Monday Morning Minute: April 20, 2020

Union Work

IP Loss of Brother David Shingledecker

USW Local 2-1033 – International Paper – Three Rivers, Mich. – It is of great sadness to inform the sector that we lost a union brother, committee person and good friend from Local 2-1033 due to COVID-19 last week.

According to Staff Representative Terry Newton, David Shingledecker was an avid fisherman, with Steelhead and Walleye fishing being his favorites. He loved fishing on the Big Lakes.

Dave was on the bargaining committee with the local and always fought hard for all employees and their rights.

He made friends with everyone he met. Dave was co-chair of the fishing club in his area. He was a father, grandfather and friend. Dave was a warm, fun-loving individual, with a great sense of humor, who loved his family and lived life to the fullest.

The local is currently setting up a fundraiser for his family.

The poem and picture are from his daughter. Dave will be missed by all who knew him.

Paperworkers are Part of America’s Backbone

From USW International President Tom Conway’s Perspective Blog – At the start of each shift, Eric Jarvis takes a handful of anti-bacterial wipes and sanitizes the equipment he uses at the Packaging Corp. of America linerboard mill in Valdosta, Ga. He worries about getting the coronavirus every time he leaves for work, but knows the nation depends on paper workers to produce the cardboard boxes his mill makes linerboard for that are used to ship millions of items to stores and homes each day.

Jarvis, president of USW Local 646, may not be on the front lines of the pandemic in the same way as nurses and first responders. But he and other manufacturing workers also fulfill a vital role on the nation’s production lines, ensuring that Americans still have the food, medicine, toiletries and other items crucial for everyday life…

Copy and paste the following link into your browser to view the rest of the blog post, which features the work of Paperworkers: https://usw.bytrilogy.com/blog/2020/americas-backbone

Domtar Employees Strengthen Communities with COVID-19 Support

USW Locals 10-701, 1329 & 13-1327 – Domtar – Johnsonburg, Pa., & Ashdown, Ark. – Two USW-represented Domtar paper mills supported their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis by donating either resources or their time. USW Local 10-701 employees at the Johnsonburg mill recently donated 27 powered air purifying respirators to Penn Highlands Healthcare, a regional hospital network. The respirators will be used by medical staff when working near patients with confirmed or suspected illnesses that can be spread through the air. The mill keeps these respirators on hand as a precaution in case employees need them while moving chemicals in the plant or doing other tasks. The devices look like a bicycle helmet with a clear plastic face shield, a computer-controlled fan, LED indicators and a filter. The fan at the top of the helmet, which runs by battery, pulls air in. The air flows through a filter and is pushed down and out, giving the wearer a constant flow of clean air.

The Ashdown mill, represented by USW Locals 1329 and 13-1327, partnered with the Harvest Regional Food Bank to deliver food to the elderly. Volunteers from the mill unpacked roughly 3,500 lbs. of food and helped serve 100 families in the community. They delivered 21 boxes of food to senior citizens in the area who are unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19. Other boxes of food were picked up at a local church for further distribution.

Paper mills are often the cornerstones in our communities; Both of these stories are great examples of how our local unions  impact their communities, not just economically by providing the good-paying jobs that sustain a town and other subsidiary businesses, but also socially by pulling together resources and giving back in times of need.

Safety

Resources for Making Homemade Face Masks

The USW has been compiling resources and creating guidelines for our members to follow during the current global pandemic, especially around safety. One new resource that has just been added is on cloth face coverings.  Employers should be providing cloth face coverings for those who want to wear them upon request; however, we do know there are supply chain issues right now and they may not be immediately available. The USW has issued information on how to appropriately wear face coverings and how to make homemade face coverings if necessary in the interim.

Keep in mind, homemade face coverings and any that are not specifically N-95 filtering facepieces are not going to prevent the wearer from contracting the virus, but they do help to slow the spread of it. Also, all the other CDC guidelines still apply: social distancing, not touching the face and frequent handwashing. A face covering is not a replacement for these guidelines, but an extra layer of protection.

The USW Health, Safety and Environment Department put together information on wearing and sanitizing cloth face masks. Go to usw.org/covid19 for the most up-to-date information we have posted.

Also, access the CDC site through the following link, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html, which describes how to make cloth masks out of materials you may already have at home, as well as how to effectively sanitize the cloths after use.

You may have community connections to know of individuals who can sew cloth face coverings for your membership. The union’s Women of Steel program provides a strong network that could also be used for connecting donors to those in need of materials. USW Local 1000, in Corning, N.Y., has even developed an action plan for making cloth masks and are offering to assist to those in need.

Check out the group on Facebook at USW Women of Steel: https://www.facebook.com/groups/USWWomenofSteel/announcements/. Share what you are doing in this fight against COVID-19, and thank-you to those on the front lines fighting this disease.

Thermographic Camera Installed at WestRock Demopolis Mill

USW Locals 1835 & 9-719 – WestRock – Demopolis, Ala. – WestRock’s Demopolis mill installed a new thermographic camera on the top of the roof of a car shed to read the body temperatures of people entering the mill.

The mill maintenance local union team came up with the idea and approached management about adding the extra layer of screening when workers enter the mill.

The company asked for a representative from the local to stand out front with a Human Resources representative and the mill manager as they began checking temperatures of the employees entering the plant.

This is a great example of labor and management collaborating over the safety of workers.

Pictured is Local Union 1835 President Clayton McVay, who took the lead role of monitoring temperature screenings on the labor side.

Industry Update

Storms Damage Two USW Paper Mills Easter Weekend

USW Locals 1535, 364 & 654 – Essity in Barton, Ala., & Graphic Packaging in West Monroe, La. – On April 14, the Essity tissue mill located in Barton, Ala., had a portion of its roof collapse due to heavy rainfall, and the Graphic Packaging West Monroe, La., mill experienced damage after two tornadoes tore through the area. The damage in Barton was primarily in the administrative section of the facility, with some water damage in converting. There were no injuries at either mill, and both are operational.

Sonoco to Invest $83 Million in Uncoated Recycled Paperboard Mill System

USW Locals 2-94 & 2-187 – Sonoco – Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Sonoco announced via a press release that it would be investing $83 million in its uncoated recycled paperboard mill system. While the investment would be made primarily at its Hartsville, S.C., mill, which is non-union, part of the project will increase capacity at the company’s USW-represented mill in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. The site and related converting operations in Wisconsin Rapids were purchased last year from Corenso Holdings America. We represent nearly 100 members who work at the facility.

Tell Us Your Stories!

Has your local done something amazing? Have you had a great solidarity action? Done something huge to help your community? Made significant connections with other labor groups? Is your Women of Steel or Next Gen committee making waves? Have you had success in bargaining, major accomplishments? We all stay so busy working to improve our workplaces and communities that we often do not take 5 minutes to reflect, share and celebrate our accomplishments.

Tell us your story so we can all be part of it! Contact Laura Donovan at ldonovan@usw.org, or at 412-562-2504.

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