Monday Morning Minute: March 7, 2022


USW Local 807 – Graphic Packaging – Phoenixville (Valley Forge), Pa.

On February 5, 2022, a member was fatally injured at the Graphic Packaging folding carton converting plant located in Phoenixville, Pa. (also known as Valley Forge). Preliminary information is that the member was operating a paper cutter and became caught under the outfeed plate, which had over 5,000 lbs. of product loaded on top of it.

USW Health, Safety and Environment staffer Juan Zuniga is assisting the local with the investigation. The OSHA investigation is still ongoing. The complete details of the incident are unknown at this time, and we will continue to monitor the situation for any lessons to be learned.

Union Work

USW Installation of Officers

On March 1, our union swore in newly-elected International and District leaders, including International Vice President over the Paper Sector, Leeann Foster. USW International President Tom Conway talked about what we as a union have accomplished over the past couple of years and what we’re going to do in the future. Additionally, AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler and PA Senator Bob Casey addressed the group.

To watch a rebroadcast of the event, click the following link: 2022 USW Installation of Officers - YouTube.


International Paper Joint Health and Safety Committee Meeting and Effective Safety Committee Workshop at New Bern, N.C. Mill

Last week, the International Paper Mill Council Joint Health and Safety Committee met in New Bern, N.C., to plan the upcoming Joint Health and Safety Conference and discuss systematic issues throughout the USW-represented mills. The committee, consisting of representatives from six sites across the system, also toured the New Bern mill.

During the following two days, safety committee members from the New Bern mill participated in the USW’s two-part Effective Safety Committees Workshop. The workshops are conducted by staff through the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center, along with worker-trainers who are trained on paper sector-specific curriculum. There is a union-only session on the first day and a joint-session with local management on the second day. A photo from the New Bern Effective Safety Committee Training is included below.

2021 USW Safety Update

In 2021, 26 fatalities and 125 injuries were reported across all facilities and industries that the USW represents. The statistics do not include COVID-19 related deaths or confirmed cases. The USW paper sector experienced two fatalities last year – brother Norman Bullard at Twin Rivers Paper’s Pine Bluff, Ark., mill on January 13, 2021, and brother Jesse Jordan at PCA’s Counce, Tenn., mill on July 28, 2021.

Despite these tragedies, the paper sector experienced fewer fatalities in 2021 than the year prior, in which there were six. However, the sector continues to lead other sectors in life-altering injuries, with 33 reported last year.

At the 2016 National Paper Bargaining Conference, delegates unanimously endorsed a Making and Converting Paper Safely 10-Point Plan to address fatalities in the U.S. paper sector. Subsequent conferences honed the plan by adding “green-on-green” training as a critical hazard in the sector, and developing a program for safe work conversations based on critical hazards and underlying factors. Also added was the push for a set of metrics with leading and lagging indicators, including effective reporting of near misses. Our work continues in finding and fixing hazards that are causing fatalities and life-altering injuries.

Industry Update

Cascades Strategic Plan for Next 2 Years Includes Focus on Containerboard

USW Locals 42, 4-902, 381, 1480, 13-930 & 4867 – Cascades – Eau Claire, Wis.; Newtown, Conn.; Piscataway, N.J.; Pryor, Okla., & Schenectady, N.Y.

Cascades recently announced its 2022-2024 strategic plan, which includes growing and investing in its product base within the containerboard and specialty products/packaging markets. The company currently produces a mix of both tissue and containerboard products across its system. USW-represented sites in Eau Claire, Wis., and Pryor, Okla., produce private label retail tissue, while those in Newtown, Conn., Piscataway, N.J., and Schenectady, N.Y., are containerboard converters.

Cascades is the sixth largest containerboard producer in North America. The company plans to improve its EBITDA, or overall operations profitability, by 30-40%, and grow the combined revenue of its packaging businesses to over $3.5 billion in 2024. Investments in the company’s tissue operations will be more limited.

From Two Sides North America – The Return of Printed Catalogs

After a sharp decline in 2020, printed catalogs are coming back, according to market research firm Keypoint Intelligence, which reports that digital print volumes have rebounded close to their pre-pandemic level. The firm expects demand to move past pre-pandemic production next year and continue rising at a compound annual rate of 8% through 2025.

The rebound can be attributed to the rising cost of acquiring and keeping customers as the price of digital advertising increases. Brands are looking for strategies that enhance customer experiences, build loyalty and increase sales; printed catalogs allow brands to do that in a way that digital platforms cannot. Consumers are also becoming more aware of sustainability and circularity and are not as swayed by greenwashing campaigns targeting the paper industry.

The major coated printing paper companies that USW-represents include Verso, Sappi and ND Paper. To read more about paper catalogs reaching consumers in an environmentally responsible way, click the following link: Reaching Consumers in an Environmentally Responsible Way: The Return of Printed Catalogs    - Two Sides North America (

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