Monday Morning Minute: March 5, 2018



USW Local 7-01108 – Butler, Indiana

A member of local 7-01108 received a serious laceration to his foot. Preliminary information is that a stack of materials had been manipulated on the conveyor with the assistance of an integrated pusher.  As the pusher was recessing back into the conveyor, the pusher’s back side caught the injured member’s foot causing a large and deep laceration. Our member was treated and released from the hospital after his laceration was closed. The laceration went from the arch of his foot to his ankle.

This post is a two person post. Our injured member’s normal partner was off on vacation and the third shift operator stayed over to fill in the 1st half of day shift. Our member had filled in for his normal partner’s duties and the third shift overtime person did our member’s normal duties. Our member stated that doing his normal partner’s job, plus the fact they were having problems with the far clamp that caused them to have to cut and lift wasters for about every load pushed out, complicated the process.

Part of our member’s normal job is to go up to the tower in between loads to check on the orders and our member noticed this had not been done yet by his partner. Therefore, he went to do so. Upon his return, our member went to the computer on the pathway between conveyors, which are quite narrow for two people who are looking to read the last count on the stack. As our member was at the computer he remembers his partner coming by which caused him to move inward and that’s when the pusher was returning to its home position, grabbing his foot and pulling it downward into its cradle. Our member’s partner immediately heard his cry for help. He reinitiated the pusher because it tripped out and was able to pull our member off of the conveyor.

Health, Safety and Environment Staff, Steve Sallman, remotely assisted the district staff representative, Jon Doust, and local union.

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

USW Staff Representative, Gerry Parzino, Retirement

Gerry Parzino graduated from high school in 1974 and took a job at International Paper, where he became a member of St. Paul-based United Paperworkers International Union Local 264. (Today, it’s Steelworkers Local 264.)

Parzino served as the local’s secretary, vice president, president and business agent before taking a full-time job with Steelworkers District 11 almost 18 years ago. His focus there remained the paper industry, but Parzino rose through the ranks to become district sub-director for Minnesota and North Dakota. March 2 was Parzino’s last day on the job before retirement.

Local Publication for the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, The Union Advocate, put together a nice interview with Gerry on his Union advocacy over the years. To read more, click here.

“You had a Job for Life”

A new book titled, “You Had a Job for Life,” tells the story of the Groveton Paper Mill in Groveton, NH which closed in 2007 after having been in operation since the late 1800s. The Mill changed ownership several times over the years, and closed as Wausau Paper. The author interviewed former employees including the mill’s former owner, mill manager and machine operators.

The Wall Street Journal states, “[the Author’s] book—which began as an assignment in a graduate ethnography course at Plymouth State University—touches only glancingly on the alchemy of converting wood fiber into paper. That’s too bad. Yes, this is a book about people, not machines, and properly so, but there is a sort of magic to a paper mill’s combination of chemistry, engineering and huge, intricate machines—and to the genius that keeps it all in balance, tuned and running.

To read more about the book, click here.


IP Mill and Box Safety Committee Meetings

The International Paper Mill and Box Safety Committees met separately in February. The Safety Committees discussed issues around Effective Safety Committee Workshops, Right-to-Act, Safe Work Observations and Engagement, and Hazard Recognition.

During their Committee Meeting, the IP Mills received a briefing on the combustible dust work that is ongoing throughout the mill system as a result of the 2014 fatality at the Ticonderoga Mill. 20 dust hazard assessments were conducted in 2017 and will continue into 2018 based on following priorities:  dry ash mills, starch mills, and sheet plants in mills.

The IP Box Safety Committee met on February 22nd at the Orlando, FL plant. Items of discussion unique to the box shops include T-Loaded Rail Cars – which committee-member Rodney Raines made a very effective presentation on for unloading these rail cars as a LIFE potential. This presentation was taken seriously by all and this was immediately elevated to management by EHS and HR. Another item that the Committee discussed is Molded Ear Protection, which is something that IP would like to introduce at all of its North American box plants, information will be discussed at the upcoming IP Council meeting in May.

Right to Act and Hazard Conversation Sub-Committees have been created with members from the Mill and Box Committees to work on these issues.

Industry Update

USW Locals 1356-01 & 1423 – Domtar – Plymouth, NC – Domtar Permanently Closes Fluff Pulp Line at Plymouth Facility

The NC-2 fluff pulp production line, which is the smaller of two at the Plymouth Mill will close during the first quarter of 2018. Domtar, which originally planned to shutter the line in late second quarter 2017, kept it running until this month after fluff and southern bleached softwood kraft (SBSK) prices and demand soared throughout the second half of last year.

CEO John Williams said that Domtar’s priorities are to strengthen the competitiveness of its pulp assets and repurpose its white paper assets as customer demand declines in those grades. The Company took a $578MM write-down in its struggling Personal Care business and is pointing to lower sales and margins in 2018. He also noted that the Company has experience in repurposing mills, having already converted 1.5million tons of commodity paper into “growing and profitable businesses” over the last few years, including fluff and tissue grade pulp and specialty paper grades. The Company has spent ~$1.5B on acquisitions and over $300mm of capex in the Personal Care business. 

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