Monday Morning Minute: May 30, 2022

Union Work

USW Launches Second “Your Union, Your Voice” Membership Survey

Two years ago, the USW launched the multi-part initiative, “Your Union, Your Voice,” to hear about the issues that matter most to you, provide more transparency in our union’s processes, and to share some of our union’s work to impact government decisions. Townhall meetings across the country have also provided opportunities to hear about the wins we’ve achieved and the work ahead.

The first Your Union, Your Voice survey revealed that our union’s top core issues are affordable healthcare, retirement security and workers’ rights. The feedback helped make sure that your priorities were reflected in our work. This round of the survey dives deeper into the core issues and introduces others like overtime, automation, trade, child care and climate change.

Because our union represents a diverse set of industries, we want to make sure that the USW paper sector is well-represented in the next stages of our union’s work and our overall legislative and policy agenda.

Please take a moment to let us know what your issue priorities are by filling out the online survey at the following link: 2022 Your Union, Your Voice Membership Survey | USW Voices.

The survey will be available through the end of June.

International Paper Mill and Converting Benefits Committee Meetings

The International Paper Mill and Converting Joint Health Care Committees met virtually on May 23. Members of the committee include local leaders from several sites across both of the councils, USW International leadership, and International Paper labor relations and benefits representatives. A number of International Paper’s benefits vendors also participate to give updates on the various programs that are tied to the overall benefits package.

The meetings last week included reviews of medical and prescription insurance utilization, plan spending vs. budgeted costs and trends and the transition to a different pharmacy benefit manager. In addition, the company presented information on a new optional long-term care program, which provides coverage for certain benefits that are not provided by Medicare, like assisted living and home health care. The mill group also discussed follow-up items around benefits that came up through the recent Mill Master Education Sessions.

American Forest & Paper Association's 2021 Recycling Rate Toolkit

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has put together a toolkit to publicize the paper industry’s recycling success story with key messaging around 2021 paper and cardboard recycling rates. Last year, 68% of all paper consumed in the United States was recycled – a rate on par with the highest rate previously achieved. Additionally, the recycling rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) also increased. The rate was 91.4% in 2021, up from the 2020 rate of 88.8%, and overall, a three-year average of 90.5%.  

Other key takeaways from the report include:

To help promote these findings, the AF&PA is encouraging industry advocates to share the results on social media. Find graphics and charts at the following links, and share alongside the key takeaways listed above:


Full-Time Safety Representative Course Scheduled for October 3 through 7

We wanted to alert you to an exciting, upcoming training opportunity for the paper sector. The USW Health, Safety and Environment Department, along with the Tony Mazzocchi Center, will, once again, be offering the Health and Safety Training for Full-Time Safety Representatives in the Paper Sector October 3 through 7. Due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the last time this course was offered was in early 2019.

Previous years’ content included hazard identification, hazard control methods, roles or USW full-time safety representatives in the paper sector and more. Be on the lookout for more information to come and details on how to register.

Industry Update

Domtar Kingsport Mill Experiences Shipping Delays

USW Local 12943 – Domtar – Kingsport, Tenn. – In March, supply chain issues threatened to delay the Domtar Kingsport mill’s containerboard conversion schedule after crucial equipment was stuck at the Dalian port in China. The supply chain backup was expected to add another three to six months to the mill’s startup, but the company decided to rent a large ocean freighter to ship 43 dryer cans, weighing about 15 tons, from China to the port in Charleston, S.C., to keep the project on schedule.

The freighter brought the equipment to port more quickly and also was able to be unloaded immediately because it had cranes on board. The $350 million conversion project at the mill will transform the site into the company’s first 100-percent recycled packaging facility. The site also recently received its first bales of old corrugated containers, which will be used to produce new recycled packaging products when the mill is up and running. Startup is still anticipated to take place in August.

Printing and Writing Papers Market Update

Printing and writing paper prices continue to rise due to increasing demand for these grades and the capacity conversions to containerboard that have taken place over the past several years. All major uncoated free sheet producers, including USW-represented companies such as PCA/Boise Paper, Domtar, Sylvamo and Pixelle, have announced price increases for May. Prices for coated free sheet and coated mechanical papers are also up.

According to analysts, printing and writing paper operating rates in North America were at 95 percent in April, down a few points from 98 percent in the same month last year. Coated free sheet mills operated at 99 percent of their capacity last month, while uncoated free sheet ran at 96 percent of their capacity. These high rates mean that businesses are running close to full capacity.

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 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