Monday Morning Minute: June 21, 2021

Union Work

Virtual Paper Conference

Day 1 of the virtual Paper Bargaining Conference will conclude with a town hall event entitled “Women in the Paper Industry.” This inspired session will feature both labor and industry representatives. USW International Vice President Leeann Foster and President and CEO Heidi Brock of the American Forestry & Paper Association will lead the event. Moderated by USW key staffer Breahn Quigley-Knackert, the town hall will also include a panel of USW staff representatives and local leaders who will share their stories about why and how they started in the paper sector, what it has meant to them and their families, and how we can outreach to bring more women into paper facilities.

Anyone is welcome to attend the town hall. Please note that registration for the town hall is included in the conference registration, but it also has a separate link to register for it in case you, or other folks from your local, are interested in attending but cannot make the full conference. Links to the conference and town hall registrations are listed on the conference website:

Registration for the conference is live and locals should have received, or will be receiving soon, their call letters inclusive of assigned local union voucher codes. If you do not receive yours within the week, please contact Laura Donovan (; 412-562-2504), or anyone else from the paper sector staff.

International Vice President Leeann Foster Addresses Paper Sector Member’s Question about how an Infrastructure Bill would Impact Our Industry

USW Local 1237 – Packaging Corporation of America – Newark, Ohio – We Supply America Questions & Answers – Over the next few weeks, in a series of Facebook events, USW International officers will be addressing the importance of infrastructure investment. Recently, International Vice President Leeann Foster answered a paper sector member’s question about how the industry would be impacted by infrastructure legislation. Mike Noll, a worker at PCA’s Newark, Ohio, box shop,  asked: “It’s pretty obvious how the infrastructure bill will impact certain industries like steel and construction, but I was wondering how it would affect companies like mine that work in paper or other companies that USW represents (that might not have a clear way of being impacted by infrastructure).”

Leeann responded: “…the industry is critical to the supply chain and, thus, infrastructure. While we may not make the components of infrastructure, just about everything that is shipped across our nation that goes into infrastructure comes in packaging of some sort that’s made by us. And that packaging includes lots of paper from the boxes but also the packaging of the product inside, the paper for invoices, instructions and even the labels on the box – they’re all made by us.”

Essity and WestRock Joint Benefits Committee Meetings

Last week, the Essity and WestRock Joint Healthcare Committees held meetings to discuss plan utilization statistics in 2020, major trends and cost drivers for the plans, and other relevant benefits issues. The advent of both committees are wins that came out of master negotiations; the joint dialogue and key data given to the committee members allow the opportunity for the union and the company to work together on improving benefits while curtailing costs.

Both councils’ benefit committees discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to health care costs last year. While complete interpretation of the data is preliminary, one key takeaway that can be extrapolated to the entire sector is that routine or preventive care utilization was decidedly down last year.

While delays in routine care last year were a somewhat unsurprising trend due to concerns over COVID-19 transmission and the postponement of certain procedures by providers, preventative measures are always going to be crucial to diagnosing treatable medical conditions before they turn into serious concerns. Plus, this type of care has a positive impact on overall health care plan costs. Catching health issues early is more likely to have a better outcome that comes at less of a cost.

International Paper Converter Renewal Bargaining

USW Locals 1289, 1895 & 635 – International Paper – Olive Branch, Miss., Lynchburg, Va., & Mount Carmel, Pa. – On June 18, staff and local leaders from International Paper converting locations with local collective bargaining agreements expiring in the middle of this year met virtually with USW paper sector leadership, general managers, senior labor relations and local human resources leadership.

Prior to the joint meeting, USW local leaders of the three sites, along with staff representatives and International staff, attended a union-only session to report on local issues. Later, the entire labor-management group reviewed the differences between traditional and renewal bargaining, and conducted breakouts by site.


Recall Notice – Non-Contact Voltage Testers Recalled by Klein Tools Due to Shock Hazard

Klein Tools has recalled its Non-Contact Voltage Tester Model: NCVT-1 due to the on/off button remaining depressed during the power on or power off cycle, causing the tester to work improperly. The recall involves Klein Tools Non-Contact Voltage Testers with model numbers NCVT1 and date codes ending H7. The product was also sold separately and in kits.

Consumers testing electrical sources could fail to be warned of the presence of live voltage if the tester is not properly operating, posing a shock hazard to the users.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled non-contact voltage testers and contact Klein Tools for instructions on receiving a free replacement tool. Two incidents of the voltage tester not working properly, including one shock injury, have been reported. For more information, click here:

Industry Update

USW Paper Sector and American Forest and Paper Association Announce Sustainability Goals

Last week, the American Forest and Paper Industry Board met and announced its new set of sustainability goals for the paper and wood products industry titled, “Better Practices, Better Planet 2023: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future.” The goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions; advancing a circular value chain through the production of renewable and recyclable products; striving for zero workplace injuries, as well as reducing serious injuries and fatalities; driving water stewardship throughout manufacturing operations, and advancing more resilient U.S. forests.

USW International Vice President Leeann Foster spoke to the group last Thursday about the adaptability the industry showed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the hard work of our members in the paper sector, key energy policy issues important to the industry—like ensuring that biomass utilized in paper mills is deemed carbon neutral—and the union-wide “We Supply America” campaign around infrastructure and how it fits into the AF&PA’s sustainability goals. Leeann said to the group: “We are a resilient union that is willing to be progressive and bold on difficult issues and problem solve together. You will always see us lead the way in all of these areas not because it is the easy or convenient thing to do but because it is the right thing to do.”

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