Monday Morning Minute: July 20, 2020

Union Work

USW Locals 13-725 & 1226 – PCA – DeRidder, La.

On June 26, 2020, Local 13-725 started buying fish dinners on Fridays for all Deridder mill production hourly workers who continue to work through the pandemic.

The union had tried to schedule a Spring Family Day at the hall, but COVID-19 halted all plans.

So, the membership amended the original motion to thank their brothers and sisters for making a successful run though the pandemic so far.

Local Union President Pat Jarrell stated: “As with any successful undertaking, it is a blessing to have an organization such as Women of Steel to help spearhead ‘Delivering Dinners.’”

Pictured: Pat Jarrell (President, Local 13-725), Trollis Hickman (Vice President, Local 13-725), Vanessa Smith (LU 1226, WOS for Locals 1226 and 13-725) and Vivial Willett (LU 1226, WOS for Locals 1226 and 13-725).

The Importance of Passing the HEROES Act and What You can do to Help it Pass in the Senate

In May, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, and the stimulus bill now sits in the hands of the Senate.

The federal program that has provided an additional $600-per-week increase to unemployment benefits since March is set to expire at the end of this month, and will leave millions of workers without crucial financial benefits to both support their families and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

USW International President Tom Conway highlighted stories from USW paperworkers in his most recent blog post on the importance of the HEROES Act.

As we have previously reported in the Monday Morning Minute, many paper mills and/or paper machines have permanently or temporarily shut due to market conditions.

Workers at the affected mills need the additional money provided by the stimulus bill as some state unemployment benefits are so low that they are not sustainable.

USW’s Action Network details the HEROES Act legislation and how you can take action here: https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/tell-the-senate-to-pass-the-heroes-act?link_id=1&can_id=695fb44b016c75f30bb83721d83433b6&source=email-help-pass-the-heroes-act-2&email_referrer=email_864293&email_subject=help-pass-the-heroes-act

Read more in the President’s Blog about the importance of passing the HEROES Act and the impact that stimulus funds have had in the livelihood of fellow USW paperworkers at PCA’s Jackson, Ala., mill: https://www.usw.org/blog/2020/mcconnells-callous-indifference#skip_intro?link_id=0&can_id=695fb44b016c75f30bb83721d83433b6&source=email-help-pass-the-heroes-act-2&email_referrer=email_864293&email_subject=help-pass-the-heroes-act 

Safety

State of Virginia Passed Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19

Virginia will become the first state in the country to pass comprehensive safety rules for employers regarding COVID-19. Social distancing and other precautions against the virus will be mandatory in workplaces around Virginia under emergency pandemic safety regulations that were finalized on July 15. The new rules will go into effect as soon as they are published in a newspaper of general circulation, which the Department of Labor and Industry said it expects to occur the week of July 27.

The following rules will require all employers to:

“Workers should not have to sacrifice their health and safety to earn a living, especially during an ongoing global pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam in a statement criticizing OSHA’s decision not to adopt nationwide standards. “In the face of federal inaction, Virginia has stepped up to protect workers.”

It is our hope that other OSHA state plans do the same as federal OSHA has failed to take the lead on this, even after the AFL-CIO has taken them to court.

Industry Update

Surprising Paper Trends during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Domtar, the largest integrated manufacturer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America, and industry analysts have noticed a trend during the COVID-19 pandemic around paper-based entertainment and communication.

As the novelty of working from home and consuming digital entertainment has worn off, consumers have been turning to printed books, and greeting cards have been selling faster than they can be restocked.

Printed books saw a 777 percent increase in sales in the first half of April, compared to the same period in March. The type of books people bought also reflected a shift in consumer focus.

Publisher’s Weekly, which tracks category sales, reported in April that demand increased for books about outdoor skills (up 74 percent from a year ago) and medical history (up 71 percent). Other popular categories include cooking, DIY and gardening. With kid’s distance learning while adults are also trying to work from home, parents turned to activity books and other printed educational materials to supplement online classes and occupy their kids during non-school hours.

Domtar produces much of the paper that is utilized in books and greeting cards. While, overall, the market has trended downward due to the closing of offices and schools, there are bright spots in the market that may be a remaining trend after the pandemic recedes. 

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