Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 20, 2017


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

USW Lauds Bipartisan Effort to Defeat New Hampshire “Right-to-Work”

On February 17, 2017, the United Steelworkers said that the union is gratified that House members in New Hampshire soundly defeated so-called “right-to-work” legislation in a 200-177 vote yesterday afternoon and further, decided to ban discussion of similar anti-union measures for the duration of its current, two-year session.

USW District 4 Director John Shinn praised the bipartisan effort to stop the bill, as a group of 32 Republican legislators resisted pressure from Gov. Chris Sununu and other top party officials in the GOP-controlled House to persuade them to vote in favor of the law, aimed at eroding workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively.

“We have argued for many years that the right for workers to organize and bargain collectively is not a Republican or Democrat issue,” Shinn said. “It is a right protected by federal law for individuals who seek fair wages, safer working conditions and benefits like quality, affordable, health care to stand together and negotiate for them with their employers.”

View the press release, here.

USW Local 175 – Port Townsend Paper – Port Townsend, WA – Local Ratified Contract

On February 7, 2017, a new contract was overwhelmingly ratified by the local. The contract provides for cash payments in exchange for a phase-out of provisions related to early retirement coverage and some premium pay. The contract also includes a total of 7.5% in wage increases over the life of the agreement.  The membership will receive cash payments in exchange for a phase-out of provisions. Congratulations to the local membership!

A Trade War with Mexico would put Maine Paper Jobs at Risk

The largest trade imbalance in Maine tips in the state’s favor by way of exports of pulp and paper products, according to trade statistics for 2016. Last year, about $10.8 million in pulp and paper products left Maine for Mexico, which made up the fifth-largest market for the state’s paper exports, behind Canada, Belgium, China and Australia. President Donald Trump’s administration floated a proposal to put a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports as one way to make Mexico pay for a wall along the southern border of the United States.

Such a move could raise prices for a range of consumer goods in Maine and New England, from semi-truck tractors to aluminum roofing and siding. Maine imports more from Mexico than it exports to the country. Those that came directly to Maine from Mexico amounted to about $66 million last year, through November. Meanwhile, Maine sent about $42 million in goods directly to Mexico, making for a trade deficit of about $24 million.

For more information, click here.


Historic Workplace & Environmental H&S Films

A YouTube channel has posted historic films and film clips on workplace environmental health and safety that can be helpful in understanding today’s issues. These are primarily from government and industrial films created before 2000 and most are in the public domain. The films and clips can be excellent resources for teachers and for health and safety trainers.

Click to view historical health and safety videos.

Industry Update

Tissue: Two new PMs on schedule for startup in March in US South by Resolute, Orchids – USW Locals 899 & 9-790 – Resolute Forest Products – Calhoun, TN

 Two new tissue paper machines – in projects totaling $420 million – are set for startup in March with a combined 100,000 tons/yr of capacity. Both units aim at making paper for premium private-label products and are based in the US South.

Resolute Forest Products' 66,000 tons/yr Advantage-NTT machine is to produce consumer bathroom tissue and towels at the company's Calhoun, TN, pulp and paper mill. The PM is to start up around mid-March. In a $270 million project, Resolute started a converting line in August and was to have a second line operating about two weeks ago at the Calhoun complex.

Orchids Paper plans to start about a 35,000 tons/yr NTT machine in Barnwell, SC, which is about 340 miles southeast of Calhoun. Orchids also started up two converting lines last year in a 300,000 ft2 facility at Barnwell. Orchids' project cost is $150 million and the company also is focused on making private-label tissue. The Orchids PM is to start up in late-March.

USW Local 4-9 – Sappi Fine Paper – Skowhegan, ME (Somerset Mill)

Sappiannounced that they are moving forward with a $165 million capital project to expand the Somerset mill’s production capabilities and capacity.  The company will be converting Paper Machine No. 1 to produce both coated graphics paper and paper packing products. This will allow Sappi to take better advantage of the growing packing market while allowing us to continue to serve our graphics paper customers. The project is expected to be completed in early 2018.

Mondi Group CEO to Retire in February 2018

David Hathorn, current CEO of Mondi Group, will retire in February 2018 and be succeeded by Peter Oswald, now an Executive Director and CEO of the Europe and International Division of Mondi. David has served as CEO since 2000.

Peter has over 25 years’ experience in the packaging and paper sector with knowledge of operations and experience of the acquisition, disposal, restructuring, turnaround and organic growth of businesses. He began his career with Deutsche Bank and automotive company KTM. He joined the Frantschach Group in 1992 as the head of internal audit, later becoming corporate controller.

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Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Wayne Ranick at 412-562-2444

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

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