Monday Morning Minute: Jan. 4, 2021

Union Work

Open Call for USW Paper Sector Local Leaders to Help with Box Sector Organizing Project

We are looking for help from you – as local leaders and staff within the USW paper sector – to identify folks who would be a good fit to work on our ongoing organizing project within the corrugated box sector. We are looking for leaders of all ages who are energetic, passionate about the labor movement, and knowledgeable about the paper sector; it could be someone who is actively working, recently retired or laid off. Please contact Eric Licht, elicht@usw.org, 262-441-1551 with any suggestions.

Former Local Union President of Local 159 and Retiree of PCA International Falls Mill Wins Re-Election to Minnesota State House of Representatives

USW Local 159 – Packaging Corporation of America – International Falls, Minn. – During the 2020 election season, more than 600 union members (from various unions, including the USW), not only ran for, but won, an elected office. One of those members is Rob Ecklund, a retiree of the Boise Paper (now Packaging Corporation of America) mill located in International Falls, Minn., and former president of Local Union 159. Rob won his re-election to the Minnesota State House of Representatives District 3A seat, which encompasses the northeastern portion of the state. Originally elected as a state representative through a special election in 2015, Rob was re-elected in the 2016, 2018 and 2020 general elections.

Labor-Related Books for Unions, Stewards, Members Available at Labor’s Bookstore

Labor’s Bookstore is a small business based in Rochester, N.Y., with the goal of providing resources to union leaders and other activists to better enable them to serve their members and communities. The company has roots in the former labor education publishing company, Union Communication Services, which was gifted to the ILR School at Cornell University in 2015 to benefit the school’s Worker Institute.

Labor’s Bookstore carries books that include those for union leaders and activists, young readers and social justice activists. It offers used copies of hard-to-find and out-of-print titles. The bookstore also publishes many of the titles formerly carried by Union Communication Services, including “The Union Steward’s Complete Guide”, “Steward’s Pocket Reference & Diary”, “Contract Costing for Union Negotiators”, and “Parliamentary Procedure and Effective Union Meetings.” To view the catalogue of resources and for more information on ordering materials, copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://www.laborsbookstore.com/.

Safety

Bargaining Guidance for Coronavirus Vaccinations

The USW Health Care Workers’ Council in conjunction with the Legal Department and the Health and Safety Department, created bargaining guidance around COVID-19 vaccinations as they begin to be rolled out to the public.

While the USW does not support mandatory vaccinations in the workplace as either a condition of employment or as a state or federal mandate, we strongly support the safe and widespread use of these vaccines to bring this pandemic to an end.

Any rules put in place around vaccinations should be bargained over and reviewed on a case-by-case basis for their reasonableness and adherence to any applicable statutes. Many factors should be considered, including state and federal regulations, religious objections to vaccinations, vaccination education, private health insurance, etc. Vaccination does not absolve employers of their obligation to continue existing workplace protections for the coronavirus or to maintain the controls needed to protect workers from exposure, including effective ventilation and appropriate and adequately-supplied personal protective equipment (PPE).

If a situation arises regarding COVID-19 vaccinations at your worksite, local leaders should first contact their assigned staff representative, and staff may call on the Health, Safety and Environment Department for further assistance or through their district may refer to the USW Legal Department.

Industry Update

Gorham Paper & Tissue Mill Sale to Behrens Investment Group Closed

USW Local 4-75 – Gorham Paper & Tissue – Gorham, N.H. – On December 18, the sale of Gorham Paper & Tissue to private equity firm, Behrens Investment Group, was finalized for $8.75 million. Gorham filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early November, and the company’s outstanding debt was included in the sale. Behrens Investment Group is based in New York, N.Y., and invests in public and private markets across various industries.

The USW Legal Department, district and paper sector leadership were significantly involved in securing a position on the creditor’s committee, bargaining the effects of the sale to the nearly 100 USW members working at the facility and securing the contract as part of the sale.

Dunn Paper Appoints New President and CEO

Dunn Paper recently appointed David Apollonio as its president and CEO, replacing interim CEO Sieg Buck. Apollonio worked for Dunn Paper for over 25 years, and most recently served as vice president and general manager of Dunn Paper’s North American Container Division.

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