Monday Morning Minute: Aug. 9, 2021


USW Local 9923 – Packaging Corporation of America – Counce, Tenn.

On July 28, a USW member was fatally injured at PCA’s linerboard mill located in Counce, Tenn. The brother was found in the recycle shipping warehouse caught between PIT clamps and the floor.  The complete details at this time are unknown and we will update you with more information and any lessons learned as soon as possible.

USW Health, Safety and Environment staffer Trish Creech has been onsite helping the local with the investigation.


USW Local 13-189 – International Paper – Bogalusa, La.

On July 22, a contract worker was seriously injured at International Paper’s linerboard mill in Bogalusa, La. The contractor was injured while taking the nipple off of a valve and was sprayed with hot green liquor. The complete details are unknown at this time and we will continue to monitor the situation for lessons to be learned.

USW Local 2-20 – Ahlstrom-Munksjo – Kaukauna, Wis.

On July 23, a USW member was seriously injured at the Ahlstrom-Munksjo specialty papers mill in Kaukauna, Wis. The complete details are unknown at this time, but preliminary information is that the member was operating a paper roll stretch wrapping machine when his right leg became caught and subsequently crushed.

USW Health, Safety and Environment staffer Juan Zuniga is assisting the local with the investigation.

Union Work

USW Mourns the Loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

President of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, passed away unexpectedly last week, on August 5, at the age of 72. Richard began his leadership in the labor movement as president of the United Mine Workers of America in 1982, and was elected as president of the AFL-CIO in 2009, after having previously served as secretary-treasurer for 14 years.

USW International President Tom Conway issued a statement including, “Rich’s was always one of the loudest voices in calling for not only fair wages and working conditions, but also for an economic system in which all workers have a seat at the table. On behalf of the USW, I extend our most sincere and deepest condolences to the Trumka family. The members of our union, the labor movement and working families across the country will feel the sting of Rich’s loss. We will honor his legacy by continuing his fight.”

Women Paper Workers Talk Shop, Empowerment in USW Webinar Held in Conjunction with the 2021 Paper Bargaining Conference

The USW Paper Bargaining Conference hosted an inspiring and informative online discussion on Tues., July 20, about what it means to be a woman in the traditionally male-dominated paper industry. USW Vice President Leeann Foster moderated the virtual town hall along with American Forest & Paper Association President (AF&PA) Heidi Brock.

The panelists consisted of six USW sisters who work at various paper mills and plants across the United States, including Cindy Moss, Amy McGuire and Lori Aldridge-Smith, who work at the Essity mill in Barton, Ala.; Gwin Booker, who worked at International Paper’s Rome, Ga., mill and is now a staff representative for the USW; Terra Gorely, who works for Georgia-Pacific’s Wauna, Ore., mill, and Jamie Asby from Domtar’s Plymouth, N.C., mill.

The panel also featured Teresa Cassady, assistant to District 1 Director Donnie Blatt, who talked about the union’s plan to bargain domestic violence leave and support language in future paper contracts. She shared her own personal, harrowing experience of surviving domestic abuse and how it can impact both the victim’s life and their workplace. 

“Domestic violence is not limited to women, but it does impact women at an alarming rate,” said Cassady. “I know this language will be life-changing for so many of our sisters, brothers and siblings.”

The group participated in an activity throughout the Town Hall by answering the following question introduced at the beginning of the session: “What does a job in the paper sector mean to you as a woman”?

Responses were compiled and revealed at the end in the form of a word cloud, seen in the image at left. “Security”, “family”, “financial”, “freedom”, “independence” and “stability” were the top answers. Here’s a trick: right click on the image and save to your computer; you can then use it as a zoom background, print on t-shirts, or use in other ways that you would like to show your solidarity with women in the paper sector.

USW Members Working at Georgia-Pacific’s Dixie Consumer Products Facility in Easton, Pa., Qualify for TAA Benefits

USW Local 412 – Dixie Consumer Products – Easton, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Labor recently approved a petition filed for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits for the 190 workers at Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products’ Lehigh Valley operations in Easton, Pa. The TAA Program provides assistance to workers who have been adversely affected by foreign trade by providing opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources and support necessary to (re)build skills for future jobs.

The site produced coated paper cups under the Dixie brand since 1982 after a nearby plant in Wilson closed and production was shifted to Easton. Georgia-Pacific announced in January that the facility would be closing due to a decrease in demand for the disposable paper cups typically utilized outside the home. While there is some irony in the touted COVID-19 pandemic-related closure considering that individual, disposable cups surged in popularity during the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, the USW made the case that there is more to the picture and there are effects of competitors outsourcing manufacturing processes.

Woman of Steel and Paperworker Janice Barnes Honored as First Woman President of Her Local

USW Local 9-425 – WestRock – Roanoke Rapids, N.C. – The WestRock local in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., recently honored its first woman president, Janice Barnes, upon her retirement. Janice served in many different positions in her local and Women of Steel. She was given a gavel from the union and plaque from her fellow Women of Steel. Janice is featured, second from left, in the photo.


Domtar Joint Health and Safety Conference

USW Locals 1329, 13-1327, 1261, 10-701, 59, 1356, 1423, 319 & 266 – Domtar – Ashdown, Ark.; Hawesville, Ky.; Johnsonburg, Pa; Nekoosa, Wis.; Owensboro, Ky.; Plymouth, N.C.; Rothschild, Wis.; & West Carrollton, Ohio

The Domtar Council’s Joint Safety and Health Conference took place August 4 through 6. The conference, which typically occurs annually, is a product of the 2011 master agreement negotiations. It has been a successful venture ever since for locals and management to discuss opportunities to positively impact safety performance, assist in communication and promote safety strategies. Last year, the group was unable to meet due to travel restrictions and concern over the COVID-19 pandemic, but moved to a virtual format this year.

The conference began with a union-only day, followed by two days of joint labor and management sessions. During the joint sessions, both parties presented their respective safety plans. The USW reviewed the Making and Converting Paper Safely 10-Point Plan and the Effective Safety Committee course. The union also shared the work that Domtar’s joint labor-management sub-committee worked on concerning four critical hazard identification modules: hazardous materials, fall, mobile equipment and caught in/between.

The group also discussed green-on-green (new/inexperienced employee to a job or task training, or working with, another new/inexperienced employee to a job or task) problems and the ways in which having solid, joint health and safety committee at each site can help to add address those issues.

New Department of Labor Webpage Details Your Protected Rights as a Whistleblower

An employer cannot retaliate against you for exercising your rights under the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection laws. Retaliation includes such actions as firing or laying off, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, or reducing pay or hours. It occurs when an employer (through a manager, supervisor or administrator) fires an employee or takes any other type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity. An adverse action is one that would dissuade a reasonable employee from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity. Retaliation can have a negative impact on overall employee morale.

In recognition of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, July 30, a webpage that consolidates all anti-retaliation protection laws administered by DOL was debuted. To view the new webpage, click here: Whistleblower Protections | U.S. Department of Labor (

Industry Update

Georgia-Pacific Issues “Force Majeure” at Pulp Mill in Foley, Fla.

USW Local 1192 – Georgia-Pacific – Foley, Fla. – In late July, Georgia-Pacific issued a “force majeure” – a contractual clause that frees either party from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance prevents one or both from fulfilling their obligations under the contract – at its pulp mill in Foley, Fla. The mill produces several forms of market pulp, including dissolving pulp and fluff pulp, but the force majeure only pertains to dissolving pulp. A line that produces about 160,000 tons/year of dissolving pulp capacity went down. The force majeure remained in effect through August 6.

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
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