Monday Morning Minute: May 25, 2020

INCIDENT ALERT

USW Local 692 – Resolute Forest Products – Coosa Pines, Ala.

On May 16, 2020, a member was injured at the Resolute Forest Products Mill in Coosa Pines, Ala., and sustained, potentially, life-altering injuries. The complete details are unknown at this time and we will follow up soon with more details when they become available.

Union Work

USW Celebrates 78 Years of Activism

A Message from USW International President Conway

Last Friday, May 22, we celebrated the day 78 years ago that union activists came together in Cleveland and formed the United Steelworkers of America. Over the years, we’ve grown and joined with other important unions, merged our traditions, fought many battles with difficult employers, advanced and improved the lives of working people in both the United States and Canada, and have so often been at the forefront of the fight for social justice and equality.

While at times we have been challenged and felt under siege, our union has never been broken and because of our determination, solidarity and willful purpose, we will never be broken. We are and have always been an important voice in the political and legislative processes of our nations, and our presence is crucial and influential to this day. Our great union of working-class people has, as we all know, made each of our lives more meaningful, and has allowed each of us personally to live lives of dignity and to know the confidence and comfort of never having to stand alone against the troubles the world can bring into the lives of hard-working people.

Click the link to view USW International President Conway’s full statement: https://www.usw.org/news/media-center/articles/2020/message-from-president-conway-happy-birthday-to-our-great-union

Our predecessor union that merged its traditions with the USWA to form the USW, traces its roots back 137 years ago to 1883.  Facing the economic depression of 1884-1885, paperworkers organized as the United Brotherhood of Paper Makers and were granted a charter by the American Federation of Labor in 1883. Their proud heritage of standing together in times of trouble, along that of other unions, forms the diverse strength and determination we celebrate today.

Workers Uniting Print and Packaging Sector Virtual Meeting

On May 21, the USW along with representatives from Unite the Union, based in the United Kingdom, held a virtual meeting to discuss the impact of COVID-19 in their respective countries and workplaces. The USW paper sector has a global trade union alliance called Workers Uniting with unions around the world that have common employers in the print and packaging industry, including WestRock, Kimberly-Clark and Graphic Packaging.

In addition to the USW’s paper sector leadership, several local union leaders participated in the videoconference: Luke Wright, Kevin Flynn and James Dubois from the WestRock mills in Eaton, Ind., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Tacoma, Wash.; Chris Larson from the Kimberly-Clark Marinette, Wis., mill, and Mike Hassiel and Tony Hillsman from the Graphic Packaging Kalamazoo, Mich., mill. The group discussed how our common employers are handling the current pandemic crisis and identified areas where we can support or help each other.

The Workers Uniting alliance allows us to exchange information, which is arguably more important now than it ever has been as we move through and beyond this crisis.

Did You Know?

Most U.S. Consumers Polled Say Paper-Based Packaging is Better for the Environment

As U.S. consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their packaging choices, a majority believe that paper-based packaging is better for the environment. The survey conducted by Toluna, an independent consumer research company, found that paper/cardboard packaging ranked highest on 11 of 15 attributes related to environmental, practical and visual/tactile qualities. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that paper/cardboard packaging is better for the environment, and a majority also said that it is easier to recycle.

The survey also found that consumers are willing to change their behavior to shop more sustainably. About 38 percent are willing to spend more on a product if it is packaged using sustainable materials.

Safety

Changes to FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets Pertaining to Hot Work

Hot work fires or explosions are the result of inadequate hot work management allowing ignition sources to come into contact with combustible, ignitable or flammable material. Improperly managed hot work has been a hazard across the USW and specifically in two, triple fatality incidents at paper mills. FM Global released an updated data sheet on hot work, including information on prevention and fire/explosion mitigation and recommendations.           

While FM Global compiles data sheets from a property-loss perspective and not purely safety-related, we can still garner information that can be helpful in preventing future incidents.

The following conclusions were drawn regarding key factors involving hot work: Failing to identify and isolate combustible construction in the hot work area increases the likelihood and severity of a hot work fire; failing to identify and isolate combustibles in a hot work high-risk area increases the likelihood and severity of a hot work fire; in-service fire protection systems significantly reduce the severity of a hot work fire; and, the overwhelming majority of hot work fires occur while the work is being done or within 60 minutes of completion, highlighting the importance of a fire watch both during and following hot work.

The primary focus of a hot work management program should be on pursuing cold work alternatives, or failing that, relocating the work to a hot work designated area. If hot work is unavoidable, it is vital to remove or isolate combustible materials.

Stop Use & Immediate Action Notice

3M Fall Protection Specific DBI-SALA Delta & Exofit XP Arc Flash Harnesses

Recent testing of specific DBI-SALA® Delta™ & Exofit XP™ Arc Flash harnesses have returned negative test results on some units. The Arc Flash Standard (ASTM F887) requires that all arc flash rated harnesses be subjected to an arc flash followed by a successful dynamic drop test. It should be noted that there is variability in arc flash testing of webbing-based products. Although not fully understood, it can stem from several contributing factors including positioning, webbing gap to the test torso, environmental elements, arc path, input energy and other possible sources.

To view the recall notice and check your equipment, click here: https://gravitec.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ANSI-AF-Harnesses-Stop-Use-05.13.2020.pdf?mc_cid=8e0fce6cf9&mc_eid=a78a73bcc1

Industry Update

AF&PA Released Containerboard Statistics for April

Containerboard figures were released by the American Forest and Paper Association for the month of April. A drastic slowdown in shipments from March’s figures was expected – year over year, shipments are down 2.1 percent. For perspective, shipments were up 9 percent year over year by 9 percent in the month of March, primarily due to demand driven by online shopping and consumer stockpiling. Demand has dropped and is likely to continue to slow due to a continued reversal of the panic-buying trend and an overall slowing of the economy.

Production, or operating, rates in April were at 95.9 percent, which is slightly higher than those in March, and 7 percent higher than April 2019. Containerboard exports increased by 29 percent year over year, but decreased 14.4 percent compared to March. The USW continues to monitor the economic effects not only in the paper sector, but across all sectors in our union.

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