Monday Morning Minute: Oct. 16, 2017


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

USW Local 915 – PCA – Phoenix, AZ – Newly Organized Facility Reached Local Agreement

The box shop, which was organized in early August, unanimously ratified a first contract on October 12th. Working with District 11 Leadership and the USW Paper Team, the local was successfully integrated into the recently negotiated PCA Box Master Agreement that includes industry leading wage increases, medical insurance and safety language.  Beyond the benefits of a union contract, including securing working conditions in writing, a grievance/arbitration procedure and just cause, the workers gained 2-10 minute breaks and a 20 minute paid lunch (an increase from having just one 20 minute break in an 8-hour work day) and they won a 5th week of vacation after 20 years. Congratulations and welcome to the USW!

PCA Phoenix Bargaining Committee (from left: Kyle Tubbs, Johnny Cano, Peter Chacon, and Local Union 915 President Manny Armenta, Jr.)  The PCA Phoenix Box facility will be a unit in District 11’s Local 915 which played a key role in the organizing effort.

Brokaw Act is Re-Introduced

The Brokaw Act, named for a town that, essentially, collapsed after a former USW-represented Wausau Paper mill closed in Brokaw, WI. The bill has been re-introduced this year as a bi-partisan effort sponsored by Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and co-sponsored by David Perdue (R-GA). If enacted, the legislation could significantly restrict the ability of hedge fund activists to take minority stakes in companies and force them to make major changes.

The Brokaw Act aims to rewrite the rules of the U.S. economy by increasing transparency and strengthening oversight of activist hedge funds that are “abusing weak securities laws to gain large stakes in public companies,” Baldwin wrote.

“Congress has long recognized the potential for abuse when activist hedge funds form loose associations of wolf packs and tip allies to an impending disclosure,” Baldwin wrote. “In fact, Wall Street reforms passed in 2010 explicitly gave the Securities and Exchange Commission the power to address this problem, yet the SEC has been unwilling to use this authority.”

For more information on the Brokaw Act, click here.


Hazard Alert – Fatal Incident Involving a Belt Manlift at a Pulp Mill

A USW member was fatally injured after falling from a belt manlift. It appears the victim attempted to mount and ride the descending foot step (platform) when the incident occurred. He was working alone at the time and there were no witnesses. This antiquated equipment is a power-driven endless belt in a tall column running vertically through floor openings. The belt moves in one direction only. The belt has footsteps (platforms) and hand-holds placed every few feet. A worker steps on the attached step and grabs the attached hand-hold to ride up or down from one floor to another.

Click the link to view the entire Hazard Alert for recommendations to prevent recurrence. 

Industry Update

Appvion Bankruptcy Filing

Appvion filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 1st to facilitate a balance sheet restructuring and better position the business for long-term growth and success. The Company expects to continue operations as usual and has obtained a commitment for $85 million in new debtor-in-possession (“DIP”) financing from a group of its first lien lenders. Subject to Bankruptcy Court approval, this DIP financing, combined with cash generated by the Company, is expected to provide more than adequate liquidity to support ongoing operations during the process.  The USW’s legal team is working on the bankruptcy.

USW Local 11-63 – Sappi – Cloquet, MN – Mill Receives Award for its $170 Million Investment

The Cloquet Mill underwent a $170 million capital investment in 2011 to convert the kraft pulp operations to also produce chemical cellulose used in textile and consumer goods markets. Through this product diversification, along with investments in renewable energy and waste reduction, the mill has stayed profitable and competitive in a challenging market.

The award recognizes the mill for its investment in the state of Minnesota from the Minnesota Office of Foreign Direct Investment, under the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. The award highlights the company's contributions to the economic vitality of local communities, and its commitment to keeping Minnesota a world-leading business destination.

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Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Wayne Ranick at 412-562-2444

USW@WORK (USW magazine)
Editor Jim McKay

For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

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United Steelworkers
Communications Department
60 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222