Monday Morning Minute: September 7, 2020

INCIDENT ALERT

USW Local 966 – Georgia-Pacific – Naheola, Ala.

On August 27, 2020, a member was seriously injured at the Georgia-Pacific mill in Naheola, Ala. The complete details are unknown at this time and we will follow up in the near future with more details when they become available.

Union Work

Become a Gatekeeper of Democracy by Working the Polls this November

Our democracy depends on ordinary people to volunteer to work the polls on Election Day. However, a significant majority of poll workers are over age 60 and at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. They’re less likely to work this year. This contributed to unprecedented shortages in the primaries. For instance, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an expected 180 voting sites for the presidential primary were consolidated into five. The city typically requires at least 1,400 election workers, but had less than 400 as Election Day approached. The result was long wait times for voters.

We know Steelworkers are always at the front of the line when it comes to lifting up and helping those in our communities – it’s what we do!  That’s why we are reaching out to encourage our members to sign up to work the polls this November.

What Does a Poll Worker Do?

Poll workers are recruited and hired locally and help with tasks such as verifying voters’ identities, answering questions and assisting voters who require it. Most of these roles are temporary and paid, requiring a short training period commitment and attendance on the day of the election.

Our democracy depends on thousands of ordinary people to volunteer to work the polls and ensure that every vote is counted and the process runs smoothly. Click here to sign up to become a poll worker: https://www.powerthepolls.org/USW

Safety

Annual Hazard Alert Reminder– Dead-Legged Pipe Rupture

As cold weather approaches and temperatures start to drop, we’d like to remind the sector of an incident that occurred in 2013. While the incident occurred at a non-paper sector facility, the hazard applies to all industrial sites.

Two workers in a control room noticed what appeared to be a steam leak or a non-normal white-colored vapor cloud traveling less than six-feet off the ground. According to the control room operator, the operations at this time appeared to be running normal. The two workers then left the control room to investigate what was causing the vapor cloud. As they neared the area, a violent explosion and fire occurred. This resulted in substantial damage to the facility and the two workers being seriously burned and admitted into a burn ward. The incident triggered a major emergency response of up to 40 fire departments, community evacuations and environmental issues. Not long after the incident, management decided to permanently shut down operations, causing about 100 workers to be unemployed.

A three-foot long vertical pipe that was dead-legged split open due to freezing conditions outside re-leased propane gas, which subsequently found an ignition source and ignited. The dead-legged pipe had been out of service for almost 17-years. The pipe remained in place without heat tracing, insulation or a means to drain water. This freezing and thawing action led to the piping integrity issues and its ultimate failure.

While this was a non-paper sector incident, the hazard could be present in the paper industry due to similar machinery and piping that exists under pressurized circumstances. Please see the full Hazard Alert, which details the lessons learned, click here: https://www.usw.org/get-involved/hsande/resources/hazard-alerts/Explosion-from-Dead-Legged-Pipe-Rupture.pdf

Inspection Note – 3M Protecta Rebel Self-Retracting Lifelines (ANSI Versions)

M Fall Protection identified a potential manufacturing issue with a limited number of 3M Protecta Rebel Self-Retracting Lifelines (with galvanized or stainless-steel lifelines) produced between October 14, 2019, and February 25, 2020. There have been no reports of injuries or accidents associated with this issue. This manufacturing issue could result in the SRL not engaging properly, but can be easily detected through the pre-use inspection as specified in the Protecta Rebel Instruction for Use (IFU) document.

Fall equipment is used across the USW paper sector. To view the entire inspection notice, click here: https://gravitec.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Protecta20Rebel20Inspection20Notice200828202020US.pdf?utm_source=EDGE+Newsletter&utm_campaign=83ca675eee-Inspection-Notice-3M-ExoFit-NEX-Harness_COPY_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_20699f9a2a-83ca675eee-252436317&mc_cid=83ca675eee&mc_eid=a78a73bcc1

Industry Update

Twin Rivers Madawaska Mill to Invest in Retrofitting Paper Machine with Specialty Coater

USW Locals 1247, 365 & 4-291 – Twin Rivers Paper – Madawaska, Maine – Twin Rivers Paper, owned by private equity company Atlas Holdings, will invest $19.2 million to retrofit the #8 paper machine at its mill in Madawaska, Maine, with a specialty coater. The new coating equipment will allow the company to diversify and manufacture more packaging and barrier treated paper, while continuing to produce the same grades it already does on the machine.

The mill was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Maine Technology Institute, which offers funding opportunities to companies that support Maine’s innovation economy. Twin Rivers in Madawaska qualified after it installed a pilot unit to prove the feasibility of the technology and evidenced that it would preserve jobs in the state.

The machine rebuild will establish the PM8 as one of the largest producers of lightweight technical packaging and label specialties in North America. Nearly 400 USW members work at the Madawaska mill, and investments in modernization like this help to support our good-paying jobs well into the future.

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