Monday Morning Minute: Nov. 26, 2018

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

USW Local 51 – Domtar – Port Huron, Mich.

Congratulations to Kevin Wright, at left in the photo below, who retired from Domtar in Port Huron after 42 years working at the mill and over 25 years of service on the union committee!! Kevin served as the local union president for many years and is pictured below with Darren Kirby, the current president.

Vacation Pay Arbitration Win

The employer denied vacation pay because the grievant was not on the payroll January 1. The union argued that the language held that so long as workers had put in 1,040 hours in the year by January 1, you were entitled to an extra week of vacation pay, regardless of whether you were still employed on January 1. The union invoked Indiana wage payment law, but the decisions provide no guidance. The language only requires that the grievant is on the active payroll during the year. Award: grievances sustained


In addition to the sustainable advantage of being made from a renewable resource, paper is the most recycled product in the world. Since we began tracking how much paper gets recycled in North America back in 1990, the recovery rate for used paper has increased dramatically. In the U.S. in 2013, more paper products were recovered (as a percent of generation) for recycling than any other material, including plastics (9%), glass (27%) and metals (34%).


USW Hazard Alert – Fatal Incident Involving a Paper Machine’s Secondary Arm and Reel Rail

A USW member and “Quality Paper Tester” at a paper mill was fatally injured when he was caught in-between the unguarded area of the pneumatic secondary arm and the reel rail frame of the paper machine while trying to a get broken sheet of paper back on the reel. The worker had been at the paper machine waiting to take a sample of paper for testing.

The reel had turned up a new roll and the secondary arm had kicked the spool out. The next roll of paper was started and the paper sheet completely snapped off. The “broke” paper went downward through the floor opening and onto the conveyor that carries broke paper to the hydropulper. The worker began using a compressed air hose to blow the broken paper sheet back up onto the spool when he was caught in the paper machine.

Although this was not the worker’s normal job duty, it was a common practice for workers to go under the machine-guarding as the lower portion of the guard is approximately three-feet off the floor with approximately a four-feet cutout by design. The four-foot cutout in the guarding was designed so workers could perform this task. Having access inside the framework (behind the machine-guarding) provided a better angle to use a compressed air hose to blow the broken sheet of paper back onto the spool.

This upset condition was normalized and done around ten times a year. A written procedure did not exist for this task. Tragically, the USW has experienced a similar fatality. A member was caught in-between the unguarded area of the primary arm and the reel rail of a paper machine. See “USW Hazard Alert - Fatal Incident Involving a Paper Machine’s Primary Arm and Reel Rail.

To view the Hazard Alert in its entirety, click here.


USW Local 1192 – Georgia-Pacific – Foley, Fla. – Georgia-Pacific Completes $84 Million Investment

According to a press release, Georgia-Pacific recently completed upgrades to its Foley, Fla., mill, totaling $84 million. The investment was comprised of the installation of black liquor evaporators, which will make the mill more energy efficient and reduce its groundwater usage. Black liquor evaporators evaporate water vapor from byproducts of the pulping process, and are a critical component of the operation. The new system resulted in almost 40 percent improvement in steam economy, which is how the mill generates its energy, and also approximately 20 percent reduction in emissions. 

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.

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