Monday Morning Minute: May 20, 2019

Union Work

USW Locals 1924, 9-925, 1106, 7-662, & 675 – Catawba, S.C., Hartford City, Ind., Peoria, Ill., & Oxnard, Calif. – New-Indy Containerboard Held its First Council Meeting

On May 15, the New-Indy Containerboard local unions met together for the first time in Charlotte, N.C., to establish common goals and strategize as a formal council. New-Indy Containerboard began with two containerboard mills, including one USW-represented location in Oxnard, Calif., and, over the past several years, has bought several other facilities that complement its containerboard portfolio. After the company’s purchase earlier this year of Resolute Forest Products’ mill located in Catawba, S.C., it made sense to establish a council and work collectively.

The meeting began with local reports and then moved into a presentation on the containerboard market and recent trends. USW Strategic Campaigns led a planning session and discussion around upcoming bargaining as well as the common issues identified during local reports. Two corporate representatives also joined the council in the afternoon to discuss the business, present information on the Catawba mill’s conversion from coated paper to kraft linerboard, and to address the locals’ questions and concerns.

Going forward, the council will continue holding monthly conference calls, and plans to hold another council meeting in the near future.

USW Local 2-482 – Kimberly-Clark – Neenah/Menasha, Wis.

USW Local 2-482 representatives handed out the IndustriALL/UNI Global Safety Campaign Right to Know stickers the morning of May 13 from 5am – 6am to incoming workers at Kimberly-Clark’s Neenah Cold Spring facility. It was a joint effort around safety as company representatives joined in and handed out information as well. The plan was to cover all four crews/shifts, catching the remaining three at night and the following day. Shown in the photo are Local 2-482 Area Vice President of Maintenance Gene Hyler and President Dave Breckheimer. They are joined by KC’s Safety Manager Derek Kumrow and Maintenance Manager David Grube.

Safety

USW Local 2-482 – Clearwater Paper – Neenah, Wis. – Local Union Safety Committee Completes Two-Day Workshop, part of the United Steelworkers/Tony Mazzocchi Center’s “Preventing Fatalities and Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector” Project

On May 6, 2019, local union leaders and safety committee members participated in the first day of the workshop; on May 7, they were joined by management counterparts for the second day, focusing on “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.”

This was the first time this type of workshop has been presented for a Clearwater Paper mill. Union and management participants discussed the key strengths needed for establishing the newly-formed labor-management safety and health committee, as well as the challenges they face in getting started. Some of the strengths included: Equal union and management participation with a good mix of experience in the mill, a willingness to work together and having two co-chairs. 

Also discussed were suggestions to increase the effectiveness of the safety and health committee: Having adequate time for meetings and follow-up between meetings, forming subcommittees, conducting regular walk-around inspections/audits, formulating a process for handling workplace change, creating a process for union-management accident/incident/near-miss investigations to identify root causes and system failures.

Participants developed specific action plans to address several current health and safety concerns, such as addressing problems with green-on-green training and training in general, as well as excessive hours of work.

The workshop received very positive feedback from participants, including: “I think the training class showed everyone in the room what and where we need to make changes here,” “A great way to get started or provide momentum to teams already on their way,” “Activities showed how common our sites’ challenges and strengths are,” “Eye opening, helpful to see perspectives differ and also agree,” and “Real life examples posed great thought-provoking discussion.”

Industry Update

USW Local 11-63 – Sappi – Cloquet, Minn. – Sappi Completes Investment of $25 Million at Cloquet, Minn., Mill

Sappi announced that it completed a $25-million investment at its fine paper mill in Cloquet, Minn. The investment was made in the recovery areas of the pulp mill, and will help to make the pulp manufacturing process more efficient. The investment will bring an additional 30,000 tons per year of pulp production capability to the mill. The USW represents approximately 360 members at the Cloquet mill.

USW Local 445 – Flambeau River Papers – Park Falls, Wis.

Flambeau River Papers announced that it has undertaken an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors under Wisconsin’s Chapter 128 statute. The proceeding is similar to federal chapter 11 bankruptcy and offers similar protections, but differs in the course of debt repayment and administration.

The company manufactures specialty and fine grade paper, and has cited declining markets as the reason for its financial trouble. Flambeau will shut down one production line and idle another machine this winter, impacting approximately 150 members who work at the facility.

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.

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