Monday Morning Minute: Apr. 3, 2017


Union Work – Collective Bargaining, Organizing, Arbitration, Worker Rights, Community Work, Political Work, Labor History

USW Local 11-1651 – WestRock – Clinton, IA – Contract Ratification

On March 11, 2017, the local ratified a new agreement with the Company. One major highlight includes changes to the Company’s calculation of vacation pay which will now be based on 2% of the prior year’s gross earnings, instead of average weekly hours worked. Around bereavement, the local gained spouse’s grandparents as immediate family and memorial service was added as additional time off without pay. Previously, the contract included funeral only, but now funeral/memorial is considered. The local will also receive 13% in wage increases over the life of the agreement. Congratulations!

2017 USW Convention Updates

If you are heading to Convention, text USWUnity to 47486 to get updates on your phone! #USWUnity. Standard message and data rates may apply. Copy and paste the following link into your browser for terms and conditions:


Senate Votes to Overturn OSHA Rule on Clarifying Employers’ Obligation to Keep Accurate Injury Records

The Senate voted on a straight party line vote to repeal OSHA’s rule on clarifying an Employer’s obligation to maintain accurate records of serious injuries. Donald Trump has already indicated that he will sign this law, so the rule will likely be repealed forever unless Congress tells the agency to re-write this rule.

The National Employment Law Project stated, “The repeal of this clarifying regulation will make it impossible for OSHA to effectively enforce recordkeeping requirements and there is no question that underreporting of injuries, already a widespread problem, will get much worse in the most dangerous industries—putting workers in danger. The OSHA clarifying rule did not impose any new costs or obligations on employers, nor did it affect small businesses. The rule only covered larger employers in the most dangerous industries. This rule does not kill jobs; it prevents jobs from killing workers.

Industry Update

Early Look at How Maine’s Biomass Bailout Money is Being Spent

Early this year, two biomass generators tallied their first payments under a state subsidy program, taking in more than $241,000 from a $13.4 million pool of taxpayer dollars.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission recently published its first status report on disbursements from the fund. The report is the first documenting the flow of the new state-funded subsidies to any of the biomass generators who have promised to keep employed 87 people for the next two years. Those jobs will support an estimated 196 elsewhere in the supply chain, including logging jobs, according to a ratio cited by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.

For more information, click here.


International Paper Estimates $50 Million in Damages from Pensacola Mill Explosion in Florida

According to the Company’s annual report filed on February 22, 2017, the Company anticipates approximately $50 million in damages from the explosion at the Pensacola mill in January.

The Annual Reports states: “… the Company is evaluating the financial impact of the digester incident that occurred on January 22, 2017 at the Pensacola mill. It is currently estimated that the total impact will be in excess of $50 million, but that property damage and business interruption insurance will cover a significant portion of the costs”

A local newspaper has found that an OSHA determination on the explosion should be made within the next few months. Click here for more information.

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Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Wayne Ranick at 412-562-2444

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

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