Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 17, 2020

Union Work

Reminder – USW Your Union Your Voice Survey

Whether we like it or not, workplace health and safety, wage and overtime regulations, retirement security, and our right to organize and bargain collectively are all tied to local, state, and federal laws and the people making them.

Remember to take the online survey letting us know what political issues are most important to you: Also on the site is a list of town halls on these same issues that are being held this month and next across the union.  We encourage you to attend and bring a fellow member with you.

USW International President Tom Conway says: “This is your union, and your voice matters. That's why we're embarking on an effort this year to hear from as many of you as possible. This is very important to me and our entire executive board. It's especially important as we head into an election that impacts the work we do as a union: bargaining and enforcing good contracts to secure fair wages, dependable benefits and safe working conditions.”

Take a minute to take the survey and check out the town halls near you and make sure the USW paper sector is well-represented in the survey and the meetings.

New Webpage for the USW Paper Sector

The USW debuted a newly formatted webpage for the paper sector. You will find posted issues of the Monday Morning Minutes, hazard alerts and other reports for the sector, as well as information and bargaining updates on active council campaigns. Copy and paste the following link into your browser to check it out:

WestRock’s European Works Council Special Negotiating Body Held its First Meeting

On February 4-5, the WestRock European Works Council (EWC) held its first meeting for the special negotiating body to discuss bargaining a new formal agreement with the company. The EWC consists of representatives from European unions that represent workers at WestRock sites in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom. In 2018, the USW formalized a WestRock Global Union Alliance of all unions with representation at WestRock across the globe after WestRock purchased the large European packaging company, Multi-Packaging Solutions. This Global Alliance is facilitated by the two global union federations the USW paper sector affiliates with: IndustriALL and UNI Global Union.

A Reminder of the Continued Need for Paper in the Digital Age (and a little comic relief) –


OSHA Fatality Investigation

A construction worker at a structural steel company died from injuries sustained after falling 45-feet while connecting steel beams for a new three-story commercial building. The fatality occurred last July.  OSHA’s investigation will, among other things, look to see if the worker’s self-retracting lifeline failed.

Retractable lifelines are used in many industries, including the paper sector. Although we don’t know all the details of the incident, including the manufacturer and model of the personal fall arrest equipment mentioned in the media link, we have reported in Monday Morning Minute several recall notices over the past year for defective personal fall arrest equipment.

Please work with your union safety and health committee representatives and the manufacturers of your personal fall arrest equipment to see if your equipment is on a recall list.  All safety equipment and devices are to be inspected, maintained and immediately removed from service when found to be unsafe.

Industry Update

Huhtamaki Moving Towards

USW Locals 449, 4-54, 645, & 819 – Huhtamaki – Waterville, Maine, Fulton, N.Y., Hammond, Ind., & Sacramento, Calif. – To highlight another example of sustainability in the paper sector, food packaging producer, Huhtamaki, is increasing its use of renewable materials with the goal of having 100% of the wood fiber in its products coming from recycled or certified sustainable sources. In 2018, the company reached the 98% level. Renewable fiber already makes up 70% of Huhtamaki’s entire portfolio of products.

Huhtamaki also sources recycled fibers from manufacturing or post-consumer recycled materials. The company uses residual clippings from its own paper cup manufacturing to make new fiber plates. From post-consumer recycled paper, Huhtamaki produces egg cartons and trays as well as cup carriers and wine bottle protectors.

Pixelle to become Largest US Specialty Paper Producer after it Closes Acquisition of Verso Mills in Jay, Maine, and Stevens Point, Wis.

USW Local 988, 731, 1303, & 2-116 – Pixelle Specialty Solutions – Chillicothe, Ohio, Spring Grove, Pa., & Stevens Point, Wis. – On February 11, Pixelle Specialty Solutions announced that it had closed on its purchase of the Verso mills in Jay, Maine, and Stevens Point, Wis. The acquisitions make Pixelle the largest specialty paper producer in North America. The USW now represents over 1,200 members across three mills in the Pixelle Council.

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