Monday Morning Minute: August 3, 2020

Union Work

One-in-a-Million and 2021 Jefferson Awards

Multiplying Good (previously known as the Jefferson Awards Foundation) debuted a new service award in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 1 and August 31, they will recognize one million individuals and organizations with a One in a Million Award. The award criteria: any good act done to support the community during the campaign time frame.

So, all essential workers, individuals stepping up in their communities and groups of people coming together to get each other through this hard time are ALL eligible. Every action counts. Each will be recognized.

Nominate a nurse just for showing up to work or a paper worker for keeping us stocked on that all-important toilet paper; nominate your safety committee for its leadership during COVID; nominate your Women Of Steel committee for getting help and resources to people in need. And remember, a nomination for the One in a Million Award will automatically count for the 2021 USW Cares Jefferson Awards.

Steelworkers are showing incredible acts of kindness and courage during this very scary and unpredictable time, and we want to honor all of those who are helping in any way they can. Click the link to make a nomnation:

New DOL Rule Disadvantages Many Americans by Making Electronic Delivery the Default for Retirement and Pension Plan Information

On July 27, the Department of Labor (DOL) put a new rule into effect that allows employee benefit plan administrators, like PIUMPF, or employer-sponsored benefit plans to use an electronic “notice-and access” disclosure system as the default method of communication. The new rule makes it much more difficult for millions of Americans who currently receive critical, paper-based information about their 401k, pension and retirement plans to access this information This includes information called for under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), including quarterly benefits statements, plan summaries and plan changes.

This new rule puts many at a disadvantage, particularly senior citizens, low-income families, people with disabilities and those living in rural or other areas with little or no access to the Internet. Also, it is a job-killer for the paper industry; many USW-represented companies produce the type of paper that goes into these reports.

Note that plan participants can choose to opt out of electronic delivery and request paper statements by contacting their employer or retirement plan administrator directly.


COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Passed by State of Virginia

A few weeks ago we reported that the State of Virginia would officially become the first to pass an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for COVID-19 once the rules were published in a newspaper of general circulation. To follow up and give additional details, the temporary standard passed on July 27 with help from comments submitted by the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department.

Some of those comments reference federal OSHA standards around process safety management and the need for employers to consult employees and their representatives when developing process hazards analyses. Other comments focused on recommending mandatory employer requirements, like screening employees at work, using a temporary symptom-based strategy when tests are not widely available, and involving employees and their representatives in reviewing and changing the plan.

The USW submitted more comments, which helped to improve the standard before it went to a vote. The union successfully got employees and their representatives involved. The final, published ETS is here for your review.

Recall Notice – Petzl Low-Stretch Kernmantle Ropes

Two critical defects were discovered on Petzl's low-stretch kernmantle ropes commonly used in fall protection devices. After the manufacturer conducted an investigation and risk analysis, it determined that the defects occurred on a rope-cutting machine, the defects had common root causes, the risk did not exist prior to March 2018, and only the ropes cut on this machine were at risk of these defects. No accidents or injuries are known, but the seriousness of potential bodily harm is such that a rigorous inspection of each potentially affected rope is mandatory.

Immediate corrective actions were taken to eliminate this risk on the production line. The rest of the stock is in the process of being inspected, and no further defect has yet been found. As a precaution, Petzl asks that you immediately inspect each of the following low-stretch kernmantel ropes listed that have a serial number between 18 C 0000000 000 and 20 H 0000000 000: AXIS 11 mm; ASAP'AXIS 11 mm; PARALLEL 10.5 mm; VECTOR 12.5 mm; RAY 12 mm; SEGMENT 8 mm; CLUB 200 10 mm; PUSH 200 9 mm; TOP 9.8 mm; LEAD 9.8 mm; KIT including these ropes.

The inspection must be carried out by hand, without gloves, along the entire length of the rope and in accordance with the operating procedure contained in the following link:

If you find any defect, please quarantine your rope immediately and contact Petzl:

Industry Update

Sappi Sets New Sustainability Targets

USW Locals 304, 1069, 11-63 & 4-9 – Sappi – Allentown, Pa.; Westbrook, Maine; Cloquet, Minn,; & Skowhegan, Maine (Somerset Mill) – High on Sappi’s priority list are a continued commitment to productively engage in the circular economy through material waste reduction, product design for end of life and carbon mitigation strategies. The company recently set ambitious new sustainability targets aligned with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, and committed to the science-based targets initiative to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. To do this, the company is promoting the role that the forest products industry can play in carbon sequestration strategies in North America and globally.

Sappi is looking into the chemistry of trees and exploring alternative uses for wood fiber by developing innovative new processes and biomaterials that extract more value from each tree. With more products created from trees, more jobs result as well. If they are sustainable products, they help the economy and the climate, and will be around for many years.      

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