United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2023-05-18 19:49:51 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Paducah Women of Steel Lead Community Engagement and Empowerment https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/paducah-women-of-steel-lead-community-engagement-and-empowerment Tue, 23 May 2023 14:31:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/paducah-women-of-steel-lead-community-engagement-and-empowerment The Women of Steel (WOS) group from USW Local 550 in Paducah, Ky., is making strides to support the tight-knit Western Kentucky community while promoting greater women's participation and leadership in the nuclear industry.

Leading the charge as WOS Director since August 2022, Jacquie Wright, a radiation control technician at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant, hopes the WOS group can help empower women in an industry traditionally dominated by men and encourage more women to apply for jobs at the plant.

“Local 550’s female membership is 20 percent,” said Wright. “I sure hope we can increase that number.”

Giving back

In less than a year, the WOS group raised significant funds for charities like Toys for Tots, Book for Hope, Starfish Ministry, Sunrise Children's Services, and Cassidy's Cause, generating over $7,000 through their inaugural site-wide partnership luncheon and bake sale.

Building upon their accomplishments, the Women of Steel intend to transform the initiative into an annual event. The group of around 50 active members also receives support from male volunteers who are proud members of USW Local 550.

Beyond fundraising, the WOS group engages in community outreach, assembling essential toiletry bags for the homeless and organizing a charity golf scramble and basketball tournament to raise funds and foster participation among Local 550 members.

Empowering next generations

With a rich background of 28 years in the medical field where she specialized in radiation control, Wright acknowledges the USW’s vital role in advocating for workers’ safety, and she firmly believes that the Women of Steel can make a lasting impact on addressing the gender imbalance within the atomic industry.

“We want the numbers of women in the field to go up, and we want women to know that there are jobs in radiation control that they can do just like the men can do,” said Wright.

Wright recently participated in a local high school career day, demonstrating how to use radiation control instruments and enlightening students about the opportunities available to them, and to women in particular, in the atomic industry.

USW Local 550, in conjunction with the Tony Mazzocchi Center and the local community, developed a Radiation Control Technician training program that has been instrumental in filling a void of radiation technicians at DOE sites across the country.

“This training program gives students a unique opportunity to obtain an education in a non-traditional setting while making a competitive wage,” said Wright.

Wright and her dedicated USW co-workers demonstrate unwavering commitment to public and worker safety through their diligent testing and proper handling of radiological waste at the site. Now, their efforts extend beyond safety as they embrace equity and community engagement, amplifying their impact and driving positive change within the nuclear industry.

Workers at Idaho National Lab Reach Major Nuclear Milestones https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/workers-at-idaho-national-lab-reach-major-nuclear-milestones Tue, 23 May 2023 14:25:03 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/workers-at-idaho-national-lab-reach-major-nuclear-milestones Workers at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) hit two major project milestones this spring.

In March, workers at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) transferred the last spent nuclear fuel from a water-filled storage basin to a dry storage facility, completing the project at the Department of Energy (DOE) site nine months ahead of schedule. The project – which involved emptying the largest basin of wet nuclear fuel storage in the world – took nearly two decades to complete.

Workers at INL also helped the facility achieve another major milestone on April 11 with the launch of a first-of-its-kind Integrative Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), a 53,000-square-foot facility for treating radioactive and hazardous liquid waste from underground tanks. The Office of Environmental Management first broke ground on the facility 16 years ago.

“We just processed some of our first radioactive canisters,” said Jace Radford, a member of Local 12-652 who has been a Radiological Control Technician for six years at INL. “The changes and upgrades they’ve made to the site over the years have worked fantastically.”

Those upgrades include the use of a robot decontamination system, which Radford said has worked extremely well to safely put clean canisters into underground storage vaults.

Many of the workers at INL have worked on the IWTU project for years, which converts liquid waste to a solid material and requires careful handling of and monitoring for radioactive contamination.

“We’re hitting milestones right now, and this could bring in a lot of work now that it’s running,” said Radford. “A lot of people are excited about it, and it’s been exciting for me because I’ve been really invested in this project for a while.”

Radford attended the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburgh in April, where he got to share his experience as a radiological control technician with other conference attendees as a worker-trainer for the USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center.

The Oilworker: May 2023 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/the-oilworker-may-2023 Thu, 18 May 2023 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/the-oilworker-may-2023 A Message From the NOBP Chair

It is once again with a heavy heart that I share the news of a fallen USW Brother.

Scott Higgins from Local 13-1 died in a fire at the Marathon Galveston Bay refinery on Monday, May 15. Two other workers were also hospitalized. Please keep his family, our Brothers and Sisters from Local 13-1 and all the others impacted by the fire in your thoughts and prayers.

This is the most recent in a string of serious incidents in our industry, which, despite our sustained efforts, continues to struggle with health and safety. In just the past few weeks, four workers were hospitalized due to a gas leak at Marathon’s Wilmington Refinery in Los Angeles and nine more as a result of a massive fire in Deer Park at a Shell Chemical Plant.

This rate of injury is unacceptable.

It is imperative that, as a union, we are a central part of the investigations following these incidents so that we can ensure that we’re identifying the true root causes. We also push employers to not just take superficial corrective actions but also to follow through on deeper solutions so that we truly eliminate the hazards and prevent these sorts of incidents from happening again.

Our industry had its best financial year ever in 2022 and followed up with an even stronger first quarter in 2023. Companies are flush with cash and should be making needed upgrades; they have absolutely no excuse for putting health and safety on the backburner.

Many of you attended the recent USW Health, Safety and Environment conference, where we were able to share resources and recommit ourselves to continuing the fight to make health and safety the top priority in our plants.

Now, we must continue to fight to ensure our employers don’t get away with putting profits ahead of safety. We must hold them accountable when they violate regulations, procedures or any other rules.

If you are facing these or any challenges related to health and safety in your plant, please utilize all of the available USW resources including your USW and joint health and safety committees and your health and safety and process safety management representatives.

These resources can provide immediate assistance as well as channeling support from the USW Health and Safety Department.

On April 28, we marked Workers’ Memorial Day, a time when we remember those who were sickened or died on the job and renew our fight for safer workplaces. This past month made it clear how urgent these tasks remain.

Please remain vigilant, look out for one another and stay safe.

In solidarity,

Mike Smith
NOPB Chair

The Foundation of Our Union: Activists Share Commitment to Healthier and Safer Workplaces https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/the-foundation-of-our-union-activists-share-commitment-to-healthier-and-safer-workplaces Fri, 12 May 2023 12:22:22 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/the-foundation-of-our-union-activists-share-commitment-to-healthier-and-safer-workplaces

It didn’t take Eva Diodati and her fellow Local 9562 members long to appreciate the value of union activism on health and safety.

Just a few months after Diodati and about 300 fellow Carnegie Library workers voted to join the union, they were in the midst of bargaining their first contract in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

Members negotiated with management of the 20-location system to ensure workers kept their jobs and continued to be paid through a four-month shutdown, then guaranteed that, when the libraries reopened, workers had proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and other safeguards in place. The local ratified its first contract in 2022.

“Our primary goal has always been to look out for each other,” said member Sierra Baril, who, along with her USW colleagues, received the union’s Karen Silkwood Award for building solidarity through health and safety.

Boosting Activism

Baril, Diodati and other Local 9562 leaders led a discussion on the importance of local union health and safety activism at the 2023 USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference this April in Pittsburgh. That dialogue was one of the scores of workshops, training sessions, speeches and other events at the conference intended to bolster member education and activism on health and safety.

Those efforts have already changed millions of lives for the better and will continue to do so if workers keep up the fight, said International President Tom Conway.

“Nobody should be under the illusion that health and safety just takes care of itself,” Conway told the gathering of 2,000 USW and Communications Workers of America (CWA) activists at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. “These things happen because we work hard and we push it. That’s what makes us a union. That’s what pulls us together. You are the foundation of that. The health and safety work that we do is the foundation of our union.”

Growing the Union

That work also is the key to growing the union movement and ensuring it is strong enough to protect future generations of workers, said Steve Sallman, USW director of health, safety and environment.

“We’re going to continue to build the union with member involvement and to make healthier and safer workplaces,” Sallman vowed as he welcomed his predecessor, Mike Wright, to the stage for an address that celebrated the success USW members and other activists have had in doing just that.

From the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971 to “right to know” and process safety management rules, to workplace standards for exposure to toxic chemicals, silica, beryllium, and other hazardous substances, workers have won countless victories to improve safety and health, said Wright, who directed the USW’s work on those issues from 1984 to 2021.

“I didn’t accomplish anything,” Wright said. “You accomplished so much, and we in the union accomplished so much.”

Tragic Losses

In some cases, those advancements came in the wake of tragedies that shed light on workplace hazards. That sobering fact was evident on day two of the five-day gathering, when participants memorialized co-workers who lost their lives on the job since the last conference in 2019.

Members stood in reverent silence as 116 workers’ names scrolled on the screens before them, each one representing a life unnecessarily cut short by uncontrolled hazards.

For District 10 Director Bernie Hall, the memorial was a powerful reminder that making safer workplaces is the most important fight union members have.

When he was a budding union leader in 2010, an explosion at the factory where he worked took the lives of two USW members. It was a day that changed Hall and his siblings forever.

“I don’t know how we got through it, but I know that we wouldn’t have without the membership and resources in our union,” he said.

The Hidden Fight

Marty Warren, national director for Canada, reminded the crowd that on-the-job deaths aren’t the only tragedies that workers experience. Diseases arising from unhealthy conditions also claim countless lives, Warren said. 

“This is sometimes more hidden. It creeps up on us and affects us later in life,” he said. “The fight never ends for healthier and safer workplaces.”

As the conference convened, Sallman asked the crowd how many members were attending the event for the first time, and about 70 percent of the hands in the room went up.

Those first-timers included Local 183 members Julian Hernandez, Isabel Moreno, and Ann Marie Ruiz, who work at Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, Calif. The trio said they hoped to use what they learned at the conference to build solidarity in their 750-member local.

Effects of COVID

Many workers are still suffering from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruiz said. That was part of the reason why this year, for the first time, the conference included a track of workshops and training sessions focused on health care.

Hernandez, Local 183 Next Gen coordinator, said he hoped to return home and communicate the importance of health and safety to newer workers who may not know how much the union does for them.

“If I can be a type of bridge to the next generation, that’s my motivation,” he said.

In addition to union leaders, other officials addressing the conference included OSHA Director Douglas Parker; Christopher Williamson of the Mine Safety and Health Administration; U.S. Chemical Safety Board member Sylvia Johnson; and James Frederick, a longtime member of the USW health and safety department who has served since 2021 as deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.

Parker said the administration has an “absolute intolerance” for employers who disregard health and safety.

“We have your backs,” he said.

Health and Safety Awards

The USW presents the I.W. Abel Award to individuals who act heroically to save or attempt to save a life in the workplace. The 2023 recipient was Amanda West of Local 507, at Evergreen Packaging, District 9.

The USW presents the Karen Silkwood Award to local unions that build solidarity through health, safety and Environment work. The 2023 recipients included Local 9562 at the Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh, District 10, and the health care workers of Local 9600 in Oroville, Calif.

The A.Q. Evans Award is given to local unions for outstanding accomplishments in occupational safety and health. The 2023 recipients included:

  • USW Locals at Bridgestone/Firestone
  • Local 1011-9 at Safety-Kleen Systems, District 7
  • Local 6486 at Glencore and Canadian Electrolytic Zinc, District 5

The J. William Lloyd Award is given to an individual or organization from outside the USW for outstanding service in the cause of worker safety and health. The 2023 recipient was Randy Rabinowitz, founder and executive director of the Occupational Safety and Health Law Project.

A closer look at the USW endorsement process https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/a-closer-look-at-the-usw-endorsement-process Thu, 11 May 2023 12:00:54 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/a-closer-look-at-the-usw-endorsement-process While it may seem like we are far in advance of the 2024 election, the leading presidential candidates have either formally launched their campaigns or announced exploratory committees to test the waters. 

That means we need to start our process as well. 

We wanted to take this opportunity to revisit our union’s federal endorsement process in an effort to be as transparent as possible with our members, retirees and families. 

While there is no standard for how American voters determine who they choose to support, our union has a responsibility to evaluate candidates based on how closely they share our values as union members. To start with, if a candidate is anti-union, they won’t get our support. It’s that simple. 

We look at the core issues we fight for during negotiations and in our workplaces: health care, retirement security, collective bargaining rights, workplace health and safety, job security including trade policy, and factors that impact our domestic economy. 

These are the same issues members and retirees prioritized in our national Your Union, Your Voice surveys from 2020 and 2022. 

Much like our efforts negotiating contracts, our union’s work around elections is grounded in our commitment to get the best possible outcome for Steelworkers and our families. 

In order to make our assessment, we have a rigorous and thorough process to look at candidates’ backgrounds and voting records, and we often meet with them. For federal candidates, we also require their response to a lengthy questionnaire developed by the union and focused on our core issues. 

Just like we did for elections in 2020 and 2022, we’ve already updated our questionnaire for next year’s federal elections and made it available for review at www.uswvoices.org. 

That questionnaire has been given to the following individuals who have either formally announced their candidacies for president or are soon expected to announce. 

(Appearing alphabetically by last name) 

  • Biden, Joseph (Democrat) 
  • Castro, John (Republican) 
  • DeSantis, Ron (Republican) 
  • Haley, Nikki (Republican) 
  • Hutchinson, Asa (Republican) 
  • Kennedy, Robert (Democrat) 
  • Scott, Tim (Republican) 
  • Trump, Donald (Republican) 
  • Williamson, Marianne (Democrat) 

Because the decisions lawmakers make have a direct impact on our members and families, along with all workers, we take our union’s endorsement process very seriously. 

As we move forward, we will keep you informed. 

We recognize how you vote is a personal decision, and we hope that our union’s research and recommendations of which candidates best share our union values are helpful as you make the very important decision of who to support on Election Day.

Local Union President Testifies On Behalf of Workers at Congressional Hearing on Trade https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/local-union-president-testifies-on-behalf-of-workers-at-congressional-hearing-on-trade Tue, 09 May 2023 10:46:16 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/local-union-president-testifies-on-behalf-of-workers-at-congressional-hearing-on-trade

Our USW Local Union 135L President Thomas O'Shei from Buffalo, N.Y., testified today on behalf of our union at the the Committee on Ways and Means Field Hearing on “Trade in America: Securing Supply Chains and Protecting the American Worker – Staten Island.”

We're so proud of President O'Shei and all of our members who do the hard work of fighting for what's right at the legislative level.


Here is his testimony:

Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Neal, thank you for the opportunity to testify today and United Steelworkers’ International President, Thomas Conway, sends his regards. My name is Tom O’Shei and I am the President of United Steelworkers Local 135L, which represents workers at the Sumitomo tire plant in Buffalo, New York.

Our plant employs over 1,400 workers, including 1,100 members of the USW. I was hired at the plant in 1990, and for most of the last 33 years, I have been building tires. My facility builds for the replacement and OEM market a wide range of tires from passenger vehicle, light truck (PVLT) tires to motorcycle, truck, and bus tires. We also export tires to Europe. Since 2021 our facility has been in the process of updating and upgrading. We are looking to add tire capacity that will allow our location to build up to 17,500 tires per day.1

I can sit before you today talking about plant expansion, and tell you that I recently posted on my Facebook page about job openings at the plant that start at $25.33 an hour with benefits, not just because of our union’s collective bargaining agreement, but also because the USW fought against illegally dumped and subsidized imports from a host of countries.

For the last 14 years, the union has used every tool available to defend a domestic industry, which has manufacturing facilities in 19 states and employs nearly 100,000 workers.2 Since the USW has significant density in the tire industry we are able to file multiple trade cases without employers. Since many tire manufacturers in the U.S. are global manufacturers, there has been hesitancy in filing trade cases because of potential retaliation. But for the union, this is about our jobs and attaining a level playing field.

The union filed the only successful 421 petition against China in 2009 that lasted until 2012 on PVLT tires. Then in 2014, the union filed an anti-dumping and countervailing duty case because when the 421-relief expired, Chinese producers flooded the U.S. market with imports going from about 24 million units to more than 50 million.3 The reason for the gap between 2012 and our trade case filing in 2014 is because our trade laws require a showing of 3 years of harm before we can win at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

We won that PVLT tire case in 2015, which continues today. In 2017, the union won duties against bus and truck tires from China. My union brothers and sisters joined Titan tire in winning a trade case against imports of Off the Road (OTR) tires that started all the way back in 2008. The union, in 2021, also won what we call a “follow on case” against 4 countries on PVLT tires. All told, there are now 12 cases that have led to duties on six different countries.

Millions of dollars and thousands of hours have been spent defending American workers because we believe in fair trade. However, Congress could do more to ensure a level playing field.

First, after 12 trade cases won against six countries, what more evidence does Congress need to see that tire products are an import sensitive commodity? Congress should add tires to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) import sensitive list. We should not unilaterally drop tariffs on tires when, for example, a Chinese tire company invested nearly a billion dollars into a GSP country, which could then come in tariff free.4

We need to make it easier to address third country subsidies, like China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and we need to recognize that global companies can quickly shift dumping from one country to another, undermining U.S. manufacturing jobs. Congress should take up and pass bills like the Level the Playing Field Act 2.0 introduced last Congress by Representatives Terri Sewell and Bill Johnson.

Second, workers negatively impacted by trade should have access to training programs like Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides up to two years of job retraining benefits. The last Congress appropriated nearly half a billion dollars in job training benefits for the program, and this Committee should quickly reauthorize the program to show workers that they are willing to help them retrain when trade negatively impacts American jobs.

Additionally, the following items would aid domestic workers in competing in a globally connected world and ensure fair and responsible trade:

De Minimis: The U.S. has one of the highest de minimis thresholds on the globe. Set at $800, this allows for significant volumes of direct to consumer imports to enter the U.S. market from international locations. The lack of reciprocity means that U.S. businesses and workers do not have the ability to compete. In addition, such a high de minimis threshold means that significant manufactured goods, like tires, could go straight to consumers without properly accounting for duties. Legislation like the Import Security and Fairness Act, introduced in the 117th Congress by Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Earl Blumenauer, would close this loophole.

Increased Evasion Enforcement: Duty evasion by importers is a constant threat to U.S. jobs. For example, in 2020 there were indictments of individuals for evading duties on both OTR and PVLT tires from China by allegedly falsifying documents. These importers were declaring that tires were from companies with lower tariff rates when they were not.5 The criminal case has been delayed until September of this year, and the civil case at the Court of International Trade (CIT) is still pending the final outcome of the criminal case.

The USW has endorsed legislation called the Fighting Trade Cheats Act of 2023 introduced by Representatives Sewell and Mike Bost, which would increase financial penalties for violating customs’ laws, allow action against individuals committing customs fraud, and exclude individuals who have committed fraud from participating in the importer of record program.6

Imports Must Account for Foreign Manufacturers’ Air and Water Pollution: U.S. manufacturers and workers protect our country’s water and air as required by law. For example, since the passage of the U.S. Clean Water Act, government and industry have invested over $1 trillion to abate water pollution, roughly $100 per person per year. While challenges remain domestically, the country has made marked improvements in water quality. This is reflected at the Sumitomo Buffalo plant. For example, in 2021, the facility submitted a site management plan which highlights the work done to ensure that historical waste disposal areas are monitored and maintained to standards to protect regional water quality.7

Meanwhile, laws and regulations in foreign countries are not monitored or enforced. This lack of enforcement means pollution impacts workers and communities and creates significant economic advantage for foreign producers. The union has received reports regarding an Indonesian tire producer that highlights living conditions near the plant where witnesses comment the river water is black, smelly, and doesn't flow. Workers nearby described the smell that comes out of the river as much more pungent during the dry season. When Indonesia has some of the lowest waste water treatment rates internationally, imports from the country are exploiting a low regulatory enforcement process that can impact U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. It is estimated that Indonesian discharge of industrial wastewater is responsible for 7.24 percent of the pollution of surface water bodies in the country.8 Products imported from locations with low environmental enforcement should not be considered “like” products by global trading standards, and penalties should be ascribed to ensure that U.S. companies and workers are not negatively impacted.

Improved Labor Rights Enforcement: Similar to environmental pollution, the ability of workers to freely bargain with their employers and to uphold their rights at work should also be improved in U.S. trade law. Future trade discussions should incorporate United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade provisions like the Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which allows workers to file facility specific allegations regarding labor rights violations. In addition, artificially suppressed wages from country-controlled unions should also be accounted for in trade enforcement regimes. Existing U.S. policy regarding Non-Market Economy (NME) status should be factored into other trade initiatives. For example, 19 USC § 1677(18)(A) and (B) contains the definition “the extent to which wage rates in the foreign country are determined by free bargaining between labor and management”. In a globally connected world, our workers’ wages should not be the advantage in “comparative advantage”.

Strong Rules of Origin: Trade discussions must strengthen rule of origin (ROO) standards to ensure that non-partner countries do not gain duty-free market access. The current rule of origin provisions in the GSP preference program is set at 35 percent – meaning 65 percent of an article could come from non-GSP beneficiary countries, like China.9 If we are trying to foster economic development in lower income countries through lower tariffs, then we should encourage higher GSP ROO standards that are 60 percent or greater.

Similarly, trade agreements must have stronger ROO provisions. One of the many reasons the USW opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is because of the terrible ROO standards in the agreement. This committee produced a 2016 report highlighting that only 35 percent of a vehicle would have to originate in the TPP zone, meaning up to 65 percent of a vehicle’s components could come from outside the party countries and from non-partner countries, like China. The TPP, and its successor the CPTPP, show how weak that trade agreement is at countering China as the country now looks to dock on to the agreement.10


The union appreciates the opportunity to provide additional written comments for today’s field hearing on Trade in America: Securing Supply Chains and Protecting the American Worker. USW also encourages the committee to reference previous written testimony submitted to this committee and the Senate Finance Committee regarding the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act11, the Global Arrangement on Steel and Aluminum, Critical Mineral Agreements, and other trade initiatives.12 We welcome the opportunity to provide additional written comments on trade initiatives like those previously mentioned, and stand ready to aid American workers compete globally.


1 Powder and Bulk Solids, “Sumitomo Rubber Commits $122M to Upgrade US Plant”, April 2, 2021.
2 Coalition for Future Mobility, “U.S. Tire Manufacturers”, Accessed May 6, 2023.
3 United Steelworkers, “14 06 25 Testimony – Trade Enforcement Challenges and Opportunities”, June 25, 2014.
4 Tire Technology International, “Linglong selects Serbia for US $994 tire factory”, September 7, 2018.
5 U.S. Department of Justice, “15 Named in $26 Million International Trade Fraud Scheme”, December 15, 2020.
6 U.S. Congress, “H.R. 2667 – Fighting Trade Cheats Act of 2023”, Accessed May 6, 2023.
7 NY Department of Environmental Conservation, "Revised Periodic Review Report and Institutional Controls Certification - Site No. 915018”, August 20, 2021.
8 Ken Research, “Indonesia Industrial Waste Water Treatment Mark Research Report 2027F: Ken Research”, October 19, 2022.
9 Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, “U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Guidebook”, November 2012.
10 Bloomberg, “Don’t Give China a Pass on Pacific Trade Pact”, April 12, 2023.
11 U.S. Senate Finance Committee, “Testimony of Joe Wrona for Committee on Finance Hearing on ‘Fighting Forced Labor: Closing Loopholes and Improving Customs Enforcement to Mandate Clean Supply Chains and Protect Workers’”, March 18, 2021.
12 U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, “Testimony of Roy Houseman Jr. for Subcommittee on Trade Hearing on ‘Countering China’s Trade and Investment Agenda: Opportunities for American Leadership’”, April 18, 2023.

USW leaders in Districts 1 and 4 push for safe staffing legislation to protect health care workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-leaders-in-districts-1-and-4-push-for-safe-staffing-legislation-to-protect-health-care-workers Mon, 08 May 2023 08:37:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-leaders-in-districts-1-and-4-push-for-safe-staffing-legislation-to-protect-health-care-workers Union leaders in Districts 1 and 4 sent letters last week to their state lawmakers supporting safe staffing legislation for health care workers in Michigan and New Jersey. 

In Michigan’s last legislative session, Rep. Angela Witwer and Sen. Ed McBroom introduced H.B. 4016 and S.B. 204, which would require hospitals to develop and implement a staffing plan for registered nurses. This staffing plan would prevent the overextension of any worker by following the bill’s established minimum nurse-to-patient ratios and enable nurses to provide better care for their patients and protect themselves from injury. 

District 1 Director Donnie Blatt said in his communication to the state legislature that similar legislation should be strengthened and reintroduced this session. 

“Health care workers cite short staffing as a detriment to patient care and work satisfaction, and as a contributing factor to injury on-the-job,” he wrote. “These caregivers should have every advantage possible to ensure their safe return from work every day.” 

In New Jersey, District 4 Director Del Vitale is advocating on behalf of USW members, including nurses at Robert Woods Johnson University Hospital, for passage of A. 4536 and S. 304. These bills would establish minimum staffing standards for registered professional nurses in hospitals, ambulatory surgery facilities, and certain DHS facilities. 

“We are optimistic that this legislation will start to make a positive impact on injury rates for registered nurses in New Jersey, and that more legislation will follow for increased safety for other health care occupations,” wrote Vitale. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that from 2019 to 2021, the health care industry consistently had the highest number of worker injury cases compared to any other sector. This is why the USW has been fighting nonstop for legislation at all levels of government to protect health care workers on the job. 

Click here to learn more.

USW recognizes health care members during Workers’ Memorial Day service https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-recognizes-health-care-members-during-workers-memorial-day-service Mon, 01 May 2023 09:46:24 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-recognizes-health-care-members-during-workers-memorial-day-service The Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job, has been in effect for more than 50 years, and more than 668,000 workers now can say their lives have been saved since the passage of the OSH Act.

Much work, however, remains to be done to protect everyone’s health and safety on the job, making this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day, recognized each year on April 28, even more potent.

Last Friday, USW Local 3657 hosted their annual ceremony honoring union members who lost their lives on the job and recommitting to protecting workers from job injury, disease and death. USW Health Care Workers Council Coordinator Tamara Lefcowitz spoke at the event, highlighting the urgent fight to protect and care for those who care for us. 

“Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and their bravery and resilience have been an inspiration to us all,” said Lefcowitz. “However, we must also recognize the ongoing risks and challenges they face every day, including workplace violence.”

Over the years, big corporations and many Republicans have launched an aggressive assault on worker protections and are attempting to shift the responsibility to provide safe jobs from employers to individual workers. The COVID-19 pandemic showcased this cruel shift, particularly in the health care sector.

In the AFL-CIO’s 2023 edition of “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” it was revealed that more than 1.5 million nursing home workers have been infected with COVID-19 and more than 3,000 have died.

Workplace violence, musculoskeletal disorders from repetitive motion injuries and occupational heat illness also continue to be major problems, but data no longer is reported annually to track and understand these important issues. Lefcowitz said it is vital that employers are held accountable when they violate safety standards.

“We need to ensure that OSHA has the resources and authority to enforce safety standards and penalize employers who fail to comply,” she said.

The AFL-CIO report also found that the fatality rate for Black workers grew from 3.5 to 4 per 100,000 workers in 2022, and more than 650 died on the job, the highest number in nearly two decades. Latino workers have the greatest risk of dying on the job, with a fatality rate at 4.5 per 100,000 workers that has grown by 13 percent over the past decade.

“This report isn’t just about data points, it is about people,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “Every worker who died on the job represents another empty seat at a family’s kitchen table.”

Click here to watch the full recorded ceremony.

USW chemical workers tackle fatigue and other hazards at Health, Safety and Environment Conference https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-chemical-workers-tackle-fatigue-and-other-hazards-at-health-safety-and-environment-conference Thu, 27 Apr 2023 14:26:25 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-chemical-workers-tackle-fatigue-and-other-hazards-at-health-safety-and-environment-conference Angelle Gregoire serves as president of USW Local 6992, and over the past few years at the Dupont chemical facility in Buffalo, N.Y., where she has worked for 16 years, she has seen a concerning culture change around workplace safety and health.

This is one of the reasons she attended the USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburgh the week of April 17, where more than 2,000 union members and their management counterparts gathered to learn from each other and experts about how to protect themselves and their communities.

Dupont also sent someone from management to the conference for the first time this year. “I think that’s a good sign that we’re going to move in the right direction,” said Gregoire, who works as a supply chain planner.

One of the most valuable workshops she attended at the conference was focused on fatigue, a common problem in the chemical sector and at Gregoire’s facility.

“We got a lot of information that we can take back to our site,” she said. “We work 12-hour shifts, four days on, four days off, but people often get forced to work 16 hours, sometimes all four days.”

USW Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, who also coordinates the union’s multiple chemical sector councils, said this is one of the issues he is focusing on in the coming months and years, along with making sure every local has robust health and safety language.

“We have to put the employers on notice that we’re taking this seriously and they need to do so as well,” Shinn said.

Gregoire’s facility, which receives many products via rail, has also been impacted by the recent railcar derailments involving chemical products.

“Just in our area, the railroad cut out a whole group of workers,” she said. “When we used to ask for a switch, we would get it that night. Now, we have days where we don’t get our switches done because they don’t have crews and they just don’t show up.”

Along with various workshops and trainings, the conference hosted multiple panels, including a discussion with federal investigators and regulators that featured Sylvia E. Johnson, a member of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. She spoke on the agency’s work in seeking the root causes of chemical accidents and answered members’ specific questions.

Johnson also urged chemical workers to visit the agency’s website, www.csb.gov, and YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/@USCSB, for more information and training tools.

One particularly solemn part of the conference was a ceremony honoring workers who were killed at USW worksites since the last gathering. For Gregoire, this is a reminder of everything she and her fellow activists are fighting for.

“When you watch that, you know why you’re here learning,” she said. “Years ago, we had an incident where one contractor died and another was severely burned. I never want to go through that again.”

Click here to view photos from this year’s Health, Safety and Environment Conference.

USW Atomic Workers Refresh Health and Safety Skills https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-atomic-workers-refresh-health-and-safety-skills Wed, 26 Apr 2023 11:25:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-atomic-workers-refresh-health-and-safety-skills Approximately 25 members from the USW’s atomic sector spent five days this month sharing information and learning new skills at the union’s Health, Safety and Environment conference.

The conference, held in Pittsburgh April 17-21, drew a record number of attendees, with more than 2,200 representatives from the union and management traveling from across the United States and Canada coming to learn how they can improve health and safety in their workplaces.

Dozens of classes and workshops ranged from using personal protective equipment (PPE) to preventing radiation exposure in the workplace.

Representatives from the Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) and Department of Energy (DOE) sites met in a special session on the third night of the conference, where they brainstormed ways to improve health and safety at the nuclear energy sites in Kentucky, New Mexico, Washington state, Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

USW Local 12-9477 brought five members to the conference from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. Workers there store nuclear waste in salt mines 2,150 feet below the ground and face many occupational hazards, including exposure to radiation from waste handling. 

Local 12-9477 President Jonathan Fuentes said the Stop Work Authority class stood out as having particularly relevant information for the people in his local.

“Where I work, it’s almost frowned upon to stop work when you feel it’s unsafe, because the way the company perceives it, you’re just trying to get out of work,” said Fuentes. “It’s scary because people could actually get hurt.”

Jace Radford, who has been a Radiological Control Technician for six years at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), said the most valuable session for him was about the effects of extended shift work on the human body.

“I work nights, so this was helpful because it was talking about how night shifts and other irregular schedules can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm and cause some actual disorders in people,” said Radford, a member of USW Local 12-652.

Radford became a worker-trainer for the USWTMC last year and helped to teach a course on understanding the basics of respiratory protection at the conference.

“I’m really familiar with respiratory protection because it’s a big part of my job as a radiological control technician,” said Radford. “It was my first time teaching, and I think it went well.”

Members talk bargaining strategies, workplace violence, and short staffing at USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/members-talk-bargaining-strategies-workplace-violence-and-short-staffing-at-usw-health-safety-and-environment-conference Mon, 24 Apr 2023 09:24:18 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/members-talk-bargaining-strategies-workplace-violence-and-short-staffing-at-usw-health-safety-and-environment-conference

Last week, roughly 60 USW members who work across the health care sector attended the union’s Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburgh. The activists learned from each other, as well as experts, about how to tackle the unique challenges they face on the job.

For Julian Hernandez, who works as a distribution technician at St. Mary Medical Center in Apple Valley, Calif., the top priority heading into the conference as a first-timer was to gather as much knowledge as he could to bring back to the younger workers at his facility.

“A lot of the new folks don’t understand the importance of safety right away,” said Hernandez, who serves as chair of Local 183’s Next Gen Committee. “It will help us last longer and have longevity at the hospital.”

Local 183 is heading into negotiations next year, and Hernandez said hearing the different stories from other members’ campaigns during the panel on emerging health care issues inspired him to start organizing now. 

“It gave us a lot of insight into how we can be creative,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do and we have a whole year to get prepared.”

Tools for safety and solidarity

For the first time, the conference offered a full-day of workshops tailored to health care workers, including a session on ergonomics and safe patient handling that gave members the opportunity to test out medical equipment like chair lifts and other transfer devices.

President of Local 9600 Alyssa Stout, who works as an x-ray technician, said this hands-on experience was invaluable. “We actually got to learn the tools that can help us,” she said.

She also appreciated the workshop on workplace violence, an epidemic that research suggests has worsened considerably in recent years and is contributed to unsafe staffing.

“I think our field also has the most incidents of workplace violence because patients aren’t always in their right minds,” Stout said. “In many ways, it’s accepted that we’re just going to experience this.”

Local 9600, which includes roughly 750 members, worked tirelessly last year to win a good contract. One of the bargaining team’s top goals was the creation of a joint health and safety committee, which management initially outright rejected.

The local then launched a robust campaign, inevitably leading to the hospital agreeing to form the committee.

"We didn’t have a voice before this,” Stout said during the conference health care panel. “The committee has opened up a whole different way to hold them accountable. It’s also made management aware of problems they didn’t realize existed.”

On the conference’s last day, Local 9600 was presented with the USW Karen Silkwood Award for their relentless efforts to form the health and safety committee. This award is given to locals for union building and solidarity through health, safety and environment activism.

Preparing for the unexpected

Kim Corona of Local 1853 has been a paramedic for eight years, and she believes the fiercest challenge she and her fellow workers face is the unpredictability of the job.

“The term ‘safety’ is so broad, you can’t really peg down whether the biggest issue is weapons or family dynamics, because you never really know what you’re walking into,” Corona said.

Because of this, Corona is currently working with other USW members in multiple states on an emergency medical services (EMS) focus group, alongside the union’s Health Care Workers Council, Tony Mazzocchi Center, and the Health, Safety and Environment Department.

Corona also wants to focus more on mental health and made sure to attend classes at the conference that focused on that particular challenge. The U.S. Department of Health estimates that 30 percent of first responders develop behavioral health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as compared with 20 percent in the general population.

“It’s a huge concern in our industry,” said Corona. “As first responders, we have nothing implemented and we need to try to get ahead of the game so we don’t have to worry about it in the future.”

Click here to view photos from this year’s Health, Safety and Environment Conference.

Worker Safety an Enduring Commitment of Our Union and Closest Allies https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/worker-safety-an-enduring-commitment-of-our-union-and-closest-allies Tue, 18 Apr 2023 09:40:31 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/worker-safety-an-enduring-commitment-of-our-union-and-closest-allies Workplace safety and health are intrinsically linked to our union’s legislative and electoral efforts.

Those we elect in local, state and federal government can be strong allies or significant burdens in our efforts to improve workers’ ability to return home safely each day.

Among those who have been our steadfast allies is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who for decades has worn a pin depicting a yellow canary in a birdcage. It was given to him by a Lorain Steelworker at a Workers’ Memorial Day event.

In a recent email to supporters, Senator Brown said:

“In the early days of the 20th century, coal miners would bring canaries deep into the mines to warn them of poisonous gasses. Back then, workers didn't have a union strong enough or a government that cared enough to protect them.

Together, we changed that. We passed worker safety laws and overtime pay. We banned child labor. We passed clean air and safe drinking water laws. We enacted Social Security and Medicare, and workers’ rights and women’s rights and civil rights.

I wear my canary pin as a symbol of all the progress we've made and as a reminder that our fight for the Dignity of Work – all work – is far from over.”

Senator Brown’s lapel pin and our annual Workers’ Memorial Day remembrance are examples of the actions workers can take to educate the public of the vital role of unions in the continued fight to improve safety and health standards in all workplaces. 

Workers’ Newest Allies in State and Federal Government (Part 4 of Series) https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/workers-newest-allies-in-state-and-federal-government-part-4-of-series Tue, 18 Apr 2023 09:35:28 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/workers-newest-allies-in-state-and-federal-government-part-4-of-series In 2018, at the age of 38, Morgan McGarvey was elected minority leader in the Kentucky Senate, making him one of the youngest legislators in the nation to serve in a leadership role.

During his 10 years as a state senator, McGarvey was known for being able to work across the aisle while not compromising on his steadfast commitment to protecting workers and fighting to build an economy that prioritizes the needs of working families.

McGarvey's highest priority is expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, which stems from the hardships he and his wife had getting insurance for their twins who were born 14 weeks premature. They spent months in the hospital before being approved to go home. 

With the strong support of more than a dozen unions, including the USW, McGarvey was elected to Congress in Kentucky's 3rd Congressional District in 2022.

Pictured: (center) Congressman McGarvey with USW District Director Larry Ray (left), District 8 Staff and members of USW Local 1693 who are employed by Louisville Slugger.

In Congress, McGarvey has doubled down on his pledge to fight for a strong middle class. After strongly opposing anti-union "Right to Work" legislation in the Kentucky Senate, McGarvey has quickly stepped up to support strengthening workers' bargaining power as a co-sponsor of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act.

He is also committed to ensuring the investments we make in infrastructure, public education, and renewable energy go to companies with unionized workers.

"Congressman McGarvey has made a tremendous effort to understand the issues that affect our members. He has been in our plants, talked to our members, and has an open-door policy to discuss working issues with him," said Larry Ray, USW District 8 Director. "Having a Representative who not only listens but cares about working families is why we do this work."

USW Solvay Council plans for the future, locally and globally, at April conference https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-solvay-council-plans-for-the-future-locally-and-globally-at-april-conference Tue, 11 Apr 2023 14:43:32 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-solvay-council-plans-for-the-future-locally-and-globally-at-april-conference The USW Solvay Council met in person for the first time since 2019 at USW Headquarters on April 4-5 to plan for the future as the company plans to split into two independent businesses at the end of the year.

USW International Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn began the meeting with an overview of the council and industry, including the need to boost recruitment and retainment, a challenge across the manufacturing sector. 

“It’s hard to get people to work in industrial jobs, especially the younger generation,” said Shinn. “We have to find a way to be creative with the companies to recruit and train. It creates a lot of problems with our existing membership because of overtime and fatigue.”

Global solidarity

Tom Grinter, Director of Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Pulp, Paper, and Rubber Industries at IndustriALL, traveled from the United Kingdom to speak with the council about the labor organization’s work, particularly their partnership with Solvay.

IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and fights for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.

The global union works with Solvay in many areas, including making global framework agreements that serve as a benchmark for the company. The latest agreement, established in 2017, focused on issues such as telework rights, women’s rights, conflict resolution, health and safety, battery supply chain, and more.

“Globally, Solvay has worked really well with us,” Grinter said. “They have facilities all throughout the world, from Italy to the Netherlands to India, coming together under the IndustriALL banner.”

Communication is key

Local 14200 President Greg May also spoke to the group about his experience serving on the Solvay Global Forum, formed in 2015 to foster internal social dialogue between the eight representatives of Solvay’s 30,000 employees and Solvay’s top management.

One of the current goals of the forum is for every Solvay site to appoint a contact person and begin quarterly calls. May said this type of consistent communication is key to the union’s work.

“This forum is a good tool to use when our normal means of communication get clogged,” said May. “The forum can leap-frog through all the red tape if necessary.”

Laura Tompkins from the USW Strategic Campaigns Department continued this theme of connection during the conference’s second day by facilitating a discussion on how to utilize communications, leverage, and solidarity to create member-facing campaigns during contract negotiations.

“Getting information out and getting the local on the same page is critical when you’re in hard bargaining,” said Roy Martin, who services Local 499 in West Virginia.

The group also talked about their biggest priorities moving into their upcoming negotiations, including an improved 401(k) plan, stronger union leave and health and safety language, retiree health care, and apprenticeship and training programs to attract and maintain workers.

John Saunders, who services Local 14200 in Marietta, said the upcoming split of Solvay into two individual companies showcases the importance of the council remaining connected and using leverage to improve their conditions.

“This is a time when we need to stick together,” said Saunders. “We need to make sure our members and our retirees are taken care of. We need to get our feet in the door and establish a pattern we can build on.”

April Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/april-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta Mon, 03 Apr 2023 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/april-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta It’s That Time of Year When We Will Converge in Washington, D.C., Some Good, Some Not So Good!

The good is that the 2023 SOAR Executive Board Meeting will be held June 10-11 in conjunction with the 2023 USW Rapid Response, Legislative & Policy Conference on June 11-14. For more information about this Conference, please contact your District Rapid Response Coordinator or SOAR Executive Board Member. 

We have contacted the USW District Directors and recommended sending additional SOAR activists to the Conference this year due to the “No Cuts to Retirement Security” campaign we recently rolled out with Rapid Response. The bad, as always, is that some of our legislators seem to think programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are entitlements. We need to remind them that these programs are our hard-earned benefits.

We’ve also contacted all our Chapter Presidents, letting them know that SOAR will lead in this struggle. We ask that all our SOAR Chapters adopt the “No Cuts to Social Safety Net Programs Like Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.” See beginning on Page 15 of this newsletter for information and materials meant for this action. 

You can still take action if you are a member but not with a chapter. Rapid Response has made it easy for us; go to http://usw.to/NoCuts and show these legislators what our SOAR members are made of!

Legislatively, it’s an important year for retirees; let’s be prepared to respond to the challenge ahead.

April Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/april-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein Mon, 03 Apr 2023 11:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/april-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein New Pro-Retiree Majority in Michigan Scraps Pension Tax in Victory for Retirees

In our last (Jan/Feb) SOAR Chapter Connection Newsletter, I was excited to report to our readers that the hard work of Steelworker members and retirees helped secure a pro-worker, pro-retiree majority in the United States Senate along with a better-than-expected outcome in the United States House of Representatives, where our union-friendly allies are only slightly outnumbered in the new, 118th Congress.  

However, the most noticeable shift in legislatures that I recounted was at the state level, where more voters opted for labor-friendly state governance than at any point since 2010.  

This shift was most evident in Michigan, where our efforts and votes helped simultaneously secure the state’s first pro-retiree, pro-worker legislative majority and governor in nearly 40 years.

This swing in governance is a big deal for retirees like you and me because, in March, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill overturning the pension tax, which was signed into law by former Governor Rick Snyder in 2011. 

At the time, Whitmer was the minority leader in the state senate. She stood in solidarity with labor/retiree activists who saw the pension tax as a direct attack on the security workers had fought for and won at the bargaining table. And, it was particularly the case considering that Michigan is the 11th most union-dense state in the country.    

Upon signing the pension tax repeal, Whitmer said, “Seniors had money that was promised to them taken out of their hands. Working families who were a missed paycheck away from poverty had a lifeline pulled away. It was wrong then, and today we are making it right.”

This repeal is not the only news worth celebrating in Michigan, however. There’s a chance that by the time you read this, our allies in the state legislature might also deliver a repeal of the so-called “Right to Work” law to Governor Whitmer’s desk.   

She has long promised to sign the legislation if they do.  

3M Council focuses on membership engagement, health and safety at conference in Pittsburgh https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/3m-council-focuses-on-membership-engagement-health-and-safety-at-conference-in-pittsburgh Mon, 03 Apr 2023 10:03:45 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/3m-council-focuses-on-membership-engagement-health-and-safety-at-conference-in-pittsburgh Members of the USW 3M Council took advantage of their first in-person meeting since before the COVID-19 pandemic to strategize about engaging new members and improving health and safety.

The two-day conference was held at USW Headquarters in Pittsburgh on March 28-29 and was led by USW Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, who kickstarted the meeting by thanking the members for their steadfast commitment over the past few demanding years.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the work everyone did protecting workers throughout the pandemic,” said Shinn. “The fact that we have this council set up is a main reason we were able to get through this challenging period.”

Tom Duffy of the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department led the council through a discussion on the new chemical sector safety proposal the union is pursuing to combat the many blame-the-worker and behavior-based language in contracts.

“We have a lot of work to do in this sector,” he said. “Together we need to send a unified message to the employers, putting them on notice that we expect them to work with us to provide a safe workplace.”

Mobilizing membership

Council members also used the gathering to brainstorm about organizing—both internal and external—including how to engage new and veteran members to take action and be a part of the union. Sabrina Liu from the USW Strategic Campaigns Department helped the council brainstorm ideas for hosting events, starting newsletters, and creating a sense of community among their locals.

Local 187 Vice President Darren Coons detailed how he and his fellow leaders who took office in 2018 did just that by talking to each member one-on-one about the importance of joining the union. For their facility, active membership is critical as it is located in Indiana, a right-to-work (for less) state.

“Most people were just upset that no one talked to them when they were thinking about stopping paying dues,” said Coons. “I just talked to them like a person, and within a few months, everyone was back in. We’re at 100 percent now.”

Solidarity across borders 

The group continued the theme of solidarity by chatting virtually with leaders from La Liga, an independent union at 3M in San Luis Potosi in central Mexico. They announced that they reached a tentative agreement on March 27 after winning the right to negotiate with 3M for the first time as an independent union as opposed to a company union.

The agreement, which covers 1,700 workers, includes an 8 percent increase in wages with an additional 3 percent in benefits. This is the biggest increase the workers have ever seen and also includes unification of the wage scale. The next step for the union is to hold a ratification vote—also a first for the workers—on April 18.

Shinn told the union members that the USW plans to stay connected with La Liga and will invite their leadership to attend upcoming 3M Council meetings. Paolo Marinaro from the Solidarity Center, who has been assisting the Mexican workers, also said he looks forward to this continued relationship.

“We believe in international solidarity for the benefit of all workers,” said Marinaro.

President Conway Talks Worker Activism on the Leslie Marshall Show https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/president-conway-talks-worker-activism-on-the-leslie-marshall-show Fri, 31 Mar 2023 14:00:06 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/president-conway-talks-worker-activism-on-the-leslie-marshall-show USW International President Tom Conway appeared on the Leslie Marshall Show this week to discuss how workers are leading the way on a host of challenges, from economic inequality to trade policy.

The most effective way for workers to harness their power is to organize, Conway said.

“If your goal is to take care of yourself and your family and have a thriving community so you’re not always struggling and watching the companies is reap benefits and walk away – there's no other way to do it without a strong labor movement and without organizing,” Conway said.

One vital area in which workers and their unions are leading the way is on trade. Through filing trade cases with the International Trade Commission, advocating for controls on bad actors like China and Russia and working closely with the USTR, the USW is ensuring workers’ concerns remain at the forefront of the nation’s trade policy, Conway said.

“Our union has been very active on trade issues for decades now,” Conway said. “We’re largely made up of a lot of trade impacted industries, steel, aluminum, cement, others, and we had to become experts on this.”

Workers are further using their power to promote needed legislation, like bills supporting veterans, and to repeal bad laws, as they recently did in turning back destructive right-to-work measures in Michigan.

“Real, lasting, positive change can only be achieved when workers come together,” Conway said.

Listen to the full interview below.

USW Makes Huge Strides in Eliminating Two-Tier Wage Systems https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-makes-huge-strides-in-eliminating-two-tier-wage-systems Fri, 31 Mar 2023 11:14:26 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/usw-makes-huge-strides-in-eliminating-two-tier-wage-systems Our union bargained a number of incredibly successful contracts over the past year that included significant wage increases and strong benefits.

We were also able to make substantial progress on another longstanding priority, eliminating or reducing two-tiered wage systems in an array of industries, including paper, rubber and tire, glass, chemical, health care, general manufacturing, basic metals and more.

Altogether, we’ve been able to negotiate contracts improving well more than 100,000 of our members’ wages by either shortening the time in the wage progression, increasing the pay in the systems or completely eliminating two-tier schemes. 

That’s on top of across-the-board general wage increases.

Righting these wrongs helps everyone, but in particular, it supports our newer members. It also strengthens our union even more in the long run. 

We're extremely proud of the folks at the bargaining table who were able to negotiate these wins, a large portion of the credit goes to our Next Gen activists who have been at the forefront of prioritizing and driving this issue.

Employers know how powerful we are when we’re united, so they try to drive wedges like tiered systems between us, pitting new workers against more senior members. We have to resist these deals and dismantle them everywhere we can.

And this past year, we showed them what true solidarity means.  

We came together across ages and levels of seniority, and as a result of this unity, we notched successes in every corner of our union. 

While we still have work to do, you proved that as long as we have each other’s backs, we can accomplish anything. 

Local 8599 and 675 members sow seeds of community in honor of Cesar Chavez https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/local-8599-and-675-members-sow-seeds-of-community-in-honor-of-cesar-chavez Thu, 30 Mar 2023 14:25:31 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2023/local-8599-and-675-members-sow-seeds-of-community-in-honor-of-cesar-chavez Members of Locals 8599 and Local 675 in Southern California, along with the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), planted and cared for a community garden last weekend in honor of Cesar Chavez Day of Service.

The project was sponsored by Cultiva Los Angeles, LA County Supervisor from District 1 Hilda L. Solid, and the LA County Department of Parks and Recreation. The volunteers planted fruits, vegetables, and flowers in a five-acre community garden in South El Monte, Calif., and enjoyed a lunch together made with produce harvested from the garden.

The meal was prepared by formerly incarcerated people who are entering back into their communities through an organization called God’s Pantry.

Local 8599 Next Gen Coordinator Trisha Garcia said the day was made even more special because her mother joined in the volunteering. “We met so many awesome, welcoming people and we look forward to returning soon,” she said.

Cesar Chavez was an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, along with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union.

Click here to learn more.