Monday Morning Minute: August 12, 2019

Union Work

USW Local 819 – WestRock/RTS Packaging – Fresno and Merced, Calif. – Council Sticker Action

Last week, the 70 locals across 64 locations in the USW WestRock Council participated in another solidarity action to show the company that they are united around achieving a fair master agreement. Stickers that say “Fair Contract @ WestRock” were passed out to every member in the council, and each local chose a day of the week to wear them. The council’s consistent, monthly solidarity actions as a coordinated council have been gaining attention from management and corporate leadership.

USW leadership has also begun a solidarity tour visiting the facilities that have local agreements set to expire early next year to engage in discussion around the master process and hear concerns from each committee. The photos below were sent in from Local 819, which represents a WestRock box shop in Fresno and a partitions shop in Merced, Calif.

Paper Sector and District 9 Organizing Win at MaxPack in Lakeland, Fla.

We had a great organizing win in the paper sector and District 9 last week when an overwhelming majority voted by an over 3 to 1 margin in favor of unionizing. The bargaining unit has 91 workers. This was the third election that the location had been through in the past seven years. The first one was lost, and the second one, while successful, was stalled during first contract negotiations due to a National Labor relations Board (NLRB) dispute. Then, about a month ago, the NLRB regional office ordered the USW to re-run the election for a third time.

District 9 Director Daniel Flippo stated: “This is a box shop and with other box shops in the South unorganized, this is a big win! We will work hard to aggressively work on the first contract and use this as a launching pad for organizing in the container industry in the South.”

Great work and congratulations to the USW Organizing Department, District 9 staff, and everyone who assisted locally on the ground!!

USW Local 819 – Evergreen Packaging – Turlock, Calif. – New Agreement Ratified

On August 6, Local 819, representing Evergreen Packaging’s liquid packaging plant in Turlock, Calif., ratified a new agreement covering over 100 members. The local obtained significant wage increases over the life of the agreement, as well as increases to life and sickness & accident benefits. Due to hard work by the staff, council leadership and bargaining committee, the local got through a tough round of bargaining. Congratulations to the membership in Turlock!


Air Compressor Explosion Kills Worker at Non-Union Pratt Industries Facility in Louisiana

A worker at a Pratt Industries recycled paper mill located in Shreveport, La., died from his injuries sustained after an explosion occurred at the facility. The complete details are unknown as this is a non-union facility, but we know that the worker was injured due to an air compressor explosion. The USW represents a Pratt Industries corrugated box shop located in Grand Rapids, Mich.

A similar incident occurred at a USW location a number of years ago when a paper worker was killed and four others were sent to the emergency room after an overheated air compressor ignited oil vapors inside the compressor and air receiver tank. To view more information on the incident and for recommendations to prevent recurrence, copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Stop Use & Product Recall – 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Rope Grab AC202D

3M Fall Protection has determined that the 3M™ PROTECTA® Cobra Mobile/Manual Rope Grab AC202D is incorrectly stamped for use with 1/2 to 3/4 inch diameter rope on the exterior body of the unit. This Cobra Rope Grab is certified for use ONLY with 5/8 inch diameter polyester or polypropylene rope. All marketing information and the Instructions for Use (IFU) for this rope grab correctly identify the size of rope to be used as 5/8 inch polyester/polypropylene rope.

In the event of a fall from height, a Cobra Rope Grab used with 1/2 inch diameter rope may not arrest the fall and could result in serious injury or death to the worker. To remedy this situation, 3M is launching a Stop Use & Product Recall to replace all AC202D and related Cobra Rope Grabs that are stamped 1/2"—3/4" Dia.

Click here to read the entire product recall notice. 

Industry Update

Monadnock Paper Introducing Sustainable, Paper-Based Grocery Store Products to Reduce our Dependence on Plastic

USW Local 4-472 – Monadnock Paper – Bennington, N.H. – Grocery stores contain row after row of plastic-based products – from packaging to check-out bags. Monadnock Paper Mills is introducing a new portfolio called ENVI, to replace vinyl, plastic, polystyrene and PVC products. Plastic products are ubiquitous in grocery stores, seen in items like gift cards and food containers, but creating a sustainable replacement for them also presents a business-friendly opportunity for a USW-represented company to be on the forefront.

To read more about Monadnock’s new paper-based initiative, click here:

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