Monday Morning Minute: July 12, 2021

Union Work

Virtual Paper Conference Update

Day 2 of the virtual Paper Bargaining Conference will conclude with a virtual town hall event around the USW’s ‘We Supply America’ campaign. USW International Vice President at Large Roxanne Brown and Assistant to the President Kim Miller will lead this session about rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. We will hear about the conversation that is going on in Washington, learn more about USW’s We Supply America campaign and open the floor to hear from you, as leaders in the paper sector, on why infrastructure matters to our jobs

Anyone is welcome to attend the town hall. Please note that registration for the town hall is included in the conference registration, but also has a separate link to register in case you, or other folks from your local, are interested in attending but cannot make the full conference. Links to the conference and town hall registrations are listed on the conference website:

Registration for the conference is live and locals should have received their call letters inclusive of assigned local union voucher codes. If your local leaders have not received the call letter, please contact Laura Donovan (; 412-562-2504), or anyone else from the paper sector staff.

International Paper Box Master Extension Ratification

Last Thursday, the International Paper box local unions ratified a two-year extension of the master agreement covering 55 sites. As with other master agreements in the sector set to expire, the COVID-19 pandemic limited the locals’ ability to meet in-person to bargain a full agreement; but ultimately, the sites came together as a council and achieved economic stability for our members as we weather the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

Special thanks to the Tellers Committee members (seen below) – Sam Knepper, Brian Orr, Sean Anthony, Colt Kovatch and Bob Tapp – for their work in counting and tallying all ballots received, and for ensuring transparency throughout the process.

55 Years of Hard work and Dedication in the Paper Industry

USW Local 27 – Woodland Pulp – Baileyville, Maine – USW paperworker Basil Leighton recently retired with 55 years of service working at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, Maine. As staff representative for the local, Mike Higgins, said: “For many hard-working folks in the paper industry, 40 years is a career. How about 55? Yes, 55. For 55 years, Basil Leighton has been punching the clock at the mill in Woodland/Baileyville, Maine.”

On behalf of the USW paper sector, thank you for your service with the union and industry, and congratulations on your retirement!


OSHA 11c Violation at a non-USW Paper Industry Employer in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against a Pennsylvania paper company and its owner after they fired a worker for raising safety concerns and asking several times for safety gloves to operate a shredder and baler. Prior to the employee suffering injury while operating the machine, their supervisor denied multiple requests for protective equipment.

In 2017, a compliance officer with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a safety inspection at the company in response to a complaint alleging – among other things – that it failed to provide personal protective equipment and made employees unjam machines without implementing required lockout/tagout procedures. The worker, whose hand injury occurred after the company denied the first request for safety gloves, asked twice more after the inspection but the company denied the requests.

The employee filed a complaint with OSHA after their firing and OSHA concluded that the company and its owner violated Section 11(c)(1) of the OSH Act when they terminated the employee for engaging in protected activities. While this is not a USW-represented facility, implications still exist for the sector as OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions and other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various industrial laws.

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