Monday Morning Minute: May 29, 2017


Union Work – Collective Bargaining, Organizing, Arbitration, Worker Rights, Community Work, Political Work, Labor History

Workers Uniting Meetings with Unite Union and IndustriALL

The Kimberly-Clark, Graphic Packaging and SCA Councils met with their UK counterparts in Appleton, WI May 17th-18th. The USW and Unite unions’ alliance called Workers Uniting was formed in 2011 to jointly challenge anti-worker governments and employers. Workers Uniting has a strong voice inside IndustriALL, and both Unite and the USW are represented on the IndustriALL Pulp and Paper Work Group that acts as a steering committee for global activities in the sector.

Priority issues for the local unions include confronting a growing outsourcing trend, and dealing with the “Grey Tsunami” that refers to a crisis of an aging workforce due to years of poor training and hiring practices in the sector. Local Union representatives in attendance toured nearby plants within their respective councils located in Neenah and Wausau.

IndustriALL Pulp and Paper Sector Co-Chair Leeann Foster said: “There have been five fatalities this year in the USW paper sector, and a staggering number of life altering injuries. Our sector is again the most dangerous USW sector this year. That is why we are working to enact the Making and Converting Paper Safely policy that our sector conference adopted last year.”


USW Local 11-63 – Sappi – Cloquet, MN – Local Participated in Paper Sector Safety Training Under USW-Tony Mazzochi Center’s Grant Program

On May 16th and 17th, the Sappi Cloquet Mill local participated in safety training under the USW-Tony Mazzochi Center’s Grant Program. Several representatives from the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers Local 939 also participated in the training.

The training consisted of a Union-only day which included “green-on-green” training and the problems and potential problems this can cause. On the second day, training included joint labor-management sessions. During this last segment, three of the six small groups (comprised of union and management participants) chose the issue of “green-on-green” training to develop a strategy to address the problem.  Photos from the two-day training are included below.


Industry Update

WestRock Acquiring Five U.S. Corrugated Box Plants

WestRock has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire five corrugated converting facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Louisiana from US Corrugated. USW represents approximately 87 members at the facility located in Coal Center, PA, which is one of the shops being acquired.

"This acquisition will enhance our capabilities to serve customers across the Midwest, increase our integration and improve the margins of our corrugated packaging business,” said Steve Voorhees, chief executive officer of WestRock.

US Corrugated manufactures corrugated products for packaging and displays. The transaction is expected to close in June 2017.

USW Local 8-467 – WestRock – West Point, VA – Company Proposing Plans to Invest $50 Million in New Wood Chip Storage

The Company is looking to update its existing wood yard equipment but investing $50million in new storage and transfer facilities at the mill. The proposal is being assessed by the local town council which would consider a special use permit application for the project on May30th.

The mill is proposing to install 90-foot ship truck dumps, two 100-foot wood chip piles and a 79.5-foot conveyor, among other equipment in the south wood yard, according to the permit application. Some of the new chip storage equipment will be the same height as what they replace, such as the ship truck dumps — which are lifts that unload tractor trailers hauling wood chips by tipping the vehicles backward. The new conveyor from the wood chip piles to the wood chip screens is the same height as the existing one.

According to WestRock Chief Communications Officer, Donna Cox, “The capacity of these wood yards is constraining our production”. For more information, click here.

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