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Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

Letter to the American Hospital Association: Stop Muzzling Frontline Healthcare Workers

Fri, 03/27/2020 - 07:12

Below is a letter sent to the American Hospital Association urging them to publicly denounce any such efforts to muzzle health care professionals and call on its member hospitals and health care systems to encourage their doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to speak freely about coronavirus patient caseloads, dwindling hospital supplies, and any other challenges that should be immediately addressed. 

Click here to download the letter as a printable PDF.


Richard J. Pollack
President and Chief Executive Officer American Hospital Association 
800 10th Street, N.W.
Two CityCenter, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20001-4956 
Delivered by email to 

Dear Mr. Pollack: 

We were appalled to read recent media reports about hospital administrators across the U.S. muzzling doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals with threats of disciplinary action for speaking out about coronavirus patient caseloads and dwindling hospital supplies needed to care for such patients.(1) 

It is critical that the public and local, state, and federal government officials fully comprehend the scope of shortages of personal protective equipment, mechanical ventilators, intensive care unit beds, and other medical supplies so that appropriate steps can be taken to mitigate shortages of these essential medical resources, appropriately and fairly allocate limited resources, and thus protect the safety and welfare of health care workers and patients alike. 

Attempts to cover up these shortages by muzzling health care workers who are on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic are reprehensible and reckless and endanger public health. Although such actions may be commonplace in countries with authoritarian regimes, they are not acceptable in the U.S. 

The undersigned consumer advocacy, workers’ rights, science, research, public health, civil rights, human rights, and grassroots political organizations, labor unions, and individuals therefore demand that the American Hospital Association publicly denounce any such efforts to muzzle health care professionals and call on its member hospitals and health care systems to encourage their doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals to speak freely about coronavirus patient caseloads, dwindling hospital supplies, and any other challenges that should be immediately addressed. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent public health matter. Please contact Dr. Michael Carome, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, at with your response. 


Alliance for Retired Americans 
American Civil Liberties Union 
American Federation of Teachers 
American Medical Student Association 
American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) 
BlueGreen Alliance 
Business for Medicare for All 
Center for Reproductive Rights 
Communications Workers of America 
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces 
Consumer Action 
Debs-Jones-Douglass Institute 
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund 
Doctors for America 
Equality North Carolina 
Glenn Paulson, Ph.D., BCES, Sc.D. (Hon.), Retired Professor, George Washington University, 
Milken Institute School of Public Health 
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of 
America, (UAW) 
Justice at Work 
Knowledge Ecology International 
Labor of Love Safety Training and Consulting (Diane Matthew Brown, CIT) 
Martin S. Kanovsky, M.D., FACP, FACC, FASNC, FASE 
Mary E Miller, R.N., M.N., Occupational Health Nurse 
Medicare for All Now 
Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) 
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd 
National Center for Health Research 
National Center for Healthy Housing 
National Center for Transgender Equality 
National Employment Law Project 
National Health Care for the Homeless Council 
National Nurses United 
National Partnership for Women & Families 
National Women’s Law Center 
National Women's Health Network 
New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy 
People's Action 
Physicians for Reproductive Health 
Progress America 
Progressive Democrats of America 
Progressive Doctors 
Public Advocacy for Kids 
Public Citizen 
Public Justice Center 
Right Care Alliance 
SafeWork Washington 
San Francisco AIDS Foundation 
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 
Social Security Works 
The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers 
United Steelworkers 
Universal Health Care Action Network 
V. Ram Krishnamoorthi, M.D., M.P.H., Chicago, Illinois 
Virginia Organizing 
Western New York Council on Occupational Safety & Health 

(1) See and

In these tough times, there's help with mental health, substance abuse

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 13:11

Click here to download a printable PDF fact sheet on emergency EAP services. 

In these tough times, many people may be struggling with mental health and/or substance abuse issues. We know the stress of having to work in the midst of a pandemic or suddenly being forced out of work can take its toll.

Many of our union contracts have bargained Employee Assistance Programs with their employers. These vary by workplace so check with your employer or local union for specifics.

The EAP Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Disaster District Hotline that can be reached at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.  More information can be found at  

Connecticut 3M Workers Help in Fight Against COVID-19

Thu, 03/26/2020 - 09:00

Local 4-753 members at 3M’s Meriden, Conn., facility are helping in the fight against COVID-19.  

The members make filters that are used by Regeneron Pharmaceutical. The filters are needed in Regeneron’s research efforts to develop an effective treatment for the COVID-19 virus.  

District 4 Staff Representative Abdellatif El Berchoui said USW members at the facility have been working overtime to help the plant catch up on orders for all of its customers.

The 70 workers also make filtration systems for residences, industry and the commercial food sector.

The local ratified a three-year contract last summer that’s proving important as business increases and the stakes for meeting orders become higher.

Changes to the attendance policy, provisions limiting the use of contract workers and wage increases have all helped retain a skilled workforce and keep the production process flowing for the filters needed by companies like Regeneron and others.

“Our negotiating committee worked very hard on behalf of our members,” El Berchoui said. “In the end, we managed to keep what we had, but we also enhanced existing items in the contract and addressed members’ concerns.”

Even now, we're still fighting for fair trade, jobs

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 09:37

Even as the novel coronavirus forces the cancellation of many in-person meetings, the USW continues its important work protecting members from unfair trade.

This week International Vice President Roxanne Brown provided written testimony to the International Trade Commission on behalf of the approximately 3,700 USW members in the aluminum industry, whose livelihoods are jeopardized by dumped and illegally subsidized common alloy sheet imports.

“Normally, this hearing would have taken place face-to-face, but as we all take precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ve had to adapt so that we can advance our union’s vital mission,” said Brown. 

“The virus is rightly getting a great deal of attention from top lawmakers and the media, but that doesn’t mean that unfair trade has disappeared or that we can relent in our struggle for a level playing field.” 

Brown testified that a deluge of unfairly traded imports from 18 countries threatens USW members, including those at Aleris Corporation in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia; Arconic in Iowa; Constellium in West Virginia; and Jupiter Aluminum in Indiana.

“We will never stop fighting to save our members’ jobs or to protect the benefits of our retirees,” Brown said.

Click here to download Vice President Brown's full written testimony.

Message from Our President: We fight on for working people in face of Covid-19

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 10:39

International President Tom Conway has sent the following message regarding the union and the Covid-19 pandemic: 

I want to update you on some of the important work our union is doing in these difficult, uncertain times.

The COVID-19 crisis is impacting everyone differently depending on region, industry, and even family situation 

However, we remain committed to helping every single one of our members and continuing the important work of our union, even if that work now looks slightly different because of the current circumstances.

Health care

Our approximately 50,000 health care and other front-line workers are among the most immediately impacted by COVID-19.

Our Health, Safety and Environment Department has been working around the clock to help get them the support they need so that they can continue to do their jobs safely.

This has included coordinating with the AFL-CIO and the steering committee of the USW’s Heath Care Workers Council (HCWC) to establish what health care members need and how we can get it to them, as well as developing a guide for USW members working in nursing homes

Health care workers around the country face a dangerous shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and locals from across all our sectors have been rallying to help keep them safe, donating gloves, masks, respirators, eye goggles and more. More information about this important action can be found here.

Communication and coordination

Many of our offices, including the International Headquarters, have been forced to shut their doors as a result of the pandemic, and we’ve had to work quickly to be able to provide many of our vital services remotely. 

This has required canceling numerous in-person events and meetings to keep everyone safe. However, we are rapidly adapting so that we can remain in constant communication.

Many important resources are available on the web, including this COVID-19 guide, and all the Districts and departments are holding calls and video conferences to coordinate our efforts and develop strategies.

We will soon start to offer online versions of the classes that had to be canceled, starting with our FMLA class, which will be rolled out later this week. Other webinars will follow.

We are also remotely responding to inquiries from the field. This includes continuing support for negotiations, as well as helping our members, retirees and their families with pension, insurance, and other benefits problems.

Advocacy work

Finally, we continue to fight for our members and their jobs at every turn.

Our Washington, D.C., Legislative and Policy Department remains in constant contact with elected officials and their offices so that we can continue our fight on behalf of working people. There have already been two bills related to COVID-19, and we can expect more in the coming weeks.

Our job is to ensure that any economic relief that comes out of this legislation goes directly to workersrather than simply bailing out corporations. We’re prepared for this fight.

We’ve also been on the front lines at the state level, working with governors to keep our facilities safely operational, even as many parts of the economy are forced to shut down. This has included keeping a close eye on workplace issues and exposures related to COVID-19, so that workers aren’t forced to take unnecessary risks on the job.

For those that were forced to close as a result of the virus, we have been engaging directly with employers to make sure that any work force reductions are done in an orderly way and that our members are getting as much relief as possible. 

This has included a great deal of information gathering regarding states’ rapidly evolving unemployment processes and close work with the Districts to keep them up to date on which states have waived waiting weeks to file for benefits.

I encourage you to watch our social media sites, on which we’re posting our most up-to-date informationon these and many other important topics. Rapid Response will be sending action calls as well, so please check your inboxes regularly for opportunities to help.

Stay in contact, and please try to stay healthy. It’s impossible to know exactly what the future will bring, but through our solidarity and hard work, our fight on behalf of all workers will endure. 

In solidarity,




COVID-19 Action Call: Congress Must Put People Before Corporations

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 09:38

As the nation and the world continue to face the Covid-19 pandemic and an ever-expanding economic emergency, our union continues to aggressively fight to make sure we avoid worst outcomes now, and when this crisis is over, to prepare the country for economic recovery.

That means we need to inject stimulus monies into the hands of working families and not offer a giant handout to corporations who have notoriously left workers behind.

Last week, we told you about a series of measures signed into law that are meant to help our country deal with this quickly changing crisis. That work has continued as Congress negotiates a stimulus package this week. We need to ensure this effort puts workers first by providing economic justice and support. That starts with:

  • Ensuring Health Care for Laid Off Workers - Workers are being laid off to not only keep the virus from spreading, but because industries are suffering from economic impacts from the pandemic. As it stands, these businesses are not required to provide health care for workers or provide temporary assistance while they are out of work. We must demand they are taken care of.
  • Protecting Workers’ Rights - We know without restrictions, companies could use bailout funds to fight union organizing, buy back stocks, and enhance their CEOs, while still firing their workers. This global emergency should not be an open invitation to exploit working people, and we must have protections included to prevent that.
  • Requiring Retirement Security - Congress is preparing to inject two trillion dollars into the economy, but not a dollar of those funds is set aside for retirees in already vulnerable pensions. This is unacceptable. If Congress is willing to put hundreds of billions into companies and CEO’s hands, they can find money for promised retiree benefits.

It’s simple, workers need to come first. Our members and workers across the country are protecting our communities during this pandemic. It’s time for Congress to protect them.

Call Congress Today!

Please make calls to your Senators and Representative! 

  1. Dial our toll-free number to the U.S. Senate: 877-607-0785. Please be sure to make two calls, one to each of your Senators.
  2. Tell the office who you are and where you are from, and tell them that workers need to come first when economic aid is negotiated.
  3. When you finish your Senate calls, please also call your Representative. The toll-free number for the U.S. House is: 866-202-5409.

We cannot allow corporations to cash in and leave laid off workers behind while taking federal funds. Congress must do their part by passing this bill swiftly and fairly.

USW Negotiates Coronavirus Protocol with BASF to Protect Workers, Families and Communities

Tue, 03/24/2020 - 08:45

The USW negotiated a COVID-19 coronavirus protocol with chemical giant BASF that may serve as a model for the rest of the chemical industry in keeping facilities operating and workers safe during this worldwide pandemic.

“As a labor organization, we must work with the companies we represent to address the concerns associated with the pandemic,” said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, who negotiated the agreement with BASF Senior Director of Labor Relations for BASF North America Robert Tokar.

Pictured: BASF Council

“Also, at the same time, we are doing all that we can to keep the facilities we work at operating, and we are providing the level of job security that we all expect. We must do this in a manner that does not overreact, yet allows us to take proactive approaches. Ensuring the health and safety of our members is paramount!” Flippo wrote in a letter to USW local unions within BASF.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) laying out the COVID-19 plans covers all workers at USW-represented BASF sites in Attapulgus, Ga. (Local 170-01); Geismer, La. (Local 620); Gordon, Ga. (Local 233); Jackson, Mich. (Local 2659); Kankakee, Ill. (Local 7-429); McIntosh, Ala. (Local 9-562); McIntyre, Ga. (Local 9-237); Monaca, Pa. (Local 10-74); Quincy, Fla. (Local 174); Sandersville, Ga. (Local 9-237-01); Streetsboro, Ohio (Local 8565-01) and Vidalia, La. (Local 9335).

MOA provisions

The MOA addresses workers who are in self-quarantine for a variety of reasons, such as being exposed to or getting ill from coronavirus, having a sick family member and having a chronic health condition like a respiratory or cardiac disorder, diabetes and an immune system deficiency.

In the agreement, BASF will offer up to 14 consecutive calendar days of base pay. .During the pandemic, the company will waive the eligibility waiting period for medical and prescription benefits and the accident and sickness plan.

After 14 days, workers can use what remains of their vacation time, accrued paid time, and unpaid Family and Medical Leave Act time.

If there is a worksite closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, BASF will notify the union 30 days in advance. The company will cover base pay for a month, and pay monthly premium costs for medical, prescription and dental benefits for up to three months.

Also, at each facility there will be a non-evasive body temperature test each day as workers enter their plants to determine if they have a fever. Those who do will be sent home and asked to see a doctor.

Forward-thinking document

“This is the most forward-thinking agreement we’ve received in the chemical sector,” said USW Secretary Treasurer John Shinn, who heads the union’s chemical segment. “It gives us a sense of security.”

Flippo approached Robert Tokar, BASF’s senior director of labor relations for North America, on March 11 about having one uniform agreement to address coronavirus that would cover every USW-represented site. After several conversations, Flippo said, Tokar came to the same realization.

“The reason Tokar took our comments strongly is because of the work of this council. You understand strength and unity and what that means to stand together. That is what brought this about,” Flippo said. “I hope we can duplicate this in other areas.”

BASF Council members are distributing Flippo’s letter and the MOA via email, postings on union bulletin boards and other methods that honor the social distancing guidelines from the federal government.

“It’s important that members understand what the council can achieve here,” Flippo said. “One thing that helps us with this pandemic is knowledge and information.”

Anna Fendley Discusses Women’s Activism on The Leslie Marshall Show

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 14:12

USW Director of Regulatory and State Policy Anna Fendley appeared on The Leslie Marshall Show last week to discuss women’s activism at home and internationally.

As the USW marks women’s history month, she also addressed the work the union is doing to advance women’s interests, including protecting the USW’s health care workers, many of whom are women, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the 1980s, the USW’s Women of Steel program has worked to empower women leaders and advocate for issues that are important to women both in the community and globally.

“The only way someone is going to join a union and be a part of this movement is if women see themselves in the leadership,” Fendley said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for occupational protections for health care workers across the board, the USW has long fought for safety advancements for its roughly 50,000 health care worker members.

Fendley said the rate of violence in the health care sector has risen over the past decade. In response, the USW continues to fight for the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act, which passed the House last year but has stalled in the Senate.

Now, facing COVID-19, the union is fighting for an emergency OSHA standard and other measures to help keep them safe.

“I think we are in a moment that will go down in history for women who are stepping up on the front lines of this pandemic. Thank you to them,” Fendley said. “We have fought for you, and we will keep fighting for you.”

For the entire interview about the USW’s efforts to increase women’s union leadership and workplace protections, listen below:

Minnesota Iron Range nurses join USW after year-long negotiations​

Mon, 03/23/2020 - 11:18

After voting to join the United Steelworkers (USW) in January 2019, 19 registered nurses at Essentia Health Northern Pines Hospital in Aurora, Minn., are now members of Local 9439 upon ratifying their first contract agreement on March 16.

The workers were able to maintain their current benefits with improvements in holiday pay for part-time nurses, increased continuing education funding, an increase in pay for surgery team leads, and more. They will also have multiple wage increases, including annual raises.

Along with these improvements, Kathy Johnson, a nurse who has worked at Essentia for 11 years, said one of the biggest outcomes is the voice she and her co-workers have now gained.

“We learned that you actually can speak up if something isn’t right or fair,” said Johnson, who joined two other nurses on the unit’s negotiating committee. “With a union, you’re more easily heard by management.”

Johnson believes one of the primary reasons they were able to navigate the 22 negotiating sessions over 13 months was because of their solidarity.

“The three of us on the committee worked well together and shared a lot of the same ideas,” she said. “We also had a lot of support.”

Action Alert: PPE Donations from USW Locals Needed

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 11:47

Healthcare workers and first responders across the United States and Canada are combating the Covid-19 pandemic at the frontline. Now, more than ever, we need to stand in solidarity with these workers to help get the personal protective equipment that they need. 

We know that many of you have worked with your employer to provide extra personal protective equipment (PPE) to local organizations in need. However, we want to encourage all locals to reach out to their employers to help if you can. A list of commonly used personal protective equipment and info on how you can help is below. Also, each state has a State Emergency Operation Centers (SEOC) that is always willing to collect essential equipment. You can find your SEOC by contacting your State Department of Public Safety, Department of Emergency Management or similar agency.

If you have any questions or need additional information please e-mail the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department at For more information on the pandemic and to find union resources to help workers, please visit our page, which we are updating regularly.

List of Needed PPE


Although the use of N95 respirators and surgical masks are most common in health care, there are respirators that are just as, if not more, protective than this equipment this includes:

  • N99
  • N100
  • P100 Filtering Facepiece respirators
  • Elastomeric half-face respirators with P100 filters
  • Half or full facepiece powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) with a P95, P99 or P100 filter
  • Loose fitting facepiece, hood or helmet PAPR with high efficiency particulate filter

List of Common Personal Protective Equipment 

  • Gloves (Neoprene, Vinyl and Nitrile) 
  • Aprons
  • Long sleeved gowns
  • Eye goggles
  • Face visors
  • Disposable Shoe Covers

Some respirators could require a fit test or seal check for workers and some PPE may require training. Please discuss the donation with the hospital or other donation receiving organization. 

Please contact the USW’s Health Safety and Environment Department at with questions about PPE.

How do I get equipment to the hospital or other organization?

First, contact their human resources agent or public spokesperson. This can be found on their company’s website. Tell the organization what equipment you have to donate and arrange a drop off with the organization.

I need help or more information.

Contact our USW Health, Safety and Environment Department via e-mail.  

Information on emergency legislative responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 12:42

Our nation is facing an unprecedented crisis. As Congress debates measures to address the health and economic concerns that impact all of us, our union is working diligently to make sure we have a voice in that process. So far, two bills have passed through the House and Senate, and both are now signed into law.

Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act – This is an emergency spending bill that was signed into law March 6. It allocates $8.3 billion for help to fund vaccine development, treatment, and public health efforts. You can find a breakdown of where that money is going HERE.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act – This is a critical first step in making sure working people facing serious health and financial risks receive the assistance we need.

  • Provides for Free COVID-19 Testing – Private insurance companies and government programs like Medicaid/Medicare/TRICARE are now required to cover testing of COVID-19 with no cost and no cost-sharing, and reimburse labs for testing of the uninsured.
  • Implements Emergency Paid Sick Leave – Employers having less than 500 employees are now required to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular pay for quarantine, treatment or care of a family member related to the coronavirus.
  • Provides for Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion – This legislation ensures 12 weeks of protected job leave for workers to care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed as a result of the coronavirus.
  • Provides Additional Resources for Unemployment Insurance – An additional $1 billion in 2020 for emergency administration grants will be available to states for activities related to processing and paying unemployment insurance benefits.

A third measure to address the pandemic is being debated now. We hope to see more workers covered under paid sick time, and if bailouts to industries are being considered, there must be conditions attached such as ensuring the money doesn’t go to CEO pay or stock buybacks. We also are pushing for an OSHA standard to protect front-line workers and other provisions to protect our members.

Additional Union Resources

Our union has also put together some resources to help you stay safe and healthy. Find those HERE.

You can also find USW coronavirus-related position statements on trade and health and safety. We will continue to get information to you as the situation changes, and please stand ready to act if needed to ensure these legislative measures have workers’ best interests front and center.

Stay safe, Steelworker siblings.

#USWMade Toilet Paper: We've Got Your Backs!

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 12:16

All over the country, rolls of toilet paper, paper towels and tissue paper are flying off the shelves as people respond to the global Coronavirus pandemic. Did you know that a lot of these products are #USWMade by members in the United States and Canada?

Our union proudly represents tens of thousands of paper workers, including about 8,500  employed at facilities that make some of the biggest brands in the TP industry, including Scott, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and many generic brands sold at retailers across both nations.

USW Local 4-2 member TJ Cutler said his mill in Fort Edward, NY, received an order this past week for 1.5 million cases of toilet paper. 

"Not sure why TP is the thing, but we will make it!!" Cutler said.

Paper companies say orders have increased by 20 percent during the pandemic. Paper mills were already running 24/7 so the extra orders are being fulfilled even as workers worry about staying healthy and safe.

USW members work at several paper mills around the country that help make toilet paper, including almost all of Georgia Pacific’s mills, many Kimberly-Clark facilities, Marcal Paper and Scott Tissue Paper in Franklin, Va., 

Like all workers right now, the pandemic is causing uncertainty among the union’s paper workers. While demand is high for toilet paper at home, it is falling for retail uses at places like hotels, restaurants and airports. And because everyone is stocking up on TP right now, it’s unknown what demand will look like in the future. 

“These are uncertain times for everyone, including our paper workers who are working so hard as they do every day,” said USW International Vice President Leeann Foster who oversees the union’s paper industry. “At the union, we’re all working really hard to keep all workers from every industry and their families safe, healthy and secure during this pandemic.” 

Toilet paper is made from one of two sources — virgin pulp from trees or recycled pulp obtained from materials like discarded copy paper that's reprocessed and then turned into pulp. Virgin pulp comes from Canada and the United States. 

The pulp (virgin or recycled) is delivered to paper mills that turn it into large rolls of paper called "parent rolls" that are over 100 inches wide. The rolls then arrive at paper-coverting facilities, where many USW members work to cut them into toilet paper or paper towels.

USW Guide, information related to Covid-19

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 11:43

We understand that everyone is trying to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19. As the situation changes by the day, we’re paying close attention to the information and guidelines from federal and state governments and working with employers to ensure that the decisions being made are in the best interest of our members and their families.

We also put together some resources to help you stay safe and healthy.

When you visit, you’ll find helpful tips you can follow to help you prevent the spread, some downloadable materials you can share with other members of your local, a list of cancelled USW events and a form you can complete to tell us if you’re encountering issues at work related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We will be updating often, so check in with us often for the latest.

As we navigate these unknown waters, one thing is clear….our solidarity is our greatest strength and we will make it through this if we stick together.

AFL-CIO petitions Labor Department for emergency coronavirus standard

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:53

The AFL-CIO has petitioned U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in response to the growing coronavirus outbreak.

According to the petition, at least 19 million health care, social service, transportation and other workers would be at risk of exposure to COVID-19 if the virus intensifies.

“These are the workers who answer the call when an outbreak occurs,” the petition reads, “and they deserve to have confidence that the appropriate resources, equipment, training and protocols are readily available in their workplaces to protect themselves, as well as to avoid infecting other people.”

The petition states that the current government recommendations to protect workers fall short and that a new Emergency Temporary Standard should include several provisions, such as an exposure control plan, methods of compliance, medical surveillance and vaccinations, and communication of hazards and training.

The AFL-CIO is asking workers to urge their U.S. representatives to call on OSHA to issue this standard. To find your rep and get connected, click here or call 866-832-1560.

USW Solidarity at BASF Middle Georgia Results in Four-Year Contract With No Concessions

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 08:14

By negotiating together, the three USW bargaining units at BASF’s Middle Georgia facilities pushed back the company’s demand for concessions and gained improved wages, benefits and contract language.

“This was the first time Locals 9-237 and 9-237-01 negotiated together with Local 9-233 as one big unit,” said Local 9-237 President Tommy Daniel. “We held the membership meetings together at the hall so everyone heard the same message. It showed the company negotiators that they were talking to one union. We stuck up for each other and the company knew it couldn’t split us apart.”


This solidarity enabled the Middle Georgia units to push back against BASF’s demand to lower the wages of all packaging job classifications. For example, BASF wanted to lock in employees hired after 2011 into a permanent entry level of pay. Thanks to the union, these workers can now bid to a job at a higher rate of pay.

In addition, if a worker in labor grades 8 or 10 bids to a higher paid job and there is a layoff, that person can return to their old position.

The three local units work in two locations in close proximity to each other in Middle Georgia where BASF mines kaolin, also called chalk, processes it and ships it. Kaolin is used in the paper industry to produce the gloss for magazines and as filler for pulp. This mineral also goes into the manufacture of tableware, medicines, makeup and catalytic converters for automobiles.

Locals 9-237, 9-237-01 and 9-233 represent 305 workers together who do jobs in operations, maintenance, electrical, packaging and the lab. Members of all three units ratified a four-year contract on Jan. 24, 2020 after overwhelmingly voting down BASF’s first proposal.

While some job duties are different for each of the units, all three will have the same wages, benefits and working conditions. The union negotiated wage increases of 2 percent for years one and two; 2.1 percent for years three and four. The company will pay an additional dollar per hour in years three and four of the contract for two jobs in packaging.

BASF will now contribute 3 percent of a worker’s total pay into his or her 401k, and will continue to match employees’ contributions to their 401k funds. Long-term disability pay is extended to two years, and funeral leave is extended from three days to five days.

Previously, new employees had to wait a year before receiving vacation time. Under the new agreement, they get three days of vacation after their 120-day probationary period. After eight years on the job, employees will stop receiving three extra days and get their regular vacation time outlined in the contract.

“We went through the entire contract book,” Daniel said. “Now, the contract book reflects what we are doing today. A lot of language and job classification changes were made. We also went through the Memorandum of Agreements (MOA), carried some forward and eliminated others.”

Difficult negotiations

“It was a very difficult contract to negotiate,” Daniel said. “The biggest reason was that everybody on the company side was new except for two or three people. We had to go through the contract, explain why we had each provision, where it came from, and how the union and the company worked hard to get this language,” he said.

“Negotiations weren’t looking good for a while. We tried to explain the packaging jobs, and told the company ‘these are the people who handle your product, and this is what your customer sees.’ We tried to let them know how important these jobs are to BASF’s success. The company wanted to compare the packaging jobs to nonunion, local warehouse jobs,” he said.

Eventually, USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo and BASF Director for Labor Relations Robert Tokar had to step in and help the locals settle the contract, Daniel said.

“We have a BASF Council that played a large role in this bargain,” said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo. “Our relationship and success during this bargain is due to the strength and solidarity of our members and the power of Unity through the Council.”

Prior to negotiations, the three units prepared by getting Communications and Action Team (CAT) training from USW’s Strategic Campaigns department. Then, the locals implemented what they had learned.

Daniel said the CAT team gave members short bargaining updates after each day of negotiations, and placed them on union bulletin boards. Every Thursday, members wore the same union t-shirt to display solidarity.

With bargaining done, Daniel’s focus turns to monitoring the company’s adherence to the contract, and he has his hands full. He said the union has already filed a grievance over BASF’s prorating of the three extra vacation days for new hires.

“Now, we just have to get the company to follow the contract,” Daniel said.

List of USW events canceled due to Coronavirus pandemic

Sat, 03/14/2020 - 13:11
Please check back often for updates.   3/16/20 District 10 Town Hall     3/17/20 BGA/Climate Action Plan Staff Briefing     3/19/20 TMC Meeting     3/23/2020 - 3/27/2020 District 2 Council Conference     3/23/2020 - 3/27/2020 Labor Law Training     3/23/2020 - 3/27/2020 TMC Meetings     3/24/2020 - 3/25/2020 GMP Meetings - Myrtle Beach     3/30/2020 - 4/3/2020 New Staff Bootcamp     4/18/2020 - 4/21/2020 Los Mineros - Mexico Trip     Multiple Dates Multiple Town Hall Meetings     * 3M Council Meeting

Her company locked her out of work; her union paid her mortgage

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 11:42

Lisa Pedersen, of Revere, Mass., is trailblazer in her field. She says she was “the first girl in [her] area” when she started as a gas leak investigator and repair person for the National Grid.

“I’ve been with the same company and the United Steelworkers for 33 years,” Pedersen, a member of USW Local 120124 says.  

When her workforce was tested by a seven-month long work stoppage recently, Pedersen counted herself lucky to have a powerful tool on her side: her Union Plus mortgage.  

Pedersen and her husband refinanced their house around 2005 with the Union Plus Mortgage Program. A major draw was the payment assistance program.  

“I heard about the Mortgage Assistance Program, which helps make payments when you’re out of work,” Pedersen recalls. “I had seen the difficulties for other people during a prior work stoppage and heard about the Union Plus strike benefits.”  

The Union Plus Mortgage Assistance Program provides interest-free loans and grants to help union members make mortgage payments when they’re disabled, unemployed, furloughed, locked out or on strike. Eligible members must have had a Union Plus mortgage for at least a year.

A Mortgage Assistance strike grant ended up covering Pedersen’s mortgage during three critical months in the winter, when her husband wasn’t working his seasonal job as a lobsterman. 

“I’m blown away by the Mortgage Assistance Program,” Pedersen says. “I want people to understand how much you gave to us. I’m so grateful.” 

She considers the Union Plus Mortgage Program to be a unique asset of her union membership.  

“Having this program available is invaluable. If there’s something like that offered to you, you have to have it,” Pedersen emphasizes.  

To learn more about the Union Plus Mortgage Program and its associated benefits, visit  




Celebrating International Women's Day by continuing our fight for gender equity

Sun, 03/08/2020 - 10:00

Today, we're affirming our commitment to advancing equality in workplaces and communities across the world. We're celebrating both International Women’s Day and 100 years since the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote.

We recognize that labor unions have an important role to play in the continued fight against discrimination, wage inequality and gender-based violence. 

“It is 2020, and our country is still grappling with a pernicious pay gap,” said USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown. “A woman is paid just 81 cents for every dollar paid to a man, and that number is even lower for women of color. Click here for more of Vice President Brown's statement.

Women labor activists demand transformative agenda in Geneva

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 07:57

More than 200 trade union women, including a delegation of Steelworkers, traveled from their 60 home countries to Geneva, Switzerland, last fall for IndustriALL Global Union’s World Women’s Conference.

Click here for a full report.

Pictured: USW Director of State and Regulatory Policy Anna Fendley, District 11 Assistant to the Director Cathy Drummond, District 1 Assistant to the Director Teresa Hartley, and District 3 Education Coordinator Dayna Sykes.

During the conference, the participants took stock of the situation of gender equality in our unions and explored how to transform trade union structures, cultures and practices. 

Participants recognised that this transformation is necessary not only to fight against gender inequality, but much more fundamentally to ensure the survival of our organizations in a rapidly changing world of work. 

Recommendations that came out of the conference lay the foundations for a broader transformation of our unions towards more democracy, equality, inclusion and diversity.

“Ideally, we would have spaces in our unions where everyone’s opinion is valued and where there is a real willingness and openness to learn from each other,” said the USW’s Anna Fendley.

Pictured: USW Director of Regulatory & State Policy Anna Fendley.

Attendees unanimously passed a resolution demanding radical changes to the way their unions operate to ensure women’s equal representation, participation, and leadership.

Click here to read that resolution.

ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassent at Work

The conference participants also endorsed a resolution calling on the IndustriALL Executive Committee to support the joint global union campaign to promote the implementation and ratification of the new ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment at work. 

Violence and harassment in the world of work can happen everywhere - online, in the physical workplace, during the commute, where workers rest, eat or attend to their health and sanitation need, as well as at social gatherings.

Why is C190 important?
  • Violence and harassment in the world of work cannot be tolerated
  • This is the first international standard that aims to put an end to violence and harssment in the world of work
  • It recognizes that everyone has the right to a world of work free from violence and harassment
  • The Convention will cover existing gaps in national legislation

C190 provides a momentum for trade unions and other stakeholders to fight violence and harassment in the world of work. Unions have an important role to play to make sure the Convention becomes part of national laws.

To learn more about the campaign to #RATIFYC190, click here.

Hard-won first contracts at two Chartwell retirement facilities

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 06:34

After their employer, Chartwell, stalled negotiations in a failed attempt to weaken their resolve, workers at two retirement facilities in Alberta, Canada, have officially become USW members with their first ratified collective bargaining agreements.

The two new units comprise approximately 200 members, who will join amalgamated Local 1-207, and include LPNs, activity aides, cooks, housekeepers, and more.

Figure 1: Members of the Chartwell bargaining teams, left to right- Misty Lafond, Ruby Sab-it, Maria Stantos, Shirley Clark. Not pictured are Zamantha Septimo and Lisa Boyce.

Workers at Chartwell Country Cottage Sherwood Park obtained multiple key advancements through their agreements, including wage increases, maternity and paternity leave, and bereavement. The four-year contract at Chartwell’s St. Albert facility included, among other items, improved seniority and overtime language, wage increases, and vacation time.

The negotiating committees spent more than a year working to get their employer to bargain a fair contract. Ray White, president of USW Local 1-207 and the lead bargainer at both tables, said frustration could have easily taken hold of the membership, but their will was stronger than their joint employer’s tactics.

“These contracts would not have been possible without the dedication and perseverance of both bargaining committees and the patience and solidarity of the membership,” said White.


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