Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 3, 2022

Union Work

Passing of Brother Bill Schoedel

USW Local 12585 – Packaging Corporation of America – Filer City, Mich. – It is with a sad heart we inform you that Brother Bill Schoedel passed away on December 18, 2021. Bill was president of USW Local 12585 and served on the PCA Joint Safety Committee. He will be greatly missed. Please keep Bill's family and loved ones in your thoughts as they navigate this holiday season with the sudden loss of a beloved partner, brother, uncle and close friend.

Brother Bill’s obituary can be found at the following link:

Domtar Master Agreement Ratification

USW Locals 10-701, 319, 59, 266, 12943, 1356, 1423, 1261, 1329 & 13-1327 – Domtar – Johnsonburg, Pa.; Rothschild, Wis.; Nekoosa, Wis.; West Carrollton, Ohio; Kingsport, Tenn.; Plymouth, N.C.; Owensboro, Ky.; Hawesville, Ky.; Ashdown, Ark. 

On November 9, 2021, the Domtar Council ratified a new master agreement. In the end, the council achieved the best wage pattern in the industry and preserved its industry-leading health care plan with no changes; retirement was improved for all members, regardless of the plan that they participate in, and, importantly, successorship language was enhanced so that all provisions bargained in the master agreement and individual site agreements will be protected both through Domtar’s acquisition by Paper Excellence and the renewal bargaining process until 2026 and 2027 (depending on expiration).

A special thanks goes out to the Tellers Committee – Tim Brewer, Dan Cherry and Teddy White – for their work in counting and tallying all ballots received, and for ensuring transparency throughout the process.

International Paper Mills Council Meeting and Building Power – International Paper mill local leaders and staff met late last year in Pittsburgh to begin strategizing for the council’s next master agreement. Although the current master does not expire until next year, it is necessary that the work starts now in order to build a strong council with unified objectives going into bargaining.

At the meeting, the group reviewed issues at each site and participated in a council-wide Building Power training led by Strategic Campaigns staff. Common issues across the mill system include problems with training and staffing, excessive overtime, and the inability to attract and retain new hires.

The group put together a campaign timeline and calendar to organize the forthcoming work that will need to be done, which includes membership education, agenda-setting, local union workshops and solidarity activities. In the coming months, a campaign theme will be developed and new methods of communication will be rolled out across the council.

2021 USW Cares District 9 Jefferson Award Winner, Paperworker William “Bryen” Ballard

USW Local 1561 – International Paper – Cantonment, Fla. (Pensacola mill) – Local Union 1561 President William “Bryen” Ballard, representing the maintenance local at International Paper’s Pensacola mill, is the District 9 winner of the USW Cares Jefferson Award.

Ballard has two daughters, one is 17 and in college. His eldest daughter, Hailee, will be turning 20 soon; Hailee was born with a rare genetic syndrome that has never been diagnosed, but results in a physical and mental disability. Because of his daughter’s disability, Ballard was introduced to a small charity called Seasons of Hope in Panama City, Florida. He volunteered with Seasons of Hope and was once asked to lead a big fundraiser. Although he didn’t stay with Seasons of Hope, Ballard found he had a knack for fundraising and a desire to do good.

“I thought to myself: I have a good job at the paper mill and I feel like I need to give back,” said Ballard. So, he started Sportsmen Givin’ Back. Sportsmen Givin’ Back does three things: It fundraises (a lot of money) for other charities that are doing good work in their community, it conducts hunting and fishing outings for sick children and children with special needs, and it is just starting a mentoring program for young adults who are interested in the outdoors but don’t have anybody to teach them.

Click the following link to read more about Ballard’s story and the great work that his fundraiser has done in his local community: 2021 USW Cares District 9 Jefferson Award Winner, William “Bryen” Ballard | United Steelworkers

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Has Passed, Now We Need the Build Back Better Act

Back in February 2021, the USW launched the “We Supply America” initiative with the goal of using our collective strength to call for a massive investment in our nation’s roads, bridges, water systems, communications networks and other critical infrastructure, using the goods and services our members already provide. Thanks in large part to all of you, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law on November 15, 2021.

The bill includes some of the strongest Buy America provisions to date and stimulates more business for our employers for years to come. For the paper sector, which plays both a direct and indirect role in most domestic service and manufacturing industries, this means more boxes will be used to ship materials and more paper will be needed for invoices and receipts (to name just a few examples). The Act also makes the newly established Made in America office permanent. Ultimately, these investments position us to be more globally competitive, meaning greater job security for workers and a stronger nation ahead.

Now, we need the U.S. Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act to strengthen our core union issues like collective bargaining, safety and health, job security, health care and the domestic economy. The Act would increase penalties for unfair labor practices up to $100k to provide an actual disincentive to law-breaking companies; provides $20 billion for workforce development; contains over $80 billion in grants, loans and tax credits to invest in updating, modernizing, retooling and building manufacturing facilities in the United States; guarantees paid weeks under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and much more.

You can help by calling your Senators: tell them who you are, where you are from and that they need to continue to work to pass the Build Back Better Act. Tell them it’s time to put politics aside and put the middle class first:

Senate Toll-Free Number: 1-877-607-0785

Remember to make two calls to be connected to both of your Senators.

Industry Update

Domtar Will Operate as a Stand-alone Business Entity after Acquisition by Paper Excellence

In the first week of December, Domtar’s acquisition by Paper Excellence closed and the company delisted from the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. It was also announced that Domtar will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity with current management remaining in place and no further changes to operating locations or business plans.

Paper Excellence is a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper, which is the largest paper company in the world and one that is not known to be particularly friendly to labor. The news that Domtar will continue to operate separately from its parent company is positive for USW-represented sites as council initiatives around safety, training, recruiting, etc., will continue and hard-earned benefits in the newly ratified master agreement will be protected.

While Domtar was originally founded in 1848 as a lumber treatment business under the name Dominion Tar and Chemical Company, its identity as a pulp and paper manufacturer grew in the 1990’s through acquisitions in the U.S. and Canada. After combining assets with the fine papers business of Weyerhaeuser in 2007, Domtar became the largest integrated manufacturer of uncoated paper in North America and the second-largest in the world. In recent years, the company reentered the packaging business with several machine conversions across the system to containerboard and a major investment at the Kingsport mill, positioning it to become Domtar’s first 100 percent recycled packaging facility.

Private Equity Company Wynnchurch Capital Acquired Appvion’s Thermal Coating Business

USW Local 2-469 – Appvion – Appleton, Wis. – Wynnchurch Capital, L.P. announced in early December that it had acquired the thermal coating business and its subsidiaries from Appvion Holding Corporation. Appvion is a leading provider of specialty and high-performance direct thermal coatings for label and film solutions as well as renewable, fiber-based consumer and industrial packaging solutions.

Wynnchurch Capital is a private equity firm that focuses on middle-market companies – those with $75 million to $3 billion in annual revenue – across a wide range of industries in the U.S. and Canada. Founded in 1999, the firm targets corporate carve-outs, underperforming businesses, growth situations and family businesses in transition. It typically makes investments in companies up to $500 million and has over $4 billion in committed capital that is currently under management.

The U.S. thermal papers industry has faced challenges over the years due to cheap imports from foreign competitors and, most recently, because of COVID-19 pandemic-driven influences on demand in the market. According to a press release announcing the acquisition, Wynnchurch Capital stated that Appvion’s business is well-positioned to benefit from strong market tailwinds in labels and packaging, and attractive growth opportunities will be pursued.

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