Monday Morning Minute: May 31, 2021

Union Work

2021 Virtual National Paper Bargaining Conference

With the virtual National Paper Bargaining Conference less than two months away, we would like to begin sharing some of the exciting content that will be offered. Over the next several weeks in the Monday Morning Minute, additional details will be revealed around plenary sessions and other highlights that you can look forward to as a conference attendee.

The conference will kick off on day one at 11:00 a.m. eastern with the first plenary session including a unique video segment featuring local leaders from across the sector talking about various accomplishments and wins that they have achieved since the 2018 conference. USW International Vice President Leeann Foster will discuss the state of the paper industry and overall objectives for the sector in the union, and USW Health, Safety and Environment Director Steve Sallman will take us through a safety reflection and dedication to the lives in the paper sector that have been lost since the last conference. Paper Sector Bargaining Chair Luis Mendoza will talk about the current state of bargaining in the industry, and introduce the 2021 National Paper Bargaining Policy as recommended by the Policy Committee members who are being nominated throughout the months of May and June in virtual council meetings.

Stay tuned for more details next week….

USW Local 829 – Georgia-Pacific – Owosso, Mich.– A Few High Notes from USW Local 829

According to former Local Union President Mike Robinson, it's been a very busy six months for the leadership of Local 829. The local represents two units – a Georgia-Pacific box shop located in Owosso, Mich., and Meridian Brick/General Shale in Corunna, Mich.

For the Meridian Brick/General Shale contract, the local successfully negotiated a two-year extension during an acquisition that included a 2.75% raise the first year and 2.5% the 2nd year, with all other aspects of the agreement staying intact.

Pertaining to the Georgia-Pacific Owosso box shop, Mike said: “We have been in talks on several issues at both the [USW] International level and local level. We held a vote on the 3rd of May for a two-year master contract extension; we hashed out AMT-pay that we are rolling out to our members; we negotiated several wage adjustments for around 60 percent of our membership, and we had a successful local leadership vote that brought in several new officers (the old officers either retired or felt it was time to move on).”

For reference, Accelerated Manufacturing Transformation (AMT) pay is a new incentive program introduced across the Georgia-Pacific box locations that replaces the Performance Pay System. Its metrics are based on local goals, and each individual local has the opportunity to provide input to those metrics and how the program works best for their site.

From Two Sides North America – Five Signs Those Anti-Paper Studies May Be Bogus … And How to Spot Them

Anyone setting out to prove there’s a better alternative to paper products has a very high hurdle to clear: Proving that theirs is more sustainable than paper or paper-based packaging. It can take a lot of data stretching and twisting to yield a conclusion often at odds with the facts, and that kind of manipulation leaves telltale signs. Ask yourself:

  1. Who commissioned the study/who benefits from the study? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a self-interested group or competitor commissioning a study comparing its alternative with paper products, as long as it is honest and scientific.
  2. Is it based on a real-life cycle assessment (LCA) or is it a marketing piece in disguise? Determine if the study complies with the LCA principles and procedures developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). A study that conforms with ISO standards carefully defines the products that are being compared and what they are designed to do, sets specific study boundaries around the products, and meets other requirements.
  3. What’s under the hood? No matter what the supposed pedigree of a study, we need to know what’s in it.
  4. Are there footnotes to nowhere? Sometimes, the trail of citations goes in circles, or nowhere at all. Some advocacy groups, in particular, have a habit of citing another advocacy group’s study, and that second group may not have conducted any original research either.
  5. Does one size fit all? Generic online environmental calculators are sometimes used by businesses or advocacy groups to generate data that will serve as the foundation for their conclusions. However, unlike LCAs, which are product- and process-specific, online calculators are blunt instruments that of necessity are based on national industry averages and sometimes on assumptions that don’t hold up in the real world.

Safety

Mandatory Stop-Use Issued for Honeywell Miller Heavy Duty Harness 650K, 850K, 060076, and 080007 Kevlar Series When Used for Arc Flash Protection

Honeywell Personal Protective Equipment announced an immediate stop-use of the Honeywell Miller Heavy Duty Harness 650K, 850K, 060076, and 080007 Kevlar series ONLY when used for arc flash protection. While there have been no reported incidents due to this nonconformity, continued use of the product for arc flash protection could result in serious injury or death.

A list of potentially impacted part numbers and the entire mandatory stop-use notification can be found at the following link: StopuseArcFlashHarness (honeywell.com).

Industry Update

Fires Reported at PCA in International Falls and Verso Wisconsin Rapids Mill

USW Locals 159 & 2-94 – Packaging Corporation of America & Verso – International Falls, Minn., & Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – The USW paper sector experienced two fires last week – one at PCA’s International Falls, Minn., mill and the other at Verso’s idled Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., mill. No employees of either site were injured.

According to reports at PCA in International Falls, a Minnesota Power outage impacting over 4,500 people in the area caused a hard stop of PM#1 which it isn’t built to do, and the disruption caused the fire. The fire at Verso in Wisconsin Rapids started in a fiberglass stack that was part of the idle hardwood digester at the mill. Fire and heat compromised the stack and it collapsed, which started fired in and around the digester tower.

Wet-End Rebuild at Dunn Paper Mill in Menominee, Mich.

USW Local 2-172 – Dunn Paper – Menominee, Mich. – Dunn Paper’s specialty paper mill located in Menominee, Mich., announced that it will rebuild the wet-end section of its #2 paper machine. The machine produces machine glazed grades of specialty paper and flexible packaging products. The rebuild includes the approach flow system and a hydraulic TT Headbox-SL fitted with dilution control. Dunn has made several upgrades to its mills in recent years—a sign that the company is investing in its assets to keep it competitive. 

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