Monday Morning Minute: Aug. 16, 2021

Union Work

We Supply America Bus Tour – USW Kicks off National Week of Action on Infrastructure

USW members this week are launching a nationwide week of action as a part of their ongoing We Supply America campaign, calling for robust investments in the country’s infrastructure and highlighting the contributions USW members make, both in obvious and more inconspicuous industries. This will include a bus tour scheduled for stops at USW locals in six states between August 16th and 20th.

Throughout its We Supply America campaign, the USW is calling on Congress to pass legislation to secure large-scale, long-term infrastructure investments that will create good, union jobs and rebuild communities. In a series of events along the bus tour’s route, USW members and leaders will address how comprehensive infrastructure investment drawing on American-made materials will provide widespread economic opportunity, strengthen domestic supply chains and spur job growth in communities across the country.

Along the way, they will be joined by like-minded allies, including Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, members of Congress and other elected leaders, company representatives, and environmental and manufacturing advocates who share the union’s vision for swift, robust infrastructure investment that draws on the skills and determination of American workers.

If you cannot participate in one of the events in-person, you may tune in live via any of our social networks. Updates on the tour, including the livestreams, will be available on: FacebookYouTubeTwitter and Instagram, as well as on You’ll even be sent reminders directly to your inbox:

The USW also has a series of videos highlighting some of our badass members at work making and doing the things we need to rebuild our communities. Check them out on our We Supply America YouTube playlist and share them with your friends, family and co-workers.

Paperworker Turned State Legislator, Rob Ecklund, Takes Leadership to the Next Level (From USW Election Connection Newsletter)

In 1989, when Rob Ecklund took a job at Boise Paper (now Packaging Corporation of America, USW Local 159) in International Falls, Minnesota, he was mostly just happy to have found a job that provided decent health care and a good wage. He was only 26 years old at the time, and newly married to his wife Joan after serving as a Marine in Japan and Korea during the mid-late 1970’s.

After a few short years, Rob decided to run for local union office. He served as recording secretary, treasurer, vice president and president. He also got involved in his local party committee and ran for Koochiching County Commissioner, where he was elected and served for five years.

In 2015, Rob was encouraged by friends and union members to run for the Minnesota State House when his representative passed away. He won that campaign and was reelected twice since then. During his first term, Rob helped defeat an anti-labor “Right to Work” bill, and has since been successful in securing $110 million to expand rural broadband services.

Rob’s advice for union members considering running for public office is, “Just go for it! Serving in my local union helped prepare me for public office because it taught me to be patient, to listen, and meet people where they are.” He also said that being involved in his local taught him how to develop a plan and manage finances, which are a must for any successful candidate or lawmaker.

New book on Maine’s Paper Industry

A new book entitled “Shredding Paper, The Rise and Fall of Maine’s Mighty Paper Industry” uncovers how the paper industry defined and interacted with labor, and discusses the history that encompassed the rise and fall of Maine's mighty paper industry. Through a retelling of labor relations and worker experiences from the late nineteenth century up until the late 1990s, the author highlights how national conglomerates began absorbing family-owned companies over time, which were subject to Wall Street demands for greater short-term profits after 1980.

For more information on the book, click here:


Product Advisory – 3M PROTECTA PRO-Stop Single Leg & PRO Pack Twin Leg Shock Absorbing Lanyards

3M recently released a product advisory for its PROTECTA PRO-Stop Single Leg & PRO Pack Twin Leg Shock Absorbing Lanyards, which are utilized in some fall-arresting equipment systems. During internal testing of certain PRO-Stop and Pro Pack lanyard models, a small percentage of tested units did not meet the OSHA 1926.502 (d)(9) static requirement of achieving 5,000 lbs. minimum breaking strength; however, the lanyards continue to meet all dynamic requirements of OSHA 1926.502(d)(16), proving that they would arrest a fall.

Under OSHA 1910.140 General Industry and OSHA 1926.502 Construction it is stated that employers must provide and install fall protection equipment that complies with the OSHA standard. While there is no requirement under these standards for the manufacturer of fall protection equipment to ensure compliance, 3M Fall Protection is issuing this product advisory to ensure that employers are aware that these lanyards are not consistently meeting the OSHA requirements for breaking strength. Since detecting this issue, 3M Fall Protection modified the design to ensure that all lanyards produced after December 1, 2020 will consistently meet the stated OSHA or ANSI certification as identified on the label.

3M is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the condition described above and has not received any customer complaints regarding this, but identified it through an internal review. For more information as well as details on affected part and model numbers, click here: Protecta-Pro-stop-and-Pro-Pack-Lanyard-Advisory-July-2021.pdf (

Industry Update

Verso Formed a Special Committee to Evaluate Acquisition Offer by Atlas Holdings

USW Local 2-21 – Verso Corporation – Escanaba, Mich. – In July, Atlas Holdings sent a letter to Verso and concurrently filed documentation with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing its offer to purchase Verso Corporation for $20/share in cash. On August 6, Verso’s CEO Randy Nebel confirmed that the company’s board of directors formed a special committee to evaluate the proposal made by Atlas. According to Nebel, “The committee will review and evaluate the unsolicited acquisition proposal made by Atlas Holdings on July 11, 2021 and alternatives thereto.”

Within the same week, Verso reported increases in its 2Q 2021 revenues and shipments compared to the same time period last year. The company also reported that demand for coated freesheet increased by 30 percent and shipments were greater than production capacity. If the acquisition is approved, the transaction would include a USW-represented mill in Escanaba, Mich., and the closed Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., mill. 

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 412-562-2446

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