Monday Morning Minute: August 17, 2020

Union Work

Recent Board Changes to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Weaken Workers’ Rights

The Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has aggressively undermined workers’ rights under the NLRA since 2017.

However, since the summer of 2019, these attacks became bolder and went far beyond the expected back-and-forth during transitions between Democratic and Republican-appointed Boards as they replace each other.

In particular, the Trump Board resorted to a combination of rulemaking and the use of Board decisions to overturn long-established employee rights to organize and maintain union representation under the NLRA.

Some of the most egregious decisions can be grouped into the following four categories: the attack on organizer property access, worker rights to discuss the union in general, the attack on contract and recognition bars and the attack on organizing procedures.

The Trump Board ruled that contractor employees’ access rights to their worksite do not apply if their employer does not own the property and employees do not work “regularly and exclusively” on the property.

For over 50 years, the NLRB recognized the rights of off-duty workers to access outdoor areas of their worksite to communicate with their co-workers or others about their rights to unionize, and they were never notably challenged until recently.

Additionally, the Trump Board followed in the Bush Board’s footsteps in making organizing through card check and voluntary recognition much more difficult. The Trump Board, however, is using rulemaking instead of case law, thereby making it more difficult to reverse.

Lastly, the Trump Board also used rulemaking to try to dramatically lengthen the process to get to an election and to limit union access to voters.  While this is allegedly in response to the Obama Board shortening the time to an election, the Trump Board is attempting to lengthen the period beyond where it was for decades before the Obama Board changes.

The USW’s Organizing Department wrote a detailed memo and circulated it to some staff regarding these recent Board decisions and their direct impact on labor. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the memo, please contact Laura Donovan (


USW/IndustriALL/UNI Global Poster Action

USW paper sector locals in conjunction with global partners UNI Global Union and IndustriALL, have been engaging in a global paper industry campaign centered around the three fundamental rights needed to make our work safe: the Right to Know, the Right to Act and the Right to Participate. 

As you know, we are calling these the three “R’s”, and they address workers’ rights to know the hazards and risks in their workplace, the right to refuse unsafe work, and the right to participate in safety programs and structures that manage safety in the workplace. 

The Right to Know and the Right to Act have been highlighted in month-long actions by workers across the global pulp, paper, graphical, and packaging sectors.

Now it is time to act around the Right to Participate, particularly in the time of COVID.

Due to the obstacles that COVID presented us with, we decided to finish the three-part campaign with a poster action, rather than stickers, as a poster can be displayed for all to see and does not need to be passed out individually.

The final action will take place worldwide across the paper sector around Labor Day, and will focus on a worker’s right to participate in the safety management of our workplaces.

In the coming weeks, your local will receive a packet in the mail containing a leaflet that details the Right to Participate campaign and a poster to hang up on a bulletin board, in breakrooms or any other public space that you are allowed to do so.

Feel free to make copies, locally, of the leaflet included in the packet to distribute across your location, or, simply display it alongside the poster. 

Don’t forget to send us notes and pictures about your local engaging in this action to Laura Donovan whose contact information is below.

August Monthly Free Safety Training

Featuring USW Health, Safety and Environment Assistant Director Steve Sallman – Lessons Learned from Workplace Fatalities – Striving for Safety in the Workplace with United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF)

The organization United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF) offers support, guidance and resources to those who have been forever affected by preventable work-related incidents.

Each month, the USMWF features a free, virtual safety training, and this month features Steve Sallman, assistant director for the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department. The session that Steve is leading is designed to increase your hazard identification and control skills to prevent future workplace injuries and fatalities.

 Learn how you can recognize immediate and underlying hazards, predict what could happen and how to apply the hierarchy of controls to prevent workplace incidents from occurring in your workplace.

To register for the session, click here:

Stop Use and Product Recall – 3M DBI-SALA Self-Rescue Descent Systems

Given recent information, 3M Fall Protection is issuing an immediate “Stop Use and Recall” of all three models of the 3M™ DBI-SALA® Self-Rescue Descent Systems including P/N 3320030; 3320031 & 3320037.

3M completed a review of returned training units from the field and concluded that this cracking condition is also a result of embrittlement over time of the plastic spool used to hold the lifeline rope. This embrittlement could inhibit the ability of the Self-Rescue Descent System to fully descend an end-user in the event of a fall. This spool is internal to the Self-Rescue Descent System and unlike the training, models cannot be inspected.

Please note 3M is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to this condition.

View the entire recall letter here:“Stop-Use-and-Recall”-of-all-3-models-of-the-3M™-DBI-SALA®-Self-Rescue-Descent-Systems-LETTER-and-Descrip.pdf

Industry Update

New-Indy to Idle Catawba Mill as it Prepares to Withdraw from Pulp Market and Nears Completion of Containerboard Conversion

USW Local 9-925 & 1924 – New-Indy Containerboard – Catawba, S.C. – New-Indy Containerboard will idle its southern bleached softwood kraft (SBSK) pulp mill in Catawba, S.C., this fall and exit the SBSK markets during the fourth quarter of this year. Analysts expect the mill to stop selling pulp to SBSK markets and instead shift to unbleached softwood kraft for internal consumption as it converts production from lightweight coated printing and writing papers to unbleached kraft linerboard

The conversion project, expected to bring 400,000 tons/year of linerboard capacity to the market, is one of many across the sector expected over the next two years. The USW represents approximately 300 members at the New-Indy mill in Catawba, which was formerly owned by Resolute Forest Products before its acquisition in December 2018.

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