United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2020-11-13 17:32:15 -0600 AMPS en hourly 1 Thursday Event to Examine How President-elect Joe Biden Can Build Back Better https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/thursday-event-to-examine-how-president-elect-joe-biden-can-build-back-better Wed, 02 Dec 2020 14:19:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/thursday-event-to-examine-how-president-elect-joe-biden-can-build-back-better The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is hosting a virtual discussion to put forth a blueprint for the incoming commander-in-chief.

During the 2020 campaign, President-elect Joe Biden talked a whole lot about how he wants to “Build Back Better.”

It’s certainly an idea worth getting behind. There’s a whole lot of rebuilding that needs to get done in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Frankly, there was a whole lot of rebuilding that needed to get done before COVID-19 even hit U.S. shores.

But now that Biden has won, what specifically does he need to do to Build Back Better?

That’s the question a panel of experts will be discussing with Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul on Thursday during a special digital event, set to begin at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Economic Policy Institute (EPI) President Thea Lee, and United Steelworkers President Tom Conway will join Paul to discuss the kind of smart public policy that is needed to help the United States recover from the pandemic while also building a more fair and equitable society for all Americans.

And if Biden and his team do it right, they have an opportunity to quite literally lay the foundation for decades of economic growth.

We hope you can join us for Thursday’s event. Click here to register.

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December Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/december-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta Wed, 02 Dec 2020 09:01:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/december-update-from-soar-president-bill-pienta We Should Not Sit Back

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of SOAR who took part in any political action activity this past election cycle.

Once again, we showed our value to our union by getting active and participating in phone banking, writing postcards, block walks, letters to the editor, and other activities.

However, now is not the time to sit back and pat each other on the back. Now is the time to bring attention to issues that are important to our members.

A major issue for retirees is the constant threats to our earned benefits, like Social Security and Medicare. 

The recently announced 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase to Social Security brings the average benefit for recipients to $1543 for 2021.  

Although this seems beneficial to retirees, when you deduct $148.50 for the premium for Medicare Part B and the increase for the Part B deductible (which becomes $205 in 2021) and then include the out-of-pocket co-pays and other deductibles there is not much left; especially if you have a premium for Part D - the prescription drug program.

Social Security and Medicare are vital to the livelihood of most retirees and with the rising cost of Medicare and the cost-of-living we need our Social Security benefits to reflect that. 

Another issue important to pensioners is a severe problem with multi-employer pension plans.

Over 1.3 million people are members of, or recipients of, a benefit from these types of plans. The USW has thousands of members in these plans. Many of these plans are severely underfunded and will not have enough money to pay full benefits in the future without some type of assistance.   

We must fight for the earned retirement pensions of our retirees. 

Members of the U.S. Senate oppose a proposal of economic relief passed in the U.S. House of Representatives because they claim it contains non-Covid related items, such as the Butch Lewis Act, which would address the multi-employer pension issue. 

We must continue to bring retiree issues into the discussion with our elected officials, our union through our Rapid Response program, and our SOAR members, many of who may be unaware of the need to address these issues and how our involvement in offering ways to resolve them requires their involvement.

SOAR can be pivotal in addressing the need to increase Social Security and to protect the standard of living for our present and future retirees.

We should not sit back and expect someone else to fight for our retirement security.  

Wishing you a safe and holiday season.

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December Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/december-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein Wed, 02 Dec 2020 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/december-update-from-soar-director-julie-stein Our Work Moving Forward

As a nation, we just witnessed what will be one of the most memorable elections in history.

Americans endured a global economic crisis and health pandemic while selecting not just their next President, but their state and congressional representatives as well.

This election produced the largest voter turnout in nearly 100 years. The winner of the Presidential election, Joe Biden, received more votes (just shy of 80 million votes) than anyone previously elected to the office.

No matter how you voted, it seems reasonable to conclude that more Americans than ever felt it was their duty to participate in our political process. 

Finishing the Job

Over the last three months, Steelworker members and retirees have worked tirelessly to elect pro-worker, pro-union lawmakers at the state and federal level. 

In many regards we were successful, but the work is still unfinished.

We were able to retain a pro-worker majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. We elected a President, Joe Biden, who has committed to supporting worker-first policies like the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and put an end to the anti-union tilt that has plagued federal agencies over the last four years. 

We narrowed the margins in the U.S. Senate by working to reelect allies like Tina Smith (MN) and Gary Peters (MI), and to defeat Senators in Arizona and Colorado who sided with employers and corporate lobbyists.

In fact, we might even be able to clinch a pro-worker majority in the Senate because the two elections in Georgia have been forced into a January 5 runoff after no candidate achieved the 50 percent vote threshold on November 3.  

Get Involved in the Georgia Runoff

In collaboration with the AFL-CIO, a number of unions, including the USW, have been assembling a campaign to elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to be the next Senators to represent Georgia. 

Steelworkers from across the country are stepping up to help out with this effort from the comfort of their own home, and so can you!

There are a growing number of ways to help, including making phone calls to union members, text banking, and writing postcards.  To get more information about how you can get involved, submit your information HERE.

In the coming months we will keep you updated on ways you can help at www.uswvoices.org Stay tuned!

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USW Atomic Workers Help Energy Department Reach Cleanup Achievements https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-atomic-workers-help-energy-department-reach-cleanup-achievements Wed, 25 Nov 2020 09:28:20 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-atomic-workers-help-energy-department-reach-cleanup-achievements USW atomic workers at the cleanup sites of the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Ky., and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio, helped the Department of Energy (DOE) reach two milestones this fall.

DOE’s DUF6 conversion project reached a turning point this month when the Paducah site shipped the first load of depleted uranium oxide cylinders onto a specialized rail car bound for a federal waste facility in Andrews, Texas.

“We commend the highly skilled, well trained, safety conscience USW-represented DUF6 workers at Paducah for exceeding all production goals,” said Local 8-550 Vice President-at-Large Jim Key. “This operation has reduced and removed the hazardous material element out of the DUF6, leaving a more stable uranium oxide at relatively the same assay content it was when it was originally removed from the ground.” 

Key attributed this success to the knowledgeable, former gaseous diffusion operating personnel. He said they transferred their historical operational experience to the DUF6 facility. The local represents 130 workers engaged in the DUF6 project at Paducah.

DUF6 is a coproduct of the uranium enrichment process that operated at the Paducah and Piketon sites. Both sites have cylinders of DUF6 stored onsite that are waiting to be converted into a stable form for shipment. The DOE says there are about 800,000 metric tons of DUF6 at the two sites.

The Portsmouth DUF6 inventory is expected to be processed in about 18 years and Paducah’s larger inventory within 30 years.

Parallel operation

The DUF6 conversion project operates at the Piketon plant as well, and Local 1-689 represents the 130 employees who work on that project.

Local 1-689 President John Knauff said that many of the workers who started up the DUF6 facilities came out of the diffusion plant operations.

“We negotiated these opportunities for people to move into these new facilities like the DUF6,” Knauff said. “It’s their experience that made this success possible.”

Tom Lamerson, a Local 1-689 division 2 committee person, was one of four shift engineers who got the DUF6 plant up and running. Once it began operations, he joined the union in 2014 as a control room operator.

The conversion process involves separating cylinders of depleted uranium hexafluoride into depleted uranium oxide and hydrofluoric acid. The depleted uranium oxide is a more stable chemical form that can be reused, stored or disposed of, and the hydrofluoric acid is sold for industrial use.

Lamerson said the Piketon plant is in the planning stages of shipping its depleted uranium oxide to the Texas waste facility.

“It’s good to be able to start shipping these cylinders of oxide powder to the desert where it’s less populated. So, we’re happy to see those cylinders get out of our plant and out of our community.

“You feel you’re doing a huge service to the community, the environment and the country. We are getting rid of it safely and efficiently,” Lamerson said.

Second waste achievement

At the pump-and-treat operations at the Paducah plant, the DOE marked 25 years of successful operations in removing groundwater contaminants, largely trichloroethene (TCE). TCE is a common industrial degreaser that the plant used to clean equipment.

To date, the site has treated about 4.4 billion gallons of water—an amount equivalent to filling 6,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. As of early 2020, the pump-and-treat systems removed more than 4,100 gallons of TCE from local groundwater.

Key said that about 50-75 members work at the pump-and-treat operations.

“The USW Local 550 union leadership is extremely proud of and commends their highly-skilled, well-trained, safety-conscience, represented workforce in this successful project to remove the hazardous elements from the groundwater table,” Key said.

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Union Plus Holiday Giveback campaign to Award $1,000 to 100 Extraordinary Union Members During Holiday Campaign https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/union-plus-holiday-giveback-campaign-to-award-1000-to-100-extraordinary-union-members-during-holiday-campaign Tue, 24 Nov 2020 09:24:40 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/union-plus-holiday-giveback-campaign-to-award-1000-to-100-extraordinary-union-members-during-holiday-campaign Contest caps off record year for Union Plus as hardship grants and scholarship awards top more than $2 million to union members.

Union Plus’s biggest year of giving is getting bigger. To make the holiday season brighter for union members — many of whom are on the front lines battling the coronavirus pandemic as first responders, health care workers, food workers and others — Union Plus will be giving away a total of $100,000 in $1,000 “thank you” awards to 100 deserving union members.

Union Plus is a non-profit founded by the AFL-CIO to provide additional benefits, savings and discounts to union members, as well as offer scholarships and exclusive grants during difficult times such as layoffs, furloughs and natural disasters. Since 2009, Union Plus has awarded over $14 million in grants and scholarships to union members.

"It has been a tremendously difficult year, for everyone in our country and in particular, those in our union family,” reflects Mitch Stevens, Union Plus president. “Our ‘Holiday Giveback campaign’ not only shares financial resources with extraordinary union members but also shines a light on their contribution to our communities. Union members are the backbone of our economy and many have made extraordinary sacrifices and contributions during this pandemic."

Entry to the Union Plus Holiday Giveback, is easy. Nominations can be made by visiting unionplus.org/holidaygiveback or by simply posting a video to Instagram telling us what makes their nominee extraordinary, using the hashtags #UnionPlusGiveAGrand and #Contest.

Members can nominate themselves or a friend or colleague. Nominations will be accepted until December 4, and winners will be announced by throughout December.

The end-of-year contest is an extension of the year of giving back to eligible union members by Union Plus.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,500 union members have applied for direct assistance from the Union Plus Hardship Assistance program.

Union Plus is proud to have surpassed its previous records by distributing more than $2,000,000 in direct assistance to members to date this year. The “Holiday Giveback Campaign” aims to inspire members to recognize themselves and others for their extraordinary work in 2020.

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Local 1-689 Ratifies Contract With Mid-America Conversion Services https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-1-689-ratifies-contract-with-mid-america-conversion-services Tue, 24 Nov 2020 09:02:18 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-1-689-ratifies-contract-with-mid-america-conversion-services Local 1-689 members at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant cleanup site in Piketon, Ohio, ratified a new five-year agreement on Nov. 5, 2020, with Mid-America Conversion Services.

The contract covers about 130 workers at the site’s Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) Conversion Project, which converts depleted uranium hexafluoride for reuse or disposal. 

The unit now includes some 40 health and safety technicians (HSTs), procedure writers, planners and some administrative assistants the local organized.

The new contract goes back to 2017 and will expire in January 2022. Local 1-689 President John Knauff said numerous unfair labor practice charges and grievances resulted in nearly $850,000 in backpay and $30,000 in damages from the contractor’s unlawful implementation of benefits.

Knauff said the newly-organized members had varied wage rates for the same work prior to joining the union. With pay rate adjustments in the new contract, most are now in parity within the same job classification, he said.

The local negotiated a new PPO health care plan that covers pharmacy copays and contains small deductibles for individuals and families.

“Overall, it’s a really good contract given the times we’re in,” Knauff said. “These old, experienced workers along with a good collective bargaining agreement are what make good operations happen. We tell these contractors that those are the kind of conditions you have to have for good, safe operations.”

Bargaining for the new agreement started in 2014, and during those six years the contractor changed from BWCS to Mid-America Conversion Services.

“There are lots of reasons why bargaining went this long,” Knauff said. “I think a lot of it is the Department of Energy (DOE) not technically being in the bargaining room.”

Bargaining in the USW’s atomic industry is unlike negotiations in the private or public sectors. DOE sets the bargaining expectations for its contractors, yet it does not engage in direct bargaining with the unions. That’s done between the unions and the contractors.

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Atomic Council Virtual Meeting Addresses Covid-19 Policy Issues https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/atomic-council-virtual-meeting-addresses-covid-19-policy-issues Tue, 24 Nov 2020 09:00:43 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/atomic-council-virtual-meeting-addresses-covid-19-policy-issues With the number of Covid-19 cases surging across the U.S., USW Vice President Roxanne Brown convened a virtual USW Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) meeting on Nov. 19 to help assess atomic sites’ coronavirus protocols.

While the Covid-19 policies vary contractor to contractor and state to state, the biggest issue concerned workers getting paid under different protocol scenarios. For example, at some sites, if someone is healthy, but they were exposed to a person who is sick with or tested positive for Covid-19, they are sent home to quarantine with full pay.

But, if they get sick with coronavirus, they quarantine and go on sickness and accident (S&A) pay, which is not full pay. This policy encourages some workers to not get tested for Covid-19 and to go to work even if they feel ill.

Another scenario regarding Covid-19 protocols and pay concerns the travel policy at many sites. If a worker travels to a place with a high Covid-19 positivity rate, they have to self-isolate for 14 days at home without pay or use additional personal leave time. This policy could be an incentive for workers to not be honest about where they spent their vacations and what they did.

Brown requested that every atomic local send to her their site’s Covid-19 protocols so she can work with the council’s attorney and USW policy analysts in devising best practice guidelines that might help locals in their discussions with contractors.

Brown also said that another virtual meeting with the AEWC will likely occur the week after Thanksgiving to follow up on the Covid-19 situation.

Funding ending soon

The Department of Energy (DOE) has funding for Covid-19 pay through Dec. 31, 2020. For employers with fewer than 500 employees who are covered under the Families First Act, funding for that program ends that day as well. The same time limit applies to certain types of workers, like those who are contractors and receive 1099 forms at tax time, who are eligible for unemployment pay.

Currently, the government and Department of Energy is funded through December 11, 2020. Congress will need to either pass a full budget, sometimes called an omnibus, or a continuing resolution prior to the December 11 deadline for continued funding.

With so many families and small businesses hurting because of the pandemic, the USW is urging Congress to pass a much-needed stimulus bill.

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USW Health Care Workers Council convenes online to discuss coronavirus health and safety challenges, future of industry https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-health-care-workers-council-convenes-online-to-discuss-coronavirus-health-and-safety-challenges-future-of-industry Mon, 23 Nov 2020 14:16:41 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/usw-health-care-workers-council-convenes-online-to-discuss-coronavirus-health-and-safety-challenges-future-of-industry Members of the USW Health Care Workers Council convened online last Thursday to discuss issues surrounding the coronavirus, which continues to be a challenge for health care workers.

USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the health care sector, spoke to the group about the unprecedented crisis, focusing on hope and commitment.

“We’re really dealing with uncharted waters,” said Redmond. “But we continue to represent our members every day.” 

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler also joined the conversation to talk about what the labor movement is doing to fight for front-line workers.

“It’s such a shame that we’re still talking about the lack of proper PPE for health care workers.”

Legislation such as the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES Act) was also a focus of the session. The bill was passed in the House earlier this year, with no movement expected in the Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The proposed HEROES Act includes about $1.13 trillion of emergency supplemental appropriations to federal agencies, as well as economic assistance to governments at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels. There would be about $485 billion in safety net spending, including the expansion of unemployment benefits, increased Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, increased funding utilities payments and job training for low-income individuals, and a 25% increase in aid to disabled veterans. 

Members and staff also talked about challenges and opportunities around contract bargaining in the wake of the pandemic, as well as health industry financial trends that may play out next year and beyond.

Regardless of what comes in 2021, Redmond reinforced where the union’s commitment lies -- on workers.

“We have to be ever so vigilant that our number one priority is the health and safety of our members,” said Redmond.

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Nov. 20, 2020: Local 7686 Straight Talk https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/nov-20-2020-local-7686-straight-talk Fri, 20 Nov 2020 13:25:29 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/nov-20-2020-local-7686-straight-talk Click here to download this update as a printable PDF.

Minor Progress Made at Negotiations Important Issues Remain

Due to the pandemic, we paused negotiations for the protection of our members. Since our last update, we have met and made some progress.

With your support, we reached agreement on several key issues. We fought to protect quality time with our families and maintained a strong system to resolve conflict and enforce our contract. We fought for strong language surrounding grievances. We extended the length of bereavement leave and expanded the definition of family.

We continue to push for issues important to our members. Some important issues we continue to fight for are:

  • No mandatory overtime
  • 12 hour shifts receive 12 hours of holiday pay
  • Protecting bargaining unit work
  • Seniority

During these tough times you have stepped up and we expect a contract that reflects your dedication and hard work.

As cases continue to spike, negotiations will move forward and we will meet again at our first opportunity.

We are one union! Stronger together!

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Information on how to participate in the Poor People’s Campaign Moral Monday Caravans https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/information-on-how-to-participate-in-the-poor-peoples-campaign-moral-monday-caravans Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:24:33 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/information-on-how-to-participate-in-the-poor-peoples-campaign-moral-monday-caravans The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is organizing Moral Monday caravans at statehouses across the country to mourn the nearly quarter-million Americans who have died from COVID-19, demand a smooth and open transition of power and lift up the moral policies we need immediately and in the first days of the new administration.

The caravans will kick-off a "Week of Mourning" to mourn the politics of death that have plagued our nation and to demand a politics of life.

This Thanksgiving, a day already marked by many Indigenous peoples as a Day of Mourning, families across the country will remember and mourn the loss of loved ones who have died from COVID-19 and poverty.

Millions of poor and low-income households also face mounting bills, evictions and hunger, after months of unemployment, cuts in wages, and the government’s failure to pass a comprehensive COVID-relief package.  

Ending the suffering of our families and communities is a moral mandate to all who are tasked with governance now and in the new year. Calls for cooperation cannot compromise with injustice.

PARTICIPATE DIGITALLY

For those not participating in a caravan, join us for the online action at 2:30 p.m. ET, where we will get reports from each of the participating states, launch an online Mourning Wall for victims of COVID-19 and poverty and launch a petition demanding short and long-term action from the White House, Congress and state governments.

Click here to let them know how you plan to participate.

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The Need for Action from the Senate is Critical. Contact your Senator TODAY! https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/the-need-for-action-from-the-senate-is-critical-contact-your-senator-today Thu, 19 Nov 2020 10:46:17 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/the-need-for-action-from-the-senate-is-critical-contact-your-senator-today “We’re paying with our lives. We’re paying with our health . . . Cleveland Clinic Akron General is inundated with COVID patients right now, we don’t see any kind of lull in the positive cases. They keep coming. We don’t see any outside help.” - Tim O’Daniel, president of USW Local 1014L, who just days ago lost a colleague to COVID-19.

As COVID-19 continues to ravage our communities, we are counting on the Senate to pass the next much-needed stimulus bill, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. The HEROES Act (H.R.6800) passed the House on May 15 and includes several of the provisions that we have been fighting for, like a temporary OSHA emergency standard and help paying for COBRA coverage for those out of work. The HEROES Act also:

  • Provides needed assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to ensure necessary public services continue;
  • Expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, and unemployment compensation;
  • Establishes a fund to award grants for employers to provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers;
  • Provides COBRA subsidies to laid off workers;
  • Provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing; 
  • Eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments;
  • Extends and expands the moratorium on certain evictions and foreclosures; and
  • Requires employers to develop and implement infectious disease exposure control plans.

“They’re holding the whole country hostage,” observed Brad Greve, president of USW Local 105, which represents workers at Arconic’s Davenport Works in Iowa. The company laid off more than 100 of his members in July and they are continuing to struggle.

We Need Quick Action!

The Coronavirus Pandemic is showing no signs of stopping and our members’ jobs, and in some cases lives, are on the line.  

Click here to tell your Senator to pass the HEROS act today.

Our union has seen the impacts of COVID-19 on our industries and our members.

We need meaningful legislation to protect the health and safety of workers who continue to go to work every day to provide us with our essential services, and to provide stability for those whose jobs have not yet returned.

We need Congress to pass the HEROES Act! Please take action today!

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DowDuPont North American Labor Council Addresses Pandemic’s Impact on Workers, Global Economy https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/dowdupont-north-american-labor-council-addresses-pandemics-impact-on-workers-global-economy Mon, 09 Nov 2020 14:32:09 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/dowdupont-north-american-labor-council-addresses-pandemics-impact-on-workers-global-economy The Covid-19 pandemic prevented the DowDuPont North American Labor Council (DNALC) from meeting in person, but it did not stop 40 council members from participating in a half-day virtual session in mid-September to discuss the disease’s impact on workers and the world economy.

“We can’t let the pandemic get in the way of our communications and global solidarity,” said John Shinn, head of the USW’s chemical sector.

He discussed how the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department established a Covid-19 protocol for its chemical and pharmaceutical employers. “The staff and local union leadership worked diligently with the employers to get protections in place for our members,” he said.

Kemal Özken, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL, spoke about Covid-19’s impact on workers’ health and safety and on human life.

“We demand that Covid-19 be recognized as an occupational disease for those workers infected in workplaces,” he said.

Tom Grinter, IndustriALL director of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper and rubber industries, emphasized that council members ensure their plant managers are respecting Dow and DuPont’s commitment on local union involvement in safety management protocols.

“It’s a difficult time, but we’re standing together,” Grinter said.

Covid-19 protocols

DNALC Chair Kent Holsing, who is also president of USW Local 12075, said the Dow locals participating in the virtual meeting felt the company handled the Covid-19 pandemic well overall in terms of health and safety protocols and pay for workers who have to quarantine or stay at home because of testing positive for coronavirus or having pre-existing conditions that make getting the virus deadly.

Shinn said there were some rolling layoffs of one to three weeks in length, but most workers did not lose pay during that period.

Some of the employers paid additional hourly pay (for a period of time) or a one-time bonus, he said.

Impact on world economy

Another top concern was how Dow and Dupont would weather the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

Özken described how the pandemic shrunk economic activity worldwide and caused a 40 percent decrease in direct investment. He said companies are discussing how the disease disrupted supply chains of needed products.

Shinn expressed concern that companies would see the pandemic as an opportunity to consolidate production lines and run leaner. Dow announced it would cut its worldwide workforce by 6 percent because of the pandemic, but has not said where those cuts will occur.

Despite this announcement, Grinter noted that cash-rich companies like Dow and Dupont are well positioned to survive the pandemic.

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Local 7600 Trains New Assistant Grievance Reps https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-7600-trains-new-assistant-grievance-reps Mon, 09 Nov 2020 14:04:42 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/local-7600-trains-new-assistant-grievance-reps The members of Local 7600 now have a group of about 40 new union leaders following an intensive two-day training session for assistant grievance representatives.

The Southern California local, in conjunction with the USW education and strategic campaigns departments, held a combination of in-person and virtual training sessions for the group focusing on topics such as Local Union 101, steward basics, alliance orientation and building power.

“The building power program focuses on what I think are the fundamentals of what we need to do to make the local union stronger,” said EKG technician Joel Maya, a contract specialist who handles communications for the local. “It helps us communicate better with the membership through our CAT team. We’ve been getting our message out there a lot better and more efficiently.”

Local 7600 represents more than 7,500 health care and service workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities in the Inland Empire and Riverside regions of Southern California. Local 7600 bargains jointly as part of an alliance of 22 local unions representing about 50,000 workers around the country.

The goal of the training program, Maya said, was to have an assistant grievance rep in every department so that the USW’s message is consistent throughout the large local. The membership includes nurses, environmental service workers, phlebotomists, pharmacy technicians, engineers, radiologists, medical assistants and others.

“Knowledge is power,” Maya said. “By strengthening our communications and our education, we’re going to be stronger than ever before. We’re going to need that strength as we go into bargaining in 2021, to make sure our members are united in solidarity.”

Maya, who has worked for Kaiser since 2007, credited Local 7600 President Val Robinson with making sure the training program was a success.

“Val believes in putting the next generation of leaders in place and sharing knowledge,” Maya said. “This was her vision.”

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Solvay Workers Reject Company Offer https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/solvay-workers-reject-company-offer Fri, 06 Nov 2020 09:48:17 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/solvay-workers-reject-company-offer Members of Local 7-765-01 at Solvay’s Chicago Heights, Ill., plant voted overwhelmingly on Oct. 22, to reject the company’s “last and best” offer.

Negotiations broke-off in February for the 27 USW members because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They resumed the week of October 12.

Solvay proposed an annual wage increase over the three-year contract term. But the company is insisting that the first raise and the start of the new agreement come upon ratification of the new deal rather than applying the first raise retroactively from the Nov. 17, 2019 expiration of the previous contract. The company also refused to backdate the contract.

In addition, management’s proposal included a concessionary management rights clause the company has failed to explain, D7 Staff Representative Frank Shubert said.

The union submitted an information request asking the intent of the changes, but Solvay’s response did not provide much clarity.

Further negotiations are scheduled for Nov. 12.

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Election Protection Helps Voters Navigate Issues on Election Day https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/election-protection-hotlines-help-voters-navigate-issues-on-election-day Tue, 27 Oct 2020 11:10:08 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/election-protection-hotlines-help-voters-navigate-issues-on-election-day The national, nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition works so all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners, Election Protection works year-round in all 50 states to advance and defend our right to vote.

On and before Election Day, their voter assistance hotlines and other tools connect voters with trained, legal one-on-one assistance with questions or problems that may arise, and are offered in four languages.

Please share this information with your family, your community and at the polls on Election Day.

  • Election protection hotlines:
    866-OUR-VOTE or 1-866-687-8683 (English)
    888-VE-Y-VOTA or 1-888-839-8682 (Spanish)
    888-API-VOTE or 1-888-274-8683 (Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog)
    844-YALLA-US or 1-844-925-5287 (Arabic)
  • Text the message MYVOTE to the phone number 866-687-8683
  • Tweet @866OurVote
  • Live chat at 866ourvote.org (upper right corner of the website under the phone number)

Based on voter feedback, Election Protection identifies the most common issues voters encounter (from language assistance to a misunderstanding of the rules by volunteer poll workers) and gives counties and the state a chance to come up with solutions.

If you have issues casting your ballot on Election Day, please contact Election Protection.

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Members Raise Money to Buy PPE for Essential Workers https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/members-raise-money-to-buy-ppe-for-essential-workers Mon, 26 Oct 2020 13:15:10 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/members-raise-money-to-buy-ppe-for-essential-workers This summer, the District 4 Next Generation committee saw a growing need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in parts of the district that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July, the committee launched a fundraising drive by selling T-shirts with the message “Of Course I’m Essential – I’m Union.” With the help of other USW members across the country, the committee raised more than $28,700.

Those proceeds were used to purchase more than 700 reusable protective gowns.

USW-represented registered nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey pose with USW staff representative Joe Arico and District 4 Next Gen Coordinator Brian Callow.

USW members Theresa Jellison and Trey Wilkins of Local 1000 in Corning, N.Y., show off their T-shirts.
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USWTMC Trainer Receives National Safety and Health Award https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/uswtmc-trainer-receives-national-safety-and-health-award Tue, 20 Oct 2020 10:35:54 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/uswtmc-trainer-receives-national-safety-and-health-award USW Tony Mazzocchi Center (USWTMC) trainer and safety activist Michael Horton received one of two nationwide 2020 Safety and Health Outreach Awards from the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association (VPPPA).

Horton, a Local 1-689 member, is a  maintenance mechanic for Portsmouth Mission Alliance, LLC (PMA), the infrastructure support services contractor at the former U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uranium enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio. He has worked at the site for more than 30 years.

PMA nominated him for the award, and USWTMC coordinator David Cassady wrote a letter of recommendation for Horton, who also writes a lot of health and safety curriculum with USWTMC’s Diane Stein.

“It’s well-deserving,” Cassady said. “Mike does a very good job. I think he is one of the best out-of-the-box thinkers. He thinks about how to do things better that may be different, but work well.”

Pictured: Michael Horton, standing against the fence, instructs clean-up workers after Hurricane Katrina damaged the Gulf Coast.

One example is his hazard mapping program. Horton created a database in 2009 when he was a full-time safety representative with Local 1-689.

Called the Hazard Tracker, it lists the hazards, a timeline for fixing them and the date they were abated. Workers learn how to analyze and categorize hazards identified during a facility inspection, and plot those hazards on a facility map. They correct minor deficiencies immediately, and enter into the work control process longer term fixes

“I believe that every one of us has a moral obligation to make our workplaces as safe as possible,” Horton said. “This begins with properly identifying hazards, reporting them and having them properly abated. Strong health and safety training is instrumental in accomplishing this. We all deserve the right to have safe working environments not only for ourselves, but also for our Brothers and Sisters as well.”

Since 2003, Horton has also served as a worker trainer for the USWTMC, and is an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outreach trainer and an OSHA master trainer.

Positive results

He said he’s seen positive results of his health and safety training at the Portsmouth site.

“People understand how to request samplings, use their stop work authority and recognize hazards,” Horton said. “It helps contractors understand that you fix the hazards and not the worker. I’ve seen lots of changes about people understanding their rights, especially under 10 CFR 851 (DOE’s worker safety and health program).”

PMA also nominated Horton because of his extensive community outreach, which Horton said is some of the most fulfilling work he does.

Horton teaches general industry training at vocational-technology schools and helps adults with special needs enter the workforce.

Pictured: Michael Horton (right) instructs students at Pike County Community College.

“Not only is he an exceptional safety professional,” wrote the PMA in its nomination, “but also a tremendous inspiration to our community.”

Horton will be recognized during the VPPPA 2021 conference in Nashville.

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Make a call; House voting on PRO Act (H.R. 2474) this Thursday! https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/make-a-call-house-voting-on-pro-act-h-r-2474-this-thursday Tue, 04 Feb 2020 13:37:08 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/make-a-call-house-voting-on-pro-act-h-r-2474-this-thursday Just a little over two weeks ago, we told you about workers who were organizing a beryllium producing facility in Ohio. Unfortunately, despite widespread enthusiasm at the outset, the effort ultimately failed after Materion forced workers into mandatory company meetings where union-busting consultants bullied and threatened them.

John Tate, one of the organizers who works in research and development at the plant, noticed a huge difference in support after the company brought in the hired-gun “union-avoidance” consultants and forced about 440 workers to attend multiple anti-union meetings. The consultants belittled workers — even questioned their intelligence for wanting to join a union —during meetings that lasted two to four hours.


Pictured: John Tate, a Materion worker and organizer stands in front of a plant gate rally to encourage his coworkers to vote yes on January 15, 2020.

“It was rough to watch,” Tate said.

This is just one reason the PRO Act is so badly needed. This bill would:

  • Penalize employers who violate workers’ right to organize.
  • Help workers secure a first contract.
  • Protect workers who go on strike.
  • Close loopholes that allow companies to misclassify workers as independent contractors.

We need your calls!     

If you have already made a call to your Representative – thank you! Please get a coworker and family member to make one also. If you haven’t made that call yet – please do – it just takes a moment to make a big difference!  

  • Dial our toll-free number to the U.S. House: 866-202-5409. You will be automatically routed to your Representative’s office.
  • Tell the office who you are, where you are from, and ask your Representative to VOTE YES on the PRO Act (H.R. 2474).


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The Oilworker: January 2020 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/the-oilworker-january-2020 Tue, 04 Feb 2020 12:55:33 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/the-oilworker-january-2020 FROM THE UNION

From the NOBP Chair

Brothers and Sisters,

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and I want to wish all a happy New Year. As we go into this contract “midyear,” we must continue to work and prepare for bargaining; it’s especially important that we’re using this time to educate and build our Local Unions. During the upcoming oil conference in March, we hope to provide the groups with some tools to do just that.

Even though it’s the middle year of the contract for many of you, for some, the hard work at the table continues. The BP Husky Lima group is still at the table fighting on local issues. PBF finalized its purchase of the Shell Martinez Refinery this month, and we have just completed the benefits bargaining per the Successorship Letter of Agreement. Our BP group in Alaska, soon to be Hilcorp, is gathering information in order to begin the process of bargaining benefits. These are just a few examples from across the industry in which we are continuously fighting and defending our contracts.

The union has been in contact with many of the stakeholders involved in the sale of Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), which shut its doors last year. While there is still not much new information to share, we remain committed to working with any employer who shares our interest in keeping the refinery open and preserving good, family-sustaining jobs.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) this month cited PES for a serious violation of process safety management (PSM). OSHA found problems with the refinery’s PSM program, including “failing to establish or implement written procedures, insufficient hazard analysis and inadequate inspection of process equipment for highly hazardous chemicals used in the process.” PES faces a fine.

There are reports this month that in addition to PES six other U.S. refineries are currently up for sale, including Royal Dutch Shell’s Anacortes, Wash., facility. Despite record production, many appear to be unable to attract buyers.

In other industry news, there are also reports that U.S. refineries and petrochemical plants are reducing their insurance coverage. Rates, especially for those that have seen an explosion or fire, have spiked as much as 100 percent.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to fill out the union’s membership survey and urge those of you who have not yet had this opportunity to do so. Please see the following message from International President Tom Conway for more information.

In solidarity,

Mike Smith
NOBP Chair
mjsmith@usw.org


A MESSAGE FROM THE USW'S INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT

This is your union, and your voice matters. That's why we're embarking on an effort this year to hear from as many of you as possible.

This is very important to me and our entire executive board. It's especially important as we head into an election that impacts the work we do as a union: bargaining and enforcing good contracts to secure fair wages, dependable benefits, and safe working conditions.

Whether we like it or not, workplace health and safety; wage and overtime regulations; retirement security; and our right to organize and bargain collectively are all tied to local, state, and federal laws and the people making them.

We want to work together to endorse and elect the right people, and that starts with determining which candidates’ values best align with ours as a union. To do this, we need to look at their backgrounds, past voting records, and ask them directly with our candidate questionnaire.

Learn more about how we can get this done and tell us what matters to you by taking our survey -- you can find it all and more on our USW Voices website.

In solidarity,





Tom Conway
USW International President


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 Jess Kamm at jkamm@usw.org or (Office) 412-562-2444.

Get 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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Congress Increases Funding for USW Nuclear Cleanup Sites https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/congress-increases-funding-for-usw-nuclear-cleanup-sites Fri, 31 Jan 2020 11:23:41 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/congress-increases-funding-for-usw-nuclear-cleanup-sites USW’s sites that conduct nuclear cleanup work for the Department of Energy (DOE) all received greater funding from Congress for the 2020 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1 of last year.

The president signed on Dec. 20 the appropriations bill setting the funding levels after Congress passed the final bill on Dec. 16.

Here is a breakdown of the funding:

Site 2019 Funding 2020 Funding

Hanford Tank Farm

$865 million $912 million

Hanford Plateau

$1.57 billion $1.61 billion

WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) General Operations

$312 million $294 million

WIPP Ventilation System Construction

$85 million $103 million

Portsmouth

$408 mollion $418 million

Paducah

$206 million $240 million

Oak Ridge

$410 million $450 million

Idaho National Lab Cleanup Site

$433 million $434 million

Idaho National Lab Nuclear Energy Side

$575 million $568 million


Overall, DOE’s Environmental Management (EM) department saw an increase in funding from $7.2 billion for fiscal 2019 to $7.5 billion for fiscal 2020. 

One notable item in the budget is $5 million for wearable robotic exoskeletons. The USW Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) lobbied for several years to get funding for these devices, which are external skeletons used for repetitive motion tasks that support and protect a worker’s body. A person wearing an exoskeleton can more easily do physical work—like bending down to pick up an item and reaching above their head—without tiring easily and wearing out their body.

Congress also added another requirement: DOE must report regularly to the House and the Senate on the progress of the EM projects currently under court-ordered deadlines.

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