Monday Morning Minute: July 31, 2017



USW Local Union #9-1197 – Hood Container Corporation – New Johnsonville, TN

On June 22, 2017 around 4:00pm, USW Brother Terry Eads was fatally injured when he was caught in-between the secondary arm and the frame of the paper machine while trying to get broken paper back on the reel. Emergency Response Team Member, Joe Smith, is assisting the family. Health Safety and Environment Staff, Steve Sallman, is assisting the local union with the investigation.

Brother Eads was at the paper machine waiting to take a sample of the paper for testing.  The reel had turned up a new roll and the secondary arm had kicked the spool out.  The next roll of paper was started and the paper snapped off. The broken paper went downward through the floor opening and onto the conveyor that carries it to the hydropulper. Eads began using a compressed air hose to blow the broken paper sheet back up onto the spool when he was caught-in the machine. The investigation is ongoing.

The local union and management are continuing to work together to improve the guarding, develop procedures, and training among other things.

Union Work – Collective Bargaining, Organizing, Arbitration, Worker Rights, Community Work, Political Work, Labor History

Expera Master Extension

The Expera Council negotiated a new three year deal, essentially extending the provisions of the current master and local contracts with minimal changes. The initial Company proposal included the complete elimination of premium pay from the sites that still had it, eliminating the ability to bank vacation and holidays, changes to overtime.

Ultimately the parties agreed to extend the terms of the Master Agreement and each Local Agreement to July 31, 2019 with 2% wage increases in each of January 2018 and January 2019. The only other changes were minor wording changes to ensure that the agreements comply with recently changed or potentially changing laws.

The Bargaining Committee reminded Expera that ultimately the value of this enterprise is attached to the reliability and efficiency of the plants, and trying to unfairly lever concessions would destroy, not create value. Expera is owned by a private equity company.


USW Local 27 – Woodland Pulp – Baileyville, ME – Local Receives Focused Assistance from USW Health, Safety and Environment in Light of Recent Safety/ERT Calls

After several safety calls at the Woodland Pulp mill in Baileyville, ME, USW HSE Staff, Ashlee Fitch, toured the facility, met the membership, and came up with a plan to move forward.

Staff Representative for the local, Mike Higgins, commented, “[Ashlee’s] presence has made an impact to not only local 27, but with local management. She has given the local a direction with safety, and also some guidance to management going forward…I am proud that we have professional folks like Ashlee as a resource for us. I always promote the fact that we have many resources out of Pittsburgh. It’s nice to be able to show that to not only our members, but to our companies as well.”

Local Union President, Phil Polk said, “It was great having Ashlee tour the mill as well as meeting some of our members. I am hopeful that this will help turn things around instead of the same old stuff we keep dealing with here.”

A photo of Ashlee at the mill with Local Representatives is just below.

Industry Update

USW Local 900 – Catalyst – Rumford, ME – Catalyst Seeking Loan for New Tissue Machine

The Company is seeking funding for a new tissue machine at the mill in Rumford, ME. The mill currently produces coated paper which has been in a steadily declining market.

According to a local newspaper (the Bangor Daily News), the proposed deal using the state’s New Markets Capital Investment program could deliver about $12.7million in state tax credits or taxpayer cash to investors in exchange for investing $31million in the purchase and installation of the new tissue machine. The Company applied separately for the maximum loan amount - $25million – through finance authority’s Major Business Expansion Program.

USW Local 381-07 – Island Container – Wheatley Heights, NY – WestRock to Close Newly Acquired Facility

WestRock has announced that it will close the former Island Container box plant just after acquiring it on July 19th. Business is to be transferred to an existing WestRock plant in Deer Park, NY. The closure will result in the layoff of 150 employees at the end of October.

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