Monday Morning Minute: April 18, 2022

Union Work

PCA Mills and Converting Councils Meet to Form Agendas for Upcoming Master Bargaining

The PCA mill and converting councils met in Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, Ga., respectively, to discuss the company’s request to bargain new master agreements one year early. While the mill and converting master agreements are set to expire next year, PCA approached the USW about bargaining sooner in an effort to recognize the hard work that our membership has put in over the past couple of years and to address staffing issues specifically related to attraction and retention of employees.

In addition to forming an agenda for master bargaining, the group had the opportunity to discuss, in-person, the common matters that are impacting all sites, such as excessive mandatory overtime and staffing issues related to the continuous churn of new hires. Both groups received information on safety issues impacting the council, and the converting local leaders also discussed organizing opportunities within the box sector.


Hazard Alert – Failed Grating Results in Burns to Foot and Ankle

As there have been multiple recent incidents involving members falling through grating systems, we are re-sending the USW Hazard Alert on failed grating. The incident that resulted in the hazard alert being created involved a USW member who was preparing to de-isolate a feed from a weak liquor storage tank to a pre-evaporator feed tank. As he stepped on grating installed over a U-drain, a section of grating dislodged and his left foot fell into the U-drain about 18” or mid-way up his calf.

The east edge of the U-drain grating had previous chemical exposure and its integrity was compromised. This caused the grating to shift when it was stepped on. In the U-drain there was a diluted solution of black liquor and hot water flowing from a boil-out process. The worker suffered first-, second- and third-degree thermal burns to the top of his foot and ankle. After receiving immediate first aid from first responders and coworkers, he was quickly transported by ambulance to a medical burn center for further treatment and skin grafting.

Grates can become weakened by erosion over time. Please take some time to inspect the integrity of the grates in your facility in an effort to identify hazards before they become life-altering injuries. Click the following link to view the Hazard Alert in its entirety: HazardAlert_Failed-Grating-Results-in-Burns-to-Foot-and-Ankle.pdf (

Industry Update

Private Equity Group Lindsay Goldberg to Sell its Specialty Papers Business, Pixelle Specialty Solutions, to H.I.G. Capital

USW Locals 1303, 2-116, 731 & 988 – Pixelle Specialty Solutions – Spring Grove, Pa.; Stevens Point, Wis. & Chillicothe, Ohio

Earlier this month, Pixelle Specialty Solutions announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital. H.I.G. Capital is a global private equity company that focuses on leveraged buyouts and recapitalizations with existing management in small and mid-sized companies. It has $48 billion of equity capital under management and invests in companies throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America.

The acquisition consists of Pixelle’s four specialty paper mills, three of which are represented by the USW. Collectively, the company’s four mills operate 11 paper machines and produce more than one million tons of paper annually.

Shortages in Ballot Paper Could Present Issues for Upcoming Mid-Term Elections

With this year’s mid-term elections coming up soon, officials are warning that a shortage of paper for ballots, envelopes and other voting materials could create problems. The same supply chain issues and labor shortages that have limited the availability of consumer goods, in addition to a lack of pulp and resources being used by mills to make packaging materials, and grade switches by producers from printing paper to containerboard, are contributing to the problem.

Voter-verified paper ballots are the gold standard for election security, according to experts. The paper required for ballots, which is made by USW-represented producers such as Sylvamo, must be a specific type that is higher quality than other kinds as it involves certain quality control measures and features like watermarks. And, paper ballots create a tangible audit trail, which can be more easily re-counted, if necessary, and can help detect errors or breaches in voting machines’ software or hardware.

The American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA) recently addressed reports of ballot paper shortages, stating that it is important for election officials to contact their suppliers and printers to make their needs known as early as possible. Timelines for volume, type of paper and delivery could be different this year than in previous elections cycles. Whether you’re buying a car, a couch or a new refrigerator, we’re all experiencing some level of delay in receiving products on our doorsteps. 

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