Monday Morning Minute: April 4, 2022

Union Work

Your Union Your Voice Survey – It's Your Union and We Need to Hear Your Voice

Our primary focus as a union will always be bargaining and enforcing good contracts. But this work is, in many ways, tied to local, state and federal laws and the people making them. If the wrong people are in power, corporate interests will drown out our voices. This is why our union gets involved in government decisions. When we do, we want to make sure your concerns are front and center.

There's a new survey open to all members and retirees at: uswvoices.org.

Please, take a moment to share your thoughts. Your feedback will help us make sure your priorities within the USW paper sector are reflected in our union’s work.

The USW is also hosting more than 150 town halls across the country where you can share your thoughts on what matters most to you, and you'll hear about our recent wins and the work still ahead of us when it comes to our core issues: collective bargaining, safety and health, job security and trade, domestic economic issues, health care and retirement security.

Click here to find a town hall event near you.

International Paper Mill Master Education Sessions Continue

USW Locals 1398, 13-391, 13-1331, 1080, 9-618, 1362 & 13-189 – International Paper – Orange, Texas; Campti, La. (Red River Mill), Vicksburg, Miss.; and, Bogalusa, La. – Visits to USW-represented International Paper mills continued last week as part of a mill master educational blitz with the goal of setting a basis for bargaining a new master agreement next year. The sessions have been beneficial for labor and management to discuss and learn from the bargaining history of the council so that both have the same foundational knowledge when master negotiations commence in 2023.

In addition to providing historical context to the current provisions of the Mill Master Agreement and the renewal bargaining process, the locals have the opportunity to bring current issues impacting their respective sites to paper sector leadership and corporate management. The groups also discussed ways to improve attraction and retention issues around hiring toward closing the gap around the two-tier wage system as we go into negotiations.

The remaining 10 mills will be visited at the end of April and beginning of May. A few photos from the recent sessions are included at below.

Safety

Workers Memorial Day 2022

On April 28, 1971, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality — winning protections that have made jobs safer and have prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses. Every year on April 28, the United Steelworkers observes Workers Memorial Day to remember those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew our fight for safe workplaces.

The USW paper sector endured two fatalities last year, and another two have occurred in the first quarter of this year. As a union, we pledge to:

Additionally, the USW paper sector has developed and continues to refine the Making and Converting Paper Safely 10-Point Plan to address fatalities in the U.S. paper sector.

If your local wants to know more about Workers’ Memorial Day or needs additional ideas on how to commemorate this occasion, please check out resources on our website or the national AFL-CIO website.

Industry Update

Neenah Paper and Schweitzer-Mauduit will Combine to Create a $3 Billion Specialty Papers Business

USW Locals 1479, 1988, 2-370, 2-1170, 2-96, 2-87 & 2-116 – Schweitzer-Mauduit & Neenah Paper – Ancram, N.Y.; Lowville, N.Y.; Whiting, Wis.; Neenah, Wis.; Neenah, Wis.; Munising, Mich. & Appleton, Wis. –On March 28, Schweitzer-Mauduit and Neenah Paper announced that the two companies will be combining in an all-stock merger to create a $3 billion specialty papers company. The combined firm will have strong positions in each company’s product portfolios including filtration, healthcare & wellness, protective & adhesive solutions, industrial solutions, and packaging & specialty paper.

The USW represents approximately 850 members who will be impacted by the combination.

From Two Sides North America – Paper Products are Not a Major Contributor to Climate Change

The paper products you use on a daily basis do not contribute in any major way to climate change because most of the energy used to manufacture paper products is generated using renewable, carbon neutral biomass. The life cycle of paper, like that of any other widely manufactured and used product, does involve the emission of carbon – the key element in most greenhouse gases. However, with paper, there’s a critical difference.

To put it simply, the carbon released from burning biomass does not contribute to climate change. Biomass, also called biogenic carbon, is carbon that is absorbed from the atmosphere and stored in trees and other vegetation though photosynthesis. When that biomass later decays in the forest or is burned – either in forest fires or as fuel in a paper mill – its carbon returns back to the atmosphere in an endless natural loop that continuously recycles the same carbon atoms (called the “terrestrial carbon cycle”). Consequently, no new carbon is added to the environment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture compares the carbon from fossil fuels, which originates from extracted and burned for energy, and that of the paper industry’s biogenic carbon, to the relationship between landlords and tenants. Biogenic carbon emissions are like tenants who “stay only the duration of their short-term leases, and politely leave over time as the regenerating forest calls them back,” while fossil fuels are “carbon tenants who squat permanently in our home and change the balance we previously had.”

To read more, click the following link: It’s True: Paper Products Are Not a Major Contributor to Climate Change. Here’s Why... - Two Sides North America (twosidesna.org)

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