Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 20, 2020

Union Work

Clearwater Lewiston Ratification

USW Locals 608 & 712 – Clearwater Paper – Lewiston, Idaho – On January 8, over 850 members of Locals 608 and 712 ratified a new agreement with Clearwater Paper after negotiations stalled for two and a half years. Negotiations had stalled over healthcare. 

Mark Rhodes, Local Union 712 president said that, “it was a long and tedious 2.5 years, but it was only by sticking together that we got the agreement we got today.”

When asked about some of the tactics that the locals used to maintain their solidarity over those long 2.5 years, Mark said: “We had a great Communications Action Team (CAT). We distributed car window flyers saying ‘Fair Contract Now,’ and our members did not hold back voicing their unhappiness to their supervisors.”

The two locals have a combined membership of 876 workers. They turned out 86 percent of the membership to vote down by a 99 percent margin the company’s last, best and final offer earlier this year. After the locals voted down the offer in June, they hosted a rally and had 500 members attend, which is over half of the membership.

While the workers secured benefit stability back to the mill, the real win is the strength and solidarity that Locals 608 and 712 managed to sustain over 2.5 year in a right-to-work (for less) state, no less.

Below is a photo from one of the well-attended contract presentation meetings.

New Local Agreement Ratified

USW Local 1567 – Green Bay Packaging – Lebanon, Ohio – Local 1567 ratified a new agreement with Green Bay Packaging in Lebanon, Ohio, covering about 90 members. According to Staff Representative Carl Vineyard, the highlights include new member orientation; new member training; increases to shift differential, wages, life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and the new hire rate. The local obtained union-only time during a new employee’s orientation day and hands-on work with a one-to-one trainer in the first week of employment. Congratulations to the local and everyone involved!

Did You Know?

From the Paper and Packaging Board

Nearly 80 percent of consumers say paper is still important in their lives – About 75 percent report better retention/concentration when taking notes by hand and reading printed books, and a majority enjoy print magazines, catalogs and direct mail.

In learning:

In the office or at home:


Hazard Alert

Fatal Accident at a USW Non-Paper Sector Facility – Worker on Foot Struck by a Forklift – On a night shift in a poorly lit area, a worker on foot was working with a forklift operator to verify materials to be moved in a storage yard when he was struck and killed by the forklift with an enclosed cab, moving in reverse. The deceased worker was not noticed by the forklift operator until all moves in the area were completed. The forklift was equipped with a back-up alarm and flashing beacon, but they were defective. These items were documented on multiple daily check sheets, but not fixed. Specialized training was not provided for the type of forklift involved. Neither of the workers was trained on the forklift’s inherent blind spots. Additionally, employees were not provided with hi-visibility clothing.

While this incident was not at a paper plant, forklifts are present in almost all facilities in the sector, and the risk is present.

Click here to view recommendations to prevent a recurrence:

“Super Blast” Air Horn Malfunction

A contractor was attempting to operate an air horn prior to making a lift when the air horn malfunctioned, causing fractures to the hand. The contractor walked to the trailer south of the incident to report the injury. After an evaluation from contractor safety personnel, the decision was made to take the contractor to the medical center for further evaluation.

Containment Actions:

Industry Update

USW December Manufacturing Update

USW Collective Bargaining, Research and Benefits staff put together a monthly report of the state of manufacturing among the industries that the USW represents. A few highlights from the most recent December 2019 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