Monday Morning Minute: Oct. 9, 2017


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

Overtime Arbitration – Georgia-Pacific – Zachary, LA (Port Hudson Mill)

The employer unilaterally changed the exemption policy used to avoid working overtime. The employer argued that during a shutdown period, where shift times are different, workers are not permitted to use exemptions to avoid overtime since the exemptions only apply to 8 hour shifts and not 12 hours shifts. The employer also argued that the 12 hour shifts become the regular hours during a shutdown even if they include overtime, therefore exemptions cannot be used. The union argued that this was a violation of the CBA since exemptions can be used on any extended shifts as long as they are turned in by the worker on time. The union also argued that even if there is no overtime on the day an exemption is used it is still counted against the worker. The arbitrator ruled that workers can use an exemption on any day that they are asked to work more than an 8-hour shift. Award: grievance sustained.

USW Locals 936 & 13-935 – Mondi – Pine Bluff, AR

Local membership approved an extension to the existing contract consisting of a 2% wage increase retroactive to 1/1/17 and a 1% increase on 1/1/18. The extension was due to an announcement of potential sale for the mill. All provisions of the labor agreement remain the same from the previous CBA.


9th Annual USW IP Mill Safety Conference

On September 28th, USW and the International Paper Mill system held its 9th annual Health and Safety Conference. The Safety Conference began with a joint Committee presentation on the history of the conference, safety leading indicators and safety committees. Afternoon breakout sessions focused on Hazard Recognition and Controls, Heat Stress, Local Safety Committees, Dust Hazard Analysis, and Safety Leading Indicators.

Prior to the conference, participants worked on posters to present in a Gallery Walk. Intended to be a joint project between Labor and Management, the poster focused on safety initiatives for equipment and workplace conditions. Three winners were chosen out of all entries; those winners include: Pensacola (locals 444, 1561 & 9-447), Riegelwood (local 9-738) and, for the fifth year in a row, Texarkana (locals 1148 & 1149). If you are interested in viewing any of the winning posters, please contact Laura Donovan (; 412-562-2504) for an electronic version of the documents.

Prior to the joint session, on September 27th, the IP Mill locals met in a union-only session to prepare for the conference. Full-Time Health and Safety Representatives who attended the recent training in Pittsburgh reported out on what they learned. Discussions on Hazard ID and Control, LIFE Potential Indemnification, Safe Work Observations, Safe Work Observation Employee Engagement, 5S Performance, Safety Leadership Training and Project Plan Execution were also conducted.

Leeann Foster reviewing “Making and Converting Paper Safely” with USW members.

The group during the Union-only session.

Industry Update

USW Local 2-144 – Appleton Coated – Combined Locks, WI

In August, Appleton Coated filed a state Chapter 128 petition, which is a quasi-bankruptcy process which permits the Company to continue operations under the supervision of a court-appointed receiver. A WARN notice and notice under the Wisconsin Business Closing law were provided per the structure of the Chapter 128 proceedings.

The process culminated last week with a sale to Industrial Assets Machinery- a used machinery dealer. The Union was able to come to an agreement with the buyer to market the facility as a turnkey operation. But, unfortunately, the Court appointed receiver badly damaged the business when he ordered the plant to be idled and laid off most of the 600 employees.

The Chapter 128 process is an end run around workers and favors the first lien lenders (in this case, PNC Bank). The bank, which received a 7 billion dollar bailout by tax holders just a few years ago, imposed a steep penalty on Appleton Coated that drove the company deeper into crisis and hurt the ability of workers to recover millions of dollars in vacation and other benefits. The Union is working with the new owner on a marketing strategy.

From BMO Capital Markets Analysts – Update on Supply in Containerboard Markets

Analysts think that the combination of demand growth, high operating rates, and rising prices made recent capacity additions at International Paper and PCA virtually "inevitable." Analysts also believe that both companies may have more opportunities for conversions in their white paper systems.

Analysts also believe that Domtar and Verso have both hinted at potential conversions from white paper to containerboard. Pratt Industries and Cascades could both be more likely to convert as Pratt opened a new mill on the west coast and Cascades could provide another source of incremental supply if they opt to move ahead with a Greenpac 2 mill at Niagara Falls, NY.

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Press Inquiries

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

Mailing Address

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