, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to participate in safety programs and structures that manage safety in the workplace. Each of these rights will be highlighted in a month-long action by workers at all union shops across the global pulp, paper, graphical and packaging sectors.

The first action will focus on a worker’s right to know and will take place worldwide across the paper sector during the months of May/June 2019.  We will follow up in the first week of April with an email to the sector detailing comprehensive information about the first action.

Industry Update

USW Local 264 Unit 5 – WestRock – St. Paul, Minn. – Fire at Recycling Facility

A fire erupted at the WestRock recycling mill in St. Paul on March 20. We have received limited information so far, but according to Staff Representative Brian Ecker, we know that the fire started on the dry end of Pm#1 and PM#2 and quickly spread to the roof hood ventilation system. Paper machines #1 and #2 are right next to each other. The night shift evacuated the building and performed a head count to make sure no one was left inside.

One member had smoke inhalation. The paramedics administered oxygen and after 20 minutes his symptoms were gone. The plant is anticipated to be down for up to two more days to finish the investigation. We will continue to monitor developments as we receive them.

USW Locals 988 & 731 – Pixelle Specialty Solutions – Chillicothe, Ohio – Pixelle Conducting Layoffs due to Machine Offline from Fire

On March 17, the Pixelle Specialty Solutions Chilpaco mill located in Chillicothe, Ohio, experienced a paper machine fire. While no one was injured due to the fire, 80 workers assigned to the machine are being temporarily laid off as it is repaired.

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, 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