Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 27, 2020

INCIDENT ALERT

Incident Alert – USW Local 1703 – Georgia-Pacific – Cedar Springs, Georgia

On December 12, 2019, a member of Local 1703 at Georgia-Pacific’s mill in Cedar Springs, Ga., was seriously injured when he was sprayed with black liquor. The complete details are unknown at this time, but preliminary information is that the worker replaced the north liquor gun on the RBI barrel after it had been spraying black liquor.

When the liquor valve was opened to the boiler, the gun plugged. The gun was removed from the boiler and the employees assisting tried to steam out the gun while it was on the floor. They opened the drain and observed liquor and steam spitting out of the drain, which stopped within a few minutes. One person stood on the liquor hose to stabilize it and another person used a scaling rod to detach the cam lock between the hose and liquor gun. When the cam lock came loose, pressure relieved from the connection and the hose, with a 90-degree elbow, twisted with the pressure and sprayed black liquor upward and under the worker’s face shield.

The member was taken to the burn unit at a hospital in Atlanta, Ga. USW Health, Safety and Environment staffer, Trish Creech, is assisting the local with the investigation.

Union Work

Essity Vacation Win for New Hires

Early this year, the Essity Council achieved a big win on vacation allotment for new hires. Probationary employees hired between January 1and July 1will now be eligible for one week of vacation in their year of hire and two weeks in the year following their initial employment. Those hired after July 1 will become eligible for a full two weeks in the year following their initial employment. Previously, new employees had to have worked for one year before becoming eligible for one week of vacation. Front-loading earned vacation time is part of an effort to make employment with the company more attractive to new hires.

USW Local 1535 – Essity – Barton, Ala. – Essity Barton Women of Steel Win Ameristar Engagement Award

The Essity Barton mill’s Women of Steel Committee won an award for its work with FAME Ranch Partnership – an agency that assists girls ages 12-19 who have been abused or abandoned. Their goal was to engage with the community and, among other aspects of the project, allow the young ladies to tour the Barton mill and see first-hand the potential for career opportunities in manufacturing.

The girls left with high-vis vests and bump caps as reminders of career opportunities in manufacturing. A photo of the Women of Steel Committee and participants from the FAME program can be seen below.

Georgia-Pacific Mills Council Meeting

The Georgia Pacific mill locals met in Atlanta on January 23 and 24 to begin discussion around bargaining a new master agreement later this year. Nearly 70 local leaders and staff gathered from 19 locals to review the bargaining history with Georgia-Pacific and the paper sector, met with corporate leadership around new company-wide initiatives, and discussed the items that would most likely come up during master bargaining. USW Strategic Campaigns staff also led the participants through exercises studying each site’s strengths and weaknesses, and helped the locals create a campaign plan.  A photo of the group can be seen below.

Safety

OSHA has Adjusted Penalty Amounts for 2020 to Reflect Inflation

OSHA adjusted the maximum penalty amounts for serious posting requirement violations to $13,494 per violation. Failure-to-abate violations have increased to $13,494 per day beyond the abatement date, and willful or repeated violations to $134,937 each. The cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2020, based on the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers for the month of October 2019, is 1.01764.

OSHA Injury Reporting

A reminder that employers covered by OSHA’s record-keeping rule must post a summary of the prior year’s work-related injuries and illnesses in a noticeable place from February 1st to April 30th. Most employers with more than 10 employees must keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses each year (except for those in certain low-risk industries). Minor injuries that are treated only by first aid do not need to be recorded. This information helps employers, workers and OSHA evaluate the safety of a workplace, understand industry hazards, and implement worker protections to reduce and eliminate hazards -preventing future workplace injuries and illnesses.

There are a few resources you can use to make sure you not only report these injuries and illnesses on time, but that you do so correctly. Copy and paste the following link into your browser to view OSHA’s record-keeping forms along with additional instructions: https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms.html.

Industry Update

USW Local 2-21 – Verso – Escanaba, Mich. – Verso Mill in Escanaba Celebrates 100 Years of Papermaking

On January 17, the Verso Paper mill in Escanaba, Mich., celebrated the milestone of making paper for 100 years. The mill’s No. 1 paper machine officially started producing newsprint on January 17, 1920, and the number 2 paper machine began later that year in June.About 100 people worked on the machines, and roughly 300 tons of newsprint was produced at the mill daily.

The mill began as a hydroelectric generation plant before the Escanaba Paper Company formed and took it over. The Mead Corporation bought the mill in 1942, and five years later, the company expanded the number 1 paper machine with the installation of two coaters, supercalenders and rewinders, allowing the mill to make coated printing papers.

Today, the mill employs roughly 890 people and is capable of producing about 730,000 tons of paper per year. It makes graphic and specialty paper, which is used in products such as magazines, books, direct mail and labels.

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 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