Monday Morning Minute: Sept. 19, 2022

Union Work

USW Local 2-21 – Billerud – Escanaba, MI – USW Local 2-21 Women of Steel Committee is Sponsoring its 8th  Annual “Strike for Hunger” Event

The Steelworkers from Local 2-21 recognize many of their community members rely on the local food pantries for some of life’s essentials. That’s why the local’s Women of Steel committee is, once again, sponsoring a Strike for Hunger at local independent grocery stores—Elmer’s County Market and Pat’s Foods –on September 29th, 30th, and October 1st.

The annual event, now in its eighth year, has always been a success, but is even more so since the local’s Women of Steel Committee took it over several years ago, according to Local Union President Gerald Kell. Kell said that the committee has done a phenomenal job promoting and running the event: In the past two years, $10,000 was raised and 3,000 pounds of food collected. In addition to collecting monetary donations through Strike for Hunger, the Women of Steel also runs other events, such as raffles, throughout the year.

Members nearby can help support the Escanaba community by donating canned goods, personal hygiene products, paper products and money. Local 2-21 membership will be on site to collect donations. All donations will go to the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul. This year’s event will also be an opportunity for local members to talk with the community about their ongoing negotiations and the need for a fair contract.

Additional Highlights of Recent Work from our Women of Steel Committees in the Paper Sector

USW Locals 2-86 & 1167 – Kimberly-Clark & International Paper – Marinette, WI & New Bern, NC

The Women of Steel Committee of Local 2-86, representing Kimberly-Clark’s retail tissue mill in Marinette, Wis., rallied their union siblings to donate funds for the People and Paws – Feed the Need Project. As a result, they were able to deliver over $700 in food to their local food pantry and over $500 in pet food to their local animal shelter. Pictured below are sisters Joyce I. Winter Colson, Tina Betzinger and Debby Spangenberg who worked hard to get this done!

As students returned to schools across the country last month, USW Women of Steel did what they do best and gave back. Local 1167, representing International Paper’s fluff pulp mill in New Bern, N.C., and its Women of Steel Committee, partnered with the company for the annual “Stuff the Bus” campaign. The group raised over $500, which went to purchasing school supplies for children of Craven County.


USW Locals 833, 1731, 13-735 & 13-898 – Evergreen Packaging – Pine Bluff, AR

On March 28, Charles Alan Watt, age 44, a member working at Evergreen Packaging located in Pine Bluff, Ark., was fatally injured while maintenance work was being performed on a roll conveyor. Charles was standing outside of the handrail using a come along, pulling the indexer toward him to get the cylinder to where it needed to be to lock it out. For reasons unknown, at some point he entered the area in front of the kicker. The kicker was engaged, and pinned him between the roll. He was found in the pit unresponsive.

OSHA citation(s) and penalties were issued on August 8, 2022 with a proposed fine amount of $43,506.00. The informal conference was held in Little Rock, Ark., on September 9, 2022. A month prior to the hearing, USW Health, Safety and Environment staff conducted a two-day Effective Health and Safety Committees workshop at the mill’s training center. The four USW locals representing the mill participated, as well as the site’s IBEW local. The workshop provided the mill the basic tools and knowledge to form an effective labor and management health and safety committee.

As a result of the hearing, a settlement was reached. In summary, two citations were grouped together as one, resulting in a total penalty of $29,004.00. An agreement was reached stating that funds will be spent on the workers and the facility, and will be allocated to the newly-formed labor and management health and safety committee in the amount equal to penalties imposed. The local union and the staff representative are currently working on a memo of agreement. 

The fact that the case was settled at the informal conference level with the OSHA area office is a big win, especially when it involves a fatality. Not only are the hazards abated more quickly, but a foundation is put in place to promote health and safety at the facility on behalf of the workers with an empowered labor management committee, and a prolonged process with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission hearing with an administrative law judge is avoided. This is just one example of the active role our union plays in safety at our workplaces every day, and it engages in what could be simply administrative resolutions to create lasting health and safety structures.

Industry Update

Mativ to Relocate its Corporate Headquarters to New Location in Alpharetta, GA

USW Locals 1479, 1988, 2-16, 2-87, 2-96 & 2-370 – Mativ – Ancram, NY; Lowville, NY; Appleton, WI; Munising, MI & Whiting, WI

Mativ, the recently merged company that is a combination of Neenah Paper and Schweitzer-Mauduit, recently announced that it will be relocating its corporate headquarters to a new location in Alpharetta, Ga. Both Neenah Paper and Schweitzer-Mauduit previously had corporate offices located in Alpharetta.

The merger, completed in July, was considered by analysts to be a “merger of equals.” Together, the two companies form a global leader in specialty materials, manufacturing products that filter and purify air and liquids, support adhesive and protective applications, and advance healing and wellness for healthcare and industrial sectors. The USW represents over 600 members across five sites owned by Mativ. 

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, or at 412-562-2504.

Press Inquiries

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Jess Kamm at 412-562-6961

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