Paper, Packaging and Graphical Unions Team Up on Safety Rights

Contact: Leeann Foster, lfoster@usw.org, 412-562-2282; Jess Kamm Broomell, jkamm@usw.org, 412-562-2444

Trade union members on all continents are working together this month to promote health and safety in the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging industries, particularly emphasizing workers’ rights to participate in safety management on the job. 

This is the third global action of the 3R campaign led by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union. Each centers around one of three core rights: 

  • Right to know about hazards at work
  • Right to refuse, or to shut down, unsafe work
  • Right to participate fully in health and safety decision-making

All multinational companies across the industry have workplace health and safety programs. Some are designed in corporate offices and sent to local managers to implement. Other companies do it differently, with unions and worker safety representatives involved in the creation of policies, programs and procedures. This month’s work promotes those that are jointly designed and monitored by providing resources to union workers across the industries.

“In North America we rolled out this third coordinated action on Labor Day, and so far, more than 70,000 USW paper workers have received the action materials,” said Leeann Foster, IndustriALL Pulp and Paper Sector Co-Chair and USW International Vice-President, who leads this safety and health work. “Nobody wants death or injury to occur in their industry, not unions, not employers. But to make the change we must take action to ensure the three core rights of safety are a reality, and not just words.”

As the world grapples with the pandemic, many companies are rolling out new rules on health and safety, from personal hygiene, to restricted visitors, to physical distancing. This is a vital time for worker participation in identifying hazards, and how to mitigate them.

Joint Health and Safety Committees are provided by law in many countries, but they were initially products of collective bargaining. The worker representatives on those committees must be elected, and not chosen by management and truly have the Right to Participate.

“Experience shows us that in matters as important as health and safety, the management of the company cannot be the only one to decide. It is imperative to establish joint structures in which trade unions and employers jointly decide on measures to protect workers,” said President of UNI Graphical & Packaging, Joaquina Rodriguez Torrejon.

Download all the action materials here.

The two international unions, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI, bring together unions on all continents across these four industries. See more on the two global union websites: www.industriall-union.org and www.uniglobalunion.org.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. The USW is an affiliate of IndustriALL and UNI.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor R.J. Hufnagel

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222