Monday Morning Minute: March 26, 2018


USW Local 1259, Graphic Packaging, Hamel, Minn.

A member received life-altering injuries to his hand. The preliminary information is six month employee was removing jammed labels from a pulley when his fingers were caught in the unguarded nip of a belt and pulley. The machine did not start up until a hard guard was installed. Other machines are being assessed for the similar hazards. 

Health, Safety and Environment Staff, Steve Sallman, is remotely assisting the local with their investigation. 

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

2018 National Paper Bargaining Conference

We are pleased to announce our 8th USW Paper Sector Bargaining Conference to be held at the Westin Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., July 17-20, 2018. This is the conference where we set forth our bargaining agenda and build our work plan for the next two years. The conference agenda will include plenary presentations and safety-based workshops designed around the Making and Converting Paper Safely program, as well as educational workshops to build our locals. Also, this year we plan to hold sector strategy meetings for Packaging and Tissue Locals. 

Delegates should plan for arrival on Monday, July 16 and for departure on Friday, July 20. Tues., July 17 through Thurs., July 19 will consist of full day meetings, so departures should be on Friday morning. 

On Monday, July 16, we will hold a meeting for box/converter locals/units ONLY with arrival on Sunday, July 15. The Conference will then begin for all Locals/Units on Tuesday, July 17. It is important to have as many box/converter locals as possible attend this special meeting; if your local finances are tight, you can plan to leave after the meeting and not stay for the entire week, and you will not be required to pay the registration fee.

If you have any questions about whether your converter/box local should attend this meeting, please contact Laura Donovan,, 412-562-2504.

Click here for more information on registration and hotel room reservations.

If your local union leadership changes in April, please make sure that the call letter is passed on to any new leaders

US Senators, Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Introduce Bill to Combat Unfair Trade with a Targeted Approach

Titled, the Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act, the newly introduced bill would ensure that when other countries undercut American manufacturers by selling products produced under conditions where workers are paid sub-standard wages, or where workplace safety practices and environmental protections aren't maintained, those failures are treated as unfair subsidies and their imports are penalized. 

The bill would require that new free trade agreements include binding, enforceable requirements that manufacturers operating in foreign countries pay adequate wages, maintain workplace safety standards, and abide by environmental standards. Companies or countries that fail to do so would have to pay anti-dumping penalties as they do for any other subsidy under current law. The bill also rewards companies that meet high standards on a global basis in wages, workplace safety and environmental compliance with streamlined trade and protection from enforcement actions. 

The USW supports this proposed legislation as dumped paper products from China has resulted in the loss of thousands of paper jobs. For more information, click here.


USW Locals 13-391 & 1398, International Paper Mill, Orange, TX -- Local Union Committees Completes Two-Day Workshop under USW Tony Mazzocchi Center project, “Preventing Fatalities and Life Altering Injuries While Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector”

On March 7, USW Local Unions’ 13-391 & 13-1398 leadership, safety committee members and those who support the safety committee participated in the first day of training. 

On March 8, they were joined by management counterparts for the program titled, “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.” Steve Sallman of the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department and Alexis Clemmons, a USW Tony Mazzocchi Center worker-trainer and member of local union 9-738 at the IP Riegelwood Mill facilitated the class.

Participants discussed the strengths of their labor-management Central Safety Committee, such as: their common interests in having representatives from the major departments, union selected representatives, identifying hazards and controls, members of management are senior enough to make real decisions, and communicating safety alerts and incidents. 

They also discussed challenges facing the committee, such as establishing labor-management safety sub-committees, avoiding the deep dark hole, increasing communications between mill-wide and departmental committees, not limiting themselves to just meetings, participating in audits and inspections, members having prep time before the labor-management meetings to develop agendas, review the agenda ahead of time and have equal engagement. 

Following a small group activity focusing on specific elements of an effective safety and health committee, the full group discussed plans to improve committee effectiveness by identifying specific actions to improve research the committee can engage in, better address toxic and hazardous substances, deal with workplace changes that can impact safety and health, develop more collaborative ways to conduct “learning events” – not “accident investigations”, implement regular audits/walk-around inspections, as well as evaluate progress of the improvements they plan to make. 

In another small group activity aimed at reviewing 32 aspects of effective committees, several areas were identified for improvement. Ideas discussed included establishing set meeting dates and times, having prep time for meetings to jointly develop agendas and distributing them ahead of the meetings and having union and management co-chairs. During this activity, both management and each local union named their co-chairs for the labor-management safety and health committee who would be getting together to help steer the committee and its activities. The group also defined the positions of the committee. Additionally, they outlined a structured process and training for committee members to be involved in “learning events” – not “investigations” that are about finding fault. 

In a final activity, small groups identified projects that need long-term plans, the tools available for making detailed work plans for getting specific health and safety concerns addressed, such as: Zero Energy State, Lockout/Tagout (including; verification, training, education and proficiency), green-on-green (new-training-new), road conditions and traffic flow. 

The workshop received a positive response. Some of the remarks afterwards included the following: “Brought the group into useful discussions & solutions”, “Very in-depth”, “It is always good to see Company and Union working together for common good.” “Added Structure and ideas”, “Good interactions and tools for future problem solving,” “Great multi-functional involvement,” “Energetic”, “Book is very useful and flip charts are effective,” and “My views were heard.” 


USW Local 4-276, Carthage Specialty Paperboard, Carthage, NY -- Company Files for Bankruptcy

Carthage Specialty Paperboard filed for bankruptcy on March 2, and idle operations. The company is facing an “acute cash flow shortage.” The company also stated that the bankruptcy filing would allow for “some breathing space to continue to pursue a sale;” according to local news report on WWNY-TV. 

USW Legal Department representatives have been appointed to the Creditors’ Committee, which means that the Union will have some influence in the case. 

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