Monday Morning Minute: May 27, 2019

Union Work

International Paper Benefits Committee Meeting

The International Paper Mill and Converting Joint Health Care Committees met on May 15 and 16. Attendees included USW representatives from selected facilities, USW International leadership, International Paper labor relations and benefits representatives, representatives from a number of International Paper’s benefits vendors and the Mill Joint Health Care Committee.

The meetings included reviews of Medical/Rx insurance utilization and spending vs. budgeted costs and trends. The parties also discussed IP’s recent transition to a new pharmacy benefit manager and raised issues for resolution. Finally, there were presentations about various benefits that IP offers but believes are underutilized, and there was discussion about how to let members know about these benefits that IP believes can improve member health and lower both company and member spending on healthcare. More information will be shared at the upcoming IP Council meeting in September. 


Honoring a Victim’s Memory on Workers’ Memorial Day – From USW International President Leo Gerard

Last year, on Halloween just before midnight, Frank Leasure left work at American Standard in Salem, Ohio. To get to his car in the employee lot, he had to walk across two sets of Norfolk Southern railroad tracks. He waited in frigid, driving rain for a westbound train to pass, then began to cross, only to be struck by an eastbound train that he apparently did not see or hear.

Frank Leasure, 62, of Carrollton, Ohio, Army veteran, husband, father and grandfather, was one of 19 members of the union I lead, the United Steelworkers (USW), who died on the job between last Workers’ Memorial Day and this one. Workers’ Memorial Day is observed annually on April 28 to commemorate those who lost their lives at work. In 2017, the most recent year for which national statistics are available, 5,147 workers died on the job, an average of 14 every day.

The USW is devoted to reducing those numbers. One way it does that is disseminating information about how specific workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities occur and how to prevent them. Another is establishing labor-management health and safety committees to continuously analyze workplace risks and reduce them. In the case of Frank Leasure, both occurred.

To read the blog post in its entirety and for more information on the ways that the USW tirelessly works to reduce the number of workplace fatalities and injuries, copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Industry Update

Sonoco to Acquire Corenso Holdings America

USW Locals 273, 383, 747, 1274, 1350, 1517 & 13-1856 – Sonoco Products – Menasha, Wis.; Holyoke, Mass.; Richmond, Va.; Memphis, Tenn.; Hutchinson, Kan.; De Pere, Wis.; Carrollton, Texas – 

On May 20, Sonoco announced that it would acquire Corenso Holdings America for approximately $110 million in cash from private equity company, Madison Dearborn Partners. Corenso produces uncoated recycled paperboard and high-performance cores used in the paper, packaging films, tape and specialty industries. USW Locals 2-94 Unit 3 and 2-187 Unit 2 represent two Corenso facilities located in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., that convert cores and tubes.

Sonoco is a more-than-$5 billion manufacturer of consumer, industrial and protective packaging products, and is a provider of packaging services. The company is a market-share leader in tubes, cores and composite containers. There are approximately 450 members across the seven Sonoco facilities represented by the USW.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

More Containerboard Price Cuts

Kraft linerboard prices in May are down by another $10/ton in the U.S., and prices to China and Mexico – the two largest importers of kraft linerboard – are also down by $20-$30/ton and $10/ton, respectively. The dynamic of falling demand and exports, together with increasing capacity across the industry has led to historically high inventory levels. The larger, integrated producers, like International Paper, WestRock and Georgia-Pacific have been shouldering most of the burden to reduce capacity and level prices.

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 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