Monday Morning Minute: September 14, 2020

Union Work

USW International Vice President, Leeann Foster, Featured on Sole Source Podcast, “The Union, Labor Day, and COVID-19”

USW International Vice President Leeann Foster was featured on a podcast from Sole Source entitled “The Union, Labor Day, and COVID-19” published on Labor Day. In addition to talking about the significance of Labor Day, a holiday that only exists because of the labor movement, Leeann spoke about how the labor movement won now common practices like vacations, overtime pay, weekends and retirement benefits. She spoke about women in the labor movement, the need for COVID-19 resources for workers and what the USW is doing to take on pandemic issues.

Leeann also contends that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a good example of a large challenge that the USW has directly taken on by making sure that our members can stay home without worrying about a paycheck if they have a COVID-related event and they or their family needs to quarantine. We’ve been able to secure temperature checks and social distancing practices at USW-represented facilities, while non-union workplaces do not have the platform for engaging management in those situations. COVID has shown that we are a step ahead, not a step behind.

On this Labor Day in particular, it is important to reflect on past achievements while continuing to fight for new ones. The podcast, Sole Source, is available wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. You can also listen to the episode through the following link: https://solesourcepodcast.buzzsprout.com/789140/5250388-ep25-the-union-s-role-in-labor-day-and-how-union-s-are-attacking-covid-19-head-on

Safety

U.S. Chemical Safety Board Issued New Contractor Safety Product Entitled “Dust Hazard Learning Review”

On September 10, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a new contractor report stemming from the 2017 fatal dust explosion at the Didion Milling facility in Cambria, Wis. The document entitled, “Dust Hazard Learning Review,” produced for the CSB by Dynamic Inquiry LLC, gathered feedback from industries that handle combustible dust to identify the key barriers to improvement in the control and mitigation of combustible dust hazards.

The following key issues were identified per a 2018 “Call to Action” in which comments were sourced from various industry entities:

In summary, the CSB found that the responses from the “Call to Action” captured several industry-wide insights into the issues, concerns and opportunities faced by dust-producing operations daily.

Industry Update

Fox River Cleanup Complete after 17-Year-Long Effort

After 17 years, 39 miles of the Lower Fox River and Green Bay have been cleared of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were released in the mid-1950s to 1971 due to the production and recycling of carbonless copy paper. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned use of the toxic chemicals in 1979 because research showed they don't easily break down in the environment and cause harmful effects, including cancer, for humans, fish and wildlife.

The cleanup included removing 6.5 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment, as well as treating and returning 10 billion gallons of water to the river. The project also included cleaning 800,000 tons of sand for reuse in the river. Tests show nearly 90 percent reductions of the manmade chemicals in water and sediments compared to levels recorded in 2006.

Non-USW company, NCR Corporation, was required to take on sole responsibility for completing all remaining sediment cleanup work along with funding and assistance from two other companies, Georgia-Pacific and P.H. Glatfelter. While the P.H. Glatfelter site in Wisconsin is not represented by the USW, two other sites unrelated to the settlement in Chillicothe, Ohio, and Spring Grove, Pa., are represented; the Georgia-Pacific mill in Green Bay, Wis., represented by the USW, has been actively involved in implementing cleanup efforts of the Fox River. 

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.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

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