Monday Morning Minute: Dec. 2, 2019

Fatality Alert

USW Local 4-75 – Gorham Paper & Tissue – Gorham, N.H.

We reported in the November 4, 2019, issue of Monday Morning Minute that Brian LeClerc, a member of Local 4-75, at Gorham Paper & Tissue, was seriously injured when a 1,200-lb bale of recycled fiber fell from a stack behind him, pinning him against an adjacent stack of recycled fiber. The incident occurred on October 21 and on November 18, we learned that brother LeClerc passed away from the injuries he sustained in the incident.

Brian had been assisting in de-wiring recycled fiber bales by cutting and pulling the bailing wires from a bale when he stepped back to a point where the stacks of recycled bales were directly behind him. A bale weighing approximately 1,200 lbs. fell from the stack and pinned him between the fallen bale and an adjacent stack of fiber. He suffered a broken leg, sternum, ribs, back, a punctured lung and a bruised heart; injuries that he did not recover from.

USW Health, Safety and Environment staff has been assisting the local with the investigation. OSHA inspectors are on-site to have a broadened scope of the investigation. Staff Representative Al Smith is assisting the local and Health, Safety and Environment staff. Trish Creech, from the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department, is remotely assisting the investigation.

This is the first occupational fatality in the paper sector since June 12, 2018. Brother LeClerc’s obituary can be viewed here:

Union Work

New Contract Ratified

USW Local 819 – Huhtamaki – Sacramento, Calif. – The membership of USW Local 819 at Huhtamaki overwhelmingly ratified a new 3-year contract earlier this month. According to Staff Representative Fernie Mirelez, “The new contract has zero concessions, with full retroactive back pay to April 17, 2019, (when the local agreement expired).” The local negotiated language to have all new hires auto-enrolled in the 401K plan, with an auto escalator in each year of the contract, ensuring that no negotiated 401K match dollars are left on the table. The offer also has improvements in vacation pay for 10- and 12-hour shift employees, improvements in paid lunch provisions and an increase in safety shoe allowance.

Fernie also said: “I had a great committee with a couple of first-timers, and the membership supported us throughout the seven months of bargaining. We also had support from our brothers from the Waterville and Fulton Huhtamaki locations who attended one of our bargaining sessions.”

Workers in Four Unions Ratify Contracts

USW Local 27 – Woodland Pulp – Baileyville, Maine – On October 22, 2019, a new agreement was ratified by four different unions, including the USW, at Woodland Pulp’s Baileyville, Maine, pulp and paper mill. The agreement covers approximately 125 USW members, 66 members of IAMAW, 55 members of the IBEW, 23 members of the Millwrights Union, and firemen and oilers who work at the mill – a total of about 300 union workers. Above industry-standard wage increases were achieved, as well as increases to shift differentials and no changes to the health insurance or retirement plans.


Non-USW Wood Yard Fatality – Valdosta, Ga.

On November 16, 2019, Tyler Seacrist, 24, a Price employee operating Price equipment, was killed while working in a wood yard. The fatality happened next to PCA’s Valdosta mill. The complete details are unknown at this time, and PCA has released a statement in the Valdosta Daily Times:

The wood yard is contracted out to Price companies and is non-union.  USW local, district and International leadership are working to learn more of the details and plans going forward.

FM Global Released Updated Property Loss Prevention Data Sheets on Paper Sector-Related Equipment

Changes to the following data sheets were made: DS 12-2 Vessels and Piping – equipment includes vessels, piping and systems used in the storage, transfer or processing of solids, liquids and gases in pressure-retaining process vessels, unfired pressure vessels, storage vessels, heat exchangers, isostatic presses, as well as atmospheric tanks, silos, bins, etc. Minor editorial changes were made, but in July 2019, major changes were made to improve the sheet’s readability. DS 7-4: Paper Machines and Pulp Dryers – Revisions were made to add fire protection guidance for shoe presses on several types of paper machines. DS 8-21: Roll Paper Storage – improvements were made to the sheet, which provides guidelines for the protection of roll paper stored on the floor, on-end, on-side and held horizontally by axial rods on supporting structures, in racks and on pallets.

Click here to view the full reports for each data sheet:

Industry Update

From “Keep Me Posted” Campaign – Paper/Digital Consumer Choice is being Removed by Corporations

USW members make a wide range of paper-based products, including the types used in mail communications sent by the government, consumer banks, etc. The Keep Me Posted Campaign advocates for the right of a consumer to choose, free of charge, how they are contacted by banks, utility companies, and other service providers electronically or through paper statements. The campaign recently released a new fact sheet around corporate interests in switching from paper to electronic communications without the consent of consumers.

Millions of North Americans choose not to go online, or still lack Internet access or the required skills, including many seniors, disabled people and those living in rural areas. In addition, a majority prefers paper over digital for many reasons, like the reliability of paper statements, which ensure that consumers actually see the information and can retain important records.

In 2018, 50 percent of American senior citizens, 76 percent of those who have not completed high school, and 55 percent of those living in households with an annual income under $30,000 did not have broadband internet at home. These numbers have increased since 2013 because of the cost of internet access. Additionally, rural communities tend to have a higher proportion of residents who are older, lower-income, and have lower levels of educational attainment.

To view the entire fact sheet, including reasons why electronic communications may not be more cost-effective for businesses than paper, click here:

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