Monday Morning Minute: Mar. 20, 2017



USW Local 364 – Graphic Packaging – West Monroe, LA

On Thursday, March 9, 2017, a local union member and General Mechanic at Graphic Packaging in West Monroe, LA, received serious burns while working on the dehumidifier turbine. The complete details are unknown at this time but preliminary information is that an explosion occurred due to a ‘pocket’ of hydrogen gas that may have been ignited by work activities. Work on the turbine was being completed as part of the facility’s annual outage. The system had been locked out and purged several times before the turbine was opened up and taken apart.

The victim received severe burns to the right arm from his wrist to his shoulder, and scattered burns on his left wrist and forehead. He was airlifted to a burn ward in Shreveport, LA. He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering from second degree burns.

Emergency Response Team District Coordinator Lee Morine will assist the family. Health Safety and Environment Staff Steve Sallman will assist the local with the investigation.

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

WTO to Open US Supercalendered Paper Hearings to the Public

On March 21st and 22nd, the WTO will open to the public its first substantive meeting on US countervailing measures on Supercalendered Paper from Canada. The live screening will take place at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva.

Last year, Canada requested consultations with the United States regarding countervailing duties adopted by the United States on Supercalendered Paper, and the investigation underlying the imposition of those duties. The request for consultations formally initiates a dispute in the WTO.


NIOSH Releases Sound App to Help Protect Workers from Hearing Loss

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has developed a new, free mobile application for iOS devices that measures sound levels in workplaces. The NIOSH Sound Level Meter app displays real-time noise exposure data based on NIOSH and OSHA limits. The easy-to-use app can be particularly helpful to occupational safety and health trainers as they teach construction apprentices about noise hazards and the need for hearing protection.

Key Benefits:

To download the free app, go here.

Industry Update

WestRock to Move Headquarters to Atlanta from Norcross

The Company is relocating its Atlanta-area office location to Northpark Town Center, located in the Central Perimeter area of Atlanta. The space will be home to approximately 800 WestRock employees. Location was cited as a key reason for the move, with close access to MARTA, as well as the additional space for growth that the new office will provide.

Diapers for Baby Boomers Help Paper Makers Absorb Print Loss

Some paper companies are shifting to producing fluff pulp over paper-grade products. As the world population ages, sales are climbing for absorbent hygiene products. Demand is projected to grow 4 percent this year, according to ERA Forest Products Research. Companies like International Paper and Domtar have expanded production of the moisture-capturing fiber known as fluff pulp which is used in diapers and tampons.

Domtar spent about $160-million to convert paper output to fluff-pulp production in Arkansas. It is now the #3 producer, behind International Paper and Georgia-Pacific. International Paper made a $2.2 billion acquisition of Weyerhaeuser’s pulp business last year, and also converted its mill in Riegelwood, NC to produce fluff and softwood pulp.

The shift is providing welcome relief for an industry hurt by digitization and paperless communication. For more information, copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Paper Provides Cheap Alternative in Creating Lipid Membranes for Cell Study

Scientists build lipid membranes to study how cells work, conducting experiments that would normally kill living cells, but synthesizing these cells could require expensive specialized equipment. At University of California, Merced, a team of researchers has discovered a cheap alternative in paper, which is key to creating these synthetic lipid membranes. According to Professor Anand Subramaniam, scientists can create these cell-sized membranes by placing “a drop of liquid that can dissolve lipids … onto laboratory filter paper.” After the paper dries, it is placed in water, after which cell-like membranes form on the paper. This discovery could lead to a wide array of applications ranging from targeted medicine to delivery of stem cells, immune cells or proteins.

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