Monday Morning Minute: May 16, 2022

Union Work

Packaging Corporation of America Mill Locals Reach Tentative Agreement on New Master Agreement

The 10 local unions, representing seven mills and approximately 2,000 bargaining unit members, reached a tentative agreement last week on a new Master Agreement with Packaging Corporation of America (PCA). Economic provisions include all above-industry standard gains and no concessions.

The current Mill Master is set to expire in August 2023; however, the company approached the USW about bargaining the new Master Agreement one year early as a means of recognizing the hard work that our members put in through the pandemic and addressing the  attraction and retention issues around hiring and staffing. In mid-June, the PCA converting locals will be sitting down with the company to bargain, early, their new Master Agreement, as well.

PCA local membership will be receiving more details in the coming weeks to present during ratification meetings. The USW PCA Mill Council is pictured below forming a counter to one of the company’s proposals.

Paper Worker by Trade, Lobbyist for Workers’ Rights by Choice

USW Local 1241 – Essity – Danville – Jason Snellen is a paperworker at Essity’s Danville, Ky., tissue warehouse; he is covered in ink most days at his job making packaging labels for some of our top brands. But this day, he's donning a suit and tie, serving as a registered lobbyist, advocating for issues that affect our jobs, families and communities. He's just one of many of our union's legislative activists who fight for all of us. Watch Jason’s story at the following link: Paper worker by trade, lobbyist by choice | United Steelworkers (


USW Health, Safety and Environment Effective Safety Committees Class at WestRock’s Fernandina Beach Mill and Box Shop

USW Local 415 – WestRock – Fernandina Beach, Fla. – Earlier this month, WestRock’s Fernandina Beach, Fla., mill and box shop participated in the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department’s Effective Safety Committees workshop.

In addition to the mill and box membership, WestRock Corporate leadership and mill management were present during the joint sessions.

Worker-trainer Deb Carter from USW Local 560, along with USW Health, Safety and Environment staffer Trish Creech, facilitated the workshop.

The session was unique in that it was the first time that the workshop was conducted at a WestRock box shop. Photos from the sessions are included below.

OSHA Cited Non-USW-Represented Recycling Company Central Paper Stock Paper after Worker is Killed Falling in a Baler

The federal government said a paper recycling company failed to install guards or barriers that could have prevented an employee from being fatally crushed by equipment at the facility in October. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited 21 serious violations against Central Paper Stock Inc. and proposed $260,508 in fines against the company, which is located in Berkeley – a suburb of St. Louis, Mo.

The U.S. Department of Labor agency launched an investigation into the company in October after the death of an employee who fell into a paper baler while trying to clear a jam in the chute, which had stopped the machinery. The worker fell down the chute and then into the baler, OSHA officials said, noting that the company “failed to erect guards or barriers” that could have prevented it from happening.

While the site is not represented by the USW, the hazards of falling into dangerous equipment or being struck by equipment that cycles during service and maintenance are hazards across the industry. The union is continuously developing and improving systems through the paper sector’s Making and Converting Paper Safely 10-Point Plan to address these hazards.

Industry Update

Billerud to Convert Two of Verso’s Paper Machines at its Escanaba, Mich., Mill to Boxboard and Pulp Capacity will be Expanded

USW Local 2-21 – Billerud – Escanaba, Mich. – Two machines at Verso’s Escanaba, Mich., mill will be converted from coated paper to boxboard over the next several years. The conversion of PM #4 will begin in 2023 and is expected to be completed by 2025, and PM #3 by 2029. The total investment has initially been estimated to be up to SEK 9 billion (the equivalent of about $900 million USD) of which two-thirds would be invested up to 2025 and the remainder up to 2029, according to Billerud.

The downtime on each machine is estimated to be six months. “A thorough pre-study with more careful cost calculations and time schedules is planned to be completed in 2023, after which the board of directors will make an investment decision,” the company stated in its earnings release. Billerud also detailed that it plans to expand Verso’s pulp production and make maintenance-related upgrades early in the conversion project, during 2023-2024, so that Verso’s mills become self-sufficient in pulp after the conversion.

The Escanaba mill is one of the largest that the USW represents, with over 600 members present at the site. The announced investments are a good sign that the company has long-term plans to keep operations in place for the long term.

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