Monday Morning Minute: March 2, 2020


USW Local 9542 – WestRock – Stevenson, Ala. – On February 22, 2020, a member was seriously injured at the WestRock mill in Stevenson, Ala., and sustained serious injuries. The complete details are unknown at this time, and we will follow up in the near future with more details when they become available.

USW Local 801 – WestRock – Evadale, Texas – On February 23, 2020, a member was seriously injured at the WestRock mill in Evadale, Texas, and sustained serious injuries. The complete details are unknown at this time and we will follow up in the near future with more details when they become available.

Union Work

Essity Locals Ratify New Master Extension Agreement

USW Locals 1535, 1-112, 1478, 1241, 324 & 2-1279 – Barton, Ala.; Middletown, Ohio; South Glens Falls, N.Y.; Danville, Ky.; Menasha, Wis.; & Neenah, Wis. – On February 26, the tellers committee for the Essity Council met in Pittsburgh to count ratification ballots for a new Master Extension Agreement. The Extension Agreement ratified overwhelmingly and includes industry-standard wage increases for two years. Approximately 1,250 members are covered by the Essity Master.

In the photo below (from bottom left) is Bill Kilishek from Local 2-1279 in Neenah, Dennis Gries from Local 324 in Menasha, Ron Wardrup (Pup) staff of the Middletown, Ohio, mill, Dan Stewart from Local 1478 in South Glens Falls, Calvin Bolden from Local 1535 in Barton, and Jason Hollister from Local 1-112 in Middletown. Congratulations to the Essity locals!

Legislation Introduced in Maine to Support Paper Sector Jobs

Maine’s State Legislature introduced last week LD 2123, “An Act to Create Fairness in the Revitalization of Maine’s Paper Industry.” This is a bill with the intent of supporting good-paying, paper-manufacturing jobs in distressed areas of the state. The legislation would create a tax credit for paper manufacturers headquartered in Maine, like the USW-represented paper mill at Twin Rivers in Madawaska, Maine. The state has been hit particularly hard by paper mill closures, experiencing eight of them between the years 2011 and 2017.

The stipulations to qualify for the tax credit are labor-friendly. Companies must use the financing assistance to make significant capital improvements, must maintain a minimum of 400 employees, and pay 75 percent of employees’ wages above-average for the county in which the company is located.

Did You Know?

Approximately two-thirds of energy that paper mills use is carbon-neutral bioenergy from forest products’ manufacturing residuals. This captures energy value from materials that otherwise would go to waste and create greenhouse gases such as methane. Methane gas is roughly 25 times more harmful to the environment than CO2.


U.S. Department of Labor Publishes Amendments and Technical Corrections to OSHA Standards

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently published technical corrections and amendments to 27 OSHA standards and regulations. This administrative rulemaking corrects minor misprints, omissions, outdated references, and tabular and graphic inaccuracies. The revisions apply to several industry sectors, including paper. Some revisions may reduce employer costs, and none expand employer obligations or impose new costs.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, click here:

Industry Update

Sappi North American Receives 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award for Cloquet Mill’s Repurposing Boiler Ash and Lime Mud Byproducts into Fertilizer

USW Locals 304, 1069, 11-63, 4-9 – Sappi – Allentown, Pa.; Westbrook, Maine; Cloquet, Minn.; Skowhegan, Maine (Somerset mill) – In a press release by the company, Sappi announced that it was named a winner in the 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Awards for Environmental Leadership. The award honors companies for specific environmental and sustainability initiatives measured by key criteria including impact metrics, innovation, insights and investment efforts. Sappi is a recipient of this award for the Land Application Program at its Cloquet, Minn., mill – USW Local 11-63. The Cloquet mill's program began in 2004 in order to develop a solution to an impending challenge with landfill space. The Land Application Program repurposes boiler ash and lime mud byproducts into a sustainable agricultural fertilizer which is accessible to the local community at a minimal cost.

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