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NLRB Issues Sweeping Complaint against ASARCO for Unfair Labor Practices that Instigated Strike by 2,000 Union Workers

Steelworker News - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:10

CONTACT: Tony Montana. (412) 562-2592

The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that Region 28 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a far-reaching complaint against ASARCO LLC, a subsidiary of mining conglomerate Grupo Mexico, sanctioning the company for its numerous unlawful actions at and away from the bargaining table.

Almost 2,000 members of eight international unions have been on strike at five copper mining and processing facilities in Arizona and Texas since Oct. 13, 2019.

In the complaint, the NLRB outlines ASARCO management’s overall failure to bargain in good faith with the unions representing its employees, both before and during the ongoing dispute.

Additional specific allegations include bargaining with no intention of reaching an agreement, failing to provide information needed for bargaining, not having decision makers at the table with adequate authority to negotiate, discriminating against union representatives, and illegally declaring an impasse and unilaterally implementing changes to working conditions.

The NLRB’s complaint asserts that the strikers are unfair labor practice strikers, who are protected against permanent replacement under existing U.S. labor law.

USW International President Tom Conway praised the solidarity of the union members at ASARCO and gave credit to the union’s former District 12 Director Bob LaVenture, who passed away shortly after the unfair labor practice strike started.

“The courageous unity and solidarity of the union membership to continue their righteous struggle for a fair contract are a tremendous credit to Bob’s life’s work and leadership,” Conway said. “Our fight will continue until we have negotiated the fair and just contract these men and women have earned.”

USW District 12 Director Gaylan Prescott said that the unions will continue efforts to engage ASARCO management in good faith negotiations.

“The USW stands ready at all levels to work with the NLRB to bring  ASARCO to justice for breaking the law in its drive to avoid bargaining in good faith,” Prescott said, “and we hope that the company will take this opportunity finally to bargain in good faith and start showing its workers the respect they deserve.”

USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza said that ASARCO must answer the complaint in writing and that the NLRB will schedule a hearing for an administrative law judge to review evidence against ASARCO and to hear testimony in the case.

“Our members, families and communities are standing up to one of the largest and most powerful multinational corporations on the planet,” Garza said. “Today, we are one step closer to justice.”

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.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs

AFL-CIO - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 08:43
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Ohio University Workers Rally to Save Jobs Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

In Athens, Ohio, Southeast Ohio Area Labor Federation President John Johnson (AFSCME) coordinated a protest last week with dozens of members of AFSCME Local 1699 at Ohio University, demanding that pending layoffs of 140 workers be stopped and that all furloughed workers be brought back. Union members also demanded that Ohio University President Duane Nellis proactively work for the passage of the HEROES Act, which could provide $37 billion in federal aid to higher education.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 10:43

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Pride Month: The Working People Weekly List

AFL-CIO - Tue, 06/16/2020 - 07:16
Pride Month: 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.

Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month: "For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards: "The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15."

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

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy: "The United Steelworkers (USW) union is backing the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy as Michigan continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C.: "Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 51 led a Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday."

Black Lives Matter: 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."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality: "For generations, many athletes have helped lead the fight for social change in America."

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches Online Safety Resource for Members Returning to Work in Nevada: "The Culinary Workers Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 has launched a new website, CulinaryClean.org, as a one-stop safety resource for its members ahead of the anticipated reopening of Nevada casinos."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/16/2020 - 09:16

Domestic violence shelter opens with help from USW members

USW Blog - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 12:05

The Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation has finally opened the doors of its new domestic violence shelter and resource center in Morinville, Alberta, Canada, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and fundraising of USW members.

Since 2016, when Local 1-207 President Ray White learned about the foundation at the National Policy Conference in Edmonton, he and his fellow Steelworkers have been raising funds, building awareness, and securing materials and furniture.

The local’s Women of Steel (WOS) committee also played a pivotal role in getting the shelter off the ground, including Local 1-207 Vice President Ivana Niblett, who was even chosen as one of the keynote speakers at the AFL annual Commemorative Luncheon for the Montreal Massacre, along with Jessica Martel’s mother.

USW District 3 and Local 1944 also raised thousands of dollars for the cause throughout the years, organizing a golf tournament, purchasing tables at the Montreal Massacre luncheon, and more.

“This was truly a team effort,” said White. “I have never been prouder to be a Steelworker.”

Jessie’s House, complete at 9,200 square feet, is the first new emergency shelter to be built in Alberta in 22 years. It is more than a home, however, with the foundation offering court assistance, tutoring, family counseling, and other services. The home also includes a room dedicated to the union for its many contributions called the United Steelworkers Women of Steel Suite.

Click here to watch a video about the story behind Jessie’s House and how it all came together.

Local 7600 members take moment of silence in honor of lost Black lives

USW Blog - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 12:02

Health care workers who are part of USW Local 7600 in Southern California participated in a collective moment of silence across several Kaiser Permanente locations on June 5 in honor of George Floyd and the countless others who have lost their lives to institutional racism.

This action is one of many USW members have participated in across the United States and Canada in support of #BlackLivesMatter.

Click here to watch a video slideshow of the event created by Local 7600 member Joel Maya.

COVID Alert: Battle looming over cost burden of mandated testing

USW Blog - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:59

Nursing home workers are among the most vulnerable workers to the novel coronavirus, as they care for residents around the clock often with very little protection. Because of this, many care workers are frequently tested for the virus, but unfortunately, there are recent reports of employers attempting to bill the workers’ insurance to cover the tests.

The USW wants to remind its members, especially those in the long-term care industry, to reach out to your local union if your employer tries to charge you or your insurance for employer-provided and mandated COVID-19 testing.

Regular testing of nursing home staff is one of the most important ways to contain this and other outbreaks. The union plans to keep a watchful eye on this issue and will provide any updates as they arrive.

Again, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local union if this issue arises in your workplace.

USW applauds SCOTUS ruling shielding LGBTQ+ Americans from workplace discrimination

Steelworker News - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:09

Contact: Amanda Green-Hawkins, agreen@usw.org, 412-562-2398

(PITTSBURGH) – United Steelworkers (USW) Vice President of Human Affairs Fred Redmond and the USW Civil and Human Rights Department released the following statement on behalf of the union in support of today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on LGBTQ+ workplace and employment protections under Title XII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: 

“The USW is proud to celebrate along with millions of others today the Supreme Court ruling that officially bans workplace and employment discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. It is now up to every one of us in the labor movement and beyond to ensure it is employed fully and fairly in our workplaces.

“Until now, workers in more than two dozen states were vulnerable to being fired by their employers simply for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Labor fought back against this at the bargaining table, as well as in the halls of Congress and in the streets, never ceasing in its pursuit of fairness and equality in our country’s workplaces.

“This ruling must not be the end of our fight for a more just and equal society, however. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the many disparities in our communities, especially for Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ people, who have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Many lack access to health care, and many work in essential industries earning low wages — they cannot be left to fall through the cracks created by the chaos.

 “So, let us honor this Pride Month with a renewed commitment to moving forward in our fight for the safety and health of all working people, while celebrating this long-overdue victory. There is still much work to be done.”

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.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

AFL-CIO - Mon, 06/15/2020 - 09:53
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IBEW Instructor Finds His Calling Through Teaching

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

For Electrical Workers (IBEW) member Jerome Miller, instructing is about more than just sharing his trade; it’s an opportunity to shape future workers. “I want to be the guy that I needed when I was growing up,” Miller said. “I love teaching. I like molding young minds.” IBEW recently featured him in a video, profiling both his work as an instructor and his family life. He joined the union when he was 20 years old and looking for a summer job. Miller went on to work as a journeyman electrician for 11 years before becoming a part-time instructor with the IBEW. His passion for mentoring young apprentices seeking a profession in the electrical trade helped him earn the 2019 IBEW Hour Power Instructor of the Year award.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 06/15/2020 - 11:53

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

USW slams Trump administration decision to cut LGBTQ+ health care protections

Steelworker News - Sat, 06/13/2020 - 10:00

Contact: Amanda Green, agreen@usw.org

(PITTSBURGH) — United Steelworkers (USW) Vice President Fred Redmond and the USW Civil and Human Rights Department released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s gutting of LGBTQ+ health care protections:

“The Trump administration’s decision to remove nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people in health care and health insurance is yet another example of its disregard for human life and dignity. 

“This decision will particularly impact trans people. It is particularly devastating now as so many LGBTQ+ people struggle in the wake of the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn.

“No one should be denied health care coverage or access to medical services simply because of their gender identity. That is not the America we believe in, and it is not the America we will settle for.

“Our union will continue fighting for trans-inclusive contracts at the bargaining table, and we once again call upon the Senate to take up and pass the Equality Act, which is needed now more than ever. 

“Too many lives depend upon those in government and other leadership positions to recognize their value—we all must do everything in our power to change that, and to ensure swift justice for Americans who just want to exercise their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The USW represents 850,000 working people 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.

 

 

In midst of pandemic, USW adapts with virtual bargaining, arbitrations

USW Blog - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 15:44

International President Tom Conway reflects on how the union has had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic with pride.

 “Our union has always been one of the best servicing unions around and has supported our members and their locals through grievance handling, contract negotiation and solving every-day problems,” Conway said. “It’s just one of the USW’s many strengths and this pandemic isn’t going to change that.”    Despite social distancing, quarantine and lock downs, USW members, staff and leadership found creative ways to keep some of the most important work of the union going, even during a global pandemic.   Bargaining via Zoom, arbitrating over video conference, sharing contract language digitally and using conference calls and other technology for meetings and trainings are just some of the ways the union is now doing business.   “We continue to find ways to have our voices heard, even if it’s mostly Zoom these days,” said Emily Miller, a librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, who’s a member of the committee bargaining their first contract with the employer.    “Bargaining, achieving benefit improvements to address specific issues, safety committee meetings, demanding bargaining where necessary – these were all things we did as a union before COVID struck, but we are now fusing virtual platforms to carry forward this work,” said International Vice President Leeann Foster, who oversees paper bargaining.   Foster said despite the pandemic, the union has achieved first contracts, added additional benefits to assist our members with COVID expenses, stood up when companies have instituted COVID pay practices without bargaining and conducted safety and benefit meetings.   “The work doesn’t stop for our members and we are committed to finding continuous ways to adapt, learn and continue to serve the union’s interests,” Foster said.   Starting next week, International Vice President Dave McCall will lead video conferences arbitrations at ArcelorMittal regarding our Layoff Minimization Plans for plants in Indiana, Cleveland and Coatesville.    Because Libbey Glass has filed for bankruptcy, our local union leadership and staff in Shreveport, La.,  and Toledo, Ohio,  are beginning to bargain CBAs. It is anticipated that some of the discussion will be via video in order to coordinate bargaining between four  USW locals and an IAM unit. The union also quickly made a web site to keep locals in the loop and instituted a text messaging system to be able to quickly share updates.   International Vice President Fred Redmond has used video technology to keep in touch with the Health Care Workers Council, members who are doing life-saving work during the pandemic, as well as important bargaining with health care employers, along with staff Tamara Lefcowitz.   “Our members on the frontlines never stopped working and need us more than ever during the coronavirus outbreak, so it was reassuring to know we could continue working hard on their behalf even during quarantine and government-mandated office closures,” Lefcowitz said. “We were even able to provide health and safety and mental health training virtually for our health care members.”   The union quickly created an online COVID-19 resource page, which is often updated with the latest health and safety information. Members can also use the online form to report health and safety concerns.    District 7 Director Mike Millsap is among those who has set up arbitrations by video during the past few months. In his district, Local 6787 President Pete Trinidad with members of the local’s executive board are preparing to do arbitrations using video conferencing software. The local also uses text messaging to send information, including pandemic-related news,  to its more than 2,000 members.   "The world is changing. Unions are changing. The way we communicate with our members must change with it. Here at 6787, we believe protecting our membership is of the utmost importance. We are in the development phase with our local IT team to research the best and safest technology available to provide our members with current, real time information,” Trinidad said.   In our paper sector, some union staff and locals are bargaining some of the smaller contracts through virtual platforms.   "We didn't let a global pandemic or political unrest stop us from doing our core work: we continued to bargain, meeting with the company via video conference instead of physically across from a table. This was a first for us, but I'm proud of our union for not giving up,” said Local 264 President John O'Neil in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was part of the team bargaining with WestRock.   O’Neil’s staff representative, District 11’s Brian Ecker, agreed.   “It's reassuring to know that our union didn't skip a beat,” Ecker said. “We do what we always do: get to work for our members and their families, overcoming whatever obstacles we have to overcome in order to remain a voice for working people, especially now when they need us most."    

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards

AFL-CIO - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 07:05
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Seafarers to Reopen Hiring Halls Next Week with New Safeguards Seafarers

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

The Seafarers (SIU) union, under the leadership of President Michael Sacco, has announced that it will reopen its hiring halls on June 15. The union is implementing strict safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Modifications have been made at the halls, including extensive cleanings, installation of dividers, shipments of personal protective equipment for members and staff, and the rearranging of seats to promote social distancing, as an initial step in the reopening transition. Members also will be required to wear a face covering and bring a completed COVID-19 screening questionnaire when coming to the halls.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 06/12/2020 - 09:05

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy

AFL-CIO - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 11:03
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: USW Endorses ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy USW

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here's today's story.

The United Steelworkers (USW) union is backing the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy as Michigan continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. The Workers First Reopening Plan, a package of 11 bills, includes measures such as expanded paid sick leave and workers’ compensation, extended hazard pay for front-line workers, strict health and safety standards, scheduling policies, mental health assistance, and safeguards against retaliation against workers.

“This plan ensures that the reopening of our economy prioritizes the safety of workers, families and communities over the profits of corporations,” said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2, which represents tens of thousands of workers in Michigan and Wisconsin. “We all want to go back to work, but we can’t do so at the expense of the very people we need to ensure that our economy can function.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/11/2020 - 13:03

Tags: COVID-19, Community Service

Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month

AFL-CIO - Thu, 06/11/2020 - 07:52
Profiling Labor Leaders and Activists for Pride Month

For Pride Month, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various LGBTQ Americans who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights. 

First, let's take a look back at LGBTQ Americans we've profiled in the past:

Check back throughout June as we add more names to this prestigious list.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 06/11/2020 - 09:52

Let's talk, respectfully

USW Blog - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 15:38

Our union was founded in 1942 with a sacred principle that still guides us today: all are welcome. The more voices, the better! The more of us that stick together, the stronger we are. With that being said, we wanted to remind everyone of our official USW comment policy for our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages.

We encourage open discussion about issues important to our members, their families and all of the world’s working people. We respectfully ask everyone to honor the following guidelines when commenting. Comments that do not follow the guidelines will be removed. Repeated failure to follow the guidelines could result in followers being banned from our pages. We're all family - so even if we disagree - let's do it with love and open minds!

USW Social Media Comment Policy

  • No foul, discriminatory, defamatory, libelous or threatening language.
  • No invasion of privacy; no racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable language.
  • Do not post material in violation of trademark or copyright laws or other laws.
  • Comments should be relevant to the post. If you have unrelated questions or comments, please send a private message to our pages or contact us at newmedia@usw.org.
  • No attacks that identify individuals, companies, unions or other organizations.
  • No spam, flaming, flooding, advertisements or solicitations.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C.

AFL-CIO - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 10:20
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Washington, D.C. IUPAT

During the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 51 led a Labor in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter rally in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Monday. IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre (UFCW), Mine Workers (UMWA) President Cecil Roberts and Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) International President Sara Nelson joined union members protesting to end racial injustice in America.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 06/10/2020 - 12:20

Historic Flooding Hits Midland, Mich., Chemical Complex

USW Blog - Wed, 06/10/2020 - 08:40

Historic flooding in the Midland, Mich., region because of heavy rains last month prompted the collapse of two privately-owned dams. The deluge caused the Dow Chemical-Michigan Operations Industrial Park to shut down and the evacuation of at least 10,000 residents.

The west side of the industrial park, which contains Dow and DuPont operations and Dow spin-off companies Sk Saran, Corteva and Trinseo, suffered damage in the flood, which began May 19, said Local 1275 President Kent Holsing. His local represents about 850 workers at those five companies.

Holsing said the east side of the industrial complex, which contains the former Dow Corning operations, received little damage because the water did not reach it. Local 12934 represents about 680 workers on that side of the complex.

The entire complex is operating now and everyone is back to work.

USW members from both locals suffered damage from the flooding.

“We have members who experienced water in their basement to those who lost everything but their house, which is still standing, to those whose homes were swept off the foundation and are gone,” Holsing said.

As of June 4, he said he received 14 applications for assistance from the USW’s disaster relief fund.

“I know there are people who have damage, but have not submitted the request for relief from the USW,” he said.

Local 12075 member Rich Carmona, a logistics operator at Dow, still has a home, but the floodwaters submerged half of it. His son had to paddle a kayak to get to the front door a day-and-a-half after the water breached the property. Carmona and his neighbors hauled out of their homes bedding, hot water tanks, dryers, furniture and other household items inundated by the flood water.

A perfect storm

For the last two years, much of the Midwest experienced greater-than-average rainfall. This year’s spring rains followed that pattern. Many places had an extra 8 to 10 inches of rain compared to the average.

Midland received 3.83 inches of rain on May 19, which was its wettest day since September 2015. The city sits about 18 miles downstream of the privately-owned Edenville Dam along the Tittabawassee River, which runs through the west side of the industrial park.

Had Boyce Hydro LLC repaired its Edenville Dam and maintained it in good shape, the excessive rainfall likely would not have been a problem. The dam had outstanding safety issues for years, and the Federal Energy Regulatory yanked Hydro’s power generating permit in 2018.

The dam collapsed, sending cascades of water into Sanford Lake. Boyce Hydro also owned the dam on that lake, which powers its hydroelectric plant. The Sanford Dam remained intact but water breached it, causing the excessive water flow to head downstream to Midland.

Immediate action taken

Dow, evacuated the entire site, except for a skeletal crew of USW members who stayed behind to maintain safe operations.

The evacuated employees received pay and excused time off. Dow paid for a hotel stay for its workers who could not return home, and the company provided housing for those who lost their homes or had extensive damage.

Dow, DuPont and Corteva also offered interest-free, short-term loans up to $10,000 to help employees recover from the flood.

“The companies, especially Dow, DuPont and Corteva, have done a good job of keeping the union updated as things progress,” Holsing said. “We believe they are addressing the needs of our members above and beyond what the contract dictates.”

To help our brothers and sisters who have lost their homes or received flood damage, click here to donate whatever you can afford to the USW’s disaster relief fund.

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality

AFL-CIO - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:57
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: NFL Players Association Committed to Fight for Racial Equality

During the COVID-19 pandemic, working people across the United States have stepped up to help out their friends, neighbors and communities. In our new Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of those stories every day. Here's today's story.

For generations, many athletes have helped lead the fight for social change in America. While NFL players remain physically distant from their teammates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) are coming together in solidarity to demand racial justice. NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told ESPN that members of the NFLPA are actors for change in the community. “Our core mission isn’t just to provide an escape for people,” he said. “And when our [members] decide to be part of their community and be agents for positive change, this is a union that is always going to support them and stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 06/09/2020 - 14:57

Local 13-12 Keeps Hand Sanitizer Flowing to Health Care Workers, First Responders

USW Blog - Tue, 06/09/2020 - 12:55

When hand sanitizer became scarce at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it did not take long for Local 13-12 members and other non-represented employees at the chemical plant to realize the great opportunity they had to assist health care workers and first-responders combat COVID-19.

ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge Chemical Plant in Louisiana is the only producer of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) in the U.S. and the largest manufacturer in the world of this key ingredient in hand sanitizers and disinfectants.

“We were concerned that we were going to run out of hand sanitizer because there were none on the shelves,” said Buford “Bobby” Mitchell, a 14-year chemical operator and member of Local 13-12, who works at the IPA unit.

“We have the stuff here, so why don’t we make it?”

Management thought it was a good idea, so employees formed a team to bring the idea into fruition. Piping modifications had to be made.

“We had to bring up another section of the IPA unit that had not run for nine years,” Mitchell said.

Feedstock to make IPA comes from ExxonMobil’s refineries. The company buys other ingredients to mix with the IPA and form medical-grade hand sanitizer.

“Every batch is analyzed by our lab to U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) specifications,” Mitchell said.

The FDA set up guidelines for non-traditional manufacturers to make hand sanitizers. ExxonMobil also had to work with the state of Louisiana and the department of health before production began because hand sanitizer is a registered drug.

Packaging challenge

Packaging the hand sanitizer also involved creative thinking and teamwork. Normally, Local 13-12 members blend and package Mobil-branded lubricants at the Port Allen Lubricants Plant, located across the Mississippi River from ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery and chemical plant complex.

Employees had to adjust the bottling process, including the design of a semi-automated machine to fill six quart-sized bottles of hand sanitizer at a time.

Within a couple of weeks, Local 13-12 members were producing medical-grade hand sanitizer to donate to health professionals, first responders, charities and the military.

Such a task normally is accomplished over months, said J. Dow, who leads the polymers process department at the chemical plant, to local media.

“It was a huge feat. All of us worked together and it went off without a hitch,” Mitchell said. “It makes you proud as a USW-represent employee. I was proud as a peacock.”

First batch donated

Workers produced the first batch of 160,000 gallons of medical-grade hand sanitizer—enough to fill almost 5 million 4-ounce bottles—for health care workers and first responders in Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Mitchell’s wife, Kim, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Baton Rouge General Hospital, and her coworkers were among the first recipients of this first batch, and its arrival ended their hand sanitizer shortage.

“Before COVID-19, the hospital had two ICUs. During the pandemic, the hospital ran six ICUs: three for coronavirus and three for non-coronavirus patients. The supply of hand sanitizer was in great demand, and we were short of it,” Kim said.

She said all the mounted hand sanitizer canisters were empty and refills were not arriving. To make do, she and her coworkers had to use squish bottles of sanitizer.

“With ExxonMobil providing our hospital with a large amount of hand sanitizer, we all have ready access to it,” she said.

Production ramped up

Exxon increased its IPA production by 3,000 tons per month in April, which equals about 50 million four-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer.

Now, employees can fill up a limited number of empty bottles with the hand sanitizer they produce at no charge.  Each Baton Rouge facility has several stations that have sanitizer in tote containers.

ExxonMobil contributes to the fight against COVID-19 in other ways as well. The company increased its manufacturing capacity to produce specialized polypropylene, which is used in medical masks and gowns. It ramped up production to make up to 200 million medical masks or 20 million gowns.

The company also technically collaborates with the Global Center for Medical Innovation to rapidly redesign and manufacture reusable personal protective equipment, such as medical face shields and masks.

USW families among those awarded $300,000 in Union Plus scholarships

USW Blog - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 18:39
We're so proud of the USW families who won this year's scholarships from Union Plus, which awarded $300,000 to 215 students representing 43 unions.   This year’s group of scholarship recipients includes university, college, and trade or technical school students from 38 states. The USW winners are:
  • Cassidy Black of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Black, whose father, Gary Black, is a member of USW Local 2635-09, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Mikayla Lipscomb of Seale, Alabama. Lipscomb, whose father, Darwin Lipscomb, is a member of USW Local 98M, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Zachary Powell of Finleyville, Pennsylvania. Powell, whose father, Albert Powell, is a member of USW Local 14693, has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship. 
“Union Plus is proud to be able to increase our scholarship award amount this year and help more union families than ever before,” Union Plus President Mitch Stevens said. “At a time when many families have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are especially glad to support this year’s group of 215 hardworking students as they further their educations and pave the path for future success.”   Meet Some of the 2020 USW Honorees   Mikayla Lipscomb, Russell County High School (RCHS), Seale, Alabama (2020)   Mikayla will attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) as a psychology major. She feels a great sense of compassion and concern for those in need of mental health support and hopes to become a board-certified psychiatrist. Mikayla completed several AP and dual-enrollment courses in high school to expedite her undergraduate timeline. Russell County Board of Education Superintendent Brenda Corley, Ed.D., said Mikayla is a model student who is ambitious, highly competent, and hardworking. “As early as her primary school years, Mikayla’s enthusiasm, creativity, and leadership skills set her apart from her peers,” Corley said. “I have witnessed her ability to work diligently with her peers, teachers, and within the community.  I have great respect for her as an individual and as a valuable citizen to our society.”   Activities, honors and employment: National Honor Society; GearUP Alabama/University of Montevallo Discovery Leadership Program; RCHS A/B Honor Roll; RCHS marching, concert bands; UAB Academic Achievement Scholarship; United Way Youth Council Community Service Award; The Citizen of East Alabama Young Citizen Award   Volunteerism: United Way Youth Council (Feeding the Valley food bank, Safe House, Girls Inc., Easter Seals, Columbus Hospice, Christmas toy drive); Body of Christ International Church’s Flint, Michigan Clean Water Project     Zachary Powell, Ringgold High School (RHS), Monongahela, Pennsylvania (2020)   Zach plans to attend a trade or technical school as an aviation maintenance and electronics major. He hopes to earn a pilot’s license while pursuing his degree and working in the field, a choice that he believes will give him occupational flexibility. RHS English Department Head Rhonda Baertsch, who worked with Zach on the yearbook, said, “Zach has a unique way of inspiring others to rise to his level of ambition and generosity. If something doesn’t turn out the way he wanted it, he takes it in stride and learns from the experience.”   Zach said his father’s USW membership has been a blessing to their family. “USW has provided him with a competitive wage, good health insurance, steady work, seniority rights, and—most of all—a safe environment,” Zach said. “The machines used in his line of work can be very dangerous. My dad has been a part of the safety team for many years since the company really listens to input from union employees.”   Activities and honors: RHS marching band; RHS yearbook staff; RHS varsity cross country, tennis, track and field; RHS Outdoor Adventure Club; Eagle Scout; Boy Scouts of America Florida Sea Base   Learn More About the Union Plus Scholarship Program   The Union Plus Scholarship Program, now in its 29th year, awards scholarships based on outstanding academic achievement, personal character, financial need, and commitment to the values of organized labor. The program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation.   Since starting the program in 1991, Union Plus has awarded more than $4.8 million in educational funding to more than 3,200 union members, spouses, and dependent children. Union Plus Scholarship awards are granted to students attending a two-year college, four-year college, graduate school, or recognized technical or trade school. The selection process is very competitive, and this year over 6,300 applications were received from 68 unions and all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, two U.S. territories, and six Canadian provinces.   Visit unionplus.org/scholarship for applications and benefit eligibility.   About Union Plus Union Plus, founded by the AFL-CIO in 1986, uses the collective buying power of America’s 12.5 million union members to deliver top-quality benefits and services at competitive prices to working families. In addition to the scholarship program, Union Plus offers the Free College program, which makes it possible for union members and their families to earn an associate degree completely online at no cost. As a complement to the Free College program, Union Plus offers the new Bachelor’s Degree Completion program, providing union members and their families a low-cost option to complete their bachelor’s degree completely online. Union Plus also provides a wide range of money-saving programs, including discounts on wireless services from AT&T, the only nationwide unionized wireless carrier; insurance protection; savings on travel and recreation; and more. For additional information, visit unionplus.org.      

USW Backs ‘Workers First’ Plan for Reopening Michigan’s Economy

Steelworker News - Mon, 06/08/2020 - 13:15

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

The United Steelworkers (USW) union said today that it supported the Michigan Legislative Labor Caucus plan for safely reopening the state’s economy, called the “Workers First Reopening Plan,” as the state continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This plan ensures that the reopening of our economy prioritizes the safety of workers, families and communities over the profits of corporations,” said Michael Bolton, director of USW District 2, which represents tens of thousands of workers in Michigan and Wisconsin. “We all want to go back to work, but we can’t do so at the expense of the very people we need to ensure that our economy can function.”

The plan, a package of 11 bills, includes measures such as expanded paid sick leave and workers compensation, extended hazard pay for front-line workers, strict health and safety standards, scheduling policies, mental health assistance, and safeguards against retaliation against workers.

In an April 27 letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Bolton called for hazard pay, sick leave and other benefits to be extended to workers at long-term care facilities, hospitals and other medical facilities. The USW represents nurses, nursing assistants and support staff at many hospitals and nursing homes in Michigan. In an earlier letter, Bolton called for extending paid sick leave to all workers in Michigan.

“Our first concern is, and must remain, containing this dangerous virus and making sure our people stay healthy,” Bolton said. “In doing so, we must ensure that nobody has to make the choice between their health and a paycheck. We must ensure that workers have the resources to adequately care for themselves and their families. This plan accomplishes those goals.”

Bolton pointed out the dangers inherent in some locations where workers labor in close proximity, such as long-term-care facilities, which have become COVID-19 hotspots in some states.

“Sadly, in looking at other areas of the country, we have seen what can happen when we move too fast or when companies value profits above people,” he said. “We can’t make that mistake in Michigan.”

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.

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