Monday Morning Minute: Aug. 15, 2022

Union Work

“Everybody’s Union” – 2022 USW Constitutional Convention

Last week, approximately 2,000 delegates from across the United States and Canada gathered in Las Vegas to rededicate the USW to its core mission of strengthening and growing the union and laying out a plan for the future to ensure that mission is successful. A series of resolutions were passed related to organizing, health and safety, and reinforcing the Convention theme, “Everybody’s Union.”

“We know what it means to be part of everybody’s union,” said USW International President Tom Conway. “It’s an unyielding dedication to watching out for each other and helping each other through tough times.”

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the crowd on Wednesday, detailing the pro-union initiatives the Biden administration advocated for in Washington over the past 18 months. She championed the USW for leading the way in rebuilding the nation’s manufacturing sector and empowering more workers through organizing.

“This is the beginning of a new era in the American labor movement,” she said. “Led by you – the USW is charting that new era.”

The USW’s commitment to organizing was reinforced through additional resolutions, such as “Organizing for Strength.” This calls on the union to fight against right-to-work (for less) laws and use our resources to build density in emerging industries. The paper sector’s box plant organizing project was also highlighted as a significant objective moving forward.

Below are photos of just a few of the familiar faces in the USW paper sector who stopped by the Collective Bargaining, Research and Benefits Department booth: Eric Evans from Local 1167, representing International Paper’s New Bern, N.C. mill; Al Hamby and Ernie Heckford from Local 364, Graphic Packaging in West Monroe, La., mill; Jaison Clark, USW Local 2-1082, WestRock in Brownstown, Mich.; and Gerry Kell, USW Local 2-21, Billerud in Escanaba, Mich.


Delegates Vote to Advance Health and Safety Work at the 2022 USW Constitutional Convention

As stated above, USW convention delegates unanimously approved resolutions last Thursday to advance the union’s fight for safer and healthier workplaces. The first resolution, “Health, Safety and Environment,” contained a long list of commitments USW members made to step up their efforts to protect each other.

Later in the morning, another resolution passed unanimously recommitting the USW to supporting its Emergency Response Team (ERT) program, which provides victims, family members and co-workers with immediate assistance in the aftermath of a serious workplace injury or death. The resolution committed USW locals to expanding and improving enforcement of the health and safety clauses in their collective agreements, including the right to refuse unsafe work, and to better educate members about their rights in the workplace. It also urges members to elect political leaders who support advancements in workplace safety, and pledged “unrelenting opposition” to any efforts to weaken any laws protecting workers in the United States and Canada.

Additionally, more than a dozen members spoke from the floor in strong support of the health and safety resolution, many of them recalling personal experiences with workplace incidents and stories of friends who were injured or killed on the job.

Makita U.S.A. has Announced a Recall of its Cordless Hedge Trimmers

Makita U.S.A. has issued a recall of its XHU07Z, XHU07T, XHU08Z and XHU08T cordless hedge trimmers, which could impact USW paperworkers who work in groundskeeping, or other similar departments, at their facility. The guard on the recalled hedge trimmer’s shear blade is missing, posing a laceration hazard to users.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cordless hedge trimmers and contact Makita U.S.A. for a free repair. Makita will provide consumers with a merchandise return label to ship the trimmers back to the firm for the free installation of a new blade guard and will return the repaired trimmer with a teal-colored guard on the blade.

To view the full recall inclusive of the serial number ranges of the impacted products, visit the following link: makita-hedge-trimmers-recall-details.pdf ( No incidents or injuries have been reported at this time.

Industry Update

WestRock Enters Agreement to Acquire Remaining Interest in Grupo Gondi for $970 Million

According to a late July press release, WestRock will acquire the remaining 67.7% interest in Grupo Gondi for $970 million, plus the assumption of debt. Grupo Gondi operates four paper mills, nine corrugated packaging plants and six high graphic plants throughout Mexico. The acquisition will develop WestRock’s presence in the growing Latin American containerboard, paperboard, and consumer and corrugated packaging markets.

WestRock is the second largest producer of containerboard in North America and the third largest in the world. Currently, the market in Mexico relies on unbleached kraft linerboard and recovered paper produced in the United States in order to export goods into Texas and other parts of the U.S. Mexico is the number one export destination for U.S. unbleached kraft linerboard exports, according to RISI industry analysts, and its demand for those products has increased by 101 percent over the past two years.

The USW paper sector and International Affairs Department are working with IndustriALL to identify any unions that may have organized the Grupo Gondi facilities, and will take appropriate action.

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, or at 412-562-2504.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-6961

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