Monday Morning Minute: May 3, 2021

Union Work

PCA Locals Participate in Virtual Renewal Bargaining Summit

USW Locals 1-220, 9923, 9-978, 402, 361, 1083, 803, 1259, 2-1005, 1730, 7-555, 475 – Packaging Corporation of America – Akron, Ohio; Counce, Tenn.; Grandville, Mich.; Jackson, Ala.; Marshfield, Wis.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Plymouth, Minn.; Salisbury, N.C.; Vincennes, Ind.; Winter Haven, Fla.

PCA mill and converting locations that have their second renewal bargaining scheduled this year met virtually on April 28 with labor and management representatives.

Typically, these Renewal Bargaining Summits are held in-person annually with the affected sites bargaining in that year. But, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, this year’s meeting was moved to a virtual format using the FMCS’ RingCentral platform.

A union-only session was held prior to the joint-session with management. The group as a whole reviewed the items that should be bargained locally and those that are already covered under the master, like major economic terms.

Each site also held individual labor-management breakouts to participate in an exercise designed to practice problem-solving based on the renewal bargaining concepts discussed earlier in the meeting. The Renewal Bargaining Summit has proven to be helpful in improving the success of our local renewal negotiations.

USW International VP Roxanne Brown on Why Workers Need a Seat at the Table when Transitioning to Clean Infrastructure

International Vice President Roxanne Brown spoke at the White House Leader Summit on climate change to talk about how USW members across many sectors supply America's physical (bridges, roads, etc.) and social (utilities, hospitals, etc.) infrastructure, and how USW members in ALL sectors are an essential part of our country's future.

We need more leaders around the world to engage in honest conversations with workers and unions as they form policies. Vice President Brown emphasized that USW members literally supply America every day with the components, materials and essential items that go into physical and social infrastructure. She said that communities depend on the tax base from these workers’ labor.

In the paper sector, policy initiatives that promote the use of renewable biomass are important. They help maximize energy efficiency and decarbonization, and are one way that workers can remain at the center of the transformation. The Biden Administration has actively sought the voice of labor, and politicians need to make room for us at the table.

Watch the entire clip of International Vice President Brown at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHqTEIHHpiM.

Safety

Steve Sallman now Director of the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department

The USW International office is pleased to announce that Steve Sallman is now serving as director of the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) department, taking over for the newly-retired Mike Wright.

Steve has nearly 30 years of HSE experience, and has had an enormous impact on the health and safety improvements within the paper sector over recent years.

He joined the labor movement in 1987 as a member of the United Rubber Workers (URW) at Bridgestone/Firestone in Des Moines, Iowa. He spent eight years as a full-time HSE representative for Local 310L and nearly five years working for Iowa OSHA. He moved to Pittsburgh as a member of the HSE department in 2004.

Congratulations to Steve on behalf of the USW paper sector!!

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) eTools

OSHA has assembled a comprehensive list of eTools that are stand-alone, interactive, Web-based trainings on occupational safety and health topics.

They are highly illustrated and utilize graphical menus. Some also use expert system modules, which enable the user to answer questions, and receive reliable advice on how OSHA regulations apply to their work site. Expert Advisors are based solely on expert systems, and v-Tools are prevention video training tools.

Selected eTools are available as downloadable files for off-line use.

Some of the eTools that could be useful to workers in the paper industry include: hazard identification, eye and face protection, machine guarding, powered industrial trucks and respiratory protection. Ergonomic-related eTools are available specific to the printing industry, and several resources Expert Advisors created are pertinent to all industries.

Click here for the full list of downloadable OSHA eTools: https://www.osha.gov/etools.

Industry Update

Containerboard Industry Update

Earlier this month, the American Forest and Paper Association released its most recent quarterly reports on the containerboard industry, which included figures up to March 2021.

US Box Shipments increased 4.0% y/y during the first quarter of the year. Average weekly shipments also increased by 5.3% compared to last year at this time; this is slightly slower than the 8.4% year-over-year increase that the 4th quarter of 2020 saw.

Containerboard consumption at box plants was also up 3.3% compared to last year, but down a bit compared, again, to the very strong 4Q2020.

The US containerboard operating rate averaged 94.3% during Q1 – up slightly from the 93.6% recorded in December 2020.

Inventories increased at box plants, but were down at mills; box plant weeks of supply (the number of weeks the plants have before inventories completely run out if not replenished) remains very low, leaving industry inventories at one of the lowest levels ever.

Overall, performance in the market was better than analysts anticipated.

Demand still remains strong as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on e-commerce; however, we may see this begin to slow down as more of the population becomes vaccinated and society begins to normalize.

Printing and Writing Papers Industry Update

The American Forest and Paper Association also released its report on printing and writing papers, which is generated monthly.

According to the report, total printing-writing paper shipments decreased 20% in March compared to March 2020. Total printing-writing paper inventory levels decreased 5% when compared to February 2021.

Both coated and uncoated grade shipments were significantly lower than March 2020 figures. Uncoated free sheet (UFS) paper shipments decreased 14% compared to March 2020, while the inventory level decreased 6% compared to February 2021. U.S. purchases of coated free sheet (CFS) papers in March decreased 29% compared to last March, while the inventory level decreased 6% compared to February 2021.

As we have reported previously, the pandemic’s impact on school and office closures continues to have a grave impact on the market.

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