Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 4, 2017


Serious Incident Alert

USW Local 941 – Georgia-Pacific – Brewton, AL

On October 29, 2017, a member of USW Local 941 suffered serious burns to both legs and one hand. The member was carrying a step ladder when he inadvertently stepped into an unguarded U-drain with approximately two-feet of hot water and condensate. The basement area of the #2 Paper Machine has poor lighting and housekeeping. A rebuild was taking place and the crew was handling an upset condition. The auto-valve was working incorrectly which caused the chest to overflow. The member was attempting to use a step ladder to access a manual valve.  On the day of the incident, fog had increased in the basement by the cooler temperatures making it even harder to see the unguarded U-drain. USW Health, Safety and Environment Staff, Steve Sallman, is assisting the local with the investigation. Emergency response Team Member, Joe Smith, is assisting the family.


Union Work – Collective Bargaining, Organizing, Arbitration, Worker Rights, Community Work, Political Work, Labor History

IndustriALL Global Pulp and Paper Conference

IndustriALL held its World Conference for Pulp and Paper Industries November 28th – 30th in Hungary’s capital city of Budapest. Over 120 delegates from around 30 affiliated national unions in 23 countries from each continent of the world were present. Attending from the USW were International Vice President Jon Geenen; District 2 Director Michael Bolton; District 4 Director John Shinn; Kimberly-Clark Local 2-482 President, David Breckheimer; Graphic Packaging Local 2-224 Financial Secretary, Deb Carpentier; SAPPI Local 4-9 Financial Secretary, Shawn Bean; and International Paper Local 4-5 Financial Secretary, Jerry “Butch” Mosier. A photo of the Workers Uniting delegation (USW and UNITE attendees from the 

UK) is below. Leeann Foster, Assistant to the President, chaired the Conference and was reelected to continue as of Co-Chair of the IndustriALL Global Union Pulp and Paper Sector.

An action plan on future work in the pulp and paper sector was formed to address challenges in the industry such as: building union power, confronting global capital, defend workers’ rights, fight precarious work, and create sustainable industrial employment.  The Conference resolved to place a particular focus on safety in the industry as a part of its ongoing work.



Domtar Union Council Convenes Working Safety Committee with Company

The Domtar Council met November 15 and spent the morning on council business and the afternoon preparing for their Working Safety Committee meeting with the Company on the next day. The Working Safety Committee includes one union leader from each location, Leeann Foster, the Domtar Council Chair and Steve Sallman from the USW Health Safety and Environment Department and Company Safety, Labor and Operations leadership. The purpose of the meeting is to continue and build upon the traction of the annual USW Domtar Safety Conference that is held annually each Spring.

The Working Safety Committee meeting included bringing the focus back to worker knowledge as a key component to building safety processes and an in-depth review of the green training green issue (new employees training new employees) that arisen across the  mill system with older workers retiring and many new workers entering the mills.

Photos from the council meeting and safety committee meeting:



Industry Update

USW Locals 364 & 654-01 – Graphic Packaging – West Monroe, LA – Louisiana Solar Farm Will Recycle Graphic Packaging Mill Groundwater

A solar farm being constructed in West Monroe, LA will become the largest publicly owned solar farm in the state. The solar farm will supply power to a recycling facility that will process groundwater from the Graphic Packaging mill in West Monroe. The solar farm is expected to begin operating by February.

USW Locals 1877, 1879 & 9-674 – WestRock – Florence, SC – WestRock to Install New Liner PM at Florence Mill

WestRock will invest about $410 million at its containerboard mill in Florence, SC in the form of a state-of-the-art 330 wide kraft linerboard machine. The investment will be split up over the next three years to about $100 million in 2018, $230 million in 2019 and $80 million in 2020. Additionally, the Company will invest about $60 million over the next five years to support the new machine and other mill projects.

Capacity at the mill should increase by 30-50k tons to about 710k tons/year when it’s complete.  3 narrow-width machines, originally built in 1963, 1974, and 1981 will be closed when the new machine starts up in the first half of 2020. The new machine will be the largest ever installed in North America making the Florence mill a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, sustaining good manufacturing jobs and promoting the long-term success of the operation.

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