Monday Morning Minute: March 9, 2020

FATALITY ALERT

USW Local 2-94 – Verso – Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

On February 29, 2020, a contractor sustained multiple serious injuries at the Verso mill in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., which he ultimately passed way from later that day. 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

MV Transportation National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Decision and Impact to the USW

A recent decision by the NLRB, which was anticipated to have broad implications to labor, came to the USW on February 25 when the NLRB overturned an administrative judge’s ruling that Huber Specialty Hydrates violated federal labor law by unilaterally changing its attendance policy. The agreement between Huber and the USW included a provision giving the company the right to adopt reasonable rules and policies.  

This ruling, under MV Transportation case 368 NLRB No. 66, concerns the enforcement of NLRA Section 8(a)(5) - the employer’s right to unilaterally make changes to a collective bargaining agreement. Historically, this section has been interpreted to mean that any condition of employment should be collectively bargained unless the union clearly waived its right to bargain over the issue; but, under the Republican-controlled Board, the decision on MV Transportation set a new precedent that the “clear and unmistakable waiver” standard is a restriction on an employer’s ability to act unilaterally.

We will send out a separate communication that the USW put together on the state of workers’ rights under the current NLRB. In the meantime, if a circumstance comes up in bargaining involving the new “contract coverage” standard, locals should contact their staff representative who will work with the USW Legal Department lawyer assigned to the district.

Paper Ballots Could Restore Voters’ Faith in Secure Elections

As we continue to move through the 2020 election cycle, voting processes are being more scrutinized than ever before. A new voting company, Clear Ballot Group, has been implementing paper-based voting systems across the U.S. In Ohio, some counties are using Clear Ballot Group to switch from digital systems to paper ballots, which are immune from hacking or digital manipulation. In Clear Ballot's system, voters fill out paper ballots by hand and then feed them through a scanner. Images of each ballot are then saved on the machine's internal memory and on thumb drives. After polls close, the files offer immediate results and provide a paper trail. Physical ballots are saved in case of a recount.

To read the full article from Business Insider, click here: https://www.businessinsider.com/paper-ballots-election-voting-machines-2020-2

Safety

Coronavirus Information and Resources

The AFL-CIO has released information amidst the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak and now has a website containing guidelines and resources: https://aflcio.org/covid-19. While there is currently no evidence of widespread transmission in the United States, federal health officials have said that spread of the virus within the country is likely and we should prepare for severe disruptions to everyday life, raising a number of concerns for working people.

Priorities for workers and unions include:

More information can be found at the following websites:

Biomass Steam Boiler Incident at Century Paper & Board Mill in Pakistan

On February 29, six workers were killed after a biomass steam boiler explosion at Pakistan-based Century Paper & Board Mills. Five workers were apparently killed after the roof caved in from the explosion. While this incident did not occur in the US, it is still indicative of the dangers in the sector and the potential severity of incidents around boilers and how consolidating control rooms at or across mills could impact workers and communities.

Industry Update

DS Smith Opened its First US Recycling Plant, Located in Reading, Pa.

USW Local 1419 – DS Smith – Reading, Pa. – On March 4, D.S. Smith opened up its first recycling plant located near the existing paper mill located in Reading, Pa. The Reading facility is unique in the region as it is alongside the company’s paper mill and within a mile from its packaging plant, creating a closed loop manufacturing model that is sustainable.

The USW represents members at the paper mill in Reading under Local 1419. The company recognized the union immediately, and members are represented by Local 1419 unit 4. The USW also represents members at DS Smith locations in Lowell, Ma., and Riceboro, Ga.

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 ldonovan@usw.org, or at 412-562-2504.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-2446

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

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