Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 7, 2020

Union Work

USW “Solidarity Works” Podcast

Earlier this year, the USW debuted a podcast called “Solidarity Works” with the goal of having conversations with union leaders and members about the past, present and future of the labor movement and highlighting the work that we do. Currently, there are 17, roughly, 20-minute long episodes available covering subjects like COVID-19 impacts on mental health, mobilization of manufacturing during a crisis, veterans’ issues and how labor can help to create change, and more. The most recent episode discusses labor law and the Supreme Court, the history and impact of the Lochner Era, and what labor needs to do to fight back against legislative attacks on workers’ rights.

Subscribe to “Solidarity Works: on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or other services that you use. You can also listen to full episodes through the following link: https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/solidarity-works-podcast.

Participate in the United States Postal Service’s Annual Operation Santa Program

The tradition of putting ink on paper, sealing the envelope and dropping a letter to Santa in the mail is one of those very personal, tactile experiences that’s impossible to capture with an email. It’s also a very sustainable way to communicate with the North Pole’s most celebrated resident. According to the U.S. Postal Service, hundreds of thousands of letters addressed to Santa Claus arrive at post offices across the country each December. Santa’s helpers, through programs like the USPS’s 100-year-old Operation Santa program, respond to many of these letters, making holiday wishes come true for needy children.

You can participate in the Operation Santa Program by reading through letters mailed in by children and selecting the ones you want to respond to, shopping for and wrapping wanted gifts, and delivering the gifts to a participating post office. It’s a program that utilizes various types of paper that our members make, for a good cause. The deadline for gifts to be received is December 19. You can find more information at the following link: https://www.uspsoperationsanta.com/.

Safety

USW Hazard Alert – Unguarded Lathe Leads to Life-Altering Injuries

A USW machinist was working alone while attempting to remove rust from a shaft—2-inches in diameter and 74-inches in length. He placed the shaft in the 20” lathe to rotate the shaft while applying a piece of sandpaper to the shaft by hand to remove the surface rust. When the sandpaper was applied by hand to the rotating shaft, the member’s gloved left hand became caught in the rotating chuck, pulling his left hand and arm into the rotating equipment. His right hand and arm also became entangled in the rotating shaft as he attempted to free his left arm. Although he was working alone, two USW members in the building heard his cries for help and came to his assistance. When they arrived at the scene of the incident, both of the victim’s arms were wrapped around the shaft with his head and neck close to the shaft.

The machine’s electric motor was still running, but the shaft and chuck were no longer rotating due to possible belt slippage on the drive shaft. One of the responders quickly pushed an emergency stop button which stopped the electric motor. The member remained conscious and instructed the responders to put the lathe into “neutral.” The responders were then able to rotate the chuck and shaft to free the victim. Unfortunately, the USW has experienced many similar lathe incidents with employers across industries, including the paper sector.

Click here to view the entire Hazard Alert and for recommendations to prevent recurrence: https://www.usw.org/get-involved/hsande/resources/hazard-alerts/Hazard-Alert-Lathe-Incident-Final.pdf

Industry Update

International Paper to Spin Off Printing Papers Business

USW Locals 497 & 4-5 – International Paper – Ticonderoga, N.Y. – Last week, International Paper announced that it is pursuing the spinoff of its printing papers business into a global entity covering eight mills: Two in the U.S., which includes the USW-represented mill in Ticonderoga, N.Y., three in Brazil, two in Europe and one in Russia. The transaction will result in International Paper remaining a corrugated packaging and pulp company, while the new, standalone company, named SpinCo, will be publicly traded and focused on uncoated freesheet paper.

The spinoff is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2021, pending regulatory approvals. Nearly 500 USW members work at the paper mill in Ticonderoga and will be fully protected by the IP Master successorship provisions.

Atlas Holdings to Sell its Novipax Absorbent Pads Business

USW Local 1338 – Novipax – Paxinos, Pa.– Private equity company, Atlas Holdings, announced the sale of a portion of its portfolio company, Novipax, to ACON Investments – another private equity company based in Washington, DC. Novipax produces food-safe foam trays and absorbent pads made out of virgin fluff pulp, which keep meat, poultry, seafood and produce packages fresh. The sale only involves the absorbent pads business, which includes one USW-represented manufacturing facility located in Paxinos, Pa.

Atlas established Novipax in 2015 to acquire the North American foam trays and absorbent pads businesses of Sealed Air Corporation. ACON Investments owns companies that employ 34,000 people around the world in middle-market firms, and values environmental and social responsibilities.

Appvion Shutdown of #9 Coater Machine at Appleton Facility

USW Local 2-469 – Appvion – Appleton, Wis. – On December 4, Appvion shut its #9 coater at the Appleton converting site due to poor market conditions driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. While coated freesheet paper roll prices are anticipated to increase in January, the motivation is due to decreased capacity and demand not improving.

Since 2018, the coater machine at the Appleton facility has been utilized as the plant’s only carbonless coater. Some grades have shifted production to Appvion’s Roaring Spring, Pa, mill, which features a machine with built-in coating capabilities. According to Staff Representative Jason Wilcox, the Appleton site is losing 30 positions due to the shut, but no actual members because they are needed throughout the facility in other areas.

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