Monday Morning Minute: Feb. 7, 2022

INCIDENT ALERT

USW Local 1192 – Georgia-Pacific – Foley, Fla.

On February 1, a member of USW Local 1192, representing Georgia-Pacific in Foley, Fla., was seriously injured while working in the digesting-area of the cellulose mill. The member stepped on a u-drain that was covered with soft material; one leg fell 4 feet into the drain and, as he was attempting to climb out, the other leg went in as well, exposing him to black liquor and steam.

The member was taken to the burn unit of a local hospital. The Local is being assisted by USW Health, Safety and Environment Department staffer Trish Creech.

Union Work

All American Clothing Company and USA-Made Boxes

If each American spent just $64 on an American-made piece of clothing, it would generate over 200,000 new jobs, according to family-owned clothing brand, All American Clothing Company. The company’s mission is to support USA families and jobs by producing high-quality clothing in the USA, providing jobs and a tax base that supports our communities.

We tend to call attention to the impact on surrounding communities when a paper machine or entire manufacturing facility shuts down. In those cases, six to seven jobs in related industries per one paperworker job are also impacted. It is refreshing to read about a company that proactively works to source all of its components in the United States and positively highlights the relationship that good-paying manufacturing jobs have on their communities. All American Clothing states that adding one job in customer service or in the warehouse, for example, adds multiple jobs throughout the economy.

All American Clothing even sources its shipping boxes from the U.S., and chances are good that those boxes are made by USW-members across the country. Click the following link to learn more about the company’s initiatives: https://youtu.be/cSVK3uhUbBk.

Safety

Protecting Workers and Communities from Toxic Releases, Explosions and Fires Using EPA’s Risk Management Plan Rule (RMP)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Plan rule (RMP) is an important safeguard to help unions prevent chemical disasters at our nation’s 12,000 chemical plants, oil refineries, paper mills, food storage facilities, and water and waste treatment operations. The rule requires management to evaluate process safety hazards and estimate potential “worst case scenario” risks to nearby communities. RMP also requires worker and union participation in rule implementation, including access to hazard information. And it allows employee reps to accompany EPA inspectors during their inspections.

On Friday, February 11, the New Jersey Work Environment Council is hosting a free virtual workshop from 12:00 p.m. eastern to 1:30 p.m. eastern. The workshop is intended primarily for union representatives with members at industrial facilities covered by the RMP rule, like paper mills. Key topics include addressing bigger floods and extreme weather dangers, workers’ right to know, training, and participation, and more

To register for the FREE workshop, go to the following link: https://njwec.salsalabs.org/rmpprogram/index.html.

Industry Update

2021 4th Quarter Containerboard Mill and Box Statistics have been Released

Fourth quarter 2021 containerboard data have been released, and two takeaways are that 2021 saw record output, but production rates slowed at the end of the year. According to Risi analysts, production was up sequentially for the first time since the Great Recession; Linerboard and corrugating medium production grew to a record 40.07 million tons in 2021, which is 2 million tons more than production in 2020.

While 4th quarter production figures increased by 2.6% compared to the 4th quarter of 2020, the rate between the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021 decreased 1.6%. Analysts believe that this decline is at least partially attributable to International Paper’s Prattville mill stock tank failure, which occurred on November 6 and shut down both paper machines for several weeks.

The operating rate in 4Q21 declined 1.1% compared to 3Q21, moving from 95.6% to 94.5%, while inventories increased markedly throughout the year; Inventory levels are up 43.5% in December compared to March and April 2021. Analysts say that mill inventories are at a record level and exacerbated by the increase in market capacity, ongoing supply chain issues and labor shortages due to the Omicron variant.

By the end of January, International Paper, WestRock and Packaging Corporation of America – the top three containerboard producers, by capacity in North America – announced price increases to go in effect March 1. Cascades Containerboard unprecedently announced two price increases in eight days on its containerboard products.

In 2022, we are watching the impact of the millions of tons of additional containerboard capacity coming online over the next two years. Domtar’s Kingsport, Tenn., mill, represented by USW Local 12943, is beginning to bring paper machine employees back to the mill to prepare for its restart. The mill has been undergoing a conversion from uncoated freesheet to containerboard and expects to start the machine up by the end of this year, bringing nearly 600,000 tons of new capacity into the market.

Essity has Acquired Legacy Converting Company

Essity announced last week that it has acquired Legacy Converting, Inc for approximately $40 million. Legacy Converting was founded in 2004 and manufactures roll and folded wipes in pop-up canisters, bucket and resealable packs under the Everwipe brand. Based in New Jersey, Legacy Converting services customers in the public interest, commercial and health care markets.

Essity manufactures and sells workplace hygiene products under the Tork brand. According to a press release from Essity, the acquisition will strengthen its Tork product portfolio and provide significant benefits to North American customers.

The USW Essity Council is comprised of approximately 1,300 members across seven sites. Last year, the council welcomed 72 new members after workers at the company’s Greenwich, N.Y., converting site overwhelmingly voted to join the USW.

Greif Appointed New President and CEO

Greif announced last week that the company appointed Ole Rosgaard to the role of president and CEO. He succeeds Pete Watson who will become executive chairman of the company’s board of directors. The company, additionally, announced other executive leadership team changes that became effective February 1.

Most recently, Rosgaard served as Greif’s COO. Before joining Greif, Rosgaard was group managing director for one of the largest global roofing manufacturers, and prior to that, he served as managing director in one of the largest international window company groups. In addition to holding leadership positions within Greif, he also has experience in leading Family- and Private Equity-owned manufacturing businesses.

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