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Local 2-21 uses holiday parade as organizing opportunity

USW Blog - Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:53

Nursing home and rehab center workers at Bishop Noa Home (BNH) have been in a tough fight with their employer for a first fair contract, and on December 6, the local and their greater community came together for a massive and jovial display of solidarity. 

The new members of amalgamated Local 2-21 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan organized a huge turnout and exhibition for the annual Escanaba Christmas Parade, all under the banner of the United Steelworkers (USW).

Debbie Lyle, a Bishop Noa employee for 38 years, works in environmental services and sits on the unit’s negotiating committee. After she and a small group of workers marched in the Labor Day parade, they decided to do it again in the winter, using it as an opportunity to showcase their solidarity to the community.

“Everyone had a ball,” said Lyle. “We had a lot of support.”

The group paraded through town in a USW and holiday-themed float decorated with lights, garland, and banners reading “Be Fair to Those Who Care.” They also shone a “Bat-Signal” onto buildings and structures they passed along the route that read “Bishop Noa Unfair.” A man from the crowd even came up to the trailer, took the group’s photo, and told them, “Don’t give up.”

“Seeing that kind of support makes it really worth it,” Lyle said.

Other members of Local 2-21 joined the parade as well, bringing the delegation’s size to about 46 people, far larger than the Labor Day turnout. Part of that, Lyle said, is in their growing connections.

“We’re only getting stronger,” said Lyle. “I almost feel like it’s brought us all closer together. We’re all fighting for the same thing.”

You can see more photos from the parade and stay up-to-date on the workers’ campaign by visiting and liking the We Support Bishop Noa Workers page on Facebook.

USW Supports Adoption of Improved USMCA

Steelworker News - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 14:26

Contact: Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444, jkamm@usw.org  

(Pittsburgh) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas M. Conway issued the following statement today regarding changes to improve the negotiated U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA).     

“Members of the USW, the largest industrial union in North America, have suffered firsthand the devastating effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The bad trade deal cost countless jobs, ravaged families and communities and pulled down wages as companies have outsourced jobs and production to Mexico. 

“For 26 years, workers have lived with NAFTA as a yoke around their necks, and we have been committed to fixing it.   

“Last fall, the administration, along with the Mexican and Canadian governments, signed an agreement they thought would sail past the labor community. But that agreement, called the USMCA, fell far short of what workers in all three countries needed.   

“Since the negotiations to improve the proposed USMCA began last year, we have been deeply involved in identifying essential changes to help working people, coordinating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Democrats and other key leaders to address significant problems. 

 “The core concern has always been that companies profit by exploiting their workers – here, in Mexico and across the globe. 

“In Mexico, there are hundreds of thousands of so-called ‘protection contracts’ signed by corporations with sham unions that have no regard for the interests, rights or needs of workers. Workers at facilities in Mexico operated by some of the world’s biggest and most profitable corporations are paid only a fraction of what workers get in the United States or Canada for essentially the same work. Workers who have attempted to form democratic unions have faced repression, violence and murder.

 “The original USMCA required changes in Mexican labor law that we supported, as they were clearly better than current law. But the agreement had no clear path to ensure that workers’ rights would be safeguarded.   

“The updated draft agreement now has enforcement provisions that can help make a difference.   There is still a great deal of work to do in terms of implementing, monitoring and enforcing the provisions, but the base for progress is there.

“There were also problematic provisions in the original USMCA that showered U.S. drug companies with huge opportunities for higher monopoly profits. Democrats, working with labor, were able to eliminate this language from the agreement.

“In addition, the labor movement, working with Democrats and other key allies, was also able to beat back portions of the original USMCA that would have jeopardized our ability to protect a sustainable environment.   

“The revised deal is better than the original USMCA and certainly better than NAFTA.  It should be adopted.  The leaders of all three countries must diligently enforce the provisions, however, and we intend to hold them accountable to ensure that workers, the environment and consumers are protected.  

“No one should overplay this agreement’s impact, or underestimate the work that remains to be done. Mexico must devote the money, resources and political will required to implement its commitments. The U.S. and Canadian governments must be active and vigilant in ensuring that companies respect workers’ rights in all of their facilities.

“We also have concerns about definitions of aluminum sourced in North America as they exist in the agreement. We have been on the frontlines protecting jobs in smelting and casting, but leaders of all three countries should be equally invested in this industry.

“Speaker Pelosi, the members of the Democratic Working Group and key leaders such as Sens. Sherrod Brown and Ron Wyden deserve our thanks for their efforts and refusal to back down in the face of massive special interest lobbying. Mexican Senator Napoleón Gómez Urrutia should also be recognized for his key role in facilitating dialogue between the labor movement and the Mexican government.

 “Outsourcing won’t end as companies continue to search the globe for places where they can profit off of the hard work of others, spoil the environment to improve their balance sheets and raise prices for basic needs. The fight for fair trade won’t end with this agreement, but it’s an agreement worth passing.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

USW Names Prescott as Union’s Director for Western U.S. States

Steelworker News - Tue, 12/10/2019 - 08:31

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, rhufnagel@usw.org, 412-562-2450

The United Steelworkers (USW) Executive Board today announced the appointment of Gaylan Z. Prescott to replace the late Robert LaVenture as director of the USW’s District 12.

A longtime union activist and leader, Prescott had served as the assistant to Director LaVenture since January 2018. LaVenture passed away suddenly on Nov. 13 at the age of 68.

After graduating from high school in his hometown of Kelso, Wash., Prescott earned his EMT certification and spent several years working alongside migrant farmers on a hop and grape ranch.

“I received a true education in the importance of hard work,” Prescott said. 

He then followed in his father’s footsteps, working for nearly 20 years at the former Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum reduction plant in Longview, Wash.

Prescott began his career as a union leader and activist in 1986 when he became a shop steward in the pot rooms at the Reynolds plant. In 1990, he was elected to his first of three terms as president of the Longview Federated Aluminum Council, which represented about 700 workers who belonged to multiple unions throughout the facility.

In 1999, the USW hired Prescott to assist the 2,900 members who were locked out at five Kaiser Aluminum plants in Washington, Ohio and Louisiana, in what would become one of the longest and most contentious work stoppages in the union’s history.

The USW named Prescott a staff representative in December 1999, and named him to oversee District 12’s Sub-District 3 in 2012. The USW’s District 12 includes 11 western U.S. states. 

Prescott said that, though it is impossible to fill the shoes of his predecessor, he looks forward to working throughout the district to enhance direct member-to-member communication and engagement, and to expand educational opportunities for workers, particularly for women and younger members through the USW’s Women of Steel and Next Generation programs.

“Director LaVenture is irreplaceable,” Prescott said. “He was a dear friend, and I was honored that he trusted me to serve as his assistant. He had a real love for the membership, and his dedication to workers was unmatched.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education. USW District 12 encompasses the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Human Service Workers at Persad Center Vote to Join the USW

Steelworker News - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 08:02

CONTACT: Chelsey Engel, cengel@usw.org, 412-562-2446

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, voted yesterday, December 5, to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union. 

The unit of 24 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last month and filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). 

“We care about our work and the communities we serve,” said Johanna Smith, Persad’s Development, Communications, and Events Associate. “We strongly believe this work and our connections to our clients will only improve now that we will be represented by a union.”

The Persad workers join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW, especially in the Pittsburgh region. Their membership is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage LGBTQ+ members and improve contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“Workplaces are changing and evolving, and the labor movement is changing and evolving along with that,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee as well as the USW Health Care Workers Council. “This campaign gives us an opportunity to diversify our great union while uplifting and empowering a group of workers who give their all for others.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Connie Mabin Talks the Next Generation of Labor on The Leslie Marshall Show

USW Blog - Fri, 12/06/2019 - 05:16

USW's Connie Mabin, director of the Next Generation program, talked about the union's young worker initiative and the future of labor on The Leslie Marshall Show this week.

Mabin, who also leads the union's digital platforms, said the Next Gen program, which focuses on engaging and empowering younger USW members, was launched partly out of leaders finding that many new workers are less likely to have a strong union background. Many are college graduates saddled with student loan debt whose parents lost their jobs during the 2008 recession.

"It was a very intentional effort to reintroduce the union to a whole new generation and to do what we've always done," Mabin said, "which is bringing up those who come up behind us and to get them to bring up those behind them."

Diversity -- of race, gender, sector and more -- is also something that the next generation brings to the table. Mabin said the Steelworkers no longer represent only manufacturing workers because the workforce is evolving; labor, as a result, has evolved with it.

"If you have a job, a union is for you."

Just two weeks ago, in Pittsburgh, more than 900 young USW activists from across the U.S. and Canada gathered for the inaugural Next Generation Conference, a week of education and inspiration.

Aside from enjoying a wide array of workshops and guest speakers, attendees also volunteered at multiple nonprofits throughout the city on the final day, as community service is a core tenet of the program.

"It helps young people realize how important it is to give back," said Mabin.

The third-generation Steelworker noted that young workers face unique challenges their parents escaped, in large part due to an onslaught of attacks from anti-union legislation and greedy CEOs.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Mabin said Millennials and other younger workers recognize labor as a potential partner in tackling things like environmental degradation, corporate greed, and more.

A new study even revealed that they embrace unions at higher rates than ever before.

"They understand the power of collective action. They know how to communicate," she said. "You combine that with the power of a union, can you imagine the possibilities?" 

To listen to the conversation, click here.

USW Cares: 2019 Jefferson Award Winners Announced

USW Blog - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 10:21

Stacey Goodman, a USW member from District 1 who lost her daughter to drug addiction last year, is the 2019 champion of the USW Cares Jefferson Awards for her efforts to help others.

For her relevant work in taking on the opioid epidemic after her daughter, Jordan Bladel, became a victim of it, Stacey is the 2019 USW Champion Volunteer.

“She was my fighter,” Goodman said of her daughter, who was 24 and a mother of two young children when she died. “She would fight for anybody that she loved, and I am going to continue to fight for her and everybody else.”

Since 2015, the USW has partnered with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, recently renamed Multiplying Good, to celebrate Steelworkers who do amazing works of community service, and to show the world that Steelworkers have big hearts.

The USW is proud to have generous and compassionate members who foster a culture of giving back in our union. Don’t forget to nominate members who are active in their communities for the USW Jefferson Awards and encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same!

Goodman was chosen as this year’s USW champion from a select group of volunteer winners from every district, SOAR and the USW staff. The champion award went to the volunteer with the highest overall score.

The winners follow:

District 1 – Stacey Goodman, Local 700T:  Goodman lost her daughter in 2018 to opioid addiction and decided to help other families with addicted loved ones. She got involved with FACT, Families and Addicts Coming Together.

Through FACT, Stacey conducts mock overdose trainings and raises money for addiction services. She works with her local union and district to encourage employers to treat addiction as a health and safety issue at work.

District 2 – Donna Dams, Local 2-21: Through involvement in her local’s Women of Steel committee, Donna has volunteered more than 100 hours, helped raise thousands of dollars and collected hundreds of donations for a variety of community service efforts. They include a back-to-school back pack drive and a pancake breakfast for fellow workers who were ill or going through cancer treatment. Donna also made over 100 blankets by hand and collected pajamas to donate to local nursing homes and a veterans hospital.

District 3 – Brian Arnold, retired from Local 7619: Over the nearly 30 years he worked in a mine and over the course of his lifetime, even after he retired, Brian has devoted his life on a daily basis to the sincerest service and care of everyone around him. He visits hospitals to check on friends and co-workers, he volunteers as a pastor to those who are sick or otherwise afflicted, and he has participated in countless community events and fundraisers for worthy causes.

District 4 – Buffalo Black Labor Week Committee: Started in District 7 by 2017 Jefferson Awards winner Ephrin Jenkins, Black Labor Week is a program dedicated to educating, empowering, and uplifting Buffalo, N.Y.

The Buffalo Black Labor Week committee plan and execute the annual program. USW members taught labor history and social justice courses in schools, cooked breakfast for and provided toiletries to veterans, hosted panel discussions, and led community service projects, including a Habitat for Humanity project and free haircuts.

District 5 – Gilles Bordeleau, retired from Local 6887: Although retired, Gilles is still active in his local as a member of its Retirement Committee. He meets with workers and their families to explain the defined benefit pension plan and other benefits.

Bordeleau is founder of the breakfast program “Petits déjeuners CCR” for the children of St-Octave school of Montréal-East. He organizes the collection of Christmas baskets for distribution to the most disadvantaged people of the Montréal-East and Pointe-aux-Trembles area, and he created a soccer league for people with trisomy, a genetic disorder,

District 6 – Alex Patterson, Local 6500: Alex is on the Health Sciences North Foundation Board in Sudbury, Ontario. He dedicates much of his spare time and energy to the board, which funds a variety of projects for the hospital ranging from raising money for equipment to donating to other causes that help better serve hospital patients. Most recently, the board has been raising funds to purchase two badly needed MRI machines for the hospital.

District 7 – Jerry Coppinger, Local 6103: Jerry and his wife have adopted five children out of foster care. In an effort to thank the organization that helped them build their wonderful family, they fund a “party” for the community that raises donations that pay for Christmas gifts to children in foster care. The party became known as the Forever Family Festival.

District 8 – Dave Riffle, Local 477: Dave supports the youth of Upshur County as a middle school archery coach, 4-H camp leader, and fundraiser for the Buckhannon Upshur High School band.

Although he has a wife and three children and works overtime often, he finds the time to be a strong youth leader in his community, even if that means using more than two weeks of his vacation time to do it.

District 9 – Bill Powers, Local 90: As chair for USW Local 90, Bill has led his local to participate in projects that better their community. He has helped raise more than $300,000 in member donations for United Way of Greater Knoxville over the past several years. He took the lead on two Habitat for Humanity homes, and has personally donated more than $10,000 to the United Way of Greater Knoxville. He is also a longtime volunteer at the Cerebral Palsy Center.

District 10 – Justin Calderone, Local 2227: On top of working full time, helping the union grievance committee and spending time with his wife and daughter, Justin runs the Calderone Caring Foundation, which he started in memory of his two-year-old son who died from ongoing health issues from birth.

The Calderone Caring Foundation aims to help families with children who encounter health problems by offering paid hospital parking, food vouchers, gift bags, and date nights for parents who are staying at the hospital. The foundation also assists families with medical supplies that are not covered by insurance.

District 11 – Local Union 444 Women of Steel Committee: Because of their hard work over the last few years, the Women of Steel in Local 444 are recognized in their community for helping disadvantaged children, veterans, and people in need.

Here are a few of the many projects Local 444 WOS either assist with or organize themselves: an Easter egg hunt for children with special needs, an annual bake sale and raffle to purchase adult bikes for a local sober-living house, a backpack drive for foster kids and veterans, an  annual “Angel Giving Tree,” a collection for their union sister who was seriously injured on the job, a fundraiser for Quilting for Warriors, and a huge food drive that donated 5,549 items and $1,200 to five area pantries.

District 12 – Xochitl Cobarruvias, Local 675: Xochitl has created strong ties to the communities of Carson and South Los Angeles, Calif., through her tireless efforts bringing money, food, school supplies, and legal help to struggling people.

She started a monthly food bank at her local’s Maywood office, which has distributed more than 10,000 bags of groceries to people in need. Because of her, 2,000 families were able to have a Thanksgiving meal and 500 children received backpacks with school supplies last year.

She raised over $7,500 for families involved in the area sports program to buy uniforms and cover fees, and she is a great help to Local 675’s annual children’s Christmas party, which provides gifts to underprivileged kids.

District 13 – Locals 1226 and 13-725 Women of Steel Committees: The two committees collaborated to plan and execute fundraising projects to benefit two different groups of community members, the Great Adventure Camping Trip Group (GACT) and the Rosepine Nursing Facility.

The WOS sisters raised $1,100 for GACT, which provides a no-cost weekend camping trip to single parents and their kids, and convinced their employer to match that contribution. Members from both locals help with activities for campers and talk to young adults about millwork and unionism. For the Christmas holiday, they collected personal items for a nursing home and volunteered at a party where they distributed gifts and spent time with residents.

SOAR – Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson, District 3: Eleanor organizes the annual Terry Fox Run, fundraises for Relay for Life, is heavily involved with her church’s service and philanthropy, volunteers for Silver City Days, cooks and serves food for junior hockey teams and fans at Cominco Arena, provides service and support to struggling community members at Trail Association for Community Living, is serving her fourth consecutive term as a city councilor, and does so much more. She is truly devoted to building her community. Friends say her impact is priceless.

USW Staff – Karen Shipley, District 8: Karen raised tens of thousands of dollars for West Virginia flood relief and $5,000 for 4-H. She volunteers at soup kitchens, donates to women’s shelters, and delivers “blessing bags” to the homeless and backpacks to children. She is active in her church and is always doing something to help people in need.

November Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

USW Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 07:19
Active and Retired Workers are Watching

Tuesday, November 5 marked another momentous election for union-endorsed candidates, with the two most notable demonstrations of the labor movement resurgence coming from Kentucky and Virginia.

In Virginia, the labor movement and our union, specifically, will remember this election as a significant victory in our work to reverse the many ways Virginians have been hurt by the state’s so-called “Right to Work” law and the persistence of an anti-worker majority in the State House (1997-2019) and State Senate (2015-2019).

Our union committed significant resources in this campaign with a core group of activists who knocked doors in addition to a targeted “Get-Out-The-Vote” mailing that hit mailboxes just before Election Day. USW activists accounted for more walk shifts than any other affiliate that participated in the AFL-CIO program, which helped lift six union-backed candidates to victory in legislative districts previously held by anti-labor lawmakers (two in the State Senate and four in the House).

This new pro-worker majority in the state legislature will be a welcome addition to the labor-friendly Governor, Ralph Northam, who we helped elect in 2017.

In Kentucky, USW activists led the way in a labor-led victory for Andy Beshear, defeating incumbent Governor Matt Bevin who earned the ire of teachers and first-responders when he supported legislation that would force them to work longer before even being eligible for retirement, and enforce deep cuts in benefits for future retirees. Additionally, Bevin reversed the state’s tradition of respecting union rights when he signed the so-called “Right to Work” law in 2017.

On the promise to fight on behalf of retirees and workers in Kentucky, Andy Beshear pledged to work with labor to protect pensions, strengthen public education, and expand access to good jobs and health care.

With 2020 on everyone’s mind, we should understand one thing very clear: Active and retired  workers are watching.

Source: https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article208518614.html

October Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

USW Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 07:19
Active and Retired Workers are Watching

Tuesday, November 5 marked another momentous election for union-endorsed candidates, with the two most notable demonstrations of the labor movement resurgence coming from Kentucky and Virginia.

In Virginia, the labor movement and our union, specifically, will remember this election as a significant victory in our work to reverse the many ways Virginians have been hurt by the state’s so-called “Right to Work” law and the persistence of an anti-worker majority in the State House (1997-2019) and State Senate (2015-2019).

Our union committed significant resources in this campaign with a core group of activists who knocked doors in addition to a targeted “Get-Out-The-Vote” mailing that hit mailboxes just before Election Day. USW activists accounted for more walk shifts than any other affiliate that participated in the AFL-CIO program, which helped lift six union-backed candidates to victory in legislative districts previously held by anti-labor lawmakers (two in the State Senate and four in the House).

This new pro-worker majority in the state legislature will be a welcome addition to the labor-friendly Governor, Ralph Northam, who we helped elect in 2017.

In Kentucky, USW activists led the way in a labor-led victory for Andy Beshear, defeating incumbent Governor Matt Bevin who earned the ire of teachers and first-responders when he supported legislation that would force them to work longer before even being eligible for retirement, and enforce deep cuts in benefits for future retirees. Additionally, Bevin reversed the state’s tradition of respecting union rights when he signed the so-called “Right to Work” law in 2017.

On the promise to fight on behalf of retirees and workers in Kentucky, Andy Beshear pledged to work with labor to protect pensions, strengthen public education, and expand access to good jobs and health care.

With 2020 on everyone’s mind, we should understand one thing very clear: Active and retired  workers are watching.

Source: https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article208518614.html

November Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

USW Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 07:14
SOAR Active and Involved

Recently, SOAR has been involved in two USW  sponsored  conferences:  During  the third week of November, SOAR had an information booth and participated in a workshop at the first-ever Next Gen Conference, in  Pittsburgh.  During  the  last week of October, SOAR participated at the Rapid Response Conference, in Washington, D.C.

At the RR Conference, 46 SOAR activists were involved in a rally and participated in lobbying our  elected  representatives  on  issues  of  importance  to  active  and retired workers, as well as attending District meetings and general sessions of all those in attendance.

Pictured: SOAR members attending the Rapid Response Conference, with USW International President, Thomas M. Conway center.

Many seasoned SOAR members were teamed with first-time attendees and helped  them  navigate through the process of lobbying. Many of the SOAR attendees were there because of the generosity of their District Directors. Without their help and support, our  numbers  would  have  been  greatly  reduced. All of the SOAR members who attended the  RR  conference  should  make  a  point  of thanking their local union or district director for providing the support to allow their participation.

Participation by SOAR at the Next Gen Conference proved to be both energizing and educational. I believe SOAR and Next Gen have much to offer each other and can learn from each other if we choose  to talk to, instead of talking at, each other. A number of our issues are different; but, we have common ground on many, and we should work hard to find the issues on which we can agree and work together on those issues.

Pictured: Doug MacPherson, SOAR Vice President, greeting young workers at the Next Gen Conference.

Four years ago, no one was speaking about SOAR and Next Gen and Rapid Response working together to address issues; and now today, we cannot think about conducting activities without the input and involvement of these resources.

I think that is what I like most about this Union. The policy of the USW of inclusion and working together to help others is something we can and should all be proud of.

October Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

USW Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 07:14
SOAR Active and Involved

Recently, SOAR has been involved in two USW  sponsored  conferences:  During  the third week of November, SOAR had an information booth and participated in a workshop at the first-ever Next Gen Conference, in  Pittsburgh.  During  the  last week of October, SOAR participated at the Rapid Response Conference, in Washington, D.C.

At the RR Conference, 46 SOAR activists were involved in a rally and participated in lobbying our  elected  representatives  on  issues  of  importance  to  active  and retired workers, as well as attending District meetings and general sessions of all those in attendance.

Pictured: SOAR members attending the Rapid Response Conference, with USW International President, Thomas M. Conway center.

Many seasoned SOAR members were teamed with first-time attendees and helped  them  navigate through the process of lobbying. Many of the SOAR attendees were there because of the generosity of their District Directors. Without their help and support, our  numbers  would  have  been  greatly  reduced. All of the SOAR members who attended the  RR  conference  should  make  a  point  of thanking their local union or district director for providing the support to allow their participation.

Participation by SOAR at the Next Gen Conference proved to be both energizing and educational. I believe SOAR and Next Gen have much to offer each other and can learn from each other if we choose  to talk to, instead of talking at, each other. A number of our issues are different; but, we have common ground on many, and we should work hard to find the issues on which we can agree and work together on those issues.

Pictured: Doug MacPherson, SOAR Vice President, greeting young workers at the Next Gen Conference.

Four years ago, no one was speaking about SOAR and Next Gen and Rapid Response working together to address issues; and now today, we cannot think about conducting activities without the input and involvement of these resources.

I think that is what I like most about this Union. The policy of the USW of inclusion and working together to help others is something we can and should all be proud of.

Congratulations to the Winners of the 2019-2020 GMP Memorial Scholarship Program

USW Blog - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 05:50

The GMP Council is proud to continue the legacy of the GMP Memorial Scholarship Program to children of GMP Council members entering college. The GMP Memorial Scholarship Program is funded by donations in the memory of GMP Council officers, staff and members. The program offers six $4,000 scholarships to students entering a four-year degree program and two $2,000 scholarships to students entering two-year degree programs and are awarded for each year of their curriculum.

We want to urge every eligible student to apply for this outstanding scholarship award! Applications will open on November 1 and will remain open until February 13, 2020. Register at https://aim.applyists.net/GMP today!

AND THE WINNERS ARE . . . .

Anna Hemann
Daughter of Steve Hemann, USW Local 9B Keokuk, IA

All throughout high school I really tried to figure out who I was and what field of study would be best for me. I found my passion is through helping others. There is an ever-growing mental health field that I feel I would excel in. I am happy to have the opportunity to attend Wartburg College to study social work, sociology, and psychology. Among studying, I will be on the dance team and playing my clarinet for the ensemble. After college I want to further my education and receive my doctoral degree in clinical psychology. I have big plans moving forward and this GMP Scholarship I was awarded with helps me take that first step into not only discovering my dreams but receiving the education needed into making those dreams into a reality. Again, thank you so much for giving me this scholarship and the opportunity to turn my future endeavors into a career.

Claire Nichols 
Daughter of Daniel Nichols USW Local 63B Minneapolis, MN

I attend Cotter High School in Winona, Minnesota. During my years in high school, I was active in several activities both in and out of the classroom. I was a member of the marching band, concert band and jazz band all four years. I also participated in solo and ensemble music competitions all four years and participated in the school musicals. I was also a member of the track and field team throughout high school, competing at the section and state level during my career. I provided service to others in my community and country by volunteering at vacation bible school and participating in mission trips to underprivileged areas. In the future, I plan to attend St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minnesota, pursuing a career in respiratory care. I feel passionate about working with people that struggle with respiratory diseases. Eventually, I would like to continue my education and become a pulmonologist.

Karishma Narayan
Daughter of James Narayan, USW Local 17M Modesto, CA

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help me achieve my goals and furthering my education through your contribution. Throughout high school, I played soccer and volunteered at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, Ca. Volunteering at Doctors Medical Center gave me the insight on wanting to become a nurse because I was able to work with other nurses and employees who were able to inspire me to pursue a career in the medical field. I will be attending Sacramento State University this upcoming Fall of 2019 with an expressed interest in Nursing. I am very excited for what my future has to offer.

Kayla Pesock 
Daughter of Gary Pesock from Local 75M Port Allegany, PA

As a student of Port Allegany High School, I was a member of the Student government and was secretary for two years. I was honored to play for the Port Allegany Lady Gators Volleyball team for all 6 years in the Port Allegany High School. This Fall I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. I will be majoring in Environmental studies with the ambition to work for the State of Pennsylvania as a State Forester. As I attend the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford I will strive to be an active member of Student Government and their Environmental Studies Club.

Mandi Farmer
Daughter of Tyler Croyle, 14M Farmland, IN

My name is Mandi Farmer, and I attended Monroe Central Jr./Sr. High School. Through high school I competed on the science academic and quiz bowl teams. I also spent all of my high school career participating in band and drama club, my most notable performance being in Shrek: the Musical, where I was Lord Farquaad. I am attending Trine University to major in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Aeronautical Engineering, this all with the endeavor of diving into the field of Aerospace after graduating and completing graduate studies. My future hope is to work for NASA, whether that be as an astronaut or as an engineer.

The Oilworker: December 2019

USW Blog - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 08:04
FROM THE UNION December Update from the NOBP Chair

Brothers and Sisters,

As we celebrate this holiday season, I want to make sure you are aware of an unfortunate incident that happened at the TPC plant in Port Neches, Texas, on Nov. 27, 2019, where an explosion caused a fire. 

Although there were no fatalities, there were multiple injuries and devastating damage to the surrounding community as well as a prolonged evacuation over the Thanksgiving weekend.  While it is too early to know the cause of the incident, it is an all too familiar reminder of the hazards in our workplaces. 

It’s times like these that remind us why we must constantly fight for safer workplaces, a fight that we have not given up, despite the EPA’s recent rollback of the Chemical Safety Rule.  I encourage you to check out USW International President Tom Conway’s recent blog on these changes, as they have serious consequences for our workplaces and our communities.  

Last month a bankruptcy judge approved a process for the sale of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) refinery, which resolved our union’s objections regarding transparency and communication.

Our union on Nov. 27 submitted comments to the EPA on proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program, encouraging the agency to weigh the impact on refinery workers when considering alterations to RFS policy. You can read the full text of these comments here.

Finally, I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays, and I hope that you are able to enjoy them with family and loved ones.  Please keep the members and families of Local 228 in Port Neches in your thoughts as they go through this holiday season dealing with this incident and the aftermath.

In solidarity,

Mike Smith
NOBP Chair
mjsmith@usw.org

Red for Ed: The Working People Weekly List

AFL-CIO - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 13:07
Red for Ed: The Working People Weekly List AFL-CIO

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Red for Ed: In the States Roundup: "It's time once again to take a look at the ways working people are making progress in the states."

Trade Unions Demand Governments Address Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work: "This week marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and trade unions around the world are demanding governments ratify and implement International Labor Organization Convention 190 (C190), on ending violence and harassment in the world of work."

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: A Future Where People Will Have Jobs: "On the latest episode of 'State of the Unions,' podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labor Organization, about the international labor movement, the idea of 'decent labor' and the future of work."

Native American Heritage Month Pathway to Progress: Ojibwe Women Transform Working Life in Minneapolis: "History has long been portrayed as a series of 'great men' taking great action to shape the world we live in. In recent decades, however, social historians have focused more on looking at history 'from the bottom up,' studying the vital role that working people played in our heritage. Working people built, and continue to build, the United States. In our series, Pathway to Progress, we'll take a look at various people, places and events where working people played a key role in the progress our country has made, including those who are making history right now. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we will take a look at a group of Ojibwe women who helped transform the world of work in Minneapolis-St. Paul throughout much of the 20th century."

Colombian Workers Launch General Strike: "Colombia's workers, students, and rural, indigenous and Afro-descendant communities [joined] together in a national general strike Nov. 21. Unlike the strikes many of America's workers have participated in increasingly in the past five years, Colombians are not striking against any single employer or industry."

Work Doesn't Hurt: Labor Podcast and Radio Roundup: "In addition to the AFL-CIO's own 'State of the Unions,' there are a lot of other podcasts out there that have their own approach to discussing labor issues and the rights of working people. Here are the latest podcasts from across the labor movement in the United States."

Protect Survivors: What Working People Are Doing This Week: "Welcome to our regular feature, a look at what the various AFL-CIO unions and other working family organizations are doing across the country and beyond. The labor movement is big and active—here's a look at the broad range of activities we're engaged in this week."

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Nurses United: "Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is National Nurses United."

Building the Battleground Bench: Union Members Elected to Office Across the Great Lakes Region: "While the labor movement was busy helping to elect pro-worker candidates in important elections in Kentucky and Virginia this week, union members themselves were on the ballot, and they were elected to local offices across the country at an impressive rate. This result was especially pronounced in the battleground states in the Great Lakes region, where an energized union candidates program helped carry union members to victory."

Trump’s SEC Chairman Proposes to Disenfranchise Investors and Reduce Shareholder Democracy: "In a partisan 3-2 vote, the Trump administration’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed to curtail the rights of investors to file proposals for a vote at company annual meetings. If adopted, these changes will hinder shareholder proposals by union members and their pension plans to hold corporate management accountable."

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 12/02/2019 - 15:07

Members of Local 7798 achieve major goal with workplace violence policy

USW Blog - Mon, 12/02/2019 - 05:37

Workers at Copper Country Mental Health Services in Houghton, Mich., obtained wage increases and pension improvements in their contract ratified earlier this year, but the benefit Local 7798 members were most proud of bargaining was language regarding workplace violence.

The contract committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. Work quickly began on the policy, and just last week, the committee drafted and released its first clinical guideline focusing on responding to consumer aggression toward staff.

“We are so excited to have this go into effect,” said Unit Chair Rachelle Rodriguez of Local 7798. “This was a direct result of our last negotiating session.”

The guideline includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly. And though this is just a first step in reducing the incident rates and harm of workplace violence in their workplace, it still is a big one for the local, and it wouldn’t have been possible without a collective bargaining agreement.

This is also why legislation, like the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309), recently passed by the U.S. House, is so important for helping provide further enforcement of contract language regarding issues like workplace violence, the third-leading cause of death on the job.

Incidents of violence in the industry are up 30 percent since 2012, and USW members have been pushing legislators throughout the year to pass this vital bill, which now moves on to the Senate.

“Our members mobilized all across the country and across industries to collect more than 80,000 signatures in support of this bill because they know it affects all working people,” said USW International President Tom Conway when H.9. 1309 passed two weeks ago. “We hope Mitch McConnell does what’s best for caregivers, their patients, and their families by bringing this bill to a vote in the Senate, where we believe it will see the same support as it did in the House.”

Trade Unions Demand Governments Address Gender-based Violence in the World of Work

AFL-CIO - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 09:47
Trade Unions Demand Governments Address Gender-based Violence in the World of Work

This week marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and trade unions around the world are demanding governments ratify and implement International Labor Organization Convention 190 (C190), on ending violence and harassment in the world of work.

Read the statement from the International Trade Union Confederation in English, Spanish or French.

C190 was adopted last June at the International Labor Organization. The AFL-CIO and trade unions around the world campaigned for more than a decade to win this important new global standard, and now are leading the fight to see its framework adopted by governments and employers.

Gender-based violence and harassment is a particular threat to women, LGBTQ workers and other marginalized groups. Homicide is one of the leading causes of death on the job among women in the United States, accounting for almost a quarter of workplace deaths among women, while it accounts for only 8% of workplace deaths among men. It is also a particular threat to workers in low-wage, precarious working arrangements, as poverty and marginalization can prevent workers from escaping or challenging dangerous conditions.

The C190 framework emphasizes that everyone has the fundamental right to be free from violence and harassment at work, and requires governments adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to end it. C190 requires governments and employers address the root causes of gender-based violence at work, including discrimination and unequal power relationships. Violence is a tool that both reflects and reinforces a gendered power hierarchy at work and in society, and ending violence requires allowing women workers to take collective action to confront this hierarchy directly.

C190 also calls for investigating sectors and occupations that are more likely to experience violence and harassment. In the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation to adopt specific violence protections for nurses, medical assistants, emergency responders and social workers. These workers are predominantly women, and they face extremely high rates of violence on the job. The law would require employers to develop an enforceable, comprehensive violence protection program in U.S. workplaces.

Learn more about the global C190 ratification campaign. Learn more about the law on workplace violence.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/27/2019 - 11:47

‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: A Future Where People Will Have Jobs

AFL-CIO - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 09:06
‘State of the Unions’ Podcast: A Future Where People Will Have Jobs AFL-CIO

On the latest episode of “State of the Unions,” podcast co-host Tim Schlittner talks to Guy Ryder, the director-general of the International Labor Organization, about the international labor movement, the idea of "decent labor" and the future of work.

Listen to our previous episodes:

  • A discussion with Union Veterans Council Executive Director Will Attig about his work connecting the labor movement and the veterans community. 
  • A conversation with union member and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (Wis.) about strikes, trade, health care, LGBTQ equality and the freedom to form a union. 
  • A chat with Maine Senate President Troy Jackson (IUPAT, IAM) about his path to power and the experiences that have shaped his life and career.
  • Talking to Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) about worker power, automation, trade and his decision to stay in the U.S. Senate. 
  • Checking in with AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council Executive Director Brad Markell about the UAW strike at General Motors and interviewing Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, whose work helped pave the way for passage of A.B. 5, the landmark pro-worker legislation in California.
  • SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris discussing the future of work, sexual harassment and her journey from young actor to labor leader. 

State of the Unions” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you can find podcasts.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 11/27/2019 - 11:06

Tags: Podcast

USW, European Workers Address Concerns on Aleris-Novelis Deal

USW Blog - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 13:07
As aluminum producers Novelis and Aleris move closer to a merger, USW members are working closely with their European counterparts to ensure that jobs and workers’ rights are protected on both continents.   Members of Local 9443-01 who work at the Aleris plant in Lewisport, Ky., held two days of meetings with union leaders visiting from Aleris facilities in Germany and Belgium and signed a joint declaration promising further cooperation in the future.   The declaration also called on the company’s new ownership to provide detailed information to workers about its plans for the company, and to ensure that the collective bargaining agreements and working conditions at the plants are protected.   The European Union approved Novelis’ $2.6 billion bid for Aleris earlier this year, with the stipulation that the newly merged company sell off its plant in Belgium to alleviate antitrust concerns.   Local 9443-01 President Chris Geary said members of his local, who make aluminum sheets used in the auto industry, are concerned that U.S. regulators could push the company to do the same with their facility.   “We worry about how this sale could affect the future for the employees,” Geary said.   The U.S. Department of Justice raised its own concerns over competition, filing a lawsuit in September to block the sale. That case has been referred to arbitration with a hearing yet to be scheduled.   The workers’ group sent copies of its joint declaration to executives at the two companies. Click here to read the statement.    “I can’t express enough how valuable this visit was,” Geary said. “Being able to reach out across countries and work together is extremely powerful.”

Solvay Council Members Optimistic About Future Labor Relations

USW Blog - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 12:32

Thirty USW Solvay Council members met Nov. 14-15, 2019 in Tinley Park, Ill., to receive updates on the company’s operations, discuss health and safety issues, share experiences with Solvay’s substance abuse program, and notify council members about new contracts and continuing negotiations. 

“This is one of the most organized and active councils in the chemical sector,” said USW Secretary Treasurer John Shinn. Shinn took over the USW’s chemical group when former International Vice President Carol Landry retired last July.

The USW represents 10 Solvay sites in the U.S., nearly all of which were represented at the meeting. 

New U.S. labor relations manager

Solvay’s new industrial relations officer/labor relations head for North America, Steve Cozzetto, introduced himself at the meeting and expressed his willingness to work with the council and the locals. This was a 180-degree change in labor relations between the USW and Solvay. 

“Steve is willing to talk through issues,” said Jeff Hill, who serves as the North American representative on the Solvay Global Forum. “He’s a breath of fresh air. We should have more cooperation from him.”

Cozzetto said he wants to meet with the company’s U.S. managers and educate them on the Solvay Global Framework Agreement (GFA) and how it applies going forward in working with unions.

The GFA says that Solvay management will be neutral during organizing drives, engage in a social dialogue with employees, adhere to labor and environmental standards, and conduct business in a sustainable manner.

“We need to keep working to put the GFA in place. The more we work together and push toward the GFA principles, the more we will be successful,” Hill said.

Shinn added: “This document enables us to go back and say to management they must treat the USW with respect.”

Cozzetto also attended the meeting to share with the council the company’s reorganization of its global business units. 

Solvay is a multi-specialties company, which sells chemicals that help the performance and processing of the customer’s product. 

Contract talks

After receiving the overall view of Solvay’s finances, restructuring and the effectiveness of the GFA in the U.S., the council members reported on issues and contract talks at their sites.

After five weeks of negotiations this fall, the Local 14200 membership at Solvay’s Marietta, Ohio, plant ratified a four-year agreement last month that included pay raises, a new drug policy and increases in Sunday pay, vision benefits and the shoe allowance. Labor and management negotiators agreed to settle outstanding grievances before going to arbitration. The local also beat back concessionary language in contracting out, overtime, Sunday pay and work rule changes.

Local 7-765-01 at Chicago Heights discussed its negotiations. The local’s contract expired Nov. 17, and bargaining continues with the members working under the existing agreement.

Two newly organized Solvay workers at the company’s Tulsa, Okla., composite materials plant spoke to the council over the phone. They obtained other USW Solvay contracts and are using them for reference in compiling their own proposals for a first contract. Negotiations are expected to begin in January.

One lingering issue at all the Solvay sites is the company’s revised substance abuse program.  Antonia Domingo from the USW’s Legal Department discussed and answered questions about the company’s drug and alcohol policy. Solvay acknowledged that it has an obligation to negotiate over the policy. 

The council also discussed health and safety issues with Tom Duffy of the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department. He proposed that the locals consider joint training with management over resolving their health and safety issues.

At the end of the meeting, Shinn thanked everyone for their participation and lively discussions.

“This has been a productive meeting,” Shinn said to the nods of several council members. “We had good discussions over the issues affecting our sites, and know what we need to do going forward.”

 

 

 

USW Local 90 Builds Power Even in a Right-To-Work-For-Less State

USW Blog - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 12:27

USW Local 90 at Dow Chemical’s Knoxville, Tenn., plant is a case study of what a local union can do to promote diversity and inclusiveness within the workplace, build the union, gain power at the bargaining table, and change the way the local community views labor so organizing a union is acceptable.

Tackling a lack of diversity

“We discovered that from 1994 to 2001, our former employer, Rohm & Haas, only employed three people of color and 11 women,” said Guy Jernigan, retired president of Local 90. 

Hiring did not change much after Dow Chemical bought Rohm & Haas in July 2008 and took over plant operations.

“Out of 47 Dow hires, we’ve only had five black workers and one woman hired,” he said. “When the hiring starts reflecting that we are not inclusive of women and people of color, there is something wrong. Your work force should reflect the diversity of your community.” 

The local represents about 130 hourly workers in the production, lab and mechanical departments. The site makes coatings, water-based polymers and water-based emulsion acrylics. 

In 2018, the local began tackling the lack of work force diversity by meeting with the Knoxville Urban League, Chamber of Commerce and Centro Hispano. 

Dow examined its direct-hire practices and organized an external hiring panel with union participation. This year, the company participated in an Urban League job fair; this historic, nonpartisan civil rights organization advocates on behalf of economic and social justice for African Americans and against racial discrimination in the U.S. 

Mike Bozzone, the current president of Local 90, said the local is still working with the Urban League today to get more people of color hired at the site.

Building the union

When the only non-member in the Local 90 bargaining unit retired in October 2018, local union officers decided to celebrate by coming into the plant on their days off to provide donuts and coffee to members working on four shifts across different areas of the plant.

The process took three to four weeks, but it gave every member the opportunity to get a donut and talk with the leadership. 

“I think it really meant something to members that we did this on our days off,” said Local 90 executive board member David Manning. “In my 25 years, I think that made more of an impact on the membership than anything else we’ve done, and we’ve bought jackets and t-shirts.”

In the management break room, the union leaders left a box of donuts with a sign saying “100% Membership.” 

In September 2019, Local 90 hosted the DowDuPont North American Labor Council (DNALC) meeting, providing a catered reception, lunch every day and a hospitality room each night for members to network with each other. Local 90 invited all of its members to attend the reception and meeting on their days off.

In 2020, the local hopes to do other events to build solidarity and educate the members about the local union and its activities. “It could be handing out more donuts, union t-shirts or maybe having a luncheon,” Bozzone said. “Nothing has been decided yet.”

Gaining power in bargaining

Local 90 began Building Power training in 2018 in advance of their contract expiration on Jan. 29, 2019. For the first time, the local distributed a series of handbills, texts, a contract survey and hard hat stickers. 

They also decided to use the site’s 75th anniversary celebration as an opportunity to showcase their solidarity ahead of negotiations. Members created a USW booth for the celebration, gave away prizes of USW merchandise to current and former members, and conducted a 50-50 raffle that resulted in a $600 collection for the East Tennessee Children’s hospital. 

Members and retirees wore their union shirts to show solidarity, and the local displayed a banner with the words “100% Strong, USW” that the members signed.

With the help of District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, the local printed a 75th anniversary coin. One side of it had the USW District 9 graphic and the words “USW Unity and Strength for Workers District 9.” The other side had a graphic of the chemical plant and the 1982 World’s Fair globe against a mountain backdrop with the words “Local 90 Union Strong 1943-2018.”

“Our members were proud of our local’s presentation,” Bozzone said. “It outshined what the company did.”

He said that labor relations changed for the better in Knoxville as a result of the local’s participation in the 75th anniversary event. In August 2019, Dow invited the Local 90 president to be a member of its Knoxville Community Advisory Panel. The company invites community leaders and officials each month for a luncheon to update them on the site’s affairs. Each quarter Dow hands out a money grant to a local nonprofit.

“Having a seat on the advisory panel is important,” Bozzone said. “It bodes well for our union.”

Dow also decided to include the union when the United Way recognized the company for donations raised. Now, Local 90 has a representative on the Knoxville United Way board. 

“In 2017, we had to fight to be included in the recognition for donations,” Manning said.

All of this positive activity gained the notice of Dow corporate leadership, government officials, community leaders, union officials, and current and former employees and their families. So when it came time to negotiate Local 90’s new agreement with Dow, the local easily obtained a five-year contract with wage increases, paid paternity leave and time for the union to conduct a new hire orientation session. Local 90 members ratified it Jan. 25, 2019.

Reaching out to the community

Besides contributing to the United Way, Local 90 also reaches out to the community by aligning itself with the local Jobs with Justice chapter and other labor, faith and community-based organizations.

“It’s so important now for locals to be active in their communities because that’s what the companies do,” Bozzone said. “Unions need to operate at a different level now and help their communities thrive.”

 

3M Maplewood Local Makes Progress In Contract Talks

USW Blog - Tue, 11/26/2019 - 12:24

Local 11-075 at 3M’s Maplewood, Minn., maintenance facility began negotiations April 15, 2019, in advance of the mid-August expiration of the existing collective bargaining agreement. Despite the early start, the local is still bargaining seven months later.

Local 11-075 President Thomas Heimer remains optimistic that the group could reach a fair agreement soon. He said the two sides have made progress. Talks resumed Nov. 22.

The negotiations impact some 200 USW members who handle maintenance for 3M’s headquarters facility, which consists of about 40 buildings and is growing. These workers are machinists; electricians; systems personnel; heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialists; millwrights; calibration technicians and utility employees.

While the local works under a contract extension, it continues to push back on company proposals such as contract term, sick leave, clocking into work and pay for certain job classifications.

“On day one of bargaining, the company came at us with 100 proposals on the table. We gave them six or seven items. It’s been a long battle, but we’re still bargaining,” Heimer said.

Several weeks ago, the local held an informational meeting to update the membership. Heimer said about 50 members attended and that the meeting went well. He advised that members keep up-to-date on negotiations and contact him via the local’s website at www.uswlocals.org/local1175.

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