Monday Morning Minute: September 21, 2020


Paper, Packaging and Graphical Unions Team Up on Safety Rights

Trade union members on all continents are working together this month to promote health and safety in the pulp, paper, graphical and packaging industries, particularly emphasizing workers’ rights to participate in safety management on the job. 

This is the third global action of the 3R campaign led by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union. Each action centers around one of three core rights: 

All multinational companies across the industry have workplace health and safety programs. Some are designed in corporate offices and sent to local managers to implement. Other companies do it differently, with unions and worker safety representatives involved in the creation of policies, programs and procedures. This month’s work promotes those that are jointly designed and monitored by providing resources to union workers across the industries.

As the world grapples with the pandemic, many companies are rolling out new rules on health and safety, from personal hygiene, to restricted visitors, to physical distancing. This is a vital time for worker participation in identifying hazards and how to mitigate them.

Joint Health and Safety Committees are provided by law in many countries, but they were initially products of collective bargaining. The worker representatives on those committees must be elected, not chosen by management, and truly have the Right to Participate.

To view the entire press release, click here:

***Please remember to send us any photos of your Local taking action around this campaign to Laura Donovan (***

Industry Update

Reopening of Park Falls Pulp & Paper, Former Flambeau Rivers Paper Mill in Park Falls, Wis.

After a year of being shut down, the former Flambeau Rivers paper mill, now named Park Falls Pulp & Paper, reopened on September 16 under new ownership.

The site went through a series of devastating layoffs beginning in early 2018 as two uncoated free sheet paper machines were idled.

In mid-2019, the mill abruptly closed and went into Chapter 128 Receivership—an alternative to bankruptcy in the state of Wisconsin that can be devastating to workers’ rights in the process—and USW leadership worked extensively with the company and legal counsel to secure financing and keep the facility operating.

Update on Uncoated Free Sheet Market Conditions

According to paper industry analysts, in August, shipments of uncoated free sheet (UCFS) paper continued to decline as did demand.

UCFS shipments fell by 15.4% in August, which is 17.3% lower than those in August last year.

Total North American printing and writing paper shipments were down 22% last month and 21% YTD.

The uncoated free sheet operating rate continued to improve, from an all-time low of 59% in May to 81% in August; for perspective, the YTD operating rate is 79% vs. last year's 90%.

Analysts say that demand is slowly improving as the economy reopens, but remains poor and may never return to pre-pandemic levels.

The USW has a vested interest in the uncoated free sheet market as we represent many of its large producers.

The Paper & Packaging Board has Released a New Video Called “Paper Makers”

The Paper & Packaging Board’s “How Life Unfolds” campaign released a new video titled “Paper Makers,” which details the paper making process through those who work in the industry. The video also highlights facts around its long history as one of the oldest natural industries and modern sustainability goals.

Cick here to watch the video:  

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 412-562-2446

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