Monday Morning Minute: Nov. 27, 2017

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

Today in Labor History:

November 20th: First use of term “scab,” by Albany Typographical Society - 1816

November 21st: The United Auto Workers Union strikes 92 General Motors plants in 50 cities to back up worker demands for a 30-percent raise. An estimated 200,000 workers are out - 1945

November 22nd: “The Uprising of the 20,000.” Some 20,000 female garment workers are on strike in New York; Judge tells arrested pickets: “You are on strike against God.” The walkout, believed to be the first major successful strike by female workers in American history, ended the following February with union contracts bringing better pay and working conditions – 1909

November 23rd: The first meeting between members of the newly-formed National Football League Players Association and team owners takes place in New York. Union founders included Frank Gifford, Norm Van Brocklin, Don Shula and Kyle Rote. They were asking for a minimum $5,000 salary, a requirement that their teams pay for their equipment, and a provision for the continued payment of salary to injured players. The players’ initial demands were ignored - 1956

November 24th: Led by Samuel Gompers, who would later found the American Federation of Labor, Cigarmakers’ Int’l Union Local 144 is chartered in New York City - 1875

November 25th: Teachers strike in St. Paul, Minn., the first organized walkout by teachers in the country. The month-long “strike for better schools” involving some 1,100 teachers—and principals—led to a number of reforms in the way schools were administered and operated - 1946

November 26th: Six young women burn to death and 19 more die when they leap from the fourth-story windows of a blazing factory in Newark, N.J. The floors and stairs were wooden; the only door through which the women could flee was locked - 1910

Safety

USW Local Union 27 – Woodland Pulp, LLC, Baileyville, Maine -  Completes Two-Day Workshop under the USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center’s “Preventing Fatalities and Improving Safety and Health in the Paper Sector” Project

On November 7th USW Local Union 27 leaders and safety committee members along with a representative from National Council for Firemen and Oilers (NCFO) Local 330 participated in the first day of training; on November 8th they were joined by management counterparts from Woodland Pulp, LLC for the program titled “Increasing the Effectiveness of Labor-Management Safety and Health Committees.” Steve Sallman of the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Department and Nancy Lessin of the USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center presented the training.

Participants discussed strengths of their framework for labor-management efforts aimed at improving safety and health including a regularly scheduled monthly labor-management safety and health committee meeting and ability to get some hazards addressed; as well as challenges facing them such as lack of committee chairpersons, time constraints, and tendencies for the existing committee to be a “deep dark hole” where problems are raised but solutions are slow to come, or a “fix-it” committee that focuses on “fix-it” work-order type issues rather than being more pro-active with a focus on larger health and safety concerns and solutions.

Following a small group activity focusing on specific elements of an effective safety and health committee, the full group discussed plans to improve committee effectiveness by identifying specific actions to improve research the committee can engage in, better address toxic and hazardous substances, deal with workplace changes that can impact safety and health, develop more collaborative ways to conduct accident and incident investigations, implement regular audits/walk-around inspections, as well as evaluate progress of the improvements they plan to make.

In another small group activity aimed at reviewing 32 aspects of effective committees, several areas were identified for improvement. Ideas discussed included providing time for union safety committee members to meet prior to the labor-management safety and health committee meeting so the labor-management meeting could focus on priority concerns as well as proposed solutions to problems raised; and forming sub-committees to accomplish some specific committee work and tasks. One result of this activity was that both management and the union named committee co-chairs for the labor-management safety and health committee who would be getting together to help steer the committee and its activities.

In a final activity, small groups created strategic plans to get specific problems addressed, including bark handling and dust in a boiler, line labeling in a recovery boiler, fork truck safety, and training.

Participants’ comments about the training program following the sessions included: “Very helpful in getting us geared up; going forward I believe people will get involved,” “It was very needed – and enlightening,” “Very well put together – time well spent,” “Very informative in providing direction for a successful health and safety committee,” “Very insightful and thought-provoking,” “Able to elicit good open and honest discussion in a constructive manner,” and “Really like the emphasis on working together toward a common goal.” 

Local 27 President, Phil Polk, explaining to the class about key challenges the mill’s Labor-Management Safety and Health Committee is facing.

USW LU 27's newly-selected Safety and Health Committee Chair William Delnicki describing his small group's plan for improving one aspect of the effectiveness of the labor-management safety and health committee.

Industry Update

Georgia-Pacific to Shut Camas, WA Mill – Fourth Supply Reduction in Past 6 Months in Uncoated Free Sheet Paper

Georgia-Pacific announced that it plans to permanently shut its Camas, WA mill, which has ~237K tons of UFS capacity. The mill currently makes 166K tons of office/copy paper and 71K tons of printing and converting grades. Production is set to stop by Q2 2018. The mill in Camas is not represented by the USW.

GP noted that continual declines in demand for communication paper led to the decision to shut down operations at the mill.  According to Risi, when the Camas mill shuts, there will only be one mill on the West Coast making uncoated free sheet (white) paper – the former Weyehaeuser Norpac operation in Longview, WA. 

Packaging Corporation of America and International Paper both recently announced conversions to containerboard. GP's shutdown along with PCA and IP's announced conversions at Wallula and Riverdale accounts for approximately 7.4% of North American UFS capacity.

USW Local 2-144 – Appleton Coated – Combined Locks, WI – US Sen. Baldwin seeks answers from PNC Bank on its role in demise of Appleton Coated Mill

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin sent a letter Thursday to William S. Demchak, PNC Bank chairman, president and CEO, asking about the bank’s role in the demise of Appleton Coated in Combined Locks. She noted that the bank allegedly had options to keep the mill opened but refused them, called in loan and demanded full payment immediately.

“I am deeply concerned that PNC Bank appears to have recklessly pursued short-term profit at the expense of Appleton Coated, its workers and their families,” the Wisconsin Democrat wrote in her letter to Demchak. She included 15 questions on the bank’s loan, actions and relationships.

For more information, click HERE.

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