United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed Liquid error: undefined method `match' for nil:NilClass AMPS en hourly 1 Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Hears Oral Arguments in Copper Price Bonus Case http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/ninth-circuit-appeals-court-hears-oral-arguments-in-copper-price-bonus-case Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/ninth-circuit-appeals-court-hears-oral-arguments-in-copper-price-bonus-case Copper

After a very long legal process, a panel of three federal judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Cal., listened to oral arguments on Thursday, Nov. 16, in our litigation against ASARCO over the company’s improperly withholding the copper price bonus from certain employees.

Judges Kozinski, Ikuta and Gettleman showed great interest and asked lots of questions.

While the judges challenged both sides’ legal arguments, our attorney, Michael Weiner, did an excellent job presenting our argument about why new hires should have been receiving the copper price bonus since July 1, 2011.

This is the last step in this portion of the appeal process, and we now have to wait for the court to issue its decision. There’s no telling how long that will take. Once the decision is out, the losing side may appeal it to the Supreme Court of the United States, but the chances of the Court taking this issue are low.

Video of the proceedings is posted online for viewing at - https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/

This is an example of why it’s important to not only have a contract but to enforce it as well.

Solidarity works!

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Equipment Alert! Recall: Kidde recalls fire extinguishers with plastic handles due to failure to discharge and nozzle detachment http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/equipment-alert-recall-kidde-recalls-fire-extinguishers-with-plastic-handles-due-to-failure-to-discharge-and-nozzle-detachment Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:59:51 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/equipment-alert-recall-kidde-recalls-fire-extinguishers-with-plastic-handles-due-to-failure-to-discharge-and-nozzle-detachment From the Mine Safety and Health Administration:

Kidde Co., is recalling 134 models of plastic-handled fire extinguishers manufactured between 1973 and present day. This action is in concert with an alert from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some extinguishers have been known not to work when needed, others to come apart under pressure – one death has been reported. Some were sold under Kidde's brand, some under the name of other retailers. Kidde will replace all defective models. Below is a link to the CPSC’s website page regarding this recall.

Review the equipment alert here.

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Immigrant Day Laborers Confront a Perfect Storm of Exploitation in Hurricane Harvey Cleanup http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/immigrant-day-laborers-confront-a-perfect-storm-of-exploitation-in-hurricane-harvey-cleanup Wed, 15 Nov 2017 11:36:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/immigrant-day-laborers-confront-a-perfect-storm-of-exploitation-in-hurricane-harvey-cleanup With the Occupational Safety and Health Administration short-staffed in the state — there is one OSHA inspector for every 95,000 workers in Texas — unions and public health officials have stepped in to educate construction workers on how to protect themselves during cleanup and rebuilding after Harvey. At the AFL-CIO building that hosts the WDP’s office in East Houston, I met two United Steelworkers from Queens in New York City as they prepared a training on how to remove mold caused by flood damage.

“After Hurricane Sandy, it took too long to get trainers working with the community, and many people developed breathing problems they called the ‘Sandy cough,’” William Bonilla told me. “Now we are the second team of Steelworkers to arrive in Houston in less than a month.”

Bonilla is also a member of an Occupational Safety and Health Trainers Cooperative, which offers an affordable, 10-hour, OSHA-authorized construction training. The program is required to work in the industry in New York and encouraged by groups, like the WDP, in Texas.

“We focus in part on the immigrant community because they don’t know about their rights in the United States,” Bonilla said. “Most of the time, they are afraid because they’re undocumented and don’t understand some agencies can protect them.” Click here for more.

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Why the Republican Tax Bill is Bad for Working People http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/why-the-republican-tax-bill-is-bad-for-working-people Mon, 13 Nov 2017 12:24:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/why-the-republican-tax-bill-is-bad-for-working-people The House GOP have released a plan to slash taxes for the rich by cutting services and tax breaks for working families. This bill jeopardizes American manufacturing and its workforce. It will weaken our economy and undermine our nation’s future. 

Rather than promoting growth from the ground up, the bill showers huge tax benefits on corporations and the wealthy. Here's what we know so far:

  1. The GOP tax bill would give huge tax cuts to big corporations that outsource jobs. This bill promotes further outsourcing by moving to a so-called “territorial” tax system that shields multinational companies from paying taxes on the factories and production they move to other countries. This legislation is a tax cut for the rich and powerful masquerading as reform. 

  2. The GOP bill is unfair to union members. Corporations can deduct payments to lawyers to fight unions, but union members can no longer deduct their union dues under this bill.

  3. The GOP tax bill favors corporations and millionaires over working people. Households making between $20,000 and $40,000 per year would ultimately pay more in taxes, while 45% of the tax benefits would go to those making more than $500,000.

  4. The GOP tax bill is bad for students. Tax deductions for student loan interest, tuition expenses and tuition assistance would be ended, as would tax credits for students to cover college expenses.

  5. The GOP tax bill would punish states that make the kind of investments that create good jobs. Repealing the deduction for state and local income taxes would make it harder for states to raise enough money to invest in high-quality education, infrastructure and good jobs.

  6. The GOP tax bill would increase the health care tax burden for low- and middle-income taxpayers, especially seniors and people with disabilities. Millions of Americans with high medical bills would no longer be able to deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses.

  7. Republicans want to (partially) pay for tax cuts with drastic cuts to Medicaid, Medicare and education. The GOP budget includes $5 trillion in budget cuts, including $1.5 trillion from Medicaid and Medicare; increases the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67; and ends Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage.

Tax reform like this could impact every American and every corporation. There are definite winners and losers. It’s important to understand the implications.

TAKE ACTION

We will be asking Steelworkers to take action on this legislation on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more details.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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DuPont Yerkes Plant Workers Win Job Security and Greater Voice on the Job http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/dupont-yerkes-plant-workers-win-job-security-and-greater-voice-on-the-job Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/dupont-yerkes-plant-workers-win-job-security-and-greater-voice-on-the-job Local 6992 members at DuPont’s Yerkes plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., ratified a four-year agreement on Sept. 22, 2017 that contains a first-ever successorship clause, contract language to create a joint health and safety committee, and a union security clause—a first for DuPont. The contract covers 335 workers.

“The membership voted very convincingly to accept the agreement – they liked what we were able to accomplish together to get this contract and avoid a strike,” said Local 6992 President Gary Guralny.

He said it was important for the membership to gain successorship language—this protects workers’ jobs and contract when a facility is sold—because of the DowDuPont merger. He said the plan for the site is for it to be spun off into a new company within the next year and a half. Local media reported the site will join the specialty products company when DowDuPont splits up its businesses.

“Our people have the assurance now that all terms of the contract will be protected for four years no matter who is in control of the site businesses,” Guralny said.

He said the local union had proposed a joint health and safety committee every contract negotiation since 1999. For the past several years, USW has sponsored a shareholders resolution that would compel the company to improve its disclosure of workplace health and safety incidents (See Chemical Solutions Issue #5 and #8). 

“It seems that pressure on the corporate board coordinated with the efforts of the workers at the plants helped us have a positive impact. We finally have a meaningful voice in site safety and a definite structure for the joint committee to meet,” he said.

The agreement also contains a union security clause that requires all future employees hired to join the union. Guralny said it is the first time, to his knowledge, a DuPont site obtained such contract language.

Retroactive Wage Increases

The local union negotiated a three percent signing bonus and a 1.5 percent wage increase each year, with the wage increase retroactive to June 18, 2017.

Wage rates for current employees in job classes 1-3 and 4-5 will be protected. Future new employees in job classes 1-3 will receive a new wage rate.

Up to 50 employees will receive a severance package. Maintenance workers who remain at the plant along with current apprentices are protected from layoff or being forced out of the maintenance department.

To protect members from their work being contracted out, the new agreement contains language that gives the union the right to challenge management before contracting out jobs. This process includes expedited arbitration.

Also, five positions were returned to the bargaining unit that management had been allowed to contract out under the previous agreement.

Tough Negotiations

The local union engaged in over three months of contentious talks with DuPont’s lead contract negotiator and some company negotiating committee members who acted negatively toward the union. Their actions became so derogatory that DuPont had to fire three out of the five company negotiators and replace them with a new contract committee that included outside legal counsel.

“After that happened, negotiations moved along in a more purposeful direction and compromise was reached on many sticking points. This enabled us to bring back a package that the negotiating committee could recommend to the membership,” Guralny said.

Last Contract

This will be Guralny’s last contract negotiations because he plans to retire on Dec. 31, 2017. He credited the membership’s solidarity in remaining strong to get a fair agreement.

“I am proud of how the members of our local held together during these tough negotiations. Their solidarity is a key reason we got this contract,” he said. “It has been an honor and a privilege to represent our members over the many years I have served as their local union president.”

PHOTO

Local union 6992 members participated in an informational picket during the contentious part of negotiations with DuPont before it terminated three company negotiators whose actions had become a roadblock to getting a fair agreement. The company replaced them with a new bargaining team that included outside legal counsel. Soon after, both sides settled the sticking points and agreed to a new contract.

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DowDuPont North American Labor Council Examines Upcoming Changes in Split-Up of Merged Company http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/dowdupont-north-american-labor-council-examines-upcoming-changes-in-split-up-of-merged-company Fri, 10 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/dowdupont-north-american-labor-council-examines-upcoming-changes-in-split-up-of-merged-company The DowDuPont merger and pending spinoff of several business segments overshadowed the annual DowDuPont North American Labor Council (DNALC) meeting on Sept. 25-28 in Elizabethtown, Ky.

International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) Local 970 from the Dow Corning plant in Elizabethtown hosted 39 delegates from 13 Dow Chemical and DuPont locations, representing over 4,000 members from six U.S. unions and three global unions.

Besides the merger and spinoff discussions, delegates focused on global outreach and compared site issues.

To date, the merger has not caused any job losses at any of the manufacturing locations, and the collective bargaining agreements and work remain status quo. However, changes are expected because Ed Breen, chief executive officer of DowDuPont, publicly stated there will be expected plant closings, layoffs and other cost-cutting moves to save $3 billion in “synergies.”

Planned Spinoffs

The Dow Chemical and DuPont merger closed Aug. 1, 2017 with the expectation the merged organization would split into three publicly traded companies in 2018.  However, so-called Wall Street “activist investors” (corporate raiders) are heavily pressuring the merged corporation to split into six different companies so that shareholder value can be maximized to the tune of $20 billion.

DowDuPont is partially complying with Wall Street’s request by moving $8 billion of businesses from its Material Sciences division to its Specialty Products division. This move lines up the possibility for future divestments.

With these spin offs most locations will operate as either Dow or DuPont. Some sites, such as the Midland, Mich., facility, will be split into three separate companies within the fence line. This changes the Midland site from being one unit with one contract into three units with three contracts.

DowDuPont’s Material Sciences group will be the Dow part headquartered in Midland. The Agriculture Sciences and Specialty Products divisions will be the DuPont part headquartered in Wilmington, Del.

DowDuPont is conducting its third-quarter investors call this month, and it is anticipated that the company will give further details of  which businesses will be spun off,  how employees will be affected, and what “synergies” (aka the elimination of jobs and cost cutting) will result.

Council Action

This situation remains fluid, but the DNALC is committed to keep up with the changes as they happen. The full impact on union members may not be fully realized until the split into three companies.

Experience has shown that the DNALC network model is crucial to be successful in dealing with the proposed actions of the merged corporations. USW International Vice President Carol Landry encouraged the locals within the council to continue working with each other, to strengthen the network, and to reach out to other union groups within the chemical industry.

The upcoming changes will not just impact union members in North America. Thousands of other direct and indirect employees and their families will be affected across the globe. However, they do not have a voice to represent their interests and concerns. Therefore, the DNALC delegates unanimously agreed that DowDuPont has a responsibility to take the concerns and interests of their employees into consideration when decisions are made.

The council is working with the USW to create a global online petition to bring awareness of DowDuPont’s actions and that the company must not put its employees, families and the communities surrounding its sites at a disadvantage. Support for this petition will be organized at a grassroots level and will be released soon.

Building Solidarity

Landry also encouraged the DNALC to pursue global solidarity, and she spoke on the USW’s plans for the chemical sector.

The council’s annual meeting drew attendance from other international unions impacted by the DowDuPont merger. Delegates came from Argentina, the UK and Germany.  Two Brazilian unions, unable to attend, submitted a report.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan presented a comprehensive summary of the current status of the global chemical industry via Skype.

Each attending Dow Chemical and DuPont local gave a report, and all the delegates discussed the commonalities and differences between each Dow and DuPont site.

The following Dow Chemical sites were represented at the meeting: Midland, Mich.; Freeport, Texas City and Deer Park, Texas; Bristol, Pa.; Louisville, Ky., and Knoxville, Tenn.

Former Dow Corning locations were represented from Midland, Mich., and Elizabethtown, Ky.

DuPont locations were represented: Buffalo (Yerkes), N.Y.; Richmond (Spruance), Va.; Chambers Works, N.J., and La Porte, Texas.

PHOTO

2017 DowDuPont North American Labor Council conference.

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Rank-and-File Members Developed Triangle of Prevention Program http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/rank-and-file-members-developed-triangle-of-prevention-program Thu, 09 Nov 2017 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/rank-and-file-members-developed-triangle-of-prevention-program The Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program was born out of worker deaths and injuries.

During the 1980s and 1990s numerous catastrophic fires, explosions and toxic releases plagued the U.S. petrochemical industry, causing workers to suffer horrific deaths and injuries.

One of the landmark occupational health and safety incidents was the Oct. 23, 1989 explosion and fire at the Phillips 66 Company’s Houston Chemical Complex facility near the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, that killed 23 people and injured 314 others.

“Blame-the-Worker” company-driven health and safety programs were unable to reveal the root causes of these incidents and prevent them from reoccurring. So, in the mid-1990s the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) enlisted a team of rank-and-file members who were health and safety activists to develop a worker- and union-driven program to replace ineffective behavior-based safety (BS) programs, said John Scardella, the program administrator for the Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) that administers TOP.

He explained the program’s history to those attending the Sept. 26-28 TOP conference at Local 10-1’s union hall. 

Limited Focus

OCAW member Glenn Erwin was one of the activists who formed TOP and later headed the program for PACE and the USW until he retired in 2012.

He and other members of the team knew the BS programs focused on slips, trips, falls, and worker behavior as a cause of incidents. Managers usually blamed workers for incidents, and prevention focused on wearing personal protective equipment instead of hazard elimination.

The team also saw how companies usually ignored how work processes contributed to a dangerous work environment.

“Glenn and his team saw that companies only focused on process safety when fires and explosions happened,” Scardella said. “There was also a failure to share lessons learned.

“Plus, companies used a low OSHA recordable rate to show how safe a plant was, which did not capture true safety,” he added.

The team wanted to create a pro-active health and safety program.

“Glenn Erwin knew that to prevent incidents from reoccurring, workers had to be involved in health and safety and control it along with management,” Scardella said. “The program puts workers in roles as trainers, investigators and leaders.”

Worker Investigators

TOP is composed of three sides: Systems of Safety Training and Investigations, Comprehensive Tracking of Results, and Union Design & Leadership.

The program requires everyone in a plant, including managers and non-represented staffers, to be trained on health and safety. Workers are trained to be trainers, to investigate incidents, to measure and track incidents and near misses, and to take a leadership role.

Employers agree to a no-discipline policy for reporting or being involved in a near miss. Plus, workers investigate incidents in conjunction with management and government agencies.

Scardella said it is essential for any TOP investigation process to use the logic-tree diagram method to find the root causes of incidents. If a worker made a mistake on the job that resulted in an incident or near miss, the logic tree is used to find what contributed to the worker making an error.

Locals have used logic-tree diagrams to settle grievances when companies wanted to discipline workers involved in an incident, Scardella said.

“Anyone can learn to use this method, and it can’t be manipulated. The logic tree is fact-based no matter the outcome,” he said. “Identifying accidents is not enough. Finding and fix-ing hazards is not enough. You need to identify root causes.”

Erwin and his team also made capturing lessons learned and passing them on a key part of TOP.

“It is important that we recognize TOP’s history,” Scardella said. “We are proud of that history. We stand here today on the shoulders of those who put the program together.”

PHOTOS

Top: Jim Dannelley from LU 9-265 at the Shell Saraland, Ala., refinery makes a point during a TOP presentation. Photo by Mike Hancock, LU 9-562 retiree.

Bottom: TOP conference participants engaged in a small group activity to provide feedback on a new TOP training manual. They answered questions in the manual and discussed them. Photo by Mike Hancock, LU 9-562 retiree.

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Solvay workers at Texas plant vote to join USW http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/solvay-workers-at-texas-plant-vote-to-join-usw Wed, 08 Nov 2017 14:38:27 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/solvay-workers-at-texas-plant-vote-to-join-usw Workers at Solvay’s plant in Pasadena, Texas, overwhelmingly voted to join the USW in a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election Nov. 5, 2017. The USW will represent more than 23 workers at the facility.

“The workers were able to exercise their right to form a union because Solvay agreed to uphold workers’ right to organize in the renewal of its Global Framework Agreement (GFA) last February,” said USW International Vice President Carol Landry. “Workers will organize when they are not threatened by negative and false company messages.”

When Solvay signed the renewal of the GFA for a five-year period, it committed itself to socially-responsible business practices, sustainable development, basic labor and social rights—including the right to organize— International Labor Organization social standards and the principles of the United Nations Global Compact.  The company also expects its suppliers and subcontractors to observe these standards.

Landry was instrumental in negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Solvay’s U.S. operations and having it attached to the GFA. The MOU commits the company’s U.S. managers to follow the GFA provisions, including the right to organize.      

The Pasadena plant opened in November 2015, and operates a large-scale, “on pipe” alkoxylation unit to supply alkoxylates—chemicals used as emulsifiers, detergents and wetting agents—for Solvay’s Novecare specialty surfactants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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District 4 Ben Hollingsworth Memorial Ride http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-ben-hollingsworth-memorial-ride Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:36:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-ben-hollingsworth-memorial-ride D4

Coming together to make a difference, Local 880 sponsored the Ben Hollingsworth Memorial Ride.  Joining with Hollingsworth & Vose, the local donated all proceeds to the Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts.

d4r

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3M Triangle of Prevention Site in Alabama Wins 2017 Glenn Erwin Award http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/3m-triangle-of-prevention-site-in-alabama-wins-2017-glenn-erwin-award Wed, 08 Nov 2017 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/3m-triangle-of-prevention-site-in-alabama-wins-2017-glenn-erwin-award More than 14 years ago the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., nearly closed because of a poor safety record. Today, Local 9-675 and the facility received the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award for completing an investigation that resulted in significant improvement.

Local 9-675 TOP Coordinator Milton Simmons was showing a Chemical Safety Board (CSB) video during a TOP hazard awareness refresher training when a local union member pointed out that the hazard shown in the video was present in their plant.

The CSB video showed the July 17, 2007 explosions and fire at the Barton Solvents distribution facility in Valley Center, Kan.

This prompted the filing of a near miss and a TOP investigation, followed by corrective action.

The chemical tank farm had a float system, where the floats—used to determine the level of liquid inside the tank—were on swivels connected to cables that ran through the top of the tanks. The tanks were bonded and grounded to prevent static electricity from igniting the tank mixture. But the investigation after the catastrophe revealed the float mechanism was not grounded, and there was potential for static shock.

The tanks were being filled with nonconductive flammable liquid, and a static spark resulted from a loosely-linked, level-measuring float within one of the tanks. The spark ignited the air-vapor mixture inside the tank as it was being filled. The first tank exploded, resulting in a chain reaction.

The 3M facility was using the same float system, posing a serious hazard. The TOP investigation team, composed of trained workers and staff, conducted a near miss investigation. The plant followed the CSB recommendation to bond the float to the cable and emptied the tanks to make the correction to this design and engineering system of safety failure.

Systems of Safety at Work

Simmons said the TOP representative before him, Calvin Bozeman, kept excellent records of the site’s near misses, incidents, investigations and action items. Since July 2003, employees and managers have turned in 4,876 near misses.  Completed action items number 6,497.

“That number of actions is higher because through investigations you find multiple root causes, so you see multiple items that need to be redesigned, mitigated or fixed,” Simmons said.

“Looking across all those years, we average 34.88 near miss reports turned in during a month. That is more than 10 percent of our employee population. We have just a little over 300 employees now,” he added.

Simmons said there is one maintenance worker on the joint health and safety committee who talks to people on the shop floor to ask them if they have safety and health issues they want to discuss with the committee. People submit near miss reports to this worker, and it adds up. Last month there were 74 incidents and near misses, and this worker turned in over 50 of them, Simmons said.

“Our safety culture is throughout our site and goes from the shop floor to the manager’s door.  Even managers—including our plant manager—will turn in near misses because they know TOP works and that what is turned in will get fixed,” Simmons said.

He said the Local 9-675 members and management are excited about winning the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award. The award is hanging up in the union hall, but he plans to make a color copy, frame it and present it to management.

Local 9-675 and 3M have participated in the Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program since mid-2003.

Led by unions and their members, TOP focuses on incident prevention through application of the systems of safety; incident investigation, measurement and tracking of near misses and incidents; and recommendations and follow-through. The seven systems of safety are design and engineering, mitigation devices, maintenance and inspection, warning devices, training, procedures, and personal protective equipment.

The USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) administers the program, provides TOP training and creates the training materials. Glenn Erwin helped create the program and was the TOP program coordinator until he retired in 2012.

PHOTO

Local Union 9-675 at the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., accepts the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award. (L-R) Mike Harris, shop union representative in 3M’s Additives and Materials Department; John Scardella, program administrator for the Tony Mazzocchi Center, and Milton Simmons, LU 9-675 TOP representative for the 3M site. Photo by Mike Hancock, LU 9-562 retiree.

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Labor, Management Strengthen Worker-Driven Triangle of Prevention Program http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/labor-management-strengthen-worker-driven-triangle-of-prevention-program Wed, 08 Nov 2017 12:32:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/labor-management-strengthen-worker-driven-triangle-of-prevention-program One of the strengths of the worker-driven Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program is the consistent follow-up on issues through full-time, union TOP representatives, a TOP Advisory Group and yearly gatherings.

The Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC), which administers the program, held its annual conference on September 26-28 in Philadelphia. USW Local 10-1, which participates in TOP with its employer, Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia, Pa., hosted the conference at its local union hall.

Over 50 TOP representatives, alternates, and health and safety members from 16 USW locals and management personnel focused on ways to strengthen the program.

“We all have to work together to make TOP successful,” said Carmine Frangella, who is a Local 13-750 TOP alternate representative at the Shell Chemical plant in Norco, La., and a member of the advisory group.

TOP Recognition

A highlight of the labor-management sessions was the presentation of the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award to Local 9-675, representing the TOP site at the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., for a major near-miss investigation, and Local 912’s acceptance of the 2017 Fallen Workers Memorial Award for integration of the TOP program into the health, safety and environment department at PBF’s Toledo Refining Company in Oregon, Ohio.

Sharing Lessons Learned

During the first two days of the conference, participants discussed topics like better sharing of lessons learned, improved tracking of all health and safety training, involving an entire plant in TOP through refresher training, and writing success stories. They also engaged in an eight-hour refresher training on incident investigation.

Kevin Theriot, the Local 13-750 TOP representative from Shell’s Convent, La., refinery said the key is to have success stories written for management to read.

“During your 15-minute toolbox talk, share your successes and what you learned. We learn something so we may save a life today,” Scardella said.

Theriot also said it is important to share what was learned from incidents.

“What happened at one site might happen at another site even though it is another company,” he said.

During the union-only session, participants discussed how to grow participation at existing sites, expand TOP to other locations, and increase management participation in the TOP annual meetings. Each site reported on its program successes and challenges. The union participants also elected two new members of the advisory group to represent the paper and oil sectors.

Working Together

Longtime TOP participant “Cookie” Sonnier from Local 13-423 at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, advised the attendees to work with managers and gain their support.

“Glenn Erwin said we need management input. He got management into the TOP meetings and told them, ‘You come here to work. You are here to see how to prevent people from getting hurt and how you can correct it from happening again.’

The company people may tell each other about health and safety incidents, and it does not get to the rank-and-file. As workers, we have to let the company know we want their support. When it comes to people’s safety, there shouldn’t be conflicts. You are working toward a goal together, not against each other.”

For More Information

If you are interested in the TOP program, you can contact TOP Program Coordinator Steve Doherty, sdoherty@uswtmc.org, 412-562-2561 and TMC Program Administrator John Scardella, jscardella@uswtmc.org, 412-562-2582.

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District 4 Delegates to the 2017 AFL-CIO Convention http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-delegates-to-the-2017-afl-cio-convention Thu, 02 Nov 2017 10:06:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-delegates-to-the-2017-afl-cio-convention D4

Every four years, the AFL-CIO holds a convention to democratically elect officers and adopt resolutions that guide the labor movement and improve the lives of working people. This year representing the United Steelworkers are President Leo Gerard, the Steelworker Delegation and members from Local 4-366 from American Roots.

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District 4 Representing for Halloween http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-representing-for-halloween Thu, 02 Nov 2017 09:36:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-4-representing-for-halloween D4

District 4 USW Local 12012 members attending the 2017 Halloween Parade in Woburn, Massachusetts.

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TAKE ACTION: They risked their lives, then got laid off http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/take-action-they-risked-their-lives-then-got-laid-off Wed, 01 Nov 2017 15:15:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/take-action-they-risked-their-lives-then-got-laid-off As Hurricane Maria ravished Puerto Rico, sisters and brothers of USW Local 6135 at GFR Media worked nonstop. They risked their lives to keep people informed. In the weeks that followed, journalists, cartoonists, clerks and others worked tirelessly to tell the stories of survival.

Many did so despite losing everything at home.                                                                                                      

Now, GFR Media Enterprises, publishers of El Nuevo Dia and Primera Hora, are using the hurricane as an excuse to “lay off” our USW sisters and brothers of Local 6135. Despite other employers working with us to keep members employed during these tough times, GFR has put people out of work with no severance pay.

Click here to sign our petition to show solidarity with our fellow union members and to urge GFR Media to respect workers’ rights and put our sisters and brothers back to work.

After you sign, please share, tagging @Steelworkers and using the #USWUnity and #Solidaridad hashtags on social media, so we can show GFR that the world is watching.

Thank you!

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District 9 Disaster Relief Funds and Supplies http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-9-disaster-relief-funds-and-supplies Wed, 01 Nov 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/district-9-disaster-relief-funds-and-supplies  

 

November 1, 2017

 

TO:       ALL USW DISTRICT 9 LOCAL UNION PRESIDENTS ON ST. CROIX AND ST. THOMAS 

RE:        District 9 Disaster Relief Funds and Supplies

 

Greetings Brothers and Sisters:

Since early September, when hurricanes Irma and Maria created enormous destruction throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands, District 9 Staff, Support Staff and members have been working diligently, collecting funds and supplies, and trying to find a way to provide relief to our union brothers and sisters. 

 

First we were told the ports were shut down and no supplies were going in or out. Then we tried working in conjunction with other parties to get water shipped to St. Croix and St. Thomas to the members and their families only to run into other roadblocks. I say all that to say, we have tried several different scenarios to get aide to our members in need to find obstacle after another in our efforts.

 

Finally, in consultation with Staff Representative Jerry Jackson, I am happy to inform you that funds and supplies are being sent this week to provide disaster relief supplies to our members on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Those supplies, including water, flashlights, batteries and toiletries, should be available at both District 9 Staff Offices in the near future.  Please contact your respective District 9 Staff Office on both Islands to check on arrival and make arrangements to pick these items up, as needed.

 

The funds and supplies provided by your brothers and sisters in District 9 are separate from and not inclusive with any Disaster Relief Forms submitted to the International Union for assistance in replacing loss from hurricane damage to personal property that is handled through the USW Charitable Trust Fund.

 

We cannot fathom what our members and the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands are going through. We will continue to work to provide the representation relative to the contracts and our members on the islands while at the same time doing all that we possibly can do in assistance.  An injury to one is an injury to all.

 

Thank you for your membership, perseverance and please know that as we work with you during this most difficult time, we will overcome the hurdles together and everyone is in our thoughts and prayers.

 

In Solidarity,

 

Daniel Flippo

District 9 Director

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USW Pushes New Global Mine Safety Rules http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/usw-pushes-new-global-mine-safety-rules Tue, 31 Oct 2017 12:52:08 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/usw-pushes-new-global-mine-safety-rules The USW was instrumental in negotiating new standards for opencast mining that would significantly improve safety and health for mine workers around the world.

USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt led a workers’ group as part of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) discussion of the new standards during ILO meetings in Switzerland from Oct. 16 to 20.

John Rebrovich, assistant to USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez, who works closely with USW members in the iron ranges of Minnesota and Michigan, also participated in the negotiations.

“USW members should be proud of our union’s pivotal role in this extremely important international effort,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “These standards would represent a major step forward for all opencast mine workers around the world.”

The governing body of the ILO, a United Nations agency that sets international labor standards, is scheduled to vote to adopt the new standards in March.

“The draft code provides general principles and specific guidelines to prevent accidents and protect mine workers’ occupational health and safety in opencast mines,” Hunt said. “The new code will lift the minimum floor and support the fundamental rights and responsibilities of workers.”

IndustriALL, the global labor federation, coordinated the efforts of labor leaders from the U.S., Canada, Colombia, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Zambia. In addition to the labor group, the negotiations included representatives of governmental bodies and mining companies from around the world.

Besides simply raising safety standards at mines around the world, the new code will influence legislation governing mining and improve corporate responsibility standards, collective bargaining agreements and company policies. The code would revise one that the ILO adopted in 1991.

The workers’ group focused on three major issues in the negotiations, including ensuring the right of workers to know the hazards of their work and to receive training and education to perform that work safely, the right to refuse unsafe work without fear of repercussions, and the right to participate in the development of new health and safety policies at their workplaces.

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Workers Uniting Statement on Police Repression of Australian Trade Unions http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/workers-uniting-statement-on-police-repression-of-australian-trade-unions Tue, 31 Oct 2017 12:46:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/workers-uniting-statement-on-police-repression-of-australian-trade-unions On 25 October 2017, Australian Federal Police conducted raids on the offices of the Australian Workers’ Union.

The raids were initiated by the government’s “Registered Organisation Commission”, a supposedly neutral regulator of unions and employer organizations, created six months ago. Media outlets were given advance warning of the raids, presumably by the government, to maximize publicity.

The raids are apparently about allegations that the union gave financial support to a progressive community group ‘Get Up’ along with political candidates more than a decade ago.

The raids on the AWU are part of a pattern of police attacks on Australian unions. The head of another anti-union government body, the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), was forced to resign last month after misrepresenting labor laws in briefings to employers and ordered to pay a fine to the CFMEU union. The Deputy Head of the ABCC resigned, just weeks after his appointment in August, to disassociate himself from the conduct of the Commission’s head. One of the more notorious acts of the ABCC was to threaten to ban construction companies that allowed union flags to fly on building sites from access to government contracts. Unions have criticized the ABCC as having a “disastrous impact” on safety in the industry.

Workers Uniting calls on the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government to cease his intimidation of democratic trade unions.  We stand ready to support our Australian sisters and brothers in defense of their rights as workers and citizens to organize and to participate in political activities.

We note that Chapter 18 of the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement requires Australia to uphold international labor standards including freedom of association.  We also note that the European Union is commencing negotiation of a trade agreement with Australia and that the UK Government has expressed interest in negotiating a trade agreement following Brexit. Should the Australian government continue its assault on workers’ rights, we are prepared to demand that our governments take action to sanction the Turnbull government for its actions.

 

Workers Uniting is the international union created by Unite - the biggest union in the UK and Republic of Ireland - and the United Steelworkers (USW), North America's largest private sector union. Workers Uniting draws on the energies of more than three million active and retired workers from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland who work in virtually every sector of the global economy, including manufacturing, service, mining and transportation.

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Trickledown Still a Scam http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/trickledown-still-a-scam Mon, 30 Oct 2017 13:35:03 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/trickledown-still-a-scam USW International Vice President Fred Redmond and progressive talk show host Leslie Marshall last week discussed the Republican tax reform proposal and the ways in which it overwhelmingly benefits the wealthy at the expense of working people.

The plan, Redmond said, is nothing more than the standard Republican orthodoxy.  

“What this president’s done is dust off the old Republican playbook of trickledown economics,” Redmond said. “This is a tax plan that’s going to benefit millionaires and billionaires with very little for the middle class.”

Eighty percent of the benefits from the Republican proposal go to the top one percent of earners, leaving only 20 percent for the bottom 99 percent, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Furthermore, “in order to pay for this, the irony is, we’re looking at cuts of up to $5 trillion in programs that are cherished by workers including Medicaid and Medicare,” Redmond said.

Time and again, trickledown economics has proven to be a scam. Republicans have tried to claim that cutting taxes for the rich and for corporations boosts middle class incomes before, but it has never worked.

“This isn’t some sort of Wall Street baptism where CEOs suddenly see the light and suddenly grasp the concept of paying workers a fair share of the profits,” Redmond said.

“Corporations have gotten tax breaks before and haven’t done anything in terms of rewarding the people who actually contribute towards making the profits. Instead what we’ve seen is that corporations push up CEO pay…while workers’ pay for the past three decades has flat lined,” said Redmond.

Instead the president and Congress should be looking for new ways to structure the tax code that directly helps the middle class. “Trickledown has been tried already, and it’s failed. We need a different approach that puts working people first,” Redmond said.

To hear the full interview, click here.

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USW, Highmark volunteers team up for Make a Difference Day http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/usw-highmark-volunteers-team-up-for-make-a-difference-day Fri, 27 Oct 2017 09:50:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/usw-highmark-volunteers-team-up-for-make-a-difference-day Amazing things happen when people come together. That was evidenced today as the United Steelworkersl Union, Highmark Health and the Jefferson Awards Foundation teamed up to do a day of community service in honor of national “Make a Difference Day.” Kimbery-Clark Corp., which employs many USW members, also had a big role in the day's success.

Volunteers from the organizations rolled up their sleeves on a Saturday morning to help organizing adult and baby diapers made and donated by USW Local USW Local 2-482 and Kimberly-Clark Corp. in Neenah, Wisconsin. The diapers will be donated to the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank, hurricane victims and others in need.

 Make a Difference Day 2017

"The collaboration between Local 2-482 and Kimberly-Clark, serves as shining example of unity between labor, management and community.  It is refreshing to see," said Cathy Battle, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank. "The donations received from the loyal members of the USW will assist families who struggle to provide their children with an adequate supply of diapers."

Highmark and USW employees and families also spent several hours packing art supplies donated by USW members from District 10 and District 12 as well as Highmark Health to make  “Emma’s Art Kits,” a Jefferson Awards Lead360 project created by a teenage girl suffering from brain tumors. Art supplies are donated to pediatric patients at various healthcare facilities to help them pass the time and escape from the effects of illnesses. 

Volunteers also packed children’s toiletries and school supply bags for donation to local domestic violence and homeless shelters.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard said the goal of the day was to bring people from different walks of life together to help those in need, and to help create a culture of service and cooperation in our communities so that we can have the maximum positive impact - together.

“The USW has a long tradition of community service in the areas where we work and live, not just this day but every day. And not just in Pittsburgh, but everywhere," Gerard said. "Today, we are happy to partner with Highmark Health – a fellow Jefferson Awards Foundation Champion -- in our hometown of Pittsburgh to promote doing good deeds and show the power of unity."

Champions are organizations that partner with JAF to engage in meaningful public service and celebrate their communities with Jefferson Awards.

"We want to add to the meaning of City of Champions,” Gerard said. 

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“Mine” versus Ours http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/mine-versus-ours Sat, 17 Jun 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2017/mine-versus-ours Since 1953, the United Steelworkers Union has proudly represented the miners at Lucky Friday Mine (currently operated by Hecla Mining Company) in Mullan, Idaho – a strong, close-knit community of 650 residents that was founded in 1884 with the discovery of gold, lead and silver.

Mullan has its own library and bowling alley in the Morning Club – a building that was gifted to the town by Morning Mine Company nearly 100 years ago.  The town even has its own fire department, and an Olympic-size swimming pool that is available for community use.  Mullan’s story is one of small town prosperity.  Unfortunately, the current chapter is one of struggle.   

According to Hecla’s website, Lucky Friday is projected to have another 20-30 years of “mine life.”  Our life, however, was apparently not taken into consideration when you look at the company’s last offer. 

In March 2017, after working for nearly one year without a contract, the 250 USW members of Local 5114 initiated an unfair labor practice strike against Hecla Mining (Lucky Friday Mine) after the company proposed a number of radical changes to the contract, including:

- Eliminating the bid system, a procedure where senior union members can put together crews and bid on various jobs,
- Reducing call-back protections in the event of mine closure and layoffs,
- Increasing insurance costs on workers, and
- Eliminating workers’ ability to bank vacation time.

For our members at Local 5114, this strike is about more than protecting seniority or minimizing insurance costs.  This strike is about assuring a promising future for the town of Mullan.  Support for our striking members is obvious when you look around the community – signs of support appear in storefront windows all around town.  Local businesses and churches have backed the food bank that Local 5114 have organized for our members and families, and other unions have taken part in solidarity rallies and even picketed Hecla’s shareholders meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Locals from nearly a dozen allied unions have donated to Local 5114’s strike fund.  Recently, the Institute for Career Development (ICD) of USW Local 6163 and USW Local 7150 in Albany, Oregon, organized a 50/50 raffle and golf tournament.  The proceeds helped purchase Halloween candy that was delivered to our striking members’ families by a SOAR Chapter 12-7 member and activist, Garry Steffy, who drove more than 1,200 miles to show his support.

“District 12 SOAR members have been an important part of our continued battle against Hecla,” said Bob LaVenture, District 12 Director and SOAR member.  “I appreciate all the work that SOAR members contribute.  I can’t say enough about how important it is that our retirees get involved, stay involved, and become members of SOAR.  They were the ones that fought for much of the benefits we have today, and they contribute greatly to the strength and future of our union.”

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