Monday Morning Minute: Oct. 30, 2017

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

A Note from USW Paper Sector Vice President, Jon Geenen

“The kind of thing that makes your day (in my line of work at least) [I spoke to] one of our local presidents, from deep within a right to work state. In fact he is from a plant where there are still hundreds of scabs from a dispute in the 1980s. The Company is owned by folks that have financed the attacks on Unions all over the nation. That has not made our local leaders' jobs easier-yet this local recently hired 125 new employees-and signed up 125 new Union members. Moral of the Story: Strong Local Leadership matters. Social Solidarity matters. And the Union matters - when we let people know that even despite the difficulties we face today, even after tough negotiations, that it is still the Union that has your back and is the best hope for working families in this economy. To my Brother for persevering under the toughest of circumstances: well done!”

Safety

USW Local 340 – WestRock – Sheldon Springs, VT – Local Union Safety Committee 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 October 11th the USW Local Union 340’s leaders and safety committee members participated in the first day of training; on October 12th they were joined by management counterparts 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 provided the sessions.

Participants discussed strengths of their labor-management safety and health committee, such as labor and management members’ interest in the success of the committee by not just being a “fix-it” committee and tackling larger, more complex issues; and having representation from various departments; as well as challenges the committee faces such as scheduling meeting times due to shift work and how to complete action items.

The labor-management session fostered a great discussion among participants regarding their perspectives on various aspects of their committee, such as:

The workplace has, and will continue to have, discussions on how to implement the items identified during the training program as well as how to accomplish the items identified with support of both union and management serving on the committee.

Participants’ comments following the sessions included: “Got the ball rolling getting management and union working together constructively,” “We got some good discussion going & identified common problems,” “Suggests ways both parties can contribute to health and safety success through the joint committee,” “Helped to widen the scope of the item to be looked at by our committee,” and “This is a welcome topic, I’m glad to see the union being active in this area, and taking initiative.”

See below for photos from the two-day training:

 

 

Industry Update

Graphic Packaging Combining with IP’s N.A. Consumer Packaging

On October 24, 2017, Graphic Packaging announced that it would be combing with International Paper’s Consumer Packaging business in a $1.8 billion transaction. IP will own 20.5% of the business while Graphic Packaging will own 79.5%. The new partnership will result in an integrated paper-based packaging company with approximately $6 billion of revenue and $1 billion of EBITDA post-synergies.

The transaction is expected to close in 2018, subject regulatory approval. Two USW-represented International Paper mills are involved in the transaction – Texarkana, TX, represented by Locals 1148 & 1149; and Augusta, GA, represented by locals 983 & 1803. The locals will join the 11 other locals within the Graphic Packaging Council.

International Paper Chairman and CEO Mark Sutton said about the transaction, "Investing in Graphic Packaging gives IP the opportunity to benefit from a much stronger value-creation consumer packaging platform, while allowing us to remain focused on growing value in our core businesses.”

USW Local 1505-03 – Mondi – Arcadia, LA

The Local was notified that the Mondi plant located in Arcadia, LA will be shutting down. The Local is going into effects bargaining to negotiate a deal for the approximately 38 members who are affected by the closure.

 

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