Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 21, 2020

The USW Paper Sector Leadership wishes you all a safe and happy holiday season!!

The Monday Morning Minute will resume again in the near year on January 4th

Union Work

Green Bay Packaging Council Held Virtual Council Meeting

USW Locals 264, 1216, 1915, 895, 597, 1096, 1319, 1321, 741, 2-1019, 1567, 13-1965, 9227 & 2-631 – Green Bay Packaging – Coon Rapids, Minn.; Franklin Park, Ill.; Fremont, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Green Bay, Wis.; Hunt Valley, Maryland; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Lebanon, Ohio; Morrilton, Ark.; Tulsa, Okla. & Wausau, Wis.

On December 17, local union leaders and staff from the Green Bay Packaging Council met virtually to discuss how COVID-19 issues are being handled at each site, potential organizing targets, upcoming bargains and other local issues. The council also committed to capitalize on the interactive opportunities that virtual formats, like Zoom, allow by holding more frequent, regular meetings.

Indictments in International Trade Fraud Scheme in Tire Sector

On December 15, the Department of Justice announced that eight individuals were criminally indicted relating to international trade fraud violations in the tire sector. The individuals were found to have conspired to avoid millions of dollars’ worth of antidumping duties on imports of light truck tires and off-the-road tires from China. The value of the tires exceeded $20.9 million and resulted in the deprivation to the United States of about $6.5 million in import duties. The civil suit is seeking $21 million in penalties.

According to a report by the Department of Justice, the complaint alleges that defendants conspired to obtain falsified invoices and entry records of Chinese tire companies that were subject to a lower duty rate than the actual manufacturers of the tires. The duties that were being evaded were originally issued as part of a trade case brought by the USW.

While it’s not a situation that took place within the USW paper sector, we are very familiar with illegal dumping of paper products, whether it’s certain tissue products from China, or uncoated free sheet in rolls from Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Portugal, and other attempts to cheat global markets. Illegally importing and dumping goods are ways for other countries to systematically weaken their American competitors, and the USW is continually fighting to counteract these actions across all sectors that we represent and protect our jobs. The good news in this case is that the existing orders on tires from China are being aggressively enforced.

Safety

USW Health Care Worker Testifies about COVID-19 Impact

The U.S. House of Representatives Means and Ways Committee held a listening session on December 9 with workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Several union members, including Briita Noyes, a registered nurse at a long-term care facility in Minnesota and USW steward, shared their struggles and concerns dealing with this unprecedented health crisis.

Noyes said: “When the pandemic hit, it felt like we were waiting for a storm. As PPE shortages became a reality, our facility began rationing masks and our staff were forced to wear a single surgical mask for the entire week.” She also spoke on how management downplayed staff concerns about contracting and spreading the virus, hurting workers who were already strained before the pandemic hit.

The listening session came as COVID-19 cases surge across the country, stressing hospital capacity and putting health care workers at greater risk. Noyes said that one action that could make a big difference for workers is for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enact a safety standard that workplaces would be required to follow during the pandemic.

Industry Update

Reading is on the Rise During the Late Stages of the Pandemic

According to a December 10 article from Good E-Reader, people are reading more books during the pandemic all over the world and in major markets in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.

All retailers are up by an average of 25% and libraries are up by over 130%. Experts attribute the increase to pent-up demand, people needing to fill leisure time in different ways, and retailers providing curbside delivery.

In the United States, year-to-date trade sales were up 7.8% as compared to the same period last year, coming in at $5.9 billion. Hardback revenues were $2.1 billion, up 9.3%; paperbacks were $1.9 billion, up 3.9%; mass market was $167.9 million, a decline of 0.6%, and board books were $127.9 million, up 18.2% as compared to the first nine months of 2019.

2021 promises more of the same, with some big titles due to be released after being held back this fall on account of the pandemic and the U.S. election.  All of this is good news for our USW mills that manufacture book paper.

Cascades Tissue Closes Tissue Mill and Converting Sites in Pittston and Ransom, Pa.

USW Local 1448 – Cascades Tissue – Pittston & Ransom, Pa. – On December 8, Cascades Tissue Group began shutting its tissue production at the mill in Ransom, Pa., and converting operations in Pittston, Pa.

The company attributed the closure to aging equipment, high logistics costs, and investments at other production and converting units. While the away-from-home tissue market was not directly faulted, we have seen retail tissue, towels and napkin consumption impacted with fewer people attending events outside the home, or going to offices to work, traveling, etc. The USW has been involved in effects bargaining during the closure.

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 ldonovan@usw.org, 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