United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed http://www.usw.org/news/media-center/releases/rss United Steelworkers Press Releases Feed 2019-07-19 08:32:43 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 The Oilworker: July 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-july-2019 Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:14:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/the-oilworker-july-2019 FROM THE UNION

USW Submits Shareholder Proposals to Oil Company Annual Meetings

The USW continued its commitment to engaging companies at the shareholder level in 2019 by filing proposals at ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum and HollyFrontier.

Click here to read more.

PES Workers’ Response to Fire Saves Community From Disaster; Company Announces Shut Down

Thanks to the quick thinking of USW Local 10-1 operators during the June 21 fire and explosion in the hydrofluoric acid unit at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), a dangerous cloud of hydrogen fluoride (HF) did not move over heavily populated neighborhoods.

Click here to read more.

Oil Industry Prepares to go to Court over EPA Rule Allowing Year-Round Sales of Ethanol

The oil industry is fighting a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule issued on May 31 that allows E15 gasoline to be sold year-round across the country.

E15 has higher ethanol content and a high vapor pressure than conventional E10 gasoline. This makes the E15 gasoline evaporate more quickly and contribute to smog, which is why the EPA used to block its sale from June 1 to September 15 in smog-prone areas.

More ethanol affects the amount of oil in gasoline. With more ethanol, the integrated oil companies that explore, produce and refine oil cannot sell as much and must spend more to blend the biofuel into gasoline.

Click here to read more.

Robot Inspection of Phillips 66 Tank Foreshadows Greater Automation

Phillips 66 announced at the end of May that a robot successfully inspected the interior of one of the company’s above-ground diesel storage tanks in California. Using a robot enabled the company to inspect the tank while it was full. Normally, a tank would have to be drained for workers to enter it and inspect the tank bottom’s integrity.

Click here to read more.

PBF Will Buy Shell Martinez Refinery

Shell Oil plans to sell its Martinez, Calif., refinery in the San Francisco Bay area to PBF for around $1 billion.

Both companies announced the sale on June 11.

Click here to read more.


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PBF Will Buy Shell Martinez Refinery https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pbf-will-buy-shell-martinez-refinery Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:54:51 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pbf-will-buy-shell-martinez-refinery Shell Oil plans to sell its Martinez, Calif., refinery in the San Francisco Bay area to PBF for around $1 billion.

Both companies announced the sale on June 11.

PBF is expected to offer jobs to the more than 700 employees at the site. The company also said it will continue Shell’s community partnerships.

The sale is expected to close by the end of 2019. 

According to Shell, the refinery has been operating since 1915 and is one of the most complex facilities in the world. The site converts crude into vehicle gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and asphalt, and other products.

USW Local 5 represents about 325 workers at the Martinez refinery.

To read more about the sale, go to:

https://www.kqed.org/news/11754005/shell-to-sell-martinez-refinery-for-1-billion

To read about PBF’s commitment to the employees, community and safety, go to:

https://martinezgazette.com/pbf-officials-pledge-to-keep-shell-employees-community-involvement-safety-measures/

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Robot Inspection of Phillips 66 Tank Foreshadows Greater Automation https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/robot-inspection-of-phillips-66-tank-foreshadows-greater-automation Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:52:39 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/robot-inspection-of-phillips-66-tank-foreshadows-greater-automation Phillips 66 announced at the end of May that a robot successfully inspected the interior of one of the company’s above-ground diesel storage tanks in California.

Using a robot enabled the company to inspect the tank while it was full. Normally, a tank would have to be drained for workers to enter it and inspect the tank bottom’s integrity. Phillips 66 said the robot obtained high-clarity visual images of the tank’s interior, which enabled the company to gain insight into the tank’s condition.

Phillips 66 plans to have a robot inspect full storage tanks of crude and gasoline, and anticipates using robots for inspections at all of its facilities.

Expect More Robot Inspections

Phillips 66 is not the only oil company trying out robots. BP uses robots to inspect vessels at its Cherry Point refinery in Washington state. It takes a robot one hour to inspect a hydrocracker reactor by using ultrasound technology to find microscopic cracks in the vessel walls.

In contrast, workers spend 23 hours physically inside the hydrocracker unit during a planned shutdown to do the inspection.

According to GlobalData, a data analytics and media company, the volatility of crude prices is prompting the oil and gas industry to use robots for various applications in the upstream (production and exploration), midstream (pipeline inspection and monitoring) and downstream (refining and petrochemical) segments to increase productivity and efficiency.

Drones and robots in the downstream refinery and petrochemical sector are used for piping inspection, leak detection, corrosion monitoring, emergency response and the surveillance of an entire asset.

Reinventing Work

There will be a need for technicians to take care of robots like the ones that Phillips 66 and BP used.

According to one robot manufacturer, there are not enough plant technicians to service the automation being introduced into U.S. manufacturing plants.

Oxford Economics, an independent global advisory firm, said that automation will replace 20 million jobs worldwide by 2030, but its report also wrote about how to respond to the rise of robots. It also gave a framework for action by business leaders, educators, technology companies, workers and government policy-makers.

Industry Week ran a series about robots, and one of its reporters, Travis Hessman, wrote that the key issue is transitioning people into productive work that uses their ideas, creativity, insights and perspectives that no machine or software can duplicate.

To read about Phillips 66’s robot inspection, go to:

https://www.rigzone.com/news/phillips_66_tank_gets_robot_inspection-31-may-2019-158959-article/?utm_campaign=DAILY_2019_06_03&utm_source=GLOBAL_ENG&utm_medium=EM_NW_F7

To read more about “On Humans, Robots and the Future of Work”:

http://www.industryweek.com/technology-and-iiot/humans-robots-and-future-work

To read “Big Oil Has Finally Joined The Digital Revolution”:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/big-oil-finally-joined-digital-230000932.html

To read an opinion piece on “Don’t Expect Robots to Take Everyone’s Job”:

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-01/don-t-expect-robots-to-take-everyone-s-job

How Robots Change the World, What Automation Really Means For Jobs and Productivity

http://resources.oxfordeconomics.com/how-robots-change-the-world

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Oil Industry Prepares to go to Court over EPA Rule Allowing Year-Round Sales of Ethanol https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/oil-industry-prepares-to-go-to-court-over-epa-rule-allowing-year-round-sales-of-ethanol Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:45:09 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/oil-industry-prepares-to-go-to-court-over-epa-rule-allowing-year-round-sales-of-ethanol The oil industry is fighting a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule issued on May 31 that allows E15 gasoline to be sold year-round across the country.

E15 has higher ethanol content and a high vapor pressure than conventional E10 gasoline. This makes the E15 gasoline evaporate more quickly and contribute to smog, which is why the EPA used to block its sale from June 1 to September 15 in smog-prone areas.

The change in regulation fulfills President Trump’s promise to allow more ethanol sales.

More ethanol affects the amount of oil in gasoline. With more ethanol, the integrated oil companies that explore, produce and refine oil cannot sell as much and must spend more to blend the biofuel into gasoline.

Oil refineries that do not have an ability to blend ethanol into gasoline at their sites must purchase more Renewable Identification Number (RIN) credits to prove compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The manipulation of these credits causes RIN prices to skyrocket, forcing small refiners to pay more money toward RIN credits than on needed maintenance.

Oil industry trade groups charge that the new regulation violates the Clean Air Act and that Congress previously rejected the year-round sale of E15. Another major refiner argues that EPA’s consideration of E15 being similar to E10 is “arbitrary and capricious.” Judges use the “arbitrary and capricious” standard when judging administrative agency rule-making.

The EPA, at the urging of the Trump administration, included changes in the rule to increase the transparency in the RIN market and prevent manipulation of RIN prices during trading. The agency initially proposed greater trade limitations, but the integrated oil companies opposed it.

Increased transparency in the RIN market is welcome, but greater trade limitations would prevent integrated oil companies and other traders from hoarding RINs to drive up the market price.

Greater Transparency in RFS Waivers

Last year, the biofuel industry accused the EPA of being too liberal in the RFS exemptions the agency granted small refiners without back-up information or congressional oversight.

In response, U.S. Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) introduced on June 14 the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Integrity Act of 2019.

The legislation would require small refineries to petition for RFS exemptions by June 1 of each year, and the EPA would be held accountable for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligation it sets every November.

The EPA would also have to reveal to the public key information about the exemptions and tell Congress how it determined which small refiners were eligible.

While transparency is favorable, this legislation does not resolve the problems with the unregulated RIN market that forces small refiners to request waivers.  These refiners would not need to apply for RFS waivers if the blenders they take their gasoline to for ethanol blending were held accountable for upholding the RFS.

Is RFS Decreasing Emissions?

One of the reasons for the RFS is to help prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on June 3 that said the RFS has had a limited impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of the reliance on corn ethanol. Advanced biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, that could impact emissions have not been produced in mass quantities.

To read the story about EPA’s rule, click here.

To read the Progressive Farmer story about the RFS’s limit in reducing emissions, click here.

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PES Workers’ Response to Fire Saves Community From Disaster; Company Announces Shut Down https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pes-workers-response-to-fire-saves-community-from-disaster-company-announces-shut-down Tue, 16 Jul 2019 09:38:04 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/pes-workers-response-to-fire-saves-community-from-disaster-company-announces-shut-down Thanks to the quick thinking of USW Local 10-1 operators during the June 21 fire and explosion in the hydrofluoric acid unit at Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), a dangerous cloud of hydrogen fluoride (HF) did not move over heavily populated neighborhoods.

HF exposure can cause severe burns and damage the eyes, skin, nose, throat and respiratory system. HF also can cause internal damage in the body, and at high levels, it can be deadly.

Local 10-1 operators took action quickly and followed their training protocol. They shut down process units immediately. An operator in the central control room pushed a button on the board to empty the hydrofluoric acid from the alkylation unit caught on fire, and this action averted a potential tragedy of an HF release.

Local 10-1 and PES are part of the USW’s Triangle of Prevention program that involves frequent training, and workers investigate near misses and incidents. Oil refining is dangerous, and incidents can happen that are beyond workers’ control.

Only the HF unit was damaged. The rest of the refining complex was unharmed. Despite this, PES decided to shut down the facility on June 26 and plans to prepare it for sale.

More than 1,000 employees stand to lose their jobs, and the closure will affect the building trades, contractors, suppliers and other businesses that sell goods and services to the refinery and its workers. Schools and local governments will lose tax revenue.

Local 10-1 held a meeting with members and elected officials on July 2 to discuss the abrupt closure of the plant. The refinery’s former CEO, Philip Rinaldi, met with labor, business and political leaders, the same day in a private meeting to lay out a strategy to save the facility.

Reportedly, some potential employers from Arkansas, Louisiana and Saudi Arabia came into the refinery to interview employees. Job fairs are also being discussed.

The USW negotiated a successorship clause into the National Oil Bargaining Program pattern agreement, which is in the Local 10-1 contract, so any new owner would have to accept the union and the existing labor agreement.

During a bargaining session between Local 10-1 and PES on July 3, the company said it would extend the termination date for employees from July 12 to Aug. 25 in order to prepare the refinery for resale or a restart.

To read more about what happened during the PES fire and explosion, click here.

To read about the PES closure, click here.

To read about the extension of the employees’ termination date, click here.

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Local 1355 scores bargaining win against health care giant https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-1355-scores-bargaining-win-against-health-care-giant Mon, 15 Jul 2019 17:32:11 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-1355-scores-bargaining-win-against-health-care-giant Members of amalgamated Local 1355 this spring faced off against their employer, health care giant UPMC, to win a new, vastly improved contract at long-term nursing facility Avalon Place in Mercer County, Pa.

UPMC, a $9 billion health care system based in Pittsburgh that employs more than 80,000 people, took over the private facility in fall 2018. When they first came to the table in January of this year, they had no plans to budge on wages and overtime, two of the local’s biggest concerns. The bargaining committee didn’t back down and proposed an aggressive package, showing their employer that business was not going to be as usual.

Though many of the bargaining committee members were new to the negotiations process, Local 1355 President Tim Guriel said their greenness was outweighed by their commitment and solidarity.

“There were a lot of new leaders, which can sometimes make it hard, but they really kept their nose to the grindstone,” said Local 1355 President Tim Guriel. “Without that member support, we’re just going through the motions.”

Amber Morgan, a certified nursing assistant who has worked at Avalon Place for seven years, jumped into a leadership position as the local’s grievance officer, a position that was previously vacant. Her first time at the bargaining table was an interesting and challenging one.

“It was definitely a learning experience,” said Morgan. “It was difficult because you’re arguing with UPMC all day and then trying to work things out with your staff at night, and not everyone is happy.”

After the first contract was voted down in April, the team was able to keep pushing UPMC toward its goal of improving conditions for all workers at the facility. This summer, their persistence paid off when they ratified a strong contract with numerous gains.

“When you look at where our contract was and what we got, it is truly one of the best contracts I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Morgan said.

The new wage scale increases range from six percent to 15 percent over the three-year contract. Overtime was adjusted as well, and the members also gained long-term disability language and paid parental leave. Part-time workers will also now pay up to 50 percent less for their health care coverage. Previously, they were paying up to $600 a month for a family plan.

The approximately 65 Steelworkers at Local 1355 include licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants, as well as support staff including dietary aides, kitchen staff, and maintenance workers.

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USW Submits Shareholder Proposals to Oil Company Annual Meetings https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-submits-shareholder-proposals-to-oil-company-annual-meetings Fri, 12 Jul 2019 10:59:18 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-submits-shareholder-proposals-to-oil-company-annual-meetings The USW continued its commitment to engaging companies at the shareholder level in 2019 by filing proposals at ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum and HollyFrontier. 

For the seventh consecutive year, the union proposed that ExxonMobil disclose annually its lobbying expenses and membership in trade associations. This year, the shareholder vote for the USW proposal increased substantially by 11 percent, reaching 37.3 percent of the vote. The USW presented this proposal so that shareholders can verify that company funds are not spent advocating for policies that may be detrimental to the company and its employees. 

This is the first year the USW filed a shareholder proposal at Marathon Petroleum asking the company to separate the position of board of directors chair and chief executive officer (CEO).  Currently, Gary Heminger serves as both chair of the board of directors and CEO.  

Separating the board chair and CEO position is good corporate governance policy, the union argued, since the board of directors is responsible for overseeing the performance and compensation of the CEO. 

The union’s proposal to separate these positions received about 25 percent of the vote. 

The USW also engaged in phone dialogues with executives and the investor relations teams at ExxonMobil and Marathon regarding the proposal topics. 

At HollyFrontier, the USW requested that the company prepare a report on safety each year. However, this shareholder proposal was excluded from a vote after the company successfully argued against its inclusion with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Making proposals to shareholders is important because the union needs shareholder support for important issues that affect the company and its work force.

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Thank You: Honoring our retiring leaders, welcoming the new https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/thank-you-honoring-our-retiring-leaders-welcoming-the-new Fri, 12 Jul 2019 08:58:33 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/thank-you-honoring-our-retiring-leaders-welcoming-the-new Leadership. In our union, it’s so much more than a word. Leadership is about people: the men and women we’re honored to serve. And the women and men who’ve served with honor. Today, we said thank you to outgoing International President Leo W. Gerard, Secretary-Treasurer Stan Johnson, and Vice Presidents Carol Landry and Jon Geenen. And we welcomed our new leadership: President Thomas M. Conway, Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, Vice Presidents Roxanne Brown, David McCall and Leeann Foster, and new Directors Donnie Blatt and Del Vitale. Watch our tribute:

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Eric Licht USW District 2 PAC Contributor https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/eric-licht-usw-district-2-pac-contributor Tue, 09 Jul 2019 09:26:49 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/eric-licht-usw-district-2-pac-contributor Eric Licht
District 2
Local Union 231
PCA
Burlington, WI

“As a supporter of our Political Action Committee (USW PAC), I know my contributions make it possible for our union to help elect people who will have the best interests of labor in mind. My contributions help build a stronger future for our union.”

Click HERE to share your story about why USW PAC matters to you.

Note: Federal law prohibits USW PAC from soliciting contributions from individuals who are not United Steelworkers Union members, executive and administrative staff or their families. Any contribution received from such an individual will be refunded immediately.

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District 9 wins 2019 Michigan Labor Press Awards https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/district-9-wins-2019-michigan-labor-press-awards Tue, 02 Jul 2019 12:39:05 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/district-9-wins-2019-michigan-labor-press-awards Congratulations to USW Local 1155L's Van TenPenny and District 9 on their awards from the Michigan Labor Press Conference (MLP) held at the UAW Education Center in Onaway, Michigan in early June.

MLP is comprised of labor communicators representing all unions in Michigan and member unions from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Alabama.

Van entered District 9 into four categories for this years awards, highlighting the work done in the district's eight states last year. Entries included Van's coverage of the Education Conference, Local 12L’s Christmas for Exceptional Children Party, R/PIC and Skilled trades Conference coverage.

District 9 won each category entered.

Van has done outstanding work as an activist, filling various communication roles, including editor, USPA vice president, USPA President and is currently communications coordinator for District 9.

His work with his local began in 1996 when they created their first website, then their first mobile publication in 1999 and established their social media presence in 2007-2008.

He has brought his knowledge to District 9 by providing communication education to local unions and maintaining print, web and social media tools throughout the District.

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USW’s Fred Redmond Talks with Leslie Marshall about Steel Pride https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usws-fred-redmond-talks-with-leslie-marshall-about-steel-pride Mon, 01 Jul 2019 16:09:33 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usws-fred-redmond-talks-with-leslie-marshall-about-steel-pride USW Vice President Fred Redmond stopped by The Leslie Marshall Show as Pride Month came to a close to talk about the union’s latest LGBTQ+ initiatives, as well as the significance of the Stonewall riots.

The flashpoint in queer history that exploded in Greenwich Village 50 years ago was not only a tipping point for so many in the community, Redmond reflected, but also a reminder of their power.

“If it weren’t for that one night, it’s possible that many of the victories the LGBTQ community won might have never happened,” he said. “It kickstarted the modern movement we’re now familiar with, the movement that fought for marriage equality, the movement that fought for their lives during the AIDS crisis. It kickstarted the movement that continues fighting today.”

Redmond spoke of the moment the light went on for the union when Anne Balay, a former professor, published a book called Steel Closets, which included 40 personal accounts of LGBTQ+ steelworkers who described living at the intersection of queerness and traditional industry.

“She gave a voice to this previously silent and invisible population in our union,” said Redmond. “These stories were alarming, they were heroic, but most of all, they were devastating.”

USW leadership recognized that there was a lack of connection between the LGBTQ+ community and the union, Redmond said. With the help of members who brought some of their concerns to the table, the Steelworkers created the first ever LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee earlier this year.

The committee includes members from multiple union districts and industries from across the United States and Canada. Their first meeting took place in February at the USW headquarters in Pittsburgh.

“The commitment was to listen to our members in that community directly as they educate us on their thoughts and concerns as members of our union,” Redmond said. “We’re going to work to really build a structure in our union that recognizes our members in the LGBTQ+ community and also build leadership of members in that community.” 

Redmond also touched on the importance of Congress passing the Equality Act, which would help bolster LGBTQ+ Americans’ rights at home, in public, and on the job, as well as the importance of unions bargaining inclusive and intersectional contract language.

To listen to the whole conversation, click below.

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USW Health Care Workers in Action https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-health-care-workers-in-action Mon, 01 Jul 2019 12:18:31 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-health-care-workers-in-action Healthcare members organize and strategize in Pittsburgh

Health care workers joined fellow Steelworker members last week in Pittsburgh for the first ever USW Organizing Conference. The event energized activists and reinforced that it is the responsibility of all members to grow the union through organizing.

At the conference, members had in-depth training in one of three areas: internal organizing, external organizing, and advanced organizing. Through these hands-on trainings, members learned and practiced how to develop action plans so that they could return to their locals with a strategy that could be implemented immediately.

From left to right: Terri Parks from Local 204 in Alpena, Mich.; Tamara Lefcowitz, Health Care Workers Council Coordinator; John Seckrettar from Local 318 in Edison, N.J.; Tyona Wolk from Local 9600 in Chico, Calif.; Rick Bucker, District 7 Assistant Director and Health Care Coordinator; Colleen Wooten, District 10 staff; Jim Kilborn, District 12 staff; Sonia Bracey from Local 7600 in Victorville, Calif., Steve Meyer, District 2 staff, and Kelly Weaver, District 10 staff and Health Care Coordinator.

Not featured in the photo: Gerald Green from Local 2599 in Bethlehem, Pa., and Ryan Fairley from District 10, Locals 8183/3657.

Safe Jobs Now campaign still going strong

USW members across the country are continuing to sign postcards for the union’s #SafeJobsNow campaign calling for critical workplace violence legislation.

Local 2003’s new Rapid Response Coordinator Keith Thompson has collected nearly 200 postcards himself as part of his very first campaign with the union. His local is an amalgamated local with several worksites spread out across Northwest Indiana.

Thompson joins the many workers across the country who are raising their voices about health and safety on the job. Join the hustle and contact your local Rapid Response coordinator to get cards for your workplace and have your voice heard today.

Visit the campaign page here.

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First-Ever Organizing Conference Draws Activists https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/organizing-conference-draws-activists Fri, 28 Jun 2019 10:40:57 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/organizing-conference-draws-activists Organizing Conference 2019: Day 4 Workshops

The USW’s first-ever conference on organizing was a resounding success.

“You’re the future of our union,” International President Leo W. Gerard told the 115 USW members who attended the conference, held from June 22 to June 25 in Pittsburgh at the International Headquarters. 

The conference attracted a noticeable number of younger members who were chosen by their District Directors and the union’s Organizing Department to lead an expanding effort to organize new members in existing, traditional and emerging industries and sectors.

“Your union has the best and the brightest, the people most willing to stand up, the people most willing to learn,” Gerard said.

There were learning opportunities in external, internal and advanced organizing. External campaigns typically target employers or job sites where there is no union. Internal organizing seeks to build support for the union in represented workplaces where not all workers are members.

In addition to Gerard, the conference heard from International Vice President Tom Conway, who succeeds the retiring Gerard this summer; International Vice President Fred Redmond, District 4 Director John Shinn, who is in line to become Secretary Treasurer, and Directors Mike Millsap and Emil Ramirez.

The officers thanked the participants for giving their time and energy to growing the union and helping others reach the American Dream.

“This is our calling. We can do better if we do it together. Collective bargaining is all of us standing together side by side, trying to make a better life for our families and a better country for all of us,” Redmond said.

“Not only are we going to grow our union, we’re going to grow the movement of workers in this country who will be able to live with dignity and respect. That’s what we’re all about.”

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Stat Facts: June 25, 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-june-25-2019 Tue, 25 Jun 2019 13:04:02 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-june-25-2019 New contract at St. Mary’s Hospital in Michigan sees long-overdue wage increases

Members of Local 9899-1’s bargaining committee held strong for seven months and finally settled a new three-year agreement with Touch Point at Ascension St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw, Mich., this month. The contract includes wage increases for the approximately 150 environmental and nutritional service workers who haven’t had raises in several years.

“For the last contract, they barely gave us pennies,” said Local 9899 President Jackie Anklam. “So when we pushed this time, we were surprised we were able to push them as far as we did.”

Anklam and the rest of the bargaining committee faced many challenges during negotiations, including having them at all.

“We couldn’t get management to the table,” said Anklam. “They would postpone meetings and purposefully miss them.”

Despite the company’s tactics, the committee held out for the contract they knew they and their fellow members deserved. Along with wage increases that will allow veteran workers more leverage, the local also gained stronger language regarding union leave and orientation, as well as retroactive pay back to November 7, 2018.

USW settlement at long-term care facility improves conditions, wages, and benefits

Workers at the Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes in Cobden, Ontario, settled two collective agreements for USW Local 6936 that recognize the growing issues of staffing and increased levels of care.

“Our members are experiencing more and more stress as they deal with changing workloads, increased patient acuity and government austerity,” said USW District 6 Director Marty Warren. “This is all at a time when long-term care is becoming more important to an aging and ailing population.”

The three-year agreements will see wage increases by a total of 4.5 percent in the nursing home and by 6 percent in the retirement home. The contracts cover service workers, personal support workers (PSWs), registered practical nurses (RPNs), and registered nurses (RNs).

In both contracts, there are increases in uniform allowances, vision care, weekend premiums and benefits covering such services as chiropractors, psychologists and others. Employees will also be able to be paid for 50 percent of unused sick leave.

For the first time, there is also a provision for time off for employees to deal with domestic violence.

“This settlement is a step forward for these 138 members of our union,” said Warren. “At the same time, however, due to government austerity and the consequent restraint practiced by boards of arbitration, wage increases tend to be below the rate of inflation.

“That needs to change as long-term care generally faces a shortage of skilled workers. The future demands secure public services for older Canadians and better working conditions for care providers.”

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USW 3M Shareholder Proposal on Limiting CEO Pay Gains More Support https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-3m-shareholder-proposal-on-limiting-ceo-pay-gains-more-support Tue, 18 Jun 2019 12:18:27 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/usw-3m-shareholder-proposal-on-limiting-ceo-pay-gains-more-support The ratio of CEO compensation to worker pay skyrocketed over the last 40 years, and 3M’s compensation for its CEO accelerated as well, with its top officer making about 302 times median worker pay.

For the second year in a row, the USW, a 3M shareholder, introduced a proposal at 3M’s annual meeting to highlight this increase and suggest that the company consider the pay grades and/or salary ranges of its employees when setting target amounts for CEO compensation.

Shareholders have shown increasing concern that CEO pay is outpacing employee compensation and that CEOs may be more preoccupied with their own compensation than the welfare of the company, with support at the May 14 meeting for the USW’s proposal increasing over last year.

In the supporting statement for its proposal, the USW said the large disparity between CEO compensation and worker pay can impact the morale and productivity of employees who are not senior executives. This is especially true since worker pay has remained stagnant for decades despite productivity increases.

Even high pay disparities between CEOs and other senior executives may undermine collaboration and teamwork, the union said in its supporting statement.

3M’s board of directors’ compensation committee looks at what other companies pay their CEOs to set its own CEO’s compensation. This is known as using “peer group benchmarks.”

In further support of its resolution, the USW said that using peer group benchmarks to set CEO compensation can lead to pay inflation. Even though many companies set compensation at the median of the peer group, some target their CEO’s pay above the median.

The system can also be gamed by including peer groups that have larger or more successful companies where CEO compensation is higher, the USW said.

CEO Pay

In 1998, 3M CEO compensation was less than $3.5 million. Ten years later, it increased to $12.3 million.  In 2017, the 3M CEO earned over $20 million.

In contrast, median employee total compensation in 2017 was $63,338.

Before 1980, boards of directors largely determined CEO compensation by “internal equity” guidelines, meaning CEO pay was compared with the compensation of other employees at the same company.

Then, a new field of executive-compensation consultants arose in the 1980s, and these consultants convinced companies to move to an “external equity” method of determining CEO compensation. “External equity” meant basing CEO pay on what other CEOs are paid, i.e. peer group benchmarks.

Other 3M Announcements

3M’s first quarter 2019 financial results were known before the company’s annual meeting. Media reports said that financial analysts were disappointed at the results because they were expecting $2.50 per share instead of the $2.23 per share the company earned in the first quarter, when adjusted for one-time costs.

The company also said it planned to cut 2,000 jobs globally as part of a restructuring due to a slower-than-expected 2019 and part of a cost-cutting effort. Yet, 3M found the money to pay over $17 million to two CEOs in 2018 when one of them retired.

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Local 727’s Union Sign Shows USW Pride https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-727s-union-sign-shows-usw-pride Tue, 18 Jun 2019 10:02:08 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/local-727s-union-sign-shows-usw-pride USW Local 727’s sign in front of the union hall shows everyone driving by the pride the local feels for its union.

“We didn’t want to put up just anything,” said District 8 Staff Representative Brandon Duncan, who was president of Local 727 prior to his staff appointment.

“We wanted to contribute to the community as far as the looks of the sign.”

The local had moved its union hall from an old bank building into a former U.S. Postal Service facility it had bought from Calvert City along the town’s main street, so the sign would be seen by the entire community.

The local represents 230-plus workers at five different companies in Calvert City, Ky., that make high-dollar polymers and additives, PVC, chemical catalyst and specialty chemicals for many industries.

Group Effort

Duncan said the local first looked for a union sign company and couldn’t find one nearby—Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis, Ind., were the closest places—so it decided to build a sign on its own.

“We wanted something that was industrial-looking and reflected who we were and what we do,” Duncan said. “Since we are Steelworkers, we needed I-beams and aluminum plating, and paint and acrylics for the chemical sector.”

He created a design for the sign, which stands nearly 12’ tall and 9’ wide, with input from everyone, most notably, John Sullivan, Dathan Sheldon and Brian Culp. “It truly was a group effort,” Duncan said.

Then, he took the sketch to the maintenance shop, and solicited members who are welders and fabricators. “Steve Johnson was the man. He put a lot of work into the sign. I know he is proud and we are proud of him,” Duncan said.

Johnson, a Local 727-01 member, welded the I-beams together, cut and set the chains, and assembled the structure before taking it to get painted.

Mitch Adams, a former USW member who started his own machine shop called Industrial Sheet Metal, cut the letters, built and powder-coated the sign.

“In the 1980s, Mitch was an operator who went through a newly-developed maintenance apprenticeship program. He later became a company supervisor, then maintenance superintendent, and adventured out on his own and acquired an industrial supply business,” Duncan said.

“Mitch said, ‘This local union helped me get my start and I will never forget that. If it wasn’t for the union, I wouldn’t own the business I do today.’

“He did a lot of work and charged us very little. Mitch was proud to have a part in it,” Duncan added.

Local Pride

Current Local 727 President Glenn Tucker followed up on the progress of the sign after Duncan became a staff representative. He said that Johnson and Chris Sheridan loaded up the sign on a flatbed trailer Johnson owned. Then, Johnson used a front-end loader to off-load the sign, raise it up and lower it into the holes Tucker and Sheridan had dug.

Pictured: (L-R) Wade Kennedy, Glenn Tucker and Steve Johnson seated on the tractor.

Tucker said he worked with Calvert City to ensure the sign met the city’s codes, and he checked with the utility companies to ensure it was safe where he dug the holes, so as not to hit gas or water lines.

“The city is glad we are there and are taking care of the place,” Tucker said. “We are pretty proud of the sign, and the city is too.”

A photographer from the local newspaper, Lake News, shot some photos of the sign and told the local whoever designed it did a good job.

“We’ve never had anything that nice—the building and the sign—and the membership is quite proud of it,” Duncan said.

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Evonik Deer Park, Texas, Workers Negotiate Contract Improvements https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/evonik-deer-park-texas-workers-negotiate-contract-improvements Tue, 18 Jun 2019 09:47:23 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/evonik-deer-park-texas-workers-negotiate-contract-improvements It took only a week for the USW Local 13-1-10 Evonik unit in Deer Park, Texas, to negotiate a four-year agreement that raised wages, increased benefits and returned contracted work to the bargaining unit.      

“We have a good relationship with management,” said Unit President LaDerrell Dangerfield. “There were some tough times, but it worked out.”


Pictured: LaDerrell Dangerfield, Joe Day, Noel Trevino, Gary Harrison, missing Rodrick Frazier.

He said the previous contract expired June 3, 2019, but the company approached the union about settling negotiations early.

About 23 maintenance, production and lab workers are in the bargaining unit, and they ratified a new agreement on April 12. The Deer Park site produces oil additives that help keep the oil atoms apart, Dangerfield said.

Wages increase 2.5 percent the first year, 2.75 percent the second year, and 3 percent the third and fourth years. After the 2.5 percent wage increase in 2019, top hourly pay was $33.49 in the lab; $40.20 for an outside operator and the mechanical section, and $43.53 for a control man and relief operator.

Dangerfield said that under the new contract, a worker can also advance to the top pay rate in his or her classification sooner than was possible under the previous agreement.

Bringing Back Work

Local 13-1-10 negotiated a new position, utility operator, to handle drumming—the process of placing product into drums—that used to be contracted out. Pay starts at $24.30 an hour and increases to $27 an hour when the employee qualifies for the position.

Evonik negotiators wanted employees in the control man and two outside operator positions to qualify for all three jobs to get top pay, but the union succeeded in grandfathering the existing workers. Dangerfield said that new hires will have to qualify for three jobs to get top pay, but that it gives “the young guys opportunities” to advance. He warned other Evonik sites that they may come across this proposal.

The yearly performance bonus program continues, and employees have the opportunity to receive up to an 8 percent bonus if key performance indicators and personal goals are met, Dangerfield said. Evonik’s 2018 performance resulted in a 6 percent bonus, worth thousands of dollars for employees.

Dangerfield said Evonik’s CEO wanted all employees under the company’s retirement plan by 2025, so the local negotiated for the eight older workers who were still under the previous company’s pension plan (Rohm & Haas) to be grandfathered in. They will move to the Evonik 401(k) plan in 2025, and the company will deposit 9 percent of their gross pay into the new plan. Dangerfield said the change will result in more retirement money for the older workers.

Gaining Vacation Time

He said the local gained vacation time in exchange for the loss of two holidays. New hires get 98 hours of vacation; previously, they had to work a year before getting vacation time. Those with seven to nine years of seniority saw their vacation time increase from 120 hours to 192 hours; this was a real improvement for them, Dangerfield said.

Another change involves selling back to the company 80 hours of vacation time at the end of the year if a worker has used a certain amount of hours.

“This is good for those who might want extra money to buy Christmas gifts or need funds for a major repair,” Dangerfield said.

Local 13-1-10 negotiators improved company anniversary benefits by increasing the amount of money to one month’s pay for those with 25 and 40 years of service.       

Mobilizing the Membership

Dangerfield said the local distributed a survey to the membership before negotiations and had a meeting for members to say what they wanted in a new contract.

“We’re all pretty close knit and keep in communication with each other,” he said. “I think, all in all, it is a pretty decent deal. Our staff representative, Ben Lilienfeld, and bargaining committee members Joe Day, Noel Trevino, Gary Harrison and Rodrick Frazier worked hard to get the best contract possible for our members.”

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Stat Facts: June 17, 2019 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-june-17-2019 Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:20:37 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/stat-facts-june-17-2019 New Contract for Nurses at Local 9620 after Long Campaign

Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Somerset, N.J., ratified a contract in early May after seven months of tough negotiations. The nearly 500 USW members obtained several key improvements in the collective bargaining agreement, their second with the union, including increases to on-call pay and market adjustments for wages as well as to tuition reimbursement.

“Overall, we believe the contract included really substantial gains especially when you consider we’re so new to the union,” said Local 9620 President Kimberly Delbrune-Mitter. “The entire committee worked tirelessly, and the gains made were a result of that hard work and the solidarity of all of our members.”

The contract covers approximately 510 registered nurses in Local 9620. Bargaining began in November 2018, with the contract proposals voted down twice before the ratification last month.

The bargaining committee utilized a vast toolset to keep all of their busy members up to date and involved with the campaign, including social media posts, text messaging, and sticker and button days.

Local 9620 will be back at the bargaining table for their next contract in roughly a year.

Workplace Violence Bill Passes out of Education and Labor Committee

The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1309), sponsored by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), was advanced out of the House Committee on Education and Labor on Tuesday by a 26-18 vote.

The bill, if passed by Congress, would direct the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to update current legislation to ensure workplaces develop and implement violence prevention plans, which will significant impact health care workers, who experience violence on the job at rates 12 times higher than the overall work force.

“This legislation would do what health care workers have long needed, and that is for their employers to be held accountable,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond. “An enforceable OSHA standard is the only way to guarantee that, and we look forward to pushing this bill through with the help of our dedicated union activists.”

The United Steelworkers have been organizing a Safe Jobs Now postcard campaign in support of the bill. Please help us make this action a success by urging every one of your fellow members to get involved. For any questions, or to get additional cards, reach out to your District Rapid Response Coordinator or call us at 412-562-2291.

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Solvay Locals Settle Contracts, Begin Resolving Health and Safety Concerns https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/solvay-locals-settle-contracts-begin-resolving-health-and-safety-concerns Thu, 13 Jun 2019 09:32:03 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/solvay-locals-settle-contracts-begin-resolving-health-and-safety-concerns When the Solvay Council met last October in Tinley Park, Ill., delegates discussed their health and safety concerns, local union issues and problems they were having getting contracts settled. Since then, three contracts have been ratified, and the International has met with Solvay management to address the workers’ health and safety concerns.

Three USW contracts have been settled this year (Pasadena, Texas, University Park, Ill., and Baltimore, Maryland) thanks to a change in Solvay’s North American industrial relations team.  

Pasadena, Texas

The 20-member Local 13-227 bargaining unit at Solvay’s Pasadena, Texas, plant ratified their first contract in January after organizing in November 2017. After Solvay’s chief labor relations negotiator left the company in January, the new local was able to negotiate a three-year contract that contained a non-pensionable $1,600 ratification bonus and wage increases of 3 percent the first year and 2.6 percent the second and third years.

Union negotiators beat back the company’s attempt to force concessions on their Solvay short-term disability and 401(k) plans. They also gained protections around job security, contracting out of USW work, work hours that cannot be changed arbitrarily and a discipline procedure.

Before creating their union, the members had difficulty getting time off due to excessive overtime and short staffing. Now, they have a contract that gives them personal, emergency and Family Medical Leave Act time off, unpaid leave of absence, and vacation and holiday time.

The current challenge for the Pasadena unit is dealing with managers who believe that if an issue is not in the contract, it is null and void, instead of looking at company policy. The local is filing grievances to address this problem.                                          

University Park

Local 2011 members at Solvay’s University Park, Ill., plant also ratified a three-year agreement in January. It contained a 3 percent lump sum the first year and 3 percent wage increases in each of the last two years. 

The 75 production and maintenance workers maintained their health insurance, and received an increase in the company’s 401(k) match. They also have additional time for union education and training, which they did not have previously.

Local 2011 President Tom Hecht said the members rejected the first two company offers because the company’s cross-training proposal would knock out overtime. Solvay countered with an improved wage package in its third offer, and the members accepted it.

The contract contains a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that moves two members into different positions they were qualified to handle. A second MOU specifies that material handlers receive cross-training to perform liquid packaging duties. Once qualified, they earn a premium of $1 per hour while performing the extra work.

Baltimore

In March, Local 12517-05 members at Solvay’s Baltimore, Maryland, plant ratified a three-year agreement that contained a $700 signing bonus and wage increases each year of about 3 percent. The 35 workers in production, the warehouse and maintenance will now earn time-and-a-half pay on Saturdays and double-time on Sundays without having to clock in a certain number of hours and days the previous workweek.

Local union negotiators maintained the retirement security gains made two contracts ago, as well as their health insurance. Solvay provides a 9 percent match on the 401(k) and up to 4 percent (depending on a worker’s age) for the cash balance pension.

The local union also improved bereavement leave for employees working 12-hour days, negotiated a USW political action fund checkoff for voluntary donations, and created a new-hire orientation program to introduce new employees to the union.

The local’s negotiators also tightened up job bid language so existing employees can be promoted before someone is hired from the outside, and negotiated a warehouse position where Solvay will reimburse an employee for training and passing the commercial driver’s license test. The company will also pay for the license.

Plus, the local rolled into the contract the provisions of the Maryland Healthy Workers Act that gives employees the ability to earn 40 hours of paid sick leave in a year, which can be used in four-hour increments. The local succeeded in getting the earned hours credited at the beginning of the year.

Three more Solvay sites have contract expirations this year: Alton, Ill., in July 2019; Marietta, Ohio, in October 2019, and Chicago Heights, Ill., in November 2019.

Improving Health & Safety

At the October Solvay Council meeting, delegates brought up numerous health and safety concerns ranging from manual lifting and stitching of 50-lb. bags of product to near misses being covered up and used to discipline workers. This prompted the International to set up a meeting in March with members of Solvay’s industrial relations corporate and North American management team to discuss these concerns and map a path forward.

After hearing how Solvay locals are having difficulty getting local management approval to attend the USW’s health, safety and environment conference, the company committed itself to looking into this issue so that its employees can receive the health and safety training they need to make their workplaces safer.

Solvay Global Forum

Solvay negotiated a Global Framework Agreement (GFA) with IndustriALL that commits the company to follow internationally recognized labor, human rights and environmental standards at all of its sites, regardless of whether or not these measures are required by national law or regulations.

The GFA created the Solvay Global Forum, a group of eight union and three management representatives, who conduct annual country evaluations and visit the sites in that region to see how well the GFA is implemented, propose solutions for improvement, and extend the social dialogue between the company and its employees.

In March, the Solvay Global Forum visited the company’s sites in Mexico and talked with local management and union leaders. The delegation learned that the union at each site did not have a way to communicate with the Forum or with each other, so a new laptop computer was recommended for each local union. In addition, the Forum requested email addresses and work space for the union representatives at each site.

These items are being put in place now, and Jeff Hill, a USW Local 14200 member and U.S. representative on the Forum, said he is starting to receive communication from the Mexican union representatives.

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Middle Georgia BASF Locals Use Building Power Training to Strengthen Communication Ahead of Negotiations https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/middle-georgia-basf-locals-use-building-power-training-to-strengthen-communication-ahead-of-negotiations Wed, 12 Jun 2019 11:52:03 -0500 https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2019/middle-georgia-basf-locals-use-building-power-training-to-strengthen-communication-ahead-of-negotiations Locals 9-237, 9-237-1 and 9-2333 in Middle Georgia are using the Building Power training they received April 4-5 to strengthen their communication with their membership ahead of bargaining with BASF Corporation in September.

All three locals bargain economic items together, and their contracts expire Sept. 30, 2019.

“We started talking about Building Power training last year at the District 9 conference,” said Tommy Daniel, president of Locals 9-237 and 9-237-1. “We got with Tommy Wright, our staff representative, and he set it up. Katrina Fitzgerald and Kim Teplitzky from the USW Strategic Campaigns Department came down and did a great job.”

“For the newer guys, it opened their eyes to a lot of what happens in preparation for bargaining. They learned a lot. All we have to do is execute what we came up with,” he added.

The three units work in two locations in close proximity to one another. The McIntyre and Gordon operations mine kaolin, also called chalk. It is used in the paper industry to produce the gloss for magazines and as filler for pulp. It also is used in items like tableware, medicines, makeup and catalytic converters for automobiles.

Locals 9-237, 9-237-01 and 9-233 represent 305 workers together. Daniel said that many workers have over 30 years of service, but the company has been hiring new employees.

“We have several young guys that have become stewards and recording secretary. They’re really showing interest in negotiations and the union,” he said.

Determining Bargaining Priorities

Daniel said the locals sent out a contract survey to the members. The negotiating committee will pick the five or six areas members rated as important, and then send the survey to the membership again to determine the critical issues that must be addressed in a new contract.

The locals formed Communication Action Teams (CATs), and Daniel said he has an enthusiastic young worker who will be the CAT coordinator.  Each department will also have a coordinator and a CAT member for each shift.

“I believe the training helped us get the word out,” he said.

The locals are hosting the BASF Council meeting July 30-31, 2019 so the negotiating committee can hear about other locals’ negotiations, learn what to expect in bargaining and meet the other council members. It’s a relatively new bargaining committee, and this will be his first time at the lead table, Daniel said.

“We have a good relationship with the company, but we see where they want to try new things since they are new to the site,” Daniel said. “The two-tier wage structure for new hires in the packaging positions is causing problems, and now the company is hinting about job combinations.

“This time we have full-blown negotiations. The last one was just economics. With new management, I figure these negotiations may be tough this time,” he added.

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