Monday Morning Minute: July 4, 2022


USW Local 4-513 – Greif – Chicopee, Mass.

On June 9, a USW member was injured at Greif’s Chicopee, Mass., paper tube converting site. The member was holding a paper tube down on a stationary saw by hand when the process kicked the tube up and the member’s hand contacted the blade.

USW Local 4-513 – Greif – Chicopee, Mass.

A USW member was injured on June 10, also at Greif’s Chicopee, Mass., paper tube converting site, while applying wax to the blade of a saw that cuts products. The saw energized at the time and began rotating, contacting the member’s hand.

OSHA has been on site and the company is working with the local on finding correctives. 

Union Work 

USW Local 1448 – Cascades Tissue – Pittston & Ransom, Pa. – Arbitration Award Win

In October 2020, Cascades Tissue Company announced that it would be shutting its tissue converting operations in Pittston and Ransom, Pa., due to aging equipment and high logistics costs, amongst other issues. At the same time, the company informed USW district staff that it would not pay its share of the cost for three months of health care benefits for bargaining unit employees upon the closure of the two sites.

Contract language states that the company is responsible for paying the benefits for a period of three months following the month in which an employee is laid off. The company argued that the article did not apply because the closures resulted in permanent layoffs or terminations, rather than being temporary.

The arbitrator found that the company violated the collective bargaining agreement, and ordered it to make whole the impacted members, conditioned upon those employees paying their portion of the cost of insurance premiums for the three-month time period after the closures. If you are interested in viewing a copy of the award, contact Laura Donovan:; 412-736-7702. 

WestRock Joint Health Care Committee Meeting

Last week, the WestRock Joint Health Care Committee held its first in-person meeting, as previous years’ meetings were held remotely due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. Data provided to the committee indicated that plan participants were utilizing preventive care at levels roughly equivalent to national averages, but nonetheless, there was significant room for improvement. A positive indicator was that USW member participation in the company’s wellness program was significantly greater than participation of non-USW employees.

WestRock also shared preliminary data on a recently introduced virtual physical therapy program that allows plan members to access physical therapy for musculoskeletal issues at a time and a place that is convenient for them, rather than having fixed appointments at a facility that may be inconveniently located. Musculoskeletal conditions are the leading driver of clinical costs across the USW paper sector. The preliminary results shared about the program were quite promising, indicating a reduction in patients’ levels of pain and reduced likelihood of requiring future surgery, which should lead to reduced claims and costs for the plan as a whole.

The Master Agreement bargained in late 2019 with WestRock called for establishment of a Labor-Management Healthcare Committee. It includes three local union leaders from USW-represented WestRock paper mills and three local union leaders from USW-represented WestRock converting facilities, as well as USW paper staff and WestRock management. The agreement calls for the committee to meet annually to review healthcare plan performance, premium methodology, trends and other related manners.


International Paper Mill and Converting Joint Health and Safety Committee Meetings

Last week, the International Paper Mill and Converter Joint Health and Safety Committees met in Memphis, Tenn., to work on the council’s safety sub-committees and to finalize plans for the upcoming Joint Health and Safety Conference in Houston, Texas, at the end of July.

Sub-committees have been formed around Right-to-Act, which is a mechanism for raising and addressing safety concerns that was introduced at the 2016 National Paper Bargaining Conference; other sub-committees also worked on green-on-green issues and effective safety committees.

Industry Update

Neenah Paper and Schweitzer Mauduit Merger has been Completed and the New Company will be Named Mativ

USW Locals 1988, 2-370, 2-1170, 2-96, 2-87, 2-116 & 1479 – Neenah Paper and Schweitzer-Mauduit International – Lowville, N.Y.; Whiting, Mich.; Neenah, Wis.; Munising, Mich.; Appleton, Wis., & Ancram, N.Y.

The previously announced merger of Neenah Paper and Schweitzer-Mauduit closed on Friday, creating a $3 billion specialty papers company. The combined company will be named Mativ and will be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The USW represents nearly 900 members at five Neenah Paper sites in Wisconsin and Michigan and one Schweitzer-Mauduit facility in Ancram, N.Y. The fine and technical products that our members make at the impacted sites include tobacco paper, tape backing, medical packaging, colored fine paper and more.

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