Monday Morning Minute: June 1, 2020

Union Work

USW Paper Sector One-Pager

Our union created a new, informational piece for distribution to congressional and state legislative elected officials and staff about USW paper sector jobs and sustainability. The document is intended to educate legislative members on the industry and the products our members make, the processes that go into making those products, where our mills are located, and the multitude of ways that the work we do is sustainable.

Not only is paper the most recovered product compared to aluminum, steel, glass and plastic combined, but paper mills are also energy-efficient – most mills self-generate the electricity needed to run them using biomass. Paper mills also manage the resources, like water and forests, that they need to operate. We have found ways to preserve those resources so that they are around for a long time and provide the materials needed to preserve our community-supporting jobs. We have attached this informational one-page document to use when talking to your elected officials regarding our jobs.

Click here to download the document as a PDF.

Corrugated Boxes Donated by International Paper Wooster Box Shop for COVID-19 Relief

USW Local 1-662 – International Paper – Wooster, Ohio

Earlier this month, International Paper partnered with Green Circle Growers – one of the largest greenhouses in North America – to deliver 50,000 fresh orchids to front-line health care workers. The flowers were sent across the country to markets that have been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, including Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Tampa and Northeast Ohio.

International Paper donated a significant portion of the boxes and cartons used for transporting the orchids to their final destinations. According to Local 1-662 President Jason DeWeese, “Local 1-662 worked hand-in-hand with the company in making this happen…We were proud to do it. Being able to spread a little bit of cheer to those on the front lines of this virus is something we take pride in.”


USW Health, Safety and Environment Department Guidelines on Mandatory Face Coverings

USW Health, Safety and Environment staff created a guideline sheet around mandatory face coverings, as many of our local members in the paper sector are now being required to wear them on the job and in workplaces.

Within the guidelines you will find information on what issues should be addressed between the union and management in policies on mandatory face coverings prior to implementation, such as:

Also included are statements from OSHA and the CDC on cloth face coverings, as well as how to wear and care for a cloth covering.

Click here for the guidelines.

Click here for a list of statewide orders that are current as of May 26.

The guidelines document relies on state mandates and governors’ orders, so the two posted documents complement one another. If you have any questions on either of the posted resources, please contact Trish Creech (; 701-308-0549).

Gorham Paper & Tissue to Pay $187,799 for OSHA Violations in Fatality of Brian LeClerc

USW Local 4-75 – Gorham Paper & Tissue – Gorham, N.H.

Late last week it was announced that Gorham Paper & Tissue, located in Gorham, N.H., agreed to pay $187,799 in fines to OSHA for health and safety violations uncovered during an investigation following the fatal injury of employee and USW member, Brian LeClerc. The mill was cited for 25 serious health and safety violations and 20 other-than-serious violations.

Brian was standing next to several stacked paper bales at the mill on October 21, 2019, when one weighing 1,200 pounds fell on top of him. He suffered crushing injuries to his chest and died a month later, on November 18, 2019. His death was the first occupational fatality in the USW paper sector in over a year.

Industry Update

Coated Paper Machine Conversion Underway

USW Locals 9-1924 & 9-925 – New-Indy Containerboard – Catawba, S.C.

New-Indy Containerboard started its machine conversion at the mill in Catawba from producing lightweight coated paper to ultra-lightweight unbleached kraft linerboard. The new machine is expected to have a capacity of 600,000 tons/year and would bring the entire mill’s capacity to 1.35 million tons/year of containerboard capacity. At these figures, it is set to become the seventh largest containerboard producer in the U.S.

The machine had produced coated printing and writing paper – a market that has been in decline in recent years, and this drop intensified during the current pandemic due to advertisers and printing companies stopping operations.

Domtar’s Plymouth Mill Resource Conservation Project Saving 18 Million Gallons of Water per Day

USW Locals 1356 & 1423 – Domtar – Plymouth, N.C.

The Domtar mill in Plymouth, N.C., exceeded expectations in its water heating efficiency project completed last year. Last May, the company installed a cooling tower and two large heat exchangers to reclaim waste heat from the mill and use it to reduce steam consumption. The new system is a closed-loop process that reclaims heat from the mill’s evaporation equipment and transfers it to process water. The reclaimed heat reduces the mill’s steam load, which means it burns less fuel in the boilers to make steam.

The resource conservation project was expected to eliminate the use of about 11 million gallons of river water per day; however, the system is performing better than expected and is saving approximately 18 million gallons.

Nearly 200 USW members work at the mill in Plymouth, which produces softwood fluff pulp used in adult incontinence products and baby diapers. Projects like this that make a mill more sustainable often address operational efficiency, which, in turn, ensures that our members have good-paying jobs well into the future.

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