United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2020-07-14 16:52:50 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Letter to Local 11-418 from the Bargaining Committee - July 14, 2020 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/letter-to-local-11-418-from-the-bargaining-committee-july-14-2020 Tue, 14 Jul 2020 17:13:11 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/letter-to-local-11-418-from-the-bargaining-committee-july-14-2020 View as a PDF

Brothers and Sisters,

Several members have reached out to the Local 11-00418 bargaining committee over the weekend with concerns following an e-mail from 3M regarding their recent contract proposals. We wanted to clear up any confusion this message might have caused.

Over the 75 years that we have been operating as a union with 3M, we have worked well with the company, but recent changes in management, under lead bargainer Patrick J. Somers, have resulted in new – yet unsurprising – tactics at the bargaining table.

One of the many benefits of establishing our 3M Council comprised of rank-and-file members is that we are connected with the eight other USW locals who bargain with the company. Through these conversations, we have been able to spot patterns, and this recent e-mail is definitely part of the 3M’s larger strategy to delay and divide. 

For example, our union siblings at the Tonawanda plant in New York are currently working past their agreement’s expiration date, under an extension through mid-August, as they complete their negotiations.

And in Alabama, fellow USW members began their latest bargaining session in the early fall of 2019, staying the course through more than eight months of management’s attempts to wear them down. Their vigilance and discipline paid off, and they ratified their contract two months ago in May 2020, after working under an extension of their previous agreement.

It’s clear that offering extensive proposals that take significant time for our committee to sift through has become a part of the company’s game plan, and we are prepared to meet it here in Minnesota with a defense of unity and perseverance. We too can achieve a fair contract if we stick together.

The bargaining committee will be working diligently at the table over the next few weeks, and perhaps months, to ensure that our new contract reflects our essential contributions to this company. As the wheels that keep 3M moving, we deserve nothing less.

We know from experience that we can do anything when we keep our eyes on the prize and remember our solidarity is our greatest asset. It wins every time.

Part of this solidarity means making sure we all stay connected, so please make sure you sign up to receive bargaining updates by texting USW418 to the number 77820.

We will keep moving forward, one bargaining session at a time, and we will reach the finish line with the strong contract you deserve.


Stay safe, siblings.

Your Local Bargaining Committee

Health care member Audra Nixon combines compassion and knowledge to serve others https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/health-care-member-audra-nixon-combines-compassion-and-knowledge-to-serve-others Mon, 13 Jul 2020 14:06:56 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/health-care-member-audra-nixon-combines-compassion-and-knowledge-to-serve-others Audra Nixon’s desire to care for the elderly began on her paper route when she was around seven years old. Turning off the flat, rural County Road into Maxville Manor and walking into the long-term care facility to drop off the day’s newspaper, young Audra felt like she was home.

“I walked into that place and just knew that’s where I wanted to be,” Audra said.

She has now been working as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) at the manor for 33 years. To her, the best part of this work is the hands-on care with seniors and the intimate bonds that come with it. 

“You learn so much,” Audra said. “The wisdom that comes from an elderly person is astounding. It’s all really heart-warming.”

Along with her full-time work as a caregiver, Audra also serves at unit chair of Local 9211, and as an executor for the local. When she took over the position as a fairly green leader, she knew her goal was to learn as much as possible about unions and government in order to better support her members.

“I wanted to get more folks involved and make it so they’re not just paying dues,” she said. “It opened everything up a lot more.”


Audra also serves as president of the District 6 Health Care Workers Council, and is a member of the USW International Health Care Workers Council. Through these platforms, she and her fellow activists in Ontario have been able to start a vital conversation around the need to support and uplift the PSW industry.

Six years ago, Audra and others started to see a big change in health care changes, particularly with wage cuts and freezes. This is when she became involved with the district council and started working to create a safe space for fellow PSWs to come together and talk about the challenges they faced.

Now, amidst a pandemic that has severely impacted long-term care facilities, that open communication and advocacy is needed more than ever. Less than two months ago, on May 15, members of Local 9211 protested outside the manor against cuts to care hours that leave vulnerable residents at even greater risk.

“There’s a lot of frustration,” Audra said. “We’re lucky to have enough PPE and our facility isn’t one that has had an outbreak, but we’re already short-staffed because a lot of people don’t want to come to work during this pandemic.”

Even before the pandemic hit Canada, PSWs had been sounding the alarm on their many vulnerabilities for several years. Then, as the virus took hold, conditions in facilities got so bad that the military had to be deployed to five hard-hit centers to help provide medical care.

A May 14 report based on the observations of Canadian Armed Forces personnel also detailed insufficient staff training and inadequate protocols to stop the spread of the virus, poor sanitation, resident neglect, worker burnout, and more. Today, nursing homes account for 81 percent of Covid-19 deaths in the country.

“We’ve been saying we’re in crisis for years,” Audra said. “It wasn’t until residents started passing away that anyone paid attention.”

Audra and a USW staff representative also met with members of their parliamentary government just last month to talk about the many issues facing the industry. Among the demands they made at the meeting were better wages, safer resident-to-worker ratios, and improved inspections of facilities.

“We know what’s needed,” she said. “The government just needs to help us implement it.”

Audra said that being in a union is what allows her and others to use their collective voice to advocate for themselves and others.

“It’s about power and fairness. The more people we have backing us, the stronger our voice gets,” Audra said. “The USW has been very good standing up for these issues and fighting back.”

When she isn’t caring for her residents and standing up for her fellow workers, Audra enjoys spending time with her family and her dog. “My peace has always been my husband and my home,” she said.

VP Redmond picked to lead AFL-CIO Task Force on Racial Justice https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/vp-redmond-picked-to-lead-afl-cio-task-force Mon, 13 Jul 2020 08:05:25 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/vp-redmond-picked-to-lead-afl-cio-task-force USW International Vice President Fred Redmond has been picked to lead the new AFL-CIO Task Force on Racial Justice. President Richard Trumka announced the creation of the task force and charged it with implementing a series of recommendations adopted by the AFL-CIO General Board focused on taking concrete action to address America’s long history of racism and police violence against Black people.

“The labor movement is committed to being the tip of the spear in the fight to bring long overdue racial justice to our country,” Trumka said. “These dedicated leaders will take on one of the most complex challenges our movement has ever faced. I am confident each of them have the experience, dedication and tenacity to lead this important initiative.”

Click here to read the entire announcement and learn more about the effort. 

CSB Pushes to Prevent Chemical Incidents Ahead of Extreme Weather https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/csb-pushes-to-prevent-chemical-incidents-ahead-of-extreme-weather Fri, 10 Jul 2020 10:14:17 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/csb-pushes-to-prevent-chemical-incidents-ahead-of-extreme-weather The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a video safety message and a safety alert to help guide workers and their employers through extreme weather events.

The message, titled, “2020 Hurricane Season: Guidance for Chemical Plants During Extreme Weather Events” will be of use to labor-management health and safety committees, union safety representatives and USW Triangle of Prevention (TOP).

Atlantic hurricane activity this summer and fall is expected to be above normal, according to the report, with an anticipated 13-19 storms—six to 10 of them being hurricanes and three to six expected to be a category 3, 4 or 5, with winds of 111 mph or higher.

Three years ago, Hurricane Harvey stalled over southeast Texas, causing an unprecedented amount of rain. The Arkema Chemical Plant in Crosby, Texas, flooded, causing plant equipment to fail and stored chemicals inside trailers to decompose and burn, releasing fumes and smoke. Twenty-one people reported exposures to the fumes and sought medical help, while more than 200 residents living near the plant evacuated and could not return home for a week.

The CSB investigated the incident and found no industry guidance on planning for such severe weather events. The agency recommended that the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) produce a guidance document to aid the industry in its preparation for such events as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and other natural weather.

The CCPS obliged with its new guidance document “Assessment of and Planning for Natural Hazards” that involves assessing natural hazards, addressing them and doing emergency planning. CSB’s safety alert said the CCPS document includes identifying natural hazards, their likelihood of happening and severity level; gathering date on them; evaluating facility design in relation to these natural hazards; assessing risks and planning for emergencies.

Startup of a chemical plant, petrochemical facility or oil refinery is always a hazardous activity, but if process safety requirements are not followed, it can turn into a catastrophic event. That is why CSB’s safety alert emphasizes reliance on established safety systems and checking process equipment thoroughly when starting up after an extreme weather event.

The CSB video is only about four minutes long and the safety alert is three pages. Joint labor-management health and safety committees, union safety representatives and TOP representatives would find more detailed information in the 41-page CCPS document.

Local 13-620 BASF Workers at Geismar Plant Help Fight COVID-19 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-13-620-basf-workers-at-geismar-plant-help-fight-covid-19 Thu, 09 Jul 2020 10:53:17 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-13-620-basf-workers-at-geismar-plant-help-fight-covid-19 Lanny Cambre Jr., a 28-year Local 13-620 member and steward at the BASF flagship plant in Geismar, La., said he’s proud that his local is doing its part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Cambre is a control room operator in the surfactants unit. These chemicals are used in many cleaning products such as soaps and detergents, and have a wide range of uses. His unit makes PE20 that goes into making hand sanitizers and soap.

“During COVID-19, we have had a lot more demand for hand soap,” he said.

The site is a big chemical supplier to Clorox and Lysol.

“Clorox made sure we had the supplies we needed at work because we supply the company with chemicals,” he said.

The site also makes a chemical labeled F127NF that goes into the production of Listerine, and makes a chemical product, P188bio, for Roche Pharmaceuticals that uses it to produce a drug to treat people with pneumonia.

Cambre said that knowing the work he does impacts the fight against COVID-19 makes his job a little more rewarding.

“You feel better about going to work since these products are helping people,” he said.

Innovation, a real manufacturing plan is exactly what we need right now https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/innovation-a-real-manufacturing-plan-is-exactly-what-we-need-right-now Thu, 09 Jul 2020 07:52:14 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/innovation-a-real-manufacturing-plan-is-exactly-what-we-need-right-now For generations, our union has been pushing for a manufacturing strategy that builds real wealth, improves our nation and protects good jobs.

Today, Joe Biden released the manufacturing and innovation segment of his Build Back Better economic plan, "Made in All of America."

Joe Biden

It's exactly what we need during these unprecedented times that are challenging so many of us.

“Recovering from the Covid-19 crisis and ensuring shared prosperity for generations to come will take bold action and a sustained commitment," said our International President Tom Conway. "Joe Biden’s plan for revitalizing American manufacturing demonstrates both.

Our Core Issues

Late last year, we started the "Your Union. Your Voice." initiative that included multiple parts, all of which were designed to provide more transparency about the union’s processes and hear from you about your priorities.

Among the top priorities were issues related to our jobs: fair trade agreements and laws that protect U.S. workers, increased worker wages, and strong workplace safety and health protections. 

Check out our "Your Union. Your Voice." website to learn more about the issues that matter most to us, how we decide to back political candidates and information about voting.

Vice President Biden's Plan 

Here is the rest of what President Conway had to say about Vice President Biden's plan:

“As the pandemic made clear, our country must be able to supply its own needs. And now, more than ever, we urgently need to create good, family-sustaining jobs, both to stop the economic freefall and reverse decades of rampant economic inequality.

“Biden will jump-start American manufacturing through a long-needed investment in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Coupled with strong ‘Buy American’ provisions that ensure tax money supports domestic industry, this rebuilding campaign will make our country more secure and create millions of jobs.

“His plan also includes a massive procurement commitment as well as a roadmap for bringing critical supply chains back to the United States. These provisions will put our country on stronger economic footing and bolster our national security.

“Just as crucially, Biden’s plan acknowledges the necessity of strong labor protections that enable workers to bargain collectively for higher wages and better benefits. By supporting the PRO Act, Biden will ensure that the jobs created through his economic plan are middle-class jobs that enable workers to live the American dream.

“Our nation needs a leader who understands the necessity of a strong manufacturing base; from medicines to steel to clean energy technology, our country must produce things here and pay workers competitive wages to make them.

“Joe Biden’s plan demonstrates that he not only grasps the strategic importance of domestic manufacturing but also values American workers.”

Learn why we endorsed Joe Biden here.

Local 9-675-01 at 3M’s Guin, Ala., Plant Continues Union Tradition for 64 Years https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-9-675-01-at-3ms-guin-ala-plant-continues-union-tradition-for-64-years Wed, 08 Jul 2020 12:15:27 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-9-675-01-at-3ms-guin-ala-plant-continues-union-tradition-for-64-years Local 9-675-01 signed a new contract that increased wages and benefits, turned past practices into solid contract language and averted management concessions at 3M’s plant in Guin, Ala., after six months of negotiations.

First organized in 1956, the local continues to negotiate family-supporting wages, benefits and contract language that helps Guin and Marion County thrive.

Members overwhelmingly ratified a three-year agreement on April 24, 2020 that included wage increases of three percent the first year, two percent the second year and two percent the third year.

“The last week of negotiations there was a big argument over retroactive pay,” said Local 9-675-01 President Phillip Markham. “We had to really fight them over that, but they went back, went over everybody’s hours, and paid what they owed them.”

The local obtained increases in payments received for sickness and accident, long-term disability, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits. Changes in how retirement benefits are calculated will result in larger monthly retirement checks for workers. Union negotiators added step parents and step children to the bereavement leave.

Those who work in the Advanced Materials Division manufacturing glass bubbles—a lightweight filler material—will get 15 minutes of company time to take a shower after work.

Workers in the Maker department—producing reflective sheeting for the sides of trucks, and road and traffic signs—will get a $1,120 work clothing allowance for shirts and blue jeans when they join the department and $800/year thereafter.

The local maintained its health care and retirement plans.

Turned back concessions

Bargaining began Oct. 2, 2019 and lasted through the spring, an unusual turn, as until this contract, negotiations typically took no more than a week.

The local’s perseverance, however, paid off.

“We thought we did pretty good,” Markham said. “We were trying to keep a lot of what we had. The company was coming after a lot of things like a zipper clause, contracting out of janitorial work, four job cuts in the bubbles department and the introduction of temporary workers.”

In a zipper clause, if a past practice is not in writing after the contract is ratified or it is not in a memorandum of understanding, it is non-existent, said Local 9-675-01 Vice President Keith Bozeman.

He said the union committee went over its bargaining notes, emails and copies of notes from past bargaining years to remember every past practice and write them down. As a result, overtime rules are in the contract now.

“Our staff rep., Kevin Key, got the company to agree that everything we sign or agree to has to have the signatures of the local union president or vice president, the plant manager, human resources and the department manager,” Bozeman said. “When the company saw we were not implementing items that were not agreed to by everybody, they pulled away from the zipper clause, and Key was instrumental in that.”

Markham said the local saved the janitorial jobs from being contracted out and the four jobs in the bubbles department from being cut. The union also refused to allow the introduction of temporary workers.

“Everybody was united in the whole plant,” he said.

He said members wore t-shirts to show solidarity and union stickers during the days of negotiations. Due to COVID-19, bargaining was conducted via email.

Toward the end, he said the membership was getting antsy, but “we kept telling them we were going to get to the finish line.”

Contract improvements over time

Local 9-675-01 built a solid foundation of achievements before negotiations began for the current agreement.

In 2003, the local and 3M agreed to engage in the USW’s Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program, and the company agreed to pay for a full-time hourly worker to be the TOP representative for the site.

“That was a big change,” said Calvin Bozeman, the local’s first TOP representative. “That put a union person in the company’s daily meetings who could hear what was going on and give the union’s input.”

He said that TOP helped build the local and made it stronger by getting more people involved in health and safety.

In 2004, the union committee negotiated plantwide seniority; it replaced departmental seniority. The local also got contract language for reduced workweeks when business got slow. “Now, we go by seniority to ask people if they want to work three days a week and retain their benefits and service credit,” Keith Bozeman said.

Calvin said many changes to the vacation policy were negotiated over the years. When he hired in, it took three years to get one week of vacation. Now, people hired in get two weeks of vacation immediately. When the local negotiated half-day increments of vacation, the members thought no one would use them, Calvin said. “Today, everyone does.”

Last chance agreements used to be in effect indefinitely until the union committee bargained new language in the contract in 2013 that made them limited to 48 months, Keith said.

As the 3M Guin site has grown, so has the union membership. Today, the local represents around 210 production, warehouse and maintenance workers, and has 96 percent membership in a right-to-work-for-less state.

District 6 members demand support, funding for long-term care workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/district-6-members-demand-support-funding-for-long-term-care-workers Mon, 06 Jul 2020 14:48:18 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/district-6-members-demand-support-funding-for-long-term-care-workers Members and activists of the District 6 Health Care Workers Council have been campaigning for years for better working conditions and pay for long-term care workers in Ottawa. Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, that work has not slowed down.

After a video conference with provincial leaders at the end of June, District 6 Health Care Workers Council President Audra Nixon and District 6 Staff Representative David Lipton followed the meeting up with a letter outlining their demands to keep long-term care workers safe, as well as to strengthen the industry as a whole.

Among the actions the District is calling for is the withdrawal of two provincial bills that they say allow more privatization of long-term care facilities and penalize workers at nonprofit facilities.

“At a time when compensation and working conditions are required to attract and retrain qualified staff, this law [Bill 124] creates an unjustified labour market distortion,” the letter said.

The Steelworker activists also called for increased targeted funding for long-term care, better wages and conditions for workers, improved inspections of facilities, and more.

Click here to read a former Stat Facts story about the district’s work around long-term care in Ottawa.

Join unions across the globe for webinar to amplify young worker voices during and beyond COVID-19 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/join-unions-across-the-globe-for-webinar-to-amplify-young-worker-voices-during-and-beyond-covid-19 Wed, 01 Jul 2020 14:22:08 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/join-unions-across-the-globe-for-webinar-to-amplify-young-worker-voices-during-and-beyond-covid-19 Global Unions, including IndustriALL Global Union, have joined together to amplify the voices of young workers during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic in a series of two webinars.

The first webinar will happen on July 6, 2020 at 8 a.m. EST.

Speakers will include:

  • Phelia Wilson, National Workers Union, St Lucia, ITF
  • Mȏnica Bufon, CONTAG, Brasil, IUF
  • Gopinath Panneerselvam, AKITMS, India, BWI
  • Christian Rutendo Ranji, ZEWU, Zimbabwe, IndustriALL
  • Rebeca Sepúlveda Carrasco, FENPRUSS, Chile
  • Speaker from Mandate, Ireland, UNI and others still to be announced

Interpretation will be provided in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian and Japanese.

The room will open as of 13:30 CEST on 6 July 2020 so that you can test your connection and resolve any technical issues in good time.

Click here to register.

You will need to have Zoom version 4.5 or above for the interpretation module to be visible. It is recommended to have at least version 5.0 which has all the latest features (Zoom meeting instructions and guidelines on downloading the application are attached).

The event will also be livestreamed on the ITUC Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/ituccsi/

Follow-up Letter to the American Hospital Association: Stop Muzzling Frontline Healthcare Workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/follow-up-letter-to-the-american-hospital-association-stop-muzzling-frontline-healthcare-workers Mon, 29 Jun 2020 11:33:38 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/follow-up-letter-to-the-american-hospital-association-stop-muzzling-frontline-healthcare-workers Below is a follow-up letter sent to the American Hospital Association urging them to publicly denounce any such efforts to muzzle health care professionals and call on its member hospitals and health care systems to encourage their doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to speak freely about coronavirus patient caseloads, dwindling hospital supplies, and any other challenges that should be immediately addressed. We initially signed on to a letter asking the AHA to do this in March.

Click here to read the letter as a PDF.

Richard J. Pollack
President and Chief Executive Officer
American Hospital Association
800 10th Street, N.W.
Two CityCenter, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20001-4956
Delivered by email to rick@aha.org

Dear Mr. Pollack:

In the United States there are approximately 30,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection each day and that number is increasing. (1) As businesses reopen and social restrictions ease, many cities and states are seeing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations on the rise again. (2) The pandemic is far from over, and health care professionals and hospital support workers continue to put their lives on the line fighting this virus. Moreover, hospitals still struggle with maintaining adequate protective gear and personnel to properly combat the pandemic.

Disturbingly, health care professionals and hospital support workers continue to refrain from coming forward with their concerns about inadequate medical supplies and dangerous working conditions for fear of retribution. In the group letter we sent you on March 27, 2020, signed by 54 organizations, we urged the American Hospital Association (AHA) to publicly denounce any efforts to muzzle health care professionals with threats of disciplinary action for speaking out about COVID-19 patient caseloads and dwindling hospital supplies needed to care for such patients.

The AHA’s reply, dated March 27, 2020, rebuffed our request by saying, “the AHA has not heard any reports of hospitals or health systems restricting the free speech of physicians, nurses or others regarding the conditions related to COVID-19.” Since then, we have found numerous examples of health care workers facing punishment for speaking out against hospital policies and preparedness including the following:

Dr. Ming Lin was fired from PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, WA, after complaining to his superiors about the hospital’s lack of coronavirus preparedness and then going public about it on YouTube and Facebook when the hospital did not respond to his concerns. He called for faster turn-around in testing, an area where healthcare workers could disinfect to avoid carrying the virus back to their families and the community, and better personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2020 (3)

Dr. Samantha Houston lost her job at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North in Oxford, MS, after sending e-mails to colleagues about the lack of PPE in the hospital and organizing a donation drive for masks and baby monitors. According to the article, at least one additional doctor in Mississippi was fired for advocating for stronger safety measures.
- Mississippi Today, April 5, 2020 (4)

Kenisa Barkai was fired from her nursing job at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, MI, after complaining about her workload and poor conditions at the hospital while treating coronavirus patients.
- Detroit Free Press, April 6, 2020 (5)

HCA Healthcare, the largest healthcare system in the country with 185 hospitals in 20 states, e-mailed guidelines to employees telling them they could get disciplined or fired for posting information on social media or speaking to journalists. Jhonna Porter, a charge nurse, was suspended retroactively from West Hills Hospital in California for posting in a private Facebook group about the lack of hospital equipment on the COVID19 floor.
- Business Insider, April 7, 2020 (6)

Ten nurses at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, were suspended when they demanded N95 masks before working in the COVID-19 unit.
- CNN, April 17, 2020 (7)

Ana Sanchez, an obstetrician at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA, was suspended after complaining about the lack of PPE and posting a video on Facebook showing inadequate social distancing by hospital workers.
- Medscape, April 27, 2020 (8)

Adam Witt, the local nurses’ union president, was fired from Jersey Shore University Medical Center after he took the day off to defend a nurse at a disciplinary hearing. The nurse had raised concerns about coronavirus exposure at the hospital.
- New York Times, April 27, 2020 (9)

Tasha Smith, a nurse at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, NY, was fired after complaining that she was uncomfortable treating coronavirus patients without the proper PPE.
- New York Times, April 27, 2020 (10)

The chief operating officer of New York Presbyterian Hospital told staff to “stop sending e-mails, cards, and letters saying that we are disrespecting you. If you feel that way... it raises for us whether you, in fact, want to keep working for New York-Presbyterian.”
- Medical Economics, May 11, 2020 (11)

These stories indicate that efforts to muzzle health care professionals and hospital support workers by hospital administrators have been a pervasive problem throughout the pandemic. And, given how underreported workplace retaliation can be, these media reports fail to represent the full extent of the problem.

Given the ample evidence of retaliation in the face of truth telling, why has the AHA still not made a clear statement to hospital administrators that it is unacceptable to fire, suspend, or reprimand workers who come forth with very real concerns about limited supplies and problematic hospital policies?

More than 84,000 healthcare workers in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19 according to the CDC, 12 and nearly 600 have died. (13) For every healthcare worker infected, many more family members and patients are put at risk. As the frontline of the healthcare system, they are in the best position to observe where the system is weak or failing. The health of our nation depends upon hearing their voices.

We once again strongly urge the American Hospital Association to publicly denounce any efforts to muzzle healthcare professionals and hospital support workers. The AHA must call on its member hospitals and healthcare systems to encourage their doctors, nurses, and other hospital workers to speak freely about scarce hospital supplies, COVID-19 patient caseloads, inadequate staffing, and any other challenges that put worker safety at risk that should be immediately addressed.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent public health matter. Please contact Dr. Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, at mcarome@citizen.org, or Dr. Juley Fulcher, Worker Health and Safety Advocate at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, at jfulcher@citizen.org with your response.


Adnan Ahmed, MD, Inpatient Adult Division Director, Northwell Hospital
American Civil Liberties Union
American Federation of Teachers
American Muslim Health Professionals
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
Broome Tioga Green Party
Coalition on Human Needs
Communications Workers of America (CWA)
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute
Doctors in Politics
Doctors of Gaming
Elizabeth Dewey, MD
Equality North Carolina
Government Accountability Project
HER Foundation
Hisam Goueli, MD
International Chemical Workers Union Council
Labor or Love Safety Training
MassCOSH - MA Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Center for Health Research
National Employment Law Project
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Nurses United
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women's Law Center
New Jersey Work Environment Council
Private Practice
Progressive Doctors
Public Advocacy for Kids
Public Citizen
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)
Public Justice Center
R1 Labs
SafeWork Washington
Times Up Healthcare
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and
Service Workers International Union
University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Healthy Work
Virginia Organizing
Western New York Council on Occupational Safety & Health
Whistleblowers of America
Yasin Khan, Director of Public Programs, Labor Occupational Health Program

1 Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count, NEW YORK TIMES, https://nyti.ms/2AVXmr6.
2 Arielle Mitropoulos, Soo Rin Kim and Ella Torres, Novel Coronavirus Hospitalizations Increasing in 17 States, ABC NEWS (June 19, 2020), https://abcn.ws/2B5vJwa.
3 Richard Read, Doctor Fired After Criticizing his Hospital for Coronavirus Response, LOS ANGELES TIMES (April 3, 2020), https://lat.ms/2MK5wpk.
4 Kayleigh Skinner and Erica Hensley, Two Mississippi Doctors Fired after Speaking Out about Coronavirus Safety, MISSISSIPPI TODAY (April 5, 2020), https://bit.ly/3hbNJWc.
5 Kristen Jordan Shamus and Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, and Robin Erb, Bridge Magazine, Nurses Protest Conditions at Detroit’s Sinai-Grace, Said They were Told to Leave, DETROIT FREE PRESS (April 6, 2020), https://bit.ly/37dT4rm.
6 Allana Akhtar, Leaked Memo Reveals the US’ Largest Health System Could Fire Nurses Who Post Coronavirus Policies on Social Media – and a Nurse has Already been Suspended without Pay, BUSINESS INSIDER (April 7, 2020), https://bit.ly/2AQsFns.
7 Paul P. Murphy, 10 Coronavirus-unit Nurses are Suspended, Potentially for Weeks, for Refusing to Work without N95 Masks, CNN (April 17, 2020), https://cnn.it/3dJl5cG.
8 Sheila Mulrooney Eldred, Doc Suspended for Exposing Poor Social-Distancing Practices, She Says, MEDSCAPE (April 27, 2020), https://wb.md/2zmk0bW.
9 Noam Scheiber and Brian M. Rosenthal, Nurses and Doctors Speaking Out on Safety Now Risk Their Job, NEW YORK TIMES (April 27, 2020), https://nyti.ms/2zi8dLE.
10 Id.
11 Rebekah Bernard MD, Coronavirus Pandemic Demonstrates Disconnect between Executives and Doctors, MEDICAL ECONOMICS (May 11, 2020), https://bit.ly/2YeGVye.
12 CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION, , Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cases in the U.S., https://bit.ly/2MIm0OJ.
13 Christina Jewett, Melissa Bailey, and Danielle Renwick, Exclusive: Nearly 600 – and Counting – US Health Workers have Died of COVID-19, KAISER HEALTH NEWS (June 6, 2020), https://bit.ly/37eGXKy.

Labor Unions Fight for Emergency Temporary Standards to Protect Workers from COVID-19 Exposure https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/labor-unions-fight-for-emergency-temporary-standards-to-protect-workers-from-covid-19-exposure Mon, 29 Jun 2020 10:43:44 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/labor-unions-fight-for-emergency-temporary-standards-to-protect-workers-from-covid-19-exposure The USW joined the United Mine Workers Union (UMWA) in filing a petition on June 16 to force the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to protect miners from exposure to COVID-19.

If successful, the petition, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, sought a court order to compel MSHA to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for infectious diseases.

“The problem is that the guidance is entirely voluntary, and some mine operators have not volunteered to implement it,” Mike Wright, director of USW’s Health, Safety & Environment Department, wrote in his declaration. “These operators are putting their employees and our members at risk. In addition, they are putting those miners’ families and their communities at risk.”

The unions’ petition states that miners need an ETS because they face unique challenges working closely with each other underground.

Miners face different risks

The general public does not descend to work in a “cage” like many miners do. “They are squeezed into a small elevator car, with their bodies compressed together and their faces inches from each other,” Wright wrote.

Workers in Local 12-9477 face these unique challenges. They work at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, an underground salt repository for transuranic waste that consists of items contaminated with small amounts of plutonium and other man-made radioactive elements. 

At WIPP, miners descend to the salt mine in a six-foot by nine-foot cage, said Javier Leyva, Local 12-9477 safety representative. He said doing that “makes social distancing go away.”

“Management limits the number of people in the cages, but people are still not at the six-foot recommendation to be away from each other,” he said. “In a cage of four people, we are still shoulder to shoulder. The company requires you to write down who was in the cage with you so that contact tracing can be done if a worker comes down with COVID-19.”

Working in the salt mine is noisy sometimes, and Leyva said that forces him to move closer to others in order to communicate with them.

“Most Americans do not work in cramped underground quarters,” Wright wrote. “Most are not exposed to high levels of silica and diesel emissions.

“Most Americans can choose to follow CDC guidelines on sanitation, social distancing, and the quarantine of symptomatic individuals,” Wright wrote. “Miners have no such freedom; those choices are made by the mine operator.”

Fight for worker health and safety

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the labor movement has fought for Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for infectious disease that are mandatory and legally enforceable.

The recent petition is the second attempt to convince MSHA to issue a standard after David Zatezalo, a former coal industry executive who heads MSHA, declined the UMWA’s March 24 petition.

The AFL-CIO also tried to get an ETS on infectious disease from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

The federation filed a petition on March 6 to the Department of Labor (DOL), and the USW signed on as well.

Not all employers are following a coronavirus protocol and of those that do, the guidelines vary, the AFL-CIO said in its petition. 

A perfect example of some guidelines being followed and others not followed is the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state.

USW Local 12-369 saw how Hanford contractors were “cherry picking” which COVID-19 guidance principles they wanted to follow, and the union issued a stop work order because workers’ lives were being put at risk. The local went to the Department of Energy (DOE) and ensured the site followed one COVID-19 protocol.

The DOL declined to issue the ETS. The agency said its existing enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, along with the COVID-19 requirements and guidelines of other entities, rendered an ETS unnecessary.

The AFL-CIO then sued OSHA on May 18 to force the agency to issue an ETS. But on June 11, a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the federation’s appeal.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would require employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans. Called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act), H.R. 6800 passed the House on May 15.  The legislation is now awaiting approval in the Senate.

AFL-CIO President Trumka calls on bishop to help USW healthcare members https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/afl-cio-president-trumka-calls-on-bishop-to-help-usw-healthcare-members Mon, 29 Jun 2020 09:52:01 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/afl-cio-president-trumka-calls-on-bishop-to-help-usw-healthcare-members Click here to download a printable version of Trumka's letter. 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, leader of America’s largest federation of labor unions, last week joined our fight alongside workers who provide care for our most vulnerable patients at the Bishop Noa Home (BNH) in northern Michigan. Trumka wrote to John F. Doerfler, bishop of Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, urging him to treat with dignity our union siblings, who work at the nursing home and rehab facility associated with the Catholic church. The group voted to join USW Local 2-21 and have been trying to negotiate a contract for the past three years. 

Text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Bishop Doerfler:

As the leader of America’s largest federation of labor unions, I am extremely proud of the workers at the Bishop Noa Home who risk their lives every day to care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These workers—represented by United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-21—feed, clothe, bathe and plan activities for some of the Upper Peninsula’s most vulnerable residents.

They exemplify the compassion and mercy at the heart of Christ’s ministry. And they steadfastly continue to perform their duties even as the coronavirus takes an ever-higher toll on the people who live and work in nursing homes.

During this difficult time, the nurses protect the lives of their patients and defend their god- given dignity.

These workers have more than earned a fair contract. Community members know this, and that is why the workers have widespread support.

For nearly three years, however, the management at the Bishop Noa Home has dragged out negotiations—and proposed cutting benefits the workers already receive—just to punish them for organizing.

The workers adopted a flexible, creative approach to bargaining in an earnest desire to bring the talks to a prompt, amicable conclusion. The negotiating committee made numerous proposals that would have promoted labor- management collaboration and enabled the workers to provide even more excellent care.

But the management at the Bishop Noa Home spurned these heartfelt overtures and refused to budge from its own unreasonable positions, positions that seem at odds with catholic social teaching as articulated by St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

The facility’s union-busting attorney belittles workers at the bargaining table—in stark contrast to the kindness they show their patients every day—and demeans the value of their life- sustaining labors. He scoffs at their request for a voice in the workplace, even though these workers know their patients better than anyone else.

At a time when America is relying on health care professionals more than ever—and praising them for the sacrifices they make—the workers at Bishop Noa only ask to be treated with the same dignity they extend to others.

I ask you to intercede with the Administration and Board at the Bishop Noa Home to ensure these workers receive a just contract providing fair wages, decent working conditions and the respect their Christian service requires.


Richard L. Trumka President

USW Opposes Changes to Federal Rule on Very Low-Level Waste Disposal https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-opposes-changes-to-federal-rule-on-very-low-level-waste-disposal Mon, 29 Jun 2020 08:25:53 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-opposes-changes-to-federal-rule-on-very-low-level-waste-disposal Very low-level waste (VLLW) could soon be filling local landfills if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reinterprets an existing rule, a change the USW opposes.

VLLW refers to the least radioactive form of Class A low-level radioactive waste. It includes the concrete, soil and other materials generated when nuclear power plants are decommissioned. Regulators consider it safe enough for disposal in landfills not designed for handling radioactive waste.

Four U.S. facilities licensed to accept low-level waste currently accept this material. The NRC can, under current regulations, approve land burial of this waste at hazardous waste and municipal landfills on a case-by-case basis.

The NRC is considering a rule change that would allow landfills to accept this waste without getting the agency’s approval for every shipment. Landfill operators applying for an agency exemption would have to meet specific restrictions, including a cumulative dose limit under 25 millirem from all disposals in any year.

The USW has three major concerns with this rule, USW Vice President Roxanne Brown wrote in her May 19 remarks to the NRC during the public comment period, which lasts until July 20.

First, very low-level waste is not defined by statute or in the NRC’s regulations and is vaguely defined. 

“Simply referring to this type of waste provides insufficient protection to workers and the communities surrounding the receiving company’s premises and the disposal site or sites,” Brown wrote.

Second, updating the rule would allow workers with little or no training to handle radioactive material. This could lead to a higher chance for mishandling of the waste or improper disposal.

“Putting nuclear waste, of any dosage level, in the hands of undertrained and unqualified workers is not only a bad decision for business and the environment, but hazardous to the people doing the work,” Brown wrote.

Third, the proposed rule lacks monitoring of soil and ground water at and around the exempt dumping site to check for unexpected and increased radiological contamination. Many landfills get repurposed for public use when they are closed. They become golf courses, youth soccer fields, amphitheaters and places for other activities.

“At USW-represented facilities, we have experienced soil and water contamination that was not expected,” Brown wrote. “The clean-up for this contamination has substantially burdened American taxpayers and the environment.”

In light of these issues, the USW urged the NRC to not change the existing rule.

“Given the long-term effects of solid waste disposal, a case-by-case review before turning over licensed radiological materials to unlicensed parties for disposal in unlicensed facilities is essential,” Brown wrote. “The NRC needs to give far more attention than is apparent in the proposed rule to the long-term effects of even relatively low levels of radiological contamination in unlicensed facilities.”

Brown cited the union’s representation of atomic workers who are trained to remove, handle and transport nuclear waste at all dosage levels, such as the union’s members at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.

“The minimal monetary costs this rule may reduce is not worth the costs to workers, our communities, and our environment,” Brown wrote. “We stand with those who oppose this rule, while continuing to support the ongoing mission of the cleanup of our nation’s Department of Energy nuclear sites.”

For good jobs and a clean environment, look to paper and packaging https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/for-good-jobs-and-a-clean-environment-look-to-paper-and-packaging Thu, 25 Jun 2020 13:38:28 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/for-good-jobs-and-a-clean-environment-look-to-paper-and-packaging Keith Frazier remembers what it was like at Domtar’s Ashdown, Ark., plant when the facility operated at full capacity. About 850 workers represented by the USW made good, family-sustaining wages while the company churned out uncoated free sheet used to make copy paper and other products.

But over the past nine years, said Frazier, president of USW Local 1329, Domtar has had to gradually scale back operations. It eliminated three production lines, idled a fourth and cut hundreds of jobs as it attempted to remain competitive.

While there are a number of forces at work, including recently the novel coronavirus, the United States’ widely debated energy policy has made it difficult for all U.S. paper producers to plan for the future and retain a competitive edge.

The first step towards protecting these domestic jobs is definitively designating wood biomass energy as carbon neutral, as it has been elsewhere around the world.

American production of paper food containers, toilet tissue, copy paper, shipping boxes and more, sets the standard for clean manufacturing. On average, about two-thirds of the energy used to make paper comes from biomass rather than fossil fuels.

Yet the lack of designation currently subjects biomass energy to cumbersome regulations and permit processes under the Clean Air Act, putting the domestic industry at a disadvantage.

And when federal policy makers waffle on the issue of biomass energy, it becomes difficult for domestic companies to compete globally or plan for investments in existing and future facilities.

This hurts us all, as domestic papermaking is among the cleanest, environmentally friendly industries, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing processes are an inherent part of the industry’s environmental stewardship.

Domestic paper facilities help ensure that more trees are replanted than harvested each year, and in the United States alone, forests and forest products stored enough carbon in 2018 to offset more than 12 percent of the nation’s total CO2 emissions.

Domestic paper producers are also diligent that no part of the tree goes to waste. From the top of the tree to the base, every part is used. And, the byproducts – branches, bark and liquid biofuel – generate bioenergy to power the mills. 

Yet federal policy in the United States does not clearly recognize biomass energy as carbon neutral, jeopardizing this delicate system.

In the meantime, approximately 950,000 American workers, many of whom are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, face an uncertain future.

“The paper mills do pay better than anything around,” said Frazier, noting laid-off workers have a difficult time finding new jobs that allow them to maintain their standard of living.

At a time when tens of millions of Americans are out of work, we cannot afford to concede these good-paying, family-sustaining jobs or the communities they help keep afloat.

On average, paper workers earned 24 percent more than the national average of all non-farm private sector employees, and many of these facilities are located in small, rural communities where papermaking forms the backbone of the local economy.

It’s imperative that we keep these domestic jobs where they are, and paper producers’ environmentally-sound energy practices helps bolster this effort as well.

Domestic paper mills harness the residuals from the manufacturing process, which would otherwise decay and release carbon. In some cases, the ability of mills to sell this clean energy back to the grid kept these facilities operating when demand for product dipped, which ensured those essential jobs stayed in place.

Repeated studies, agencies, institutions, legislation and rules around the world – in addition to 100 forestry scientists – recognize the carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably-managed forests. Yet the lack of clear designation domestically puts American industry at a disadvantage.

The U.S. Congress, last December, once again stated its intent that long-term federal regulatory policy should reflect the carbon neutrality of forest-based biomass in domestic spending legislation, as it has done for the past four years. 

Workers and their families now urgently need the EPA to advance a long-awaited policy that acknowledges the carbon neutrality of biomass, and the role it plays in providing significant greenhouse gas reduction benefits to the environment.

A clear, science-based approach will promote the efficient and responsible use of domestic natural resources in the manufacturing of paper products and level the playing field for the industry. This, in turn, will help preserve both good jobs and a clean environment.

Leeann Foster is International Vice President of the United Steelworkers overseeing the paper sector and Heidi Brock is President and CEO of the American Forest & Paper Association.

2020 Leadership Scholarship Classes Postponed https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/2020-leadership-scholarship-classes-postponed Tue, 23 Jun 2020 10:52:57 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/2020-leadership-scholarship-classes-postponed After much thought and debate and due the widespread activity on the coronavirus, the decision has been made to POSTPONE all Leadership Scholarship 2020 classes.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause some, but your health and welfare and that of our staff must be the number one priority. District Directors have been informed of this change and we are currently working to set dates for 2021.

We are working to set up some on-line activities including workshops, a movie and a book club.

You can find more information about this on our USW Leadership Facebook Group or send an email to Paulette Battisti (pbattisti@usw.org) for more information.

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we work through this very concerning time in our nations.

Thank you to all of you going to work every day…taking care of us in hospitals and nursing homes, in our communities as public sector workers, manufacturing all the products we continue to need (especially the sought after toilet paper!)….

Local 9460 continues fighting back against layoffs https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-9460-continues-fighting-back-against-layoffs Mon, 22 Jun 2020 15:20:28 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-9460-continues-fighting-back-against-layoffs Members of Local 9460 at Essentia Health in Minnesota have been facing layoffs in the wake of the coronavirus, but they’re still pressing on in their campaign for justice. New, large billboards now dot the landscape of northeastern Minnesota in support of the workers, which were erected after a caravan picket through downtown Duluth on June 1.

"Our goal is to get their attention," said Local 9460 President Deanna Hughes. “Essentia has received more than $80 million from the government to deal with the pandemic, and there’s no excuse for them to be cutting workers during this crisis.”

Visit the local’s Facebook page for regular updates.

Recognizing trauma, practicing self-care as front-line workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/recognizing-trauma-practicing-self-care-as-front-line-workers Mon, 22 Jun 2020 15:18:20 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/recognizing-trauma-practicing-self-care-as-front-line-workers As front-line health care workers, and many others, continue to confront loss and trauma in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, self-care and resilience are more important than ever. The work each of us performs is important, but it is just as vital to remember that no one can take care of others if they don’t take care of themselves.

This is why is the USW hosted a special resilience and mental health training through the Tony Mazzocchi Center on June 9 and 11. We covered how to spot the signs of mental health struggles and trauma, both within oneself and others, as well as how to cope using healthy mechanisms.

We will be hosting another virtual session in the future, so please stay tuned for updates. And make sure to check out this short video preview of the course, featuring several USW members.

Domestic violence shelter opens with help from USW members https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/domestic-violence-shelter-opens-with-help-from-usw-members Mon, 15 Jun 2020 13:05:41 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/domestic-violence-shelter-opens-with-help-from-usw-members The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation has finally opened the doors of its new domestic violence shelter and resource center in Morinville, Alberta, Canada, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and fundraising of USW members.

Since 2016, when Local 1-207 President Ray White learned about the foundation at the National Policy Conference in Edmonton, he and his fellow Steelworkers have been raising funds, building awareness, and securing materials and furniture.

The local’s Women of Steel (WOS) committee also played a pivotal role in getting the shelter off the ground, including Local 1-207 Vice President Ivana Niblett, who was even chosen as one of the keynote speakers at the AFL annual Commemorative Luncheon for the Montreal Massacre, along with Jessica Martel’s mother.

USW District 3 and Local 1944 also raised thousands of dollars for the cause throughout the years, organizing a golf tournament, purchasing tables at the Montreal Massacre luncheon, and more.

“This was truly a team effort,” said White. “I have never been prouder to be a Steelworker.”

Jessie’s House, complete at 9,200 square feet, is the first new emergency shelter to be built in Alberta in 22 years. It is more than a home, however, with the foundation offering court assistance, tutoring, family counseling, and other services. The home also includes a room dedicated to the union for its many contributions called the United Steelworkers Women of Steel Suite.

Click here to watch a video about the story behind Jessie’s House and how it all came together.

Local 7600 members take moment of silence in honor of lost Black lives https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-7600-members-take-moment-of-silence-in-honor-of-lost-black-lives Mon, 15 Jun 2020 13:02:16 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-7600-members-take-moment-of-silence-in-honor-of-lost-black-lives Health care workers who are part of USW Local 7600 in Southern California participated in a collective moment of silence across several Kaiser Permanente locations on June 5 in honor of George Floyd and the countless others who have lost their lives to institutional racism.

This action is one of many USW members have participated in across the United States and Canada in support of #BlackLivesMatter.

Click here to watch a video slideshow of the event created by Local 7600 member Joel Maya.

Workflix and chill: join us for movies, talk and education https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/workflix-join-us-for-movies-about-work-and-a-bit-of-education Tue, 09 Jun 2020 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/workflix-join-us-for-movies-about-work-and-a-bit-of-education WorkFlix is an online conversation of the USW Education and Membership Development Department that brings USW activists, staff and leadership together in this time of crisis.

We are sharing our favorite labour films and, through our Zoom meetings, reinforcing the universal issues that concern us all as workers and activists.

Click here and let us know if you have any issues accessing the films we're discussing.

Please join us for our next Workflix! 

Tuesday, June 30: Pride

Click here to register for the 1 p.m. EST discussion.
Click here to register for the 8 p.m. EST discussion.

Meredith Stepp will lead our conversation about this celebrated 2014 film written by Stephen Beresford and directed by Matthew Warchus. Based on a true story, Pride depicts a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners' strike in 1984, at the outset of what would become the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. The alliance was unlike any seen before.

Friday, June 26; SPECIAL SCREENING and Facebook Live Q&A: The Killing Floor 

This screening is hosted by the Siskel Film Center (this is not sponsored by the USW).

Register here for the 5 p.m. EST event: https://tinyurl.com/y8d4ycxq

The 1985 Sundance-Award winning film, The Killing Floor, speaks to the present moment in history.  The film explores a true story of the struggle a century ago to build a strong interracial union of black and white workers in the giant Chicago slaughterhouses in the face of the mounting racism that erupted in violence in the Chicago Race Riot of 1919.  White supremacist attacks (so-called “race riots”) took place in more than three dozen U.S. cities in the “Red Summer” of 1919.  

The Killing Floor can now be rented ($10 for a 3-day virtual pass) at any of these cinemas: https://filmmovement.com/the-killing-floor#playing


May 13: Facebook Live with Mine 9 cast and crew

Our first film, Mine 9, prompted two lively discussions last week with over 50 members and a Facebook Live event with the filmmakers.

Tuesday, May 19: Group Discussion Silkwood

Diane Stein from the Tony Mazzocchi Center led our conversation about Karen Silkwood, the real life hero who fought for safe work conditions in her nuclear facility. This 1983 film stars Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher. 

Tuesday, June: Discussion on Spartacus (1960) 

Guillermo Perez led our conversation about Spartacus, the story of a slave turned gladiator who leads a slave revolt against the Roman Empire.  In the wake of the Red Scare of the 1950s, the film directly challenged the edict from the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (the MPA), that strongly advised against making movies that employed the “communistic tactics” of “smearing” the wealthy while glorifying the “common man” and “the collective.”  The film’s ending remains one of the most famous un-Hollywood Hollywood endings of all time. Directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglass, Laurence Oliver, Peter Ustinov.

Tuesday, June 16: Made in Dagenham

Joan Hill led our conversation about women who rally to fight for equal pay defying the corporate status quo. Set in a borough of London, the town’s main employer is the local Ford Motor Company plant. 187 women in the workforce sew seat covers.  This is a true story about the 1968 strike by the machinists leading to the passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.  The women realize they are in a “man’s world” facing opposition by their own union.