Monday Morning Minute: July 22, 2019

Union Work

USW Paper Sector and District 12 Leadership Visits Locals 608 and 712 in Clearwater, Idaho

The two USW locals have been in difficult bargaining for two years in an attempt to reach an agreement, with the major issue being health care, including a substandard plan for new hires. Bargaining strategy was discussed and the data expertise of the USW Collective Bargaining Department assisted the conversation. Our Strategic Campaigns Department provided support as well.

Reminder – Georgia-Pacific, International Paper and Graphic Packaging Council Meetings

GP, IP and Graphic Packaging Locals: Remember to make your hotel reservations for the council meetings being held in Pittsburgh in September. The GP Council will meet on September 24, the IP Council will meet on September 25, and the Graphic Packaging Council will meet on September 26.

Click here to make your room reservation. The deadline for reservations is September 3.


Non-Union Multi-Wall Packaging Location Fined $10,875 for Serious Safety Violations

Multi-Wall Packaging, a corrugated box shop located in Gary, Ind., was fined $10,875 for serious safety violations during inspections earlier this year. Inspectors for the Indiana Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the company had not installed any safety guards to protect the corrugator rewinding station operator or other employees from sparks, flying chips, rotating, and nip points. At the corrugator and glue roll area of the operation, workers were exposed to nip point hazards while walking to and from the roll pressure gauges, and temporary workers throughout the facility received no training on how to safely work in an area with hazardous chemicals.

While this facility is not represented by the USW or other union, the machinery exists in all box shops across the industry and similar hazards could be present at any of them.

Industry Update

Containerboard Industry June Update

Total containerboard shipments were down last month 3.7% overall, but corrugated box shipments in the U.S. increased by 1.1% on an average week basis. The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) released its monthly report on packaging on July 17 and reported that box shipments are down by 6.7% compared to June 2018.

In response, several large mills have taken downtime to reduce capacity in the market; operating rates are still below 90%, which has helped to reduce inventory in box plants, but there is still global oversupply. According to the AF&PA, box plant containerboard inventory dropped by 127,500 tons to 2.125 million tons, and mill stock rose 30,000 tons to 364,400 tons. The inventory total was 2.489 million tons, which producers have been incrementally reducing much of this year.

As containerboard is an export product for the U.S., companies have reduced prices abroad in an effort to maintain prices in the U.S.; however, there are also signs that the overall U.S. economy is slowing. The USW has a large presence among all the major players in containerboard and continues to monitor the state of this industry sector.

Upgrade to 75 Miles of Rail will Serve Maine’s Resurgent Paper Industry

According to local newspaper, The Appleton Post-Crescent, Pan Am Railways is matching a $17.5 million federal grant in the $35.5 million project to upgrade its main line in southern and central Maine. The Federal Railway Administration will cover about half of the $35.5 million being spent to replace aging rails, renovate road crossings, improve safety and fix bridges on a 75-mile stretch of line between North Yarmouth and Waterville, which is home to USW-represented food board and paper plate producer, Huhtamaki.

The USW represents over 3,000 Paperworkers in the state of Maine. While this number used to be higher, companies like ND Paper have invested in the previously shut-down mill and restarted properties like the USW facility in Old Town, Maine.

For more information, click here.

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