Monday Morning Minute: May 17, 2021

Union Work

International Paper and Domtar Joint Health Care Committee Meetings

During the first week in May, the USW/Domtar and USW/International Paper Mill and Converting Joint Health Care Committees held virtual meetings to review 2020 health care costs and trends and other relevant benefits issues.  These meetings provide a valuable opportunity for USW leaders at the International and Local levels to review key data driving health care plan costs and work with employers on ways to improve members’ health care while minimizing expenses. 

A key takeaway from each of these meetings was that medical office closures earlier in the pandemic led to reduced non-emergency medical services, helping to keep claims down, but increasing risk that potential medical conditions will go undetected. Now that doctors’ offices and other medical facilities are more broadly open for non-emergency treatment, we urge all members to get back on track with preventive medical care and screenings.  Preventive care can identify potential medical issues early when they are more easily treatable, providing better outcomes and lower costs.

USW Locals 444, 1561, 9-447 – International Paper – Cantonment (Pensacola) Fla.

In the past two months, International Paper has hired 37 new hourly employees at its Cantonment paper mill. One hundred percent of these new hires signed union cards, a good reminder of the importance of union participation in new hire orientation.  Welcome to our new Brothers and Sisters at IP Cantonment!

The April and May issues of the USW’s Stewards’ Corner discuss the importance of stewards as organizers.  The May issue in particular has excellent tips for stewards with respect to reaching out to new hires. Click on the following link to access Stewards’ Corner: https://www.usw.org/act/activism/education/resources/stewards-corner-newsletter

Preliminary Determination in Antidumping Duty Investigations of Thermal Paper from Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Spain

On May 6, the Commerce Department announced its affirmative determination than manufacturers in Germany, Japan, South Korea and Spain had illegally dumped thermal paper on the US market.  As a result, antidumping duties between 2.78% and 41.45% will be levied on US imports of thermal paper from manufacturers in those countries.

Supporting Continued Use of Paper for Critical Documentation

Recently, 10 members of Congress sent a letter to a House of Representative Appropriations Subcommittee urging it to include a renewal of past policy in the 2022 appropriations to the Food & Drug Administration. Specifically, the policy prohibits the FDA from issuing new regulations that would allow for prescription drug information to be electronically distributed to physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals. The members of Congress call for the continued use of printed paper for these materials.  The USW has long been actively involved with lobbying efforts to protect the dissemination of paper documents for critical information such as in this case.

Safety

Workers Memorial Day

OSHA commemorated Workers Memorial Day this year with a virtual program and publication of a new webpage with a virtual Workers Memorial Wall. 

You can see the program by following this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpISaIu5dx8 and see the wall and additional proclamations by members of Congress at this link: https://www.osha.gov/workers-memorial.

Industry Update

Paper Excellence Acquisition of Domtar

USW Locals 59, 266, 319, 10-701, 1261, 13-1327, 1329, 1356, 1423 & 12943

It was announced last week that Paper Excellence plans to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Domtar common stock for $55 per share in cash, representing an enterprise value of approximately $3.0 billion.

After the transaction closes, Paper Excellence intends to continue the operations of Domtar as a stand-alone business entity. As such, Domtar will continue to be led by its management team, and Paper Excellence plans to retain its corporate and production locations.

Due to the successorship clause in the master agreement, the master agreement and all local collective bargaining agreements will be honored, and all existing terms and conditions of employment remain in place for all USW members working at Domtar.

Paper Excellence is controlled by the family that owns Asia Pulp and Paper, the Indonesian company that is the world’s largest paper company. Headquartered in British Columbia, Paper Excellence is a diversified manufacturer of pulp and specialty, printing, writing and packaging papers. The company operates seven mills in Canada producing and shipping over 2.8 million tons annually with a workforce of more than 2,800.

Americraft Sale to Graphic Packaging

USW Locals 264 & 2360 – St. Paul, Minn. & Memphis, Tenn.

Graphic Packaging entered into an agreement to acquire Americraft Carton Inc. for approximately $280 million. Based in Prairie Village, Kan., Americraft is one of the largest independent paperboard folding carton converters with seven US locations.  The USW represents employees at two of these locations, St. Paul, Minn. and Memphis, Tenn.  Workers at these two locations will join the members at 13 other Graphic Packaging mill and converting facilities in the USW Graphic Packaging Councils.

Graphic Packaging said the proposed acquisition is expected to add approximately $200 million in sales and “significant opportunities for paperboard integration upon completion.” The transaction is expected to close in the next few months.

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