Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 18, 2021

Union Work

Locals Play Integral Role in International Paper Foundation Awarding Nearly $160,000 in Grants to Area Community Organizations Near Riverdale and Vicksburg Mills in 2020

USW Locals 1441, 1444, 9-618 & 1080 – International Paper – Selma, Ala. (Riverdale Mill) & Vicksburg, Miss.

Last year, the International Paper Foundation awarded just under $90,000 in grants to 23 Selma, Alabama-area schools and non-profit organizations, and $70,000 in grants to 15 Vicksburg, Mississippi-area non-profits. The grant awards are part of the company’s annual giving effort and signify its commitment to “education, hunger, health and wellness, disaster relief and initiatives that improve our planet.” Many of the organizations that received grant money included schools and school libraries, but also included a local foodbank and emergency management program.

Local Union 1444 President Chris Smith said: “I am very proud of my local and my mill…each year, it is a good, cooperative initiative between salaried and hourly folks and always a 50/50 effort of goodwill. Employees get to suggest organizations that we know or have worked with and, once they meet certain criteria, the applications for those organizations get put into a binder that we then get to consider. We ended up with a several-inches-thick binder this year, and we reviewed each and every organization.”

After applications are reviewed, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees confirm and ratify the grants. Many of the organizations to receive awards noted the participation of Riverdale Mill employees who regularly volunteer with the agencies.

From Two Sides North America – “Paper Packaging – The Natural Choice” Facts Booklet on Sustainability of Paper-Based Packaging

The paper-based packaging industry has long been committed to continuous environmental performance improvement and to transparently convey the environmental impacts of its operations and products. With growing consumer, business and political interest in packaging and its role in the transition to a more sustainable, circular economy, the opportunities to communicate the inherently sustainable benefits of paper-based packaging with straightforward, credible and relatable information are greater than ever before.

Two Sides North America released a new packaging facts booklet sharing the sustainability story of paper-based packaging. “Paper Packaging – The Natural Choice” provides seven powerful reasons why paper-based packaging is the natural choice for brands, retailers and consumers, and offers a wide range of credible third-party sources. The booklet covers how paper-based packaging provides environmental and social benefits, is recycled more than any other packaging material, protects more resources than it uses, etc.

By fostering a better understanding of the industry’s environmental credentials, we can help to ensure that paper products remain an essential part of everyday life. Click here to view the booklet:


Follow-Up to Safety Incident Alert

USW Local 895 – WestRock – Mesquite, Texas – The following is an update to the incident alert we reported in last week’s issue of the Monday Morning Minute that occurred at the WestRock box shop located in Mesquite, Texas: The USW member involved suffered an amputation when his left hand was pulled into an unguarded point of operation.

When the incident occurred, the operator had been working a 12-hour shift – 6pm to 6am – when he noticed some quality issues and that the paper needed to be aligned. Typically, an operator and an assistant are both assigned to the machine. Because an assistant had been let go and not replaced, the first shift assistant had been staying late and the third shift assistant coming in early; therefore, there was a change in the assistant at 2am.

In this incident, the operator realized, shortly after 2am, that the assistant needed help with quality checking. Holding a box in his left hand, he proceeded to show the assistant that the paper needed to be adjusted. He interrupted the pre-feeder, following the proper procedure to do so. In the process, he set the box on the machine that was still running. The machine pulled the box into the machine as well as his hand.

The hazard had been identified but, unfortunately, the work order was not prioritized and the guard was not present.

Industry Update

Georgia-Pacific to Close Lehigh Valley (Easton, Pa.) Facility

USW Local 412 – Dixie Consumer Products – Easton, Pa. – Georgia-Pacific announced that it will be closing its Dixie Cup manufacturing facility located in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania by the end of 2021. At the same time, the company is expanding manufacturing capacity at its Dixie facility in Lexington, Ky., with the intention of creating a single-shop cup making operation.

The USW site in Easton will continue to operate for several months as equipment is moved to the Lexington plant. A little more than 160 USW members will be impacted by the closure and the union will be involved in effects bargaining.

USW December Manufacturing Update

USW Collective Bargaining, Research and Benefits staff put together a monthly report of the state of manufacturing and commodities tracked among the industries that the USW represents.

A few highlights from the most recent December 2020 issue include:

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