United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2019-01-18 11:00:00 -0600 AMPS en hourly 1 Tamara Lefcowitz Appointed New HCWC Coordinator https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/tamara-lefcowitz-appointed-new-hcwc-coordinator Mon, 21 Jan 2019 09:33:38 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/tamara-lefcowitz-appointed-new-hcwc-coordinator The Health Care Workers’ Council (HCWC) will soon be under the guidance of a new coordinator. Effective Feb. 5, Tamara Lefcowitz will be taking over for Mandy Hartz in working with the USW’s health care locals.

“Our health care workers’ council is making outstanding strides in bargaining strong contracts, organizing new units, and strengthening the bonds of solidarity across the sector,” said International President Leo W. Gerard. “We are confident that Tamara will help the council continue to flourish.”

Lefcowitz, who will be based at the International headquarters in Pittsburgh, has ten years of experience working with health care locals.

In addition to extensive work in organizing, she also led the fight against several efforts to privatize government-owned, not-for-profit nursing homes and chaired bargaining committees to negotiate non-concessionary agreements where privatization occurred.

“I’m incredibly proud of everything the health care workers’ council has accomplished,” said Hartz, “and I feel privileged to have been able to work with so many amazing union activists, who are also unbelievably talented, dedicated health care professionals. The council’s future is bright.”

In the past ten years, health care has become one of the USW’s fastest growing sectors, and the union has bargained industry-setting contracts for thousands of workers.

“Mandy did amazing work, and we’re all grateful for her energy, her enthusiasm and her devotion to the success of the council,” said International Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees bargaining in the health care sector. “We wish her all the best moving forward.”

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Health Care Workers Council Welcomes 120 New Members https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/health-care-workers-council-welcomes-120-new-members Mon, 14 Jan 2019 10:47:39 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/health-care-workers-council-welcomes-120-new-members The Health Care Workers Council (HCWC) will soon be welcoming 120 new members as the result of successful organizing drives at two Alberta retirement homes.

Workers at Chartwell St. Albert Retirement Residence, who work as LPNs, aides, dietary technicians, and more, received their union certification last month after overwhelming support for the organizing effort.

Recent changes to the province’s labor code, instituted by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP, allowed them to bypass a union election by collecting cards from more than 65 percent of the unit. 

Workers at another Chartwell residence in Sherwood Park, Alberta, did the same last week.

Health care organizers

The new members will join Local 1-207, which now has 11 health care units.

Local 1-207 President Ray White credits the speed and success of both drives to the two organizers on the ground, both of whom are health care workers. 

“The difference between these two drives and ones in the past is that here the organizers were health care workers. Maybe they didn’t know as much about organizing as others, but they know the industry,” White said.

“They speak health care. They know the acronyms,” said White. “They also know the issues facing people at work and can empathize because they’ve lived it.”

Workers at both facilities intend to bargain to improve wages and working conditions, White said, particularly focusing on concerns over scheduling and seniority.

Alberta law requires the two sides to meet within 30 days after the union certificate is issued.

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USW letter regarding shutdown of U.S. government https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-letter-regarding-shutdown-of-u-s-government Fri, 11 Jan 2019 14:27:17 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-letter-regarding-shutdown-of-u-s-government Click here to download a printable version of this letter. 

USW International President Leo W. Gerard this week sent a letter to Washington, D.C., leaders about the shutdown of the United States government. Text of the letter is as follows:

President Trump, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

On behalf of the 850,000 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and in solidarity with the more than 800,000 workers impacted by this unnecessary shutdown in nine of fifteen federal departments, I urge you to reach an agreement that will allow critical agencies to conduct the necessary tasks to move our economy forward.

In addition to the significant economic impact this shutdown is having on workers and families across this country, our union is deeply concerned with the erosion of our trade enforcement regime with the idling of the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) International Trade Administration (ITA) and the International Trade Commission (ITC).

Oversight of the implementation of the steel and aluminum 232 relief measures, including the exclusion process, has effectively halted. Our union, a strong supporter of 232 relief to protect our economic and defense security, is concerned that inadequate staffing is undermining the relief. In order for tariff relief to work, our country needs effective oversight and DOC staff doing their job with pay.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duty trade cases have stalled because of the furlough of the ITC. USW members at Maxion in Ohio, a producer facing an onslaught of dumped and subsidized steel wheels from China, have seen their enforcement case get needlessly delayed.

Another trade enforcement case on Cast Iron Soil pipe from China also faces a delay next week if there is no resolution of the shutdown. Tyler Pipe a division of McWane in Tyler, Texas provides good family-sustaining jobs in a mostly rural part of East Texas. Our union. represents close to 300 workers at Tyler Pipe, and soil pipe is a critical product for the company. Continuing imports of unfairly traded products will only further jeopardize their jobs and the company’s viability.

Workers and their employers need their federal government to analyze and determine if dumped and subsidized goods are impacting their jobs and to take corrective action. Without the Enforcement and Compliance units working at the Department of Commerce and the ITC to determine the impact of imports on U.S. industries and direct actions against unfair trade practices, we allow unfair trade practices to continue and ravage domestic production and employment.

The ITC also is responsible for reviewing and submitting their report on the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). The shutdown throws uncertainty on the timeliness of the report. While the union believes the ITC report is only one component of the evaluation process to ensure that the agreements is in the interest of working people, senseless delays only complicate the critical work needed to improve labor standards, stop outsourcing, and ensure our country does not make the same trade agreement mistakes again.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) furlough also delays project improvements in water systems. The Drinking Water and Clean water state revolving loan funds support thousands of jobs through the use of domestically-sourced iron and steel products in communities across the country that benefit from the program. These funds should be quickly deployed buying American pipe and employing workers throughout the supply chain of water infrastructure. Instead, EPA employees now worry about making rent, or filing unemployment benefits while workers who make the products that would be purchased with the funds these government employees oversee are facing pink slips and looking for other work.

Our union urges action to get the men and women working again at all impacted federal agencies. Government workers should not be pawns in a policy debate far removed from the day-to-day of their jobs, nor should Americans who rely on them pay the price for this political fight. End this senseless shutdown.

Sincerely,

Leo W. Gerard

International President

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Union Hall Local Union Websites January & February Training Announcement https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/union-hall-local-union-websites-january-february-training-announcement Wed, 09 Jan 2019 13:57:02 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/union-hall-local-union-websites-january-february-training-announcement We're happy to announce the Union Hall training dates for January and February! Remember everyone who manages a Union Hall site must take level 1 training. Level 2 trainings are optional for those admins who would like help with advanced features.

Click a link to RSVP.

Union Hall Level 1 Training
Wed, Jan 16, 2019 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/jan-16-union-hall-basic-training/

Union Hall Level 2 Training
Thu, Jan 24, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/jan-24-union-hall-level-2-training/

Union Hall Level 1 Training
Mon, Jan 28, 2019 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/jan-28-union-hall-basic-training/

Union Hall Level 1 Training
Thu, Feb 7, 2019 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/feb-7-union-hall-basic-training/

Union Hall Level 2 Training
Mon, Feb 11, 2019 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/feb-11-union-hall-level-2-training/

Union Hall Level 1 Training
Fri, Feb 22, 2019 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM EST
https://actionnetwork.org/events/feb-22-union-hall-basic-training/

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The case for unionizing doctors https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-healthcare-staff-members-pen-articles-in-physicians-journal-about-unionizing Fri, 04 Jan 2019 13:17:33 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-healthcare-staff-members-pen-articles-in-physicians-journal-about-unionizing Check out this article about why physicians should seriously consider joining unions. The article appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Minnesota Physician journal, which also includes an article written by health care members Dr. Emily Onello and Louise Curnow, PA-C about their experience organizing their union. 

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“Hospital administrators easily manipulated physicians, treating them as if they were hired hands. Insurance companies were dealing with them as if they were employees. Government programs … controlled key aspects of doctors’ work, told them how much they would be paid, and what procedures they would be paid for.”

—Sanford A. Marcus, MD, founding physician of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (AFL-CIO)

Dr. Marcus’s reflection on why he spearheaded his physician’s union with the AFL-CIO in 1973 resonates today. As the health care industry has grown and consolidated into fewer large players, physicians face ever-increasing challenges to retain decision-making power over their schedules, their personal economics, and even their patient care practices. In the current environment of corporate mega-mergers, physicians are hired as employees, and pay is dictated by unstable and unfair reimbursement practices. It’s no wonder that as private practicing physicians and those employed by larger systems alike are struggling to meet their moral and professional obligation to deliver the best care to their patients, some are turning to organized labor to regain control over their professional environments.

“Large corporations are stripping physicians of professionalism and belittling our management role,” said Niran Al-Agba, MD and pediatrician in Washington State, who sees collaboration between unions and physicians as a path forward.

This diminished role in decision-making is taking a toll on our country’s physicians. According to this year’s edition of Medscape’s National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, an alarming 42 percent of respondents reported burnout, affecting physicians across a wide variety of specialties. The reasons for this turmoil run deep. The top seven factors cited by survey respondents: too many bureaucratic tasks such as charting and paperwork (56 percent); spending too many hours at work (39 percent); lack of respect from administrators/employees, colleagues, or staff (26 percent); increasing computerization of practice (24 percent); insufficient compensation (24 percent); lack of control/autonomy (21 percent); and feeling like just a cog in a wheel (20 percent).

Physicians won’t be surprised to see that 56 percent of their colleagues report having too many bureaucratic tasks like charting and paperwork, 39 percent think they spend too many hours at work, or 26 percent feel disrespected by employers and administrators. However, they may be surprised that solutions to these issues can be found in union contracts covering the wages, benefits, and working conditions of union physicians and other health care workers.

Niran Al-Agba, MD, ventured, “Physicians certainly qualify as an industry sector whose bargaining power has fallen below the value of their effort. That’s where a physicians’ union could come in.”

A labor union is a group of workers who come together to use their collective strength to achieve common objectives such as safer working conditions, higher pay and benefits, and decision-making power over the practices that govern their work. Generally speaking, individual employees—even those with exceptional educational and personal backgrounds, like physicians—have less bargaining power and fewer opportunities to negotiate and enforce fair working conditions than their union-represented counterparts.

Enforceable collective bargaining agreements

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is an agreement between a single employer and the union on behalf of a group of employees, or “bargaining unit.” The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which decided in 1974 that non-supervisory physicians were eligible to organize labor unions, determines and defines individual bargaining units by considering whether that group of employees has a “community of interest,” or common characteristics such as: skills and education; supervisors or human resources; and wages, benefits, and other terms of employment.

Once a majority of employees elects to form their union, leaders chosen by their physician peers bargain alongside professional union negotiators with hospital administrators in order to reach the terms and conditions of the CBA. In this way, frontline physicians identify the issues impacting their workplace and utilize their expertise to negotiate an agreement that is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of a particular group of health care professionals.

The unionized health professionals at Lake Superior Community Health Center (LSCHC), including physicians, went through this process when they joined the United Steelworkers Union in Minnesota. Emily Onello, MD, and Louise Curnow, PA-C, were strong advocates during the organizing campaign and served as frontline representatives on the bargaining committee, and entered union contract negotiations in 2013.

“We were already highly motivated to make improvements for our colleagues and patients,” said Curnow, “but knowing that it was illegal for the employer to retaliate against us for union activity gave us an extra boost.”

They worked with their fellow health care professionals (MDs, NPs, PAs, RNs, LICSWs) to bargain an agreement that addressed, among other things, a more fair pay system that better reflected the needs and insurance status of the clinic’s patient population and a scheduling system that recognized the negative effects on providers when the patient schedule overflows and provider admin time is minimal.

According to Curnow, “We were also able to have some small but meaningful impact on scheduling meetings during regular work hours and not during charting time, which provided us with better work-life balance.”

The ability of union physicians and practitioners at LSCHC to influence policies contrasts sharply with an experience earlier this year of Anh Le, MD, an internal medicine and pediatric trained physician practicing in California.

Without consulting physicians, Dr. Le’s employer implemented a new scheduling policy which, among other things, replaced already limited administrative time with additional patient visits. This is the time that “we often use to answer patient messages, review lab results, or even just to catch up on seeing patients,” Dr. Le said. Frustrated with the changes, she and her colleagues met with administration. Despite the well-reasoned data for why the new policy did not make sense for physicians or for patients, Dr. Le and her colleagues simply did not have the bargaining power to force administrators to adjust the policy.

If Dr. Le and her colleagues had been protected by a union contract, such a policy would have been a “mandatory subject of bargaining” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the administration would have had to bargain with doctors before implementing a policy that so clearly changed their working conditions.

Dr. Le expands, “Physicians are highly driven and when we do not have enough time to achieve at the level we want to achieve for our patients, we burn out. If this trend continues, physicians are going to leave medicine.”

Beyond the bargaining table

The sphere of potential influence of physician unions extends far beyond the bargaining table and into state and federal governments, where lawmakers make many decisions impacting physicians. Long-established labor unions have proven programs with policy specialists, relationships with lawmakers, and grassroots mobilization capacity. Health care employers and industry associations already utilize their power to influence government. A formal relationship between physicians and unions could help reinstate physicians’ voices into debates about health care and advance pro-physician and pro-patient policies.

Private practice physicians

Since private practitioners, unlike physicians working for health care systems, are not employees, they are currently ineligible to organize unions under the NLRA. However, physicians in private practice could collaborate with unions on strategic initiatives.

One example of such collaboration might be for private practice physicians in a particular market to band together to negotiate with insurance companies for better reimbursement rates, as well as a procedure to challenge denied payments. In this scope, a partnership between a physician collective and unions could provide a necessary check to the unilateral power of insurance companies to deny reimbursement payments.

Unions as the future

Public support for unions is growing. According to a January 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Americans view unionization favorably, the highest indicators in more than a decade. 

The confluence of public support, physician burnout, and the fractured state of our country’s health care system could signal an approaching surge in organizing for physicians. Union organizers, negotiators, and policy experts stand at the ready. The next step is one physicians must take:

"We are already strong. We have resiliency, " says Dr. Le. "However, we are not used to standing up for ourselves. I would like to believe that if we could stand together, we would be better able to reclaim our positions as the drivers of healthcare delivery in this country.”

Individual physicians may be reluctant to consider unionization, perhaps out of fear of retaliation or a sense that such a move would be inconsistent with their professional status. At the same time, the law is clear on their rights to seek union status. For health care professionals concerned about preserving their ability to deliver optimal patient care, devote adequate time to exercise professional judgment, and practice to the top of their license in the face of consolidation or evolving reimbursement structures, unionization may be a path worth considering.

For a step-by-step guide on how to organize a union within your organization, see Figure 1.

Summary

As physicians face increasing challenges to retain decision-making power over their schedules, personal economics, and even patient care practices, forming unions is an effective way to regain professional and personal control. Standard collective bargaining agreements address the staffing, scheduling, financial, and quality-of-life issues that physicians commonly name as contributing factors to burnout. Long-established lobbying and policy programs within unions can also provide physicians with political access and power they need to reclaim their places as the primary decision makers in patient care policies.

There is a clear path forward for physicians who want to form unions.

Mandy Rae Hartz, MA, leads the United Steelworkers Health Care Workers Council, which coordinates collective bargaining, education, policy, and communications for more than 50,000 union health care workers in the United States and Canada. For more than a decade, Ms. Hartz has empowered union health care workers in a wide variety of professional settings to win and enforce market leading collective bargaining agreements. She believes health care workers know best the challenges—and solutions—to improving health care delivery and that building strong, patient care-focused unions is the most effective way for health care professionals to make meaningful advancements in their work and personal lives. She holds a master’s degree in political science from American University and is a graduate of the Trade Union Program at Harvard Law School.

Figure 1. A step-by-step guide to organize your union

1

Build Interest: Once physicians talk to their colleagues and conclude there is an interest among the group to form their union, they call the Organizing Department of a trusted labor union to assist building the organizing campaign.

2

Membership Organizing Campaign: Member leaders and union organizers speak with employees about their concerns regarding their working conditions and indicate their interest by signing “union authorization cards.”

3

Petition for Election: Once a majority of employees have completed authorization cards, union staff will contact the NLRB and file for an election. (The NLRB requires a minimum of 30 percent of employees to indicate interest before scheduling an election, but many unions require a stronger showing before moving forward).

4

NLRB Sets a Date for the Election: After verifying the 30 percent minimum interest, the NLRB will schedule an election.

5

NLRB Election: During the election, all employees in the bargaining unit have the opportunity to vote “Yes” to form their union or “No.” When a simple majority (50 percent + one) vote “Yes,” physicians have won their union. 

6

Frontline Physicians and Union Negotiators Prepare for Negotiations: Members of the unit choose their bargaining committee, set priorities, and write proposals to meet them. 

7

Negotiations for the First Contract: Negotiations begin when the union and employer trade proposals until they agree on a comprehensive “Tentative Agreement.”

8

Bargaining Unit Members Review and Vote: Members vote on the proposed contract. When a majority of the members vote to ratify the Agreement, the contract setting wages, benefits, and working conditions is implemented.

9

Ratification: After physicians ratify the contract, they become union members and begin paying dues

 

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The Oilworker January 2019: Update from the NOBP Chair https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-january-2019-update-from-the-nobp-chair Fri, 04 Jan 2019 13:16:11 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-january-2019-update-from-the-nobp-chair FROM THE UNION

NOBP Chair Update

I hope everyone had a joyous holiday and was able to spend some time with family and friends.

As we move closer to the expiration of many of our oil contracts I would ask everyone to remain focused on our everyday obligations at work. 

Many sites have begun discussions on local issues, and need to engage each other on what the pressing issues will encompass. Councils need to maintain communication with the member locals and be sure everyone is aligned throughout negotiations. There is power in unity and the best opportunity for a positive outcome will come from being united in our demands.

Bargaining on National Oil Bargaining Program (NOBP) issues will begin the middle of this month, and we will keep the membership informed on issues through communication from each NOBP region’s policy board member and text messages. Anyone who has not signed up for NOBP text messages can do so by texting ‘OIL’ to 47486.

The USW is looking to achieve an agreement that is beneficial to our members and is cognizant to the needs of our employers. Our members want to be engaged with managing the risks we face at work, and no one is better equipped to do that than the people who are in the units every day and night. Our members’ objective is to make sure that our employers’ facilities are operated in a manner that makes them as profitable as possible and ensures we have a place to continue working.

As we move through this month, watch for flyers and stickers to coincide with events related to the bargaining process. Talk with local leadership and fellow members to be sure everyone understands what is trying to be accomplished at the negotiating table. Remember, there is strength in unity. Happy 2019.

In Solidarity,

Kim Nibarger
NOBP Chair
knibarger@usw.org
(Office) 412-562-2403


IN THE NEWS

Exxon Becomes Permian Drill Chief

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s low oil production figures prompted it to start drilling in the Permian Basin, the world’s premier shale field. Now, the company is the basin’s most active driller because it can obtain low-cost oil in months rather than the years required for megaprojects to start producing crude. Other oil companies are following suite. Exxon says its shale wells can make double-digit returns with oil at only $35 a barrel.

Click to read more on Rigzone.

The U.S. Oil Industry's Dirty Little Secret

A New York Times (NYT) investigation revealed that Marathon Petroleum engaged in a stealth public relations campaign to undermine U.S. fuel economy standards so that more fuel could be sold to the public. According to the NYT, Marathon teamed up with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council to tell the public that there is plenty of American oil and no need for fuel standards.

However, as the author writes, record-breaking U.S. oil production did nothing to lower consumers’ gasoline costs in the third quarter of 2018, and eliminating fuel economy standards as a way to limit demand is self-destructive. Consumers will look for other alternatives—like electric cars.

Click to read more from oilprice.org. 


WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Has your local organized a group of workers, won an award, participated in a community event, won an arbitration, helped achieve a legislative victory, settled a safety issue, etc.?

Please contact Lynne Hancock at lhancock@usw.org, (Office) 412-562-2442 or (cell) 615-828-6169.

Get bargaining updates via text! Text OIL to the phone number 47486.  

By opting-in, you agree to receive recurring messages from the USW; message and data rates may apply. To opt out, text STOP. For help, text HELP. Full terms and conditions at usw.org/text. No purchase necessary.

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USW Local 134L & Farrel Corporation Toy Drive Helps Families in Connecticut Community https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-local-134l-farrel-corporation-toy-drive-helps-families-in-connecticut-community Wed, 02 Jan 2019 11:39:27 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-local-134l-farrel-corporation-toy-drive-helps-families-in-connecticut-community Members of USW Local Union 134L showed they have big hearts by facilitating a toy drive to benefit their local St. Vincent dePaul. John Kostick, Jesse Philippi and Tyrell Knighton coordinated the drive, helping raise more than $1,000 in donations and gifts that would go toward the organization's Derby Shelter. The donations helped 20 families and came from members of Local 134L, Unit 20, Farrel Corp. salary employees, and from the local which was matched by the company.

Click here to share your #USWCares story.

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USW Cares: 2018 Staff Jefferson Award Winner, Marcos Velez https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-staff-jefferson-award-winner-marcos-velez Wed, 02 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-staff-jefferson-award-winner-marcos-velez Staff Top Volunteer Profile 

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Marcos Velez, District 13 Staff Rep

Location: Pasadena, TX

Service Work: Marcos Velez is the definition of humble. Despite always trying to hide in the background and give others credit, the work he does in the community speaks for him.  Whenever someone is in need he's at the forefront of efforts to organize help, raise money, collect food, or get necessities to people in trouble. Besides doing endless amounts of volunteer work on his own time, he also takes time to teach local union members how to effectively do community service and gives them the confidence to succeed. Marcos is a creative problem solver: while leading bargaining between the union and multiple companies, he incorporated language into the contract that allows for providing job training and support to survivors of domestic violence, basically establishing a scholarship for survivors to get USW-represented jobs and gain economic independence from their abusers. Additionally, when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, while his own house was flooding with water, Marcos spent hours delivering fresh water, diapers, food, and supplies to USW members in need.

Hours: 200+ hours

Community Impact: Marcos was essential in the USW’s hurricane relief effort. He ensured that thousands of dollars worth of supplies reached those who needed it.

Outstanding Quality: Marcos has a great knack for motivating people, and it’s because he leads by example. He shares his own knowledge and experience to help all members become better activists and have their voices heard.

Prize money donated to: The Bridge Over Troubled Waters (a domestic violence safe house & resource center)

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USW Cares: 2018 District 13 Jefferson Award Winner, Juan Almanza https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-13-jefferson-award-winner-juan-almanza Tue, 01 Jan 2019 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-13-jefferson-award-winner-juan-almanza

District 13 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Juan Almanza

Local Union: 227

Location: Pasadena, TX

Service Work: Juan Almanza of Local 227 in Houston, Texas and Jennifer Penner of Local 241 in Kansas organized relief efforts in Houston and Puerto Rico after Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Maria. They collected supplies from businesses across the United States to provide aid to our members in Texas and Puerto Rico. Juan stepped-up to help our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico during their time of need.

Hours: 200+ hours

Community Impact: The supplies Juan collected and sent to Texas and Puerto Rico helped hundreds of families and countless USW brothers and sisters.

Outstanding Quality: Juan is a leader. Because of his quick-action and collaboration with a union sister from a district different than his own, he was able to help hundreds of people recover from natural disaster.

Prize money donated to: Baytown Blue Santa (provides children of needy families with wrapped Christmas gifts and other needed household items)

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USW Cares: 2018 District 12 Jefferson Award Winner, Local Union 7600 Civil & Human Rights Committee https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-12-jefferson-award-winner-local-union-7600-civil-human-rights-committee Mon, 31 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-12-jefferson-award-winner-local-union-7600-civil-human-rights-committee District 12 Top Volunteer Profile 

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Local Union 7600 Civil and Human Rights Committee

Local Union: 7600

Location: Fontana, CA

Service Work: 7600’s Civil and Human Rights Committee does a monthly “food giveaway” at the union hall which supplies 30-60 community members with grocery items, including meat, vegetables, bread, and canned goods. The giveaway is made possible by donations from local unions, personal donations from members, and many hours volunteered by committee members. Any leftover food from the giveaway is hand-delivered to surrounding  senior centers by dozens of USW Local 7600 volunteers, as well as volunteers from Local 8599. Almost all members of the local participate in the giveaway somehow, but because of Chair Valery Robinson’s leadership and tireless activism in the Civil and Human Rights movement, this food giveaway project has become a staple in the community. Valery and her team also worked throughout the year to support the Warehouse Workers, who are targeted by USW oganizing efforts. During a Labor Day celebration, the Committee donated food and water to the warehouse workers who work for poverty-level wages in bad conditions and are often subject to wage theft and assault. Lastly, the Commitee held its second annual Christmas toy drive, which was a year-long effort to collect donations for families in need. To identify families with children who would benefit from the toy drive, the Committee sent a form to all 6,500 members asking them to nominate either members struggling financially or families in the community. The week of Dec 18th to December 23rd,  committee members took vacation time to fill gift orders from the returned forms and were able to give over 1,000 gifts to dozens of families who were struggling during Christmas.

Hours: 1,000+ hours

Community Impact: Every month this committee helps feed 30-60 families and their local senior community, and every Christmas they bring joy to fellow USW members and community members who have fallen on hard times.

Outstanding Quality: These members are there for one another and find creative ways to solve problems in their community.

Prize money donated to: Conveniently Me (provides support to hungry, homeless, low-income individuals and families in need)

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USW Cares: 2018 District 11 Jefferson Award Winner, Lana Hiltbrunner https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-11-jefferson-award-winner-lana-hiltbrunner Sun, 30 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-11-jefferson-award-winner-lana-hiltbrunner District 11 Top Volunteer Profile 

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Lana Hiltbrunner

Local Union: 9460

Location: Ely, MN

Service Work: May 19, 2018 was the 10th annual Jeremy Rush Hiltbrunner Cystic Fibrosis Walleye Fishing Tournament to be held in Ely, Minnesota.  Jeremy was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when he was only six months old and lived until he was 17 years old. Jeremy's motto was to "live for today, not for tomorrow.” He loved fishing, the Yankees, and riding his motorcycle. To honor his memory, his father, Michael, and step-mother, Lana, have hosted an annual walleye tournament. All monies collected go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Minnesota. Lana and her husband strive every day to bring awareness and education about Cystic Fibrosis with the ultimate goal of someday finding a cure. Through their activism, they have brought awareness to the public by sharing their story through social media, the newspaper, and TV interviews.

Hours: 1,000+ hours

Community Impact: Lana and Michael’s tireless efforts over the course of a decade have raised more than $89,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, allowing the organization to fund important research and provide asisstance to the people and families affected by Cysitic Fibrosis, all the while raising awareness of the disease.

Outstanding Quality: Lana is currently a unit president for Local Union 9460-03.  She is has been a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at the Essentia Health Ely Clinic since 2008, and she’s active within her local, serving on the negotiating committee and Women of Steel committee.

Prize money donated to: Cystic Fibrosis of Minnestotta

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USW Cares: 2018 District 10 Jefferson Award Winner, Robin Drace https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-10-jefferson-award-winner-robin-drace Sat, 29 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-10-jefferson-award-winner-robin-drace District 10 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Robin Drace

Local Union: 10-0086

Location: Harleysville, PA

Service Work: Robin single-handely runs a self-created program that provides care packages to deployed soldiers serving in the US Military.

Hours: 150+ hours yearly

Community Impact: Robin’s project, to date, has provided care packages to more than 3,000 deployed soldiers serving in the US Military.

Outstanding Quality: When Robin first started her project, she made the care packages completely at her own expense. Her local suggested that she try fundraising to help with the cost of postage, packaging and the contents itself. Since beginning, she’s added Burger Days and Walk for the Wounded to her effots to bring comfort and aid to veterans and service men and women.

Prize money donated to: Eluna (Eluna’s mission is to support children and families impacted by grief or addiction)

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USW Cares: 2018 District 9 Jefferson Award Winner, Carla Leslie https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-9-jefferson-award-winner-carla-leslie Fri, 28 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-9-jefferson-award-winner-carla-leslie District 9 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Carla Leslie

Local Union: 15120

Location: Chattanooga, TN

Service Work: Carla has built Local 15120’s Women of Steel program from the ground up; she has turned it into one of the most recognized and respected orginizations in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Carla’s passion for helping the homeless is unmatched and runs deep.  She regularly organizes, leads, and participates in the WOS feed-the-homeless events in the community around Local 15120.  She has organized coat drives and collected care packages for the homeless.  Through WOS, she organized and directed a volunteer reading program for children at a homeless shelter.  In conjunction with a church in the Chattanooga area and some City Council members, she hosted a Super Bowl watch party for the homeless. She volunteers with the Salvation Army, and all the while she serves as Recording Secretary of Local 15120 and Vice-President of the Chattanooga Area Labor Council.  Carla is active in local politics and was appointed to the Chattanooga Mayor’s Council of Women. She recently organized a violence-defense class for women after a female coworker was attacked.

Hours: countless

Community Impact: Immeasurable; there’s no way to pin down exactly how many meals, hats, coats, or scarves she’s provided. There’s now way to quantify her impact. She makes people want to do more for their fellow man.

Outstanding Quality: Carla Leslie has an almost endless desire to help people who are less fortunate. She is an inspiration to her union brothers and sisters… She never takes credit for the work she does but constantly gives credit to those who help her!

Prize money donated to: Chattanooga Community Kitchen

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USW Cares: 2018 District 8 Jefferson Award Winner, Robert Stoots https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-8-jefferson-award-winner-robert-stoots Thu, 27 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-8-jefferson-award-winner-robert-stoots District 8 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Robert Stoots

Local Union: 8495

Location: Parrott, VA

Service Work: Robert is President of USW Local 8-495 and has been since 2009. Before he was president, he was vice-president for 2 years and handled grievances and contracts for 8 years. Robert has been a member of the Twin Community Volunteer Fire Department since 1975 and has held every office within the Department, including Fire Chief, his current position. He was President of the Pulaski County Fire Protection Committee and ran for political office in 2015 (Pulaski County Board of Supervisors on the Democratic ticket). He’s knocked 2,340 doors as a USW political casual in an effort to unseat a three-time Republican incumbent to elect Democrat Chris Hurst. He was Head Coach of Little League sports from 1991 to 2001 (tee Ball, baseball, and football) and worked on fundraising projects for the County High School Sports from 2000-2005 as part of the Pulaski County Touchdown Club.

Hours: 40+ years, countless hours

Community Impact: As a result of Chief Stoots fundraising, leadership, and guidance, the Twin Community Volunteer Fire Department was able to remodel, expand and modernize its fire house and equipment. He's responded to thousands of emergencies over 40+ years of service and works an incredibly dangerous job manufacturing propellants and explosives in support of U.S. military field artillery, air defense, tank, missile, aircraft and Navy weapons systems.

Outstanding Quality: Robbie has a heart of gold; he has risked his life to help others and made many sacrifices to better his community and the country.

Prize money donated to: Pulaski High School - Atheltic Department

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USW Cares: 2018 District 7 Jefferson Award Winner, Markael Watkins https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-7-jefferson-award-winner-markael-watkins Wed, 26 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-7-jefferson-award-winner-markael-watkins District 7 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Markael Watkins

Local Union: 1014

Location: Gary, IN

Service Work: Markael is the Chairman to the Community Service Committee of Local 1014. He has volunteered both on his own and by recruiting volunteers for projects.  He created an event for veterans that provides hot meals, health information and thanks to individuals who have sacrificed for their country.  Markael also volunteered 300+ hours in assisting with the planning of "A Day to Remember," an event honoring Richard Hatcher as the first elected black Mayor in the United States.  This year, he organized a pizza party for 40 Veterans in an effort to show appreciation.  Markael led an effort to get 60 brand-new bikes to children in the city of Gary who would have otherwise not received a Christmas present. Markael has also led projects that benefitted the Northwest Indiana Veterans Village, Veterans Café, Sojouner Truth House, Salvation Army, Gary Housing Authority, and City Life Center. He continues to find projects and serve his community where he sees a need.

Hours: 400+ hours

Community Impact: Markael was instrumental in raising $2,000 worth of donations and 100 bikes for needy children. Markael has had a very positive impact on his community. His efforts to give back showed community members going through hard times that they are important and not forgotten.

Outstanding Quality: Markael’s compassion and volunteerism have made a difference in many people’s lives.

Prize money donated to: Sojourner Truth House

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USW Cares: 2018 District 6 Jefferson Award Winner, Philip Stewart-Burgoyne https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-6-jefferson-award-winner-philip-stewart-burgoyne Tue, 25 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-6-jefferson-award-winner-philip-stewart-burgoyne District 6 Top Volunteer Profile 

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Philip Stewart-Burgoyne

Local Union: 8327

Location: Ottawa, ON

Service Work: Phil spends a lot of time volonteering for the local food bank and rehab center. He helps raise funds and donations from local businesses for these organizations, as well as for a homeless shelter. He works with social services to help his local union "adopt a family" at Christmas time so poor children can have a joyful Christmas and warm clothes to wear. Phil is proud of his union and promotes the Steelworkers everywhere he goes. On top of all this, he comes out whenever asked to help the union with organizing, rallies, etc.

Hours: continuous

Community Impact: Phil is very personable, and since he's had his own challenges in life, he relates well to people who are going through hard times. He has an impact on everyone he helps and works with.

Outstanding Quality: Phil has a good heart and gets his strength from helping others.

Prize money donated to: The Pavilion Food Bank

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USW Cares: 2018 District 5 Jefferson Award Winner, Daniel Mallette https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-5-jefferson-award-winner-daniel-mallette Mon, 24 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-5-jefferson-award-winner-daniel-mallette District 5 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Daniel Mallette

Local Union: 919

Location: Montréal, QC

Service Work: Daniel is a 25-year Executive Committee member of COTON 46, a regional union coalition that builds union solidarity by supporting workers on strike, doing May 1st activities, and coordianting actions for national campaigns. COTON 46 also supports community organizations by fundraising. For instance, they raised $5,000 for the community. Daniel also volunteers for fundraising campaigns and organizes a yearly golf tournament for Canada’s South West United Way (he raised $22,000 for them this year). He volunteers to help a variety of social causes concerning youth, women, the homeless, consumer rights, the environment, culture, refugees, and more. Additionally, Daniel is politically active, doing volunteer work for municipal, provincial and federal elections.

Hours: 10+ hour per week (on top of full-time employment)

Community Impact: Daniel has helped develop solidarity and empowerment at different levels of the community by supporting people and organizations trying to make life better for everyone. He wants to make our world better and see more rights for the people: more equality, more justice, and more progress. He actively improves politicians’ and people’s perception of unions and convinces them to respect the roll and importance of unions in communities and society in general.

Outstanding Quality: Daniel is an excellet United Way ambassador and a dedicated union advocate. Plus, he is always present when it comes to helping those less-fortunate than himself.

Prize money donated to: Centraide Sud-Ouest du Québec (United way) and COTON-46, Quebec Regional Community Innovation Fund

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USW Cares: 2018 District 4 Jefferson Award Winner, Local Union 135L https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-4-jefferson-award-winner-local-union-350l Sun, 23 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-4-jefferson-award-winner-local-union-350l District 4 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: USW Local Union 135L

Local Union: 135L

Location: Tonawanda, NY

Service Work: This local does it all! Just to name a few, here are some of the events, projects, and organizations they’re involved with: Ride for Charity (raising $170,000 for Make A Wish Foundation); St. Patrick's Day Parade volunteer bartending (Valley Community Center fundraiser); scarf collection for the homeless; diaper drive benefiting Women’s and Children’s Hospital; Habitat for Humanity; gate-collection to benefit the Steelworkers Hurricane Relief Fund; the Tonawanda Tomorrow Initiative; “Day of Caring” for United Way (raising $3,000); Clean Air Coalition and Teachers Association book drive; Toys for Tots; coat drive for Peace Prints of Western New York (over 300 coats donated); Gate Greet for Veterans (providing a free lunch); fundraising to ‘adopt' a Western New York veteran family; Red Brick Bench Press for military families; food drive; phone drive for the crisis service center; fundraising for the Family Justice Center and City Mission through WOS’s 50/50 raffles (more than $1,500 donated); Autism Speaks Walk; community outreach for HEAP assistance; CLC Chile cook-off for the Variety Club Telethon; $8,400 for a brother who lost his child; gate-collection for union families in need; Christmas party donation collection for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (raising over $1,000 each year); expansion of the Jefferson-Award-winning event "Black Labor Week" into Western New York by co-hosting the event this year.

Hours: continuous

Community Impact: Local 135L directly donated $195,925 to their community in the form of monetary donations, provided 1,200 free meals, helped build 3 homes for low-income families, donated 45 scarves to the homeless, distributed 30,000 books to children, and sponsored 26 “wishes” through Make a Wish Foundation.

Outstanding Quality: This compassionate local’s community service and philanthropy is unmatched. They have made giving-back a priority, and they excel at it.

Prize money donated to: United Way of Buffalo and Erie county 

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USW Cares: 2018 District 3 Jefferson Award Winner, Julie Charbonneau https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-3-jefferson-award-winner-julie-charbonneau Sat, 22 Dec 2018 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/usw-cares-2018-district-3-jefferson-award-winner-julie-charbonneau District 3 Top Volunteer Profile

USW Jefferson Award Winner: Julie Charbonneau

Local Union: 1944

Location: Burnaby, BC

Service Work: Julie not only lends her decades of experience to serve as one of her unit’s most active stewards, but she also finds the time to either spearhead or support every labor-related or charitable event you can imagine throughout the year. From Pinkshirt Day, Women's International Day, “Tampon Tuesday,” #GotYourBack, and Labor Day to every community event that supports labor, equality and fairness. On a frigid December evening last year, Julie brought friends, colleagues, strangers, and local businesses together to distribute jackets and care kits to the homeless at the Central Surrey Tent City; this year she was asked by Lookout Society to act as a tenant support worker. Julie is most dedicated to helping those in the most marginalized factions of her community. She is there for those dealing with addiction, homelessness, poverty and mental health.

Hours: 500+ hours

Community Impact: Julie single-handedly coordinated an event that managed to collect multiple truckloads worth of several thousand in-kind donations, as well as $500.00 in cash for 130 individuals living at a homeless camp. Union and community members brought their young and teenage children, which allowed them to experience amazing acts of compassion and generosity, helping shape them for the rest of their lives - in short, her impact on this community is priceless.

Outstanding Quality: What Julie does is not easy or glamorous work; she contributes without praise or thanks but continues with full dedication, energy and passion year after year.

Prize money donated to: Lookout Housing and Health Society

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Letter from Vice President At Large Carol Landry to USW Chemical Workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/letter-from-vice-president-at-large-carol-landry-to-usw-chemical-workers Tue, 18 Dec 2018 12:50:52 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2018/letter-from-vice-president-at-large-carol-landry-to-usw-chemical-workers This article originally appeared in Chemical Solutions, Issue 13.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We’ve been busy this fall. We conducted four chemical council meetings, all of them well-attended and very informative.  

We also had a chemical sector meeting during the USW’s health, safety and environment conference. The discussion at this meeting centered on training of new employees and fatigue resulting from excessive overtime. Many chemical workers are nearing retirement and the chemical companies need to create mentorship programs so the “old hands” can share what they have learned over the years with new employees.

These meetings are important because they allow chemical workers to network and learn about each other’s contracts They often hear about other locals’ issues that might be identical to their own and discover how other locals handle them. Many times, they plan strategies together for the council to speak as one voice.

Next February, Local 9-675 in Guin, Ala., will host the 3M Council meeting. My office will send out a council meeting notice to the council members.

Two years ago we had a chemical conference in Atlantic City, N.J., for Districts 4 and 10.  Many chemical workers attended, and members said they did not realize other locals had the same issues as their local. This conference encouraged local union leaders to continue talking and helping one another. We hope another such conference can be scheduled sometime next year if there is enough interest.

Looking Forward     

Our chemical sector has come a long way from the time I was assigned to lead it. The local unions in our councils are working better together, starting to speak as one voice, and are engaging in solidarity actions to support one another.

We have the opportunity in the chemical industry to organize it and increase our bargaining strength and unity. In 2019, our local unions need to get involved in organizing drives at their companies. The best organizing happens when chemical workers organize other chemical workers.

In the meantime, let us enjoy our families and friends during this holiday season. It is a time to strengthen our family ties, reconnect with old friends, enjoy holiday activities and reflect on the meaning of the holidays. Be sure to connect with those who have lost loved ones because this time of year can be very difficult emotionally for them as they remember past holidays with those who have passed on.

May 2019 be a year of continuing to build our local unions and the USW chemical sector!

In Solidarity,

International Vice President Carol Landry
Head of the USW’s chemical sector

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