Monday Morning Minute: May 11, 2020

Union Work

Your Union, Your Voice Update

USW local union presidents and recording secretaries should have received a letter in the mail from our executive board that summarized the “Your Union, Your Voice” efforts to date. While the pandemic interrupted scheduled events, we can report that roughly 170 town hall meetings took place across the country, in every USW district, and drew thousands of members. The federal questionnaire, which was shared with all active and retired USW members, has been given to a number of candidates of all political parties, and we are now starting to receive completed results back.

USW International President Tom Conway, stated: “This happened because of the strong push from district leadership and staff involvement. Whether you helped drive turnout, attended a meeting or even helped facilitate, all of those pieces mattered…It’s becoming clearer and clearer as this crisis unfolds that it is not the billionaires but working people – in health care, manufacturing, public service and the USW’s other core industries – that are the lifeblood of our country. The values we fight for are needed now more than ever.”

A Guide to Video Arbitration

While local leaders and management may be voluntarily considering moving arbitration hearings to a virtual format, the National Academy of Arbitrators (NAA) recently issued an opinion that allows arbitrators to force a video hearing in some hearings even if one of the parties objects; therefore, there are some things to keep in mind and be prepared for in case you do need to conduct a hearing virtually.

As recommended in last month’s USW arbitration newsletter, if you are using Zoom as the platform for videoconferencing and the administrator decides to record the hearing session, any private chatrooms that your side may have been using are also accessible by the administrator. It is best to establish a secondary channel for your caucuses.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) released a guide for labor and management advocates that explores the advantages and disadvantages of online arbitrations, provides preparation tips, highlights certain technical issues, and lists some available video platforms and features. Video arbitrations offer the obvious advantage of allowing everyone involved to socially distance. It also cuts down on the cost of travel expenses by the arbitrator and witnesses, and allows for easier scheduling opportunities. However, you may also lose the psychological effects of meeting in-person, like reading the arbitrator’s demeanor, and alternately, the arbitrator’s ability to read your side. Please contact Laura Donovan (ldonovan@usw.org) if you would like to see the guide in full and have it sent to you.

Did you know?

A Tip on Helping to Prevent Glasses from Fogging Up While Wearing a Mask

If you wear regular, prescription glasses every day or safety glasses on the job, you may have experienced lens fogging while wearing a mask. A trick to mitigating this is to take a piece of tissue, fold it to be about ¾” wide, and cut the tissue length to about 1.5” shorter than the length of the mask. Place the folded tissue on the top side of the mask in the center, the part that will from to your nose, and apply a small piece of tape to each end of the tissue to hold it in place on the mask. If needed, you can roll up a small piece of tape and apply it under the middle of the tissue to secure. The mask is then ready to wear. The tissue blocks and absorbs some of the moisture escaping the mask when you breathe.

Safety

Working People's Plan for Reopening the Economy the Right Way

As states begin to re-open, it’s important to do so in a way that keeps workers safe. The AFL-CIO has released a Working People’s Plan for Reopening the Economy the Right Way. Nothing would be worse for the economy than a premature reopening followed by an explosion of the disease and a second shutdown. Putting worker safety first is the initial step in any viable plan to save lives, defeat the coronavirus and revive the economy. The following eight points are essential to the plan:

Industry Update

USW Local 4-521 – Seaman Paper Company – Baldwinville, MA – Seaman Paper Develops Tissue Barrier to Use on Common Surfaces in Response to Coronavirus

Seaman Paper introduced a new paper-based product to minimize direct hand contact with frequently touched public surfaces. The tissue sheet product can be used as a substitute for gloves, and it also offers a more environmentally-friendly option. Sheets would be grab-and-go and be used as a barrier to avoid directly touching shopping carts at grocery stores, pumps at gas stations, etc. While the company is marketing the product to commercial retailers, they could be made available to consumers in the future. The USW represents approximately 50 members at Seaman Paper.

USW Locals 2-327, 2-213, & 2-47 – Georgia-Pacific, Little Rapids Corporation, and Procter & Gamble – Green Bay, WI – Green Bay Was Considered the 'Toilet Paper Capital of the World' Long before Coronavirus Panic – Story Shared from Local Newspaper, the Green Bay Press Gazette

Northern Paper Mills, founded in Green Bay in 1901, became the largest producer of toilet paper in the world as Northern Tissue in 1920. The production of toilet paper helped to cushion the city from the worst of the Great Depression. The first “splinter-free toilet paper” was introduced by the company in 1935.

The paper industry still accounts for more than 6,000 jobs in Brown County. Georgia-Pacific has five facilities in Green Bay. The USW represents the Georgia-Pacific pulp and paper mill located on Day Street with nearly 200 members, and is the birthplace of Quilted Northern bathroom tissue. Other USW facilities in Green Bay that produce toilet paper include a Procter & Gamble mill and a Little Rapids Corporation converting facility.

read the full article, here.

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 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