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Against All Odds, Steelworkers Prevail in 2022 Election!

Wed, 11/30/2022 - 09:10

The long list of pro-worker victories from the November 8 election continues to grow, particularly in states where Steelworkers devoted a lot of time and energy in recent months.

When we launched our 2022 electoral program in August, our union focused our efforts to elect pro-worker lawmakers in competitive state legislative districts, congressional districts, and states where voters were set to choose their next governor or United States Senator.

Undeterred by the polling, and the knowledge that midterm elections are historically difficult for the incumbent president’s party, we set out to defend those legislators who have helped secure monumental pro-worker victories, which include:

  • a massive win on retirement security that protected the pension benefits that 120,000 active and retired Steelworkers had fought for and won at the bargaining table;
  • the passage of the once-in-a-generation infrastructure bill that will mean continued investments in Steelworker jobs, the products we make, and the services we provide;
  • a new, pro-worker vision in the Department of Labor and the National Labor Relations Board that has already helped more workers achieve the protection of a union contract;
  • and more.

On election night, USW-endorsed candidates were declared victorious in:

  • Pennsylvania, where voters overwhelmingly elected a governor, Josh Shapiro, who has consistently pledged to defend union rights. Further, voters across the Commonwealth elected John Fetterman to the United States Senate. He has walked countless picket lines with striking Steelworkers and has made clear that he is an unwavering ally of workers. Pro-union representatives were also elected in a number of very close Congressional races, including Chris Deluzio (CD-17), Susan Wild (CD-7) and Matt Cartwright (CD-8);
  • Michigan and Minnesota, where voters delivered pro-worker majorities in the state House and Senate, along with reelecting pro-union governors Gretchen Witmer (MI) and Tim Walz (MN). This is especially historic in Michigan, where this had not been accomplished in nearly 40 years; and,  
  • Ohio, where voters not only reelected longtime allies like Marcy Kaptur (CD-9), but also chose to increase the number of pro-worker Congressional representatives with the election of USW-endorsed candidates like Emilia Sykes (CD-13) and Greg Landsman (CD-1). While his campaign for the U.S. Senate came up short, our close friend Tim Ryan garnered national attention for his relentless focus on the need to strengthen unions and rebuild Ohio’s middle class.

Our union also celebrated our contributions to the successful campaigns of close friends like Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Wes Moore (Gov.-elect, Maryland), Wiley Nickel (NC-13), Jeff Jackson (NC-14), Laura Kelly (Gov. of Kansas), Angie Craig (MN CD-2), and Lina Hidalgo, who won a very competitive campaign for her second term for Harris County Judge (Texas).

In the following week, close races were also decided in:

  • Nevada and Arizona, where pro-worker Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Mark Kelly were reelected, assuring a labor-friendly majority would continue in the chamber. USW members and retirees were also engaged in the successful effort to reelect Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire) to the U.S. Senate; and,
  • A number of important Congressional races, where vote totals confirmed victories for our friends Frank Mrvan (IN-1), Nikki Budzinski (IL-13), Hillary Scholten (MI-03), Elissa Slotkin (MI-7), Dan Kildee (MI-8), and many more.

This is far from being a complete list of all the reasons Steelworkers are celebrating the outcome of the 2022 midterm election. But, we wanted to share this list of victories because we are proud of the tireless work of USW members who, against all odds, helped ensure an election outcome that will mean working people will be well represented in local, state and federal government.

Tamara Lefcowitz talks health care workers’ safety on the Leslie Marshall Show

Mon, 11/21/2022 - 12:47

Tamara Lefcowitz, coordinator for the USW’s Health Care Workers Council, appeared on the Leslie Marshall Show last week to discuss how health care workers are taking safety into their own hands, organizing and collectively bargaining for better working conditions and protections on the job.

Violence against health care workers was already a serious concern before the onset of the pandemic, and threats against health care workers continue to rise. 

Legislation like the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act would provide baseline support for health care workers by compelling OSHA to establish an enforceable workplace violence standard. But health care workers also need more, Lefcowitz said.

“Health care is made up of mission-driven people who do this work because they love it, they care about people, and they’re driven to service,” said Lefcowitz.

“But that doesn’t mean that we can do them a disservice by not offering them protections, by not paying them appropriately, and by not making sure these are family-sustaining, community-sustaining jobs.”

The good news, according to Lefcowitz, is that health care workers across the country are organizing for a voice on the job, and unionized workers are winning big with good contracts that not only provide wage increases but also establish safety committees with frontline workers at the helm.

“Our working conditions are your healing conditions as a patient, and that directly impacts the patient experience,” said Lefcowitz.

“Health care workers are the social infrastructure that holds America together.”

To listen to the full interview with Tamara Lefcowitz on the Leslie Marshall Show, click below:

USW New Media · How Healthcare Workers Are Taking Safety Into Their Own Hands

Steelworker Activism Pays Off for Veterans in NY

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 14:02
Steelworker activism paid of in New York, USW District 4, where we teamed up with Rapid Response to help pass a first-of-its-kind law helping our veterans that was signed into law this week.   We are happy to report that on Veteran’s Day, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed New York Assembly Bill A3913B into law. The first of its kind in our nation, this bill requires employers to display a poster containing information on veterans’ benefits and services, which shall be created and distributed by the Department of Labor.    The law comes two years after USW activists gathered at a Rapid Response conference in the district and made helping those who served in our armed forces a legislative priority for our union.

For months, we met legislators and pointed out that the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) helps veterans to secure jobs, but it does not offer details on available benefits and services. These benefits and services consist of programs that assist veterans and their families with things like education and training, job placement and employment preferences, healthcare, and more.  

The various programs for which veterans are eligible help ease the transition back into civilian life and ensure that families and communities are supported after giving selflessly for our country. District 4 activists urged elected officials they met with to join us in supporting our nation’s veterans by making information on benefits and services they are entitled to more available to those who need it. They asked legislators to create and pass legislation to require standardized workplace postings that include basic information about veterans’ benefits and a way for veterans to learn more about the programs available to them.   We are excited to have had a part in the creation and passage of this legislation and look to 2023 to push for similar bills across the nation.

  

How did your legislators vote? 

In a rare occurance, all members of the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate present for the vote, voted in support of the bill. 

To learn more about the USW’s Veterans of Steel program and the resources available to all veterans and their families go to usw.org/vetsofsteel or contact Cary Eldridge, District 4 Veterans of Steel Coordinator, at celdridge@usw.org. For more information on Rapid Response and how you can get involved contact Mark McDonald, District 4 Rapid Response Coordinator, at mmcdonald@usw.org.

Women of Steel come together in Canada to “Raise the Bar”

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 12:08

Members from across Canada and the United States brought their energy and activism to Quebec City the week of October 17 for the USW National Women’s Conference.

This year’s event, organized by many siblings including Conference Chair and Assistant to the National Director Meg Gingrich and Education and Equality Department Head Adriane Pavo, focused on the union’s Raising the Bar on Women’s Health and Safety campaign.

Adriane Pavo (far right) moderates a panel on Raising the Bar on Women’s Health and Safety.

The USW’s National Policy Conference in 2019 unanimously passed a resolution calling for action, and this campaign, which has also been launched in the United States, was the result.

The campaign aims to increase awareness of women’s health and safety issues, making them core USW health and safety issues; to boost women’s participation in activism, including on committees and in USW courses; and to increase respect and space for women’s voices and ideas in workplaces and our union.

An incredible moment of solidarity around this campaign at this year’s conference occurred when hundreds of activists rallied together bright and early on October 19 to break the silence on domestic violence.

Click here to view all of the photos from the National Women’s Conference.

Copper Country Mental Health workers score multiple wins in new contract

Tue, 11/15/2022 - 09:57

Members of Local 7798-1 at Copper Country Mental Health in Houghton, Mich., won wage increases along with solidified workplace violence language in their latest three-year collective bargaining agreement. 

The essential care workers will immediately receive a 4.5 percent wage increase, and the contract also includes an annual wage opener.

The workers are also proud that the workplace violence language they fought so hard to obtain in their 2019 agreement has now officially been added to the CBA. This agreement committed the employer to appoint a committee, including two members of the local, to draft a workplace violence policy. The guideline also includes the definition of aggression and an outline of procedures, all of which will be reviewed yearly.

Another big win includes a commitment from new administration to reduce the amount of “24-hour eyes on residents” in group homes where only one member is working. Members with 15+ years of service will also now receive an extra week of vacation.

The members ratified the agreement unanimously on Monday, Nov. 14.

USW activists talk community, bargaining power at District 10 Civil and Human Rights Conference

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 10:00

Members and activists of USW local unions across Pennsylvania gathered at Linden Hall for the District 10 Civil and Human Rights Conference the week of Oct. 31 to learn how to use bargaining power as a tool for change.

The roughly forty members participated in workshops focused on understanding power and privilege, fighting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, forming and utilizing Civil and Human Rights Committees within local unions, and unpacking how racism impacts health and safety. They also learned how to utilize social media and texting campaigns to engage their membership.


DeLisa Baldwin of Local 1688 said another way to get members involved and build strength as a union is to get out into the community.

“Our plant is in the middle of the city,” she said, “so it’s important for our union to volunteer and be seen and let them know we’re here and we care.”

Members at the conference also participated in the USW Health Care Workers Council’s first-ever workshop focused on protecting members’ access to medical and reproductive health care. Council Coordinator Tamara Lefcowitz outlined a new toolkit available to members and also detailed how local unions can bargain language in their contracts that benefit rural workers, including coverage of out-of-state travel expenses for specialty care like chemotherapy.


“Firstly, we want members to be educated on their right to ask for information from their employers,” said Lefcowitz. “We also want to promote the many different resources the union has available and the different paths members can take to protect each other.”

USW Vice President of Human Affairs Kevin Mapp ended the week with an address that called for holding the line and holding onto hope amidst the many challenges facing the labor and civil rights movements.

“It truly is going to take each and every one of us, as individual labor activists, to meet people where they are and move with them into the future,” said Mapp on Thurs., Nov. 3., the final day of the conference. 

District 10 Director Bernie Hall also closed out the conference with a reminder of the importance of union members using their collective power to fight for the working class.

“If it weren’t for unions, no one would be out there advocating for workers and lobbying legislators on behalf of our interests,” said Hall. “We have to show up face-to-face.”


Mapp handed out certificates to everyone who completed the week’s seminar, along with District 10 Civil and Human Rights Coordinator Leroy Atwater, who invited the members to keep the work they did at the conference moving forward.

“The best part about this week is the fellowship,” Atwater told them. “All we ask now is that you take something you learned here back to your locals.”

Details for the 2023 AFL-CIO Martin Luther King Jr. Civil andHuman Rights Conference

Fri, 11/04/2022 - 10:42


The theme of January’s conference is “Claiming our Power, Protecting Our Democracy.”

Date: Jan. 13-16, 2023
Location:
Washington D.C.
Cost:
The fee for the conference is $250
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Our democracy is in a state of emergency.  Across the country, extremist politicians, far-right judges and corrupt corporate interests have aligned to take away the rights of workers. They are moving to strip us of our fundamental freedoms including the freedom to vote and to collectively bargain for a voice on the job.  

The labor movement has always been a force for progress and we will continue that legacy by standing in our power and fighting back against these attacks. We will step into the year with purpose and make it clear that working people will determine the direction of this country. Together, we will build an economy and a society that works for everyone and ensures that all workers, no matter who they are, can live a life of dignity and respect. 

During the conference there will be timely discussions led by experts about the most pressing issues facing our movement, determine how we can address these challenges, share best practices and provide attendees with the cutting-edge tools and knowledge they need to affect change.  

Note: The conference landing page will be updated periodically with details about the agenda, speakers, workshops and more.

Steelworkers stand with Lula in Brazil

Wed, 11/02/2022 - 06:46

The United Steelworkers (USW) today congratulated Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, the winner of the Brazilian presidential election on October 30.

“From his days as a metalworkers’ union activist and leader, to his term as president from 2003-2010, Lula has always defended and advanced the rights of working people in Brazil and around the world,” said USW International President Tom Conway.  “We look forward to working with President, Lula and the Brazilian trade union movement to strengthen worker protections and restore labor rights that were taken away by the outgoing right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.”

Conway also thanked President Joe Biden for his public statement applauding Lula “on his election to be the next president of Brazil following free, fair and credible elections.”

“Brazilian companies play a major role in the Canadian economy,” said USW District 6 Director Myles Sullivan, who led a USW delegation that joined union leaders from around the world to monitor the election process. “It’s really important to our members to have a president of Brazil who is committed to worker rights and democracy.”

The USW solidarity delegation to Brazil this week included Laura Tompkins and Carolyn Kazdin from the Strategic Campaigns Department and District 6 Director Myles Sullivan.

Dow DuPont Council members unite in Michigan for annual conference

Mon, 10/31/2022 - 11:52

USW members of the Dow DuPont North American Labor Council met for their annual conference in Midland, Mich., the week of Oct. 24 to discuss common challenges in the vast chemical sector, celebrate victories, and learn from each other. 

They were also joined by chemical workers in other unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers and IndustriALL Global Union.

Kent Holsing, chairperson of the council and president of Local 12075, kicked off the conference, and Mike Orvosh, who serves as president of Local 12934, welcomed members to his hometown. 

He also thanked the council members for their support during his local’s first negotiations with Dow in 2019. 

“We’re all in this together,” Orvosh said. “You all really stepped up to help us, and it’s why I love this council. The greatest value is the one-on-one connections.”

Global connections

The first day of the conference had a global focus and included international guests such as Tom Grinter, IndustriALL Director of Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals, Pulp and Paper, Rubber Industries.

Several members of the United Petrochemical Laborers and Employees Union (SOEPU) in Argentina also addressed the council and spoke about their experiences as employees of Corteva and Dow.

SOEPU General Secretary Mauricio Brizuela stressed the importance of workers staying connected as chemical manufacturers continue to expand across the globe.

“Communication is very important, especially when you’re dealing with an international issue,” said Brizuela, who informed the council on Dow’s recent attempt to shut down a major facility in San Lorenzo that employs 120 workers. “When one suffers, we all suffer.”

Brizuela and the rest of the workers from Argentina received a standing ovation from the council when they detailed how they organized a massive campaign to keep the plant open.

“Corporations act globally, so we need to act globally,” Holsing reminded the council after the Argentine delegation spoke. “We have to know what’s going on elsewhere, because it will affect us eventually. We can’t be narrow-sighted.” 

Promoting safety 

Members spent the rest of the week giving local union reports and brainstorming with each other on how to solve common challenges, like worker fatigue. Steve Sallman, Director of the USW Health, Safety and Environment Department, joined the conference on Wed., Oct. 26, to lead a discussion on this widespread yet preventable workplace problem.

Holsing also addressed the council on this issue that he says more people need to take seriously.

“I’d rather have people working less overtime than more overtime,” said Holsing. “We can’t have people working themselves to death.” 

Many of the locals who attended the conference shared that they’re experiencing high rates of worker fatigue and more safety incidents as a result of short staffing alongside increased production. Grinter from IndustriALL said this is a problem that is increasing across global industries as companies prioritize profits over people.

Contract support

Since the members met last October in San Antonio, ten local unions have bargained contracts with the five major employers who make up the council: Dow, DuPont, Corteva, Trinseo, and International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF). The large, diverse sector does not utilize a pattern agreement, so the USW bargains each contract separately. 

The Dow DuPont Council alone includes 2,371 members across 11 states in 11 cities, which is one reason these meetings are so vital in keeping the thousands of chemical workers linked in to each other’s struggles and accomplishments.

Duane Switala, unit president of Local 12075-36 at IFF said on the last day of the meeting that these gatherings are invaluable. The group’s last conference in October prepared Switala and the rest of his team for their first negotiations since DuPont merged with IFF in 2021.

“Without this conference, I would have had a much harder time getting through our contract,” Switala said. “This is my fourth time here and it’s helped me a lot in gaining the knowledge I need.”

The USW represents the most workers in the North American chemical industry, with approximately 30,000 chemical members.

Local 13028 bargains wage increases, stronger health and safety language in latest contract

Wed, 10/26/2022 - 07:42

Members of Local 13028 in Newark, Del., remained steadfast during negotiations with International Flavors and Fragrances Inc. in order to achieve their victory of a new, stronger collective bargaining agreement. 

The group of 57 chemical facility workers ratified their latest three-year contract the week of October 10 and were able to bargain significant improvements in areas from wages to health and safety.

The bargaining team began negotiating with management in mid-August and was met immediately with pushback from the employer. IFF aimed to eliminate the contract’s PAC contribution clause and weaken language regarding the overall security of the union and its ability to file grievances.

Members voted down the first and second contracts. Local 13028 President Bob Davis said these offers were a slap in the face, and the workers knew it.

“They tried to intimidate us and, in some ways, I think they were trying to bust the union,” said Local 13028 President Bob Davis. “But the membership stood strong the whole time.”

The local’s solidarity allowed the bargaining team to win major wage increases, with some workers receiving as high as a 16.5-percent raise over the life of the agreement. The local union also now has comprehensive health and safety language that prioritizes communication and workers’ involvement.

IFF is also looking to send a member of management to the next USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference, something Davis said has never happened before. “That’s a really good step forward,” he said.

The members stayed connected and energized throughout bargaining via hard-hat sticker days and practice picketing to display their strength and commitment.

New sector-specific training helps District 12 health care workers promote health and safety

Mon, 10/24/2022 - 07:01

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed many of the vulnerabilities health care workers faced long before the spring of 2020, from workplace violence to a lack of essential supplies to short staffing.

Now, USW health care workers are organizing and mobilizing their colleagues to protect their own health and safety and promote solidarity and union power.

To support these front-line workers, the union launched a pilot program in District 12 focused on improving health and safety outcomes for the thousands of essential workers in the health care sector.

“Health care seems like such a simple concept, but so much comes with it,” said Melissa Borgia, a full-time grievance representative for Local 7600 and the District 12 Health Care Workers Council Coordinator. “Everyone’s work is so different, so when you talk about things like health and safety, it can mean something different depending on what department you’re in or what kind of facility you work at.”

One of the goals of this new program is to improve connections between workers to talk about common issues and learn from each other.

The union’s Health and Safety Department, along with the Tony Mazzocchi Center, adapted curriculum for a one-day training focused on health care using grant funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Training Program.

The pilot program began in Southern California on Oct. 3 and included thirty health care workers in a wide variety of job classes, from paramedics, nurses and mobility techs to Emergency Department financial counselors, housekeeping, and nutrition service workers.

USW Health Care Workers Council Coordinator Tamara Lefcowitz said much of the conversation during this first training was focused on breaking down the many ways health care managers have failed the very workers they count on every day.

“The question to injured workers is always: What could you have done differently?” Lefcowitz said. “The right question is: What does management need to do to better protect you?”

Members at the training were also joined by USW Vice President of Human Affairs Kevin Mapp and USW District 12 Director Gaylan Prescott.

“We know how to build a smart, activist-powered safety culture,” said Prescott. “We’ve done it in every industry where we made the effort. Health care workers deserve the same focused initiative and education.”

Several health care members of District 12 have also participated in the Tony Mazzocchi Center’s training fundamentals program with the goal of these workers assisting trainers in upcoming workshops.

“This is a larger effort to raise the bar on health and safety for the entire sector,” said Vice President Mapp. “It’s our job as a union to reimagine what health care looks like for everyone.”

The pilot program’s next meeting will be held in Northern California on November 7.

Biden Celebrates Infrastructure Effort with Union Workers

Thu, 10/20/2022 - 13:44

President Joe Biden delivered a clear message to a crowd of USW members and other union workers in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20: The national infrastructure plan he signed a year ago is working, and will continue to provide good jobs for the next decade and beyond.

Biden spoke at the site of the Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed on Jan. 28, 2022, coincidentally on the same day as one of Biden’s previous visits to the Steel City. Thanks to federal funding, union workers are already in the process of rebuilding the bridge, the president said.

“But it never should have come to this,” Biden said, pointing out that, thanks to four years of inaction by the previous administration, the term “Infrastructure Week became a punchline.”

“Now,” he said, “we’re going to have ‘Infrastructure Decade.’”

The infrastructure and investment law, which the president signed last November, has already created 700,000 new jobs, and is providing funding for countless projects across the country that will improve the lives of all Americans, including new roads and bridges, schools, hospitals, airports, railways and delivery systems for water, energy and high-speed internet service.

Those projects also will provide jobs for USW members and security for their families, Biden said.

That was good news to Charlene Crawford, unit president for USW Local 6521 in Altoona, Pa., who, as she waited for Biden to speak, pointed out that union members must vote in the upcoming midterm elections to make sure the nation continues its progress.

“Our labor depends on this,” Crawford said of Biden’s job-creation and inflation-reduction efforts. “If we don’t vote, we stand a good chance of losing all of that.”

The “Made in America” provisions of the infrastructure law are particularly important to Paul Pelc, of USW Local 1917, who also attended Biden’s speech.

“Infrastructure is so important,” said Pelc, of Meadville, Pa. “It means more work for union workers.”

Biden said those new jobs, and the security that comes with them, are the building blocks of a new economy built on the middle class.

“This is only the beginning,” Biden said. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of this country.”

Kim Miller Talks Wins for Workers on the Leslie Marshall Show

Thu, 10/20/2022 - 12:23

Kim Miller, Assistant to the USW International President Tom Conway, appeared on the Leslie Marshall show this week to discuss the historic victories Democrats have notched in favor of working families in the two years since President Joe Biden took office – despite having just a slim majority in Congress.

These include major advancements for working people like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, in addition to the appointment of a pro-worker National Labor Relations Board and a newly established Made in America office.

The USW also helped to push Congress to shore up the multi-employer pension plans of millions of American families, saving roughly 120,000 active and retired Steelworkers whose pensions plans were at risk of going bankrupt.

“Really the only turn for this was a legislative solution, and fortunately a lot of our allies in Congress agreed,” said Miller. “This win was massive for everyone involved and for people in the future to know the whole system isn’t going to go bankrupt.”

Affordable health care and prescription drug costs are also important to union members, said Miller, which is why the union advocated for the Inflation Reduction Act – passed solely by Democrats in Congress – which lowers health care and drug costs for working people.

The Biden administration also made steps to tip the scales for workers by appointing pro-worker members of the National Labor Relations Board, appointing a card-carrying union member, Marty Walsh, as secretary of labor, and issuing executive orders in favor of American manufacturing.

Miller emphasized there is still work to do and how vital the outcome of the midterm election will be in continuing to implement a pro-worker agenda. “We need to get out there, we need to make it big and we need to support the people who’ve been supporting us,” Miller said.

To find out more about voting in your state, visit www.USWVoices.org

Listen to the full interview with Kim Miller below:

USW New Media · Despite Slim Majority Democrats Notched Major Achievements For Workers And Their Families

Emotional honor for fallen brother at D10 conference

Tue, 10/18/2022 - 16:12

Kenny Stitt would have turned 34 years old today. But almost exactly a year ago, the member of USW Local 1016 lost his life in a tragic accident while working at NLMK in Farrell, Pa.  

Instead of celebrating his birthday, his local was honored today at the District 10 conference with the USW’s Karen Silkwood Award for the work they did to rally around Stitt’s family and to work with our Health, Safety and Environment and Emergency Response Team departments to push for accountability and represent the Stitt family in investigations surrounding our brother’s death on the job.

“It’s still a very emotional time,” said District 10 Director Bernie Hall. “Kenny left behind a very young wife and two young children with an uncertain future. That day, the day of the accident, the local made it known that that family will never be alone. These guys really represent the best of us. This represents what our union is all about.”

Member of the local, led by Next Gen coordinator Colton Smith, have never left the Stitt family’s side. At the time of his death, Stitt’s wife Kelsey was 28 with a 2-year-old and newborn baby. The union has raised over $110,000 and has plans to establish a scholarship fund for Stitt’s children. 

“Today is actually his birthday. He’d be 34 today,” an emotional Smith said while accepting the award. “I really can’t think our district, the International enough. The day of the accident, I called my staff rep, ERT, Health and Safety, Bernie Hall at 3 o’clock in the morning and they were there by 7 a.m. to have meetings with the company and to support us. I cannot talk enough about the support we got from our union.”

“Today is actually Ken's birthday. So I'm having an extra hard time,” Kelsey Stitt said. “The union has been amazing. They have done anything they could do since the beginning. They tell me all the time, ‘if you need ANYTHING, anything at all, just let us know.’”

Mrs. Stitt runs a Facebook page dedicated to her husband’s memory, Love Like Kenny.

Hall announced that all proceeds from the conference 50-50 raffles would be donated to the Stitt scholarship fund. 

The USW Karen Silkwood Award is given to local unions for union building and solidarity through health, safety and environment activism. It is named for our union sister who died under mysterious circumstances while she was on her way to deliver papers exposing serious safety problems at a nuclear fuels plant. 

USW Members Celebrate Roberto Clemente for His Life of Activism During Hispanic Heritage Month

Mon, 10/17/2022 - 14:48

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) hosted its annual fundraiser, ¡Que Viva Clemente!, on Friday, Oct. 14. Jessica Rios Viner, President of LCLAA Pittsburgh and member of USW Local 3657, MC’ed the event.

This year’s fundraiser was held at the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center in Pittsburgh’s Hill District Neighborhood and featured the screening of an original film produced by the members of USW Locals 6135 and 6871 in Puerto Rico.

The documentary celebrated the accomplishments and humanitarian efforts of Roberto Clemente – a Puerto Rican baseball player who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates who was well known off the field for his charity work in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

In addition to the film, there were Latino artists doing live paintings, a voter registration drive, and guest speakers who talked about LCLAA’s work in the Pittsburgh community.

The proceeds from the event will go to El Fondo Solidario de Pittsburgh (the Pittsburgh Solidarity Fund). The organization helps families going through immigration procedures, workers that are facing wage theft or occupational injuries, and for the last three years, has been donating to Puerto Rican organizations that uplift the island.

This year, those organizations were Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico, an anti-hunger organization based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Taller Salud, a community-based feminist organization dedicated to improving women's access to healthcare, reducing violence in the community, and fostering economic development through education and activism.

This yearly celebration is made possible because of the hard work of the planning committee which includes USW members from Local 3657, 6135 and 6871, and donations from many USW Locals, Districts and the International Office.

Local 9600 negotiates health and safety committee, scores big wage wins in latest contract

Tue, 10/11/2022 - 07:52

USW members of Local 9600 in Oroville, Calif., scored several major wins in their new three-year contract, including the formation of a worker-driven joint health and safety committee with Oroville Hospital. 

The health and safety committee will also address worker concerns related to patient care and workplace violence, issues many members prioritized as the union’s bargaining committee prepared for negotiations.  

The team was comprised of essential workers from around the Oroville health care complex and was led by District 12 Staff Representative Tyona Wolk. They also had assistance from the USW’s Strategic Campaigns Department as well as the Collective Bargaining, Research, and Benefits Department, along with the USW Health Care Workers Council. 

Wolk said reaching out to the community and getting their support around safety, and workplace violence in particular, went a long way to securing the numerous gains for the members at Oroville Hospital. 

“The workers will now have the voice they deserve in addressing these issues,” Wolk said. “It will benefit everyone.”

The union’s negotiators addressed each of the 110 job classifications at the hospital separately, achieving an average first-year wage increase of 9.5 percent. They also secured an additional week of vacation for members in the Business Office and Service Unit in an effort to address disparity issues. 

Local 9600 includes approximately 800 workers, from unit clerks and phlebotomists to respiratory therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and environmental service workers.

Throughout bargaining, which began in June 2022, the union kept its members connected via text alerts, bargaining updates, and solidarity actions. The local also enjoyed strong support from the hospital’s registered nurses (RNs), who are not USW members. 

October Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

Mon, 10/03/2022 - 13:00
Your Union, Your Voice 2022 Survey Results; Retirement Security Ranks as Top Issue 

Our 2022 Your Union, Your Voice survey effort has concluded with thousands of members and retirees responding to our membership survey and thousands more providing feedback at the 150+ town halls that USW Districts hosted across the United States.

You’ll recall that the USW first launched Your Union, Your Voice (YUYV) two years ago so that we could hear about your top priorities and share information about our union’s core issues.

Thousands of you helped make that effort an overwhelming success.  Your input helped shape our work over the last two years, and I’m extremely proud to remind you that we’ve been able to celebrate significant progress in a number of the areas you indicated as most important to you. 

Progress on Workers’ Issues

Most notably, we: 

  • Achieved a massive win on retirement security that will protect the benefits of 120,000 active and retired members who were at risk of losing everything.
  • Realized a decades-long goal with the once-in-a-generation infrastructure bill the President signed into law in November 2021. This move will keep countless USW members’ jobs strong for years to come while improving our communities and overall global competitiveness.
  • Saw a change in the leadership at the National Labor Relations Board that provided fundamental improvements for workers seeking justice when they or their unions are subjected to unfair labor practices.

Our 2022 Your Union, Your Voice Report

As I am providing this report to SOAR members, the results were no surprise to me. I highlight that retirement security was the top-rated issue of importance among respondents to our 2022 YUYV membership survey. 

Retirement security was followed closely by affordable health care and prescription drugs (which was 2020’s top-ranked issue of concern among members and retirees) and labor laws that allow us to organize and secure good contracts took the third spot.

Additionally, more than 70 percent of respondents listed trade agreements and laws that protect U.S. workers, increased worker wages, and safety and health as “very important.” 

Acting Upon Your Feedback

With the 2022 midterm elections rapidly approaching, union members and retirees will be presented with another opportunity to help elect pro-retiree, pro-worker and pro-union lawmakers who can be our allies in making progress on the issues you’ve indicated to be most important to you.

October Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

Mon, 10/03/2022 - 10:00
We Really Mean SOAR IN ACTION!

The members of SOAR have really been "IN ACTION" the last few months. After being limited in what we could do regarding socializing or participating in actions involving groups for almost two years, the members of SOAR seem anxious to resume their activities and to be engaged in issues related to retirees and working families in Canada and the United States.

Over 100 retirees attended the recent SOAR Conference in Las Vegas and participated in discussions on resolutions dealing with the future of SOAR. In addition, our Canadian delegation spoke on their participation in efforts to expand national health care coverage to include prescription drugs.

Once we returned home, several districts announced the formation of new SOAR chapters, which is extremely important because SOAR needs to continue to bring in new members. Because of who we are, and our tendency to "age-out" as we get to our senior years, we need to continually bring in new members in order to maintain our ability to function.

Districts recently sent in reports of their participation in the Labor Day parades around the country. SOAR participation in Districts 10, 7 and 4 did a great job of getting recognized for their involvement, with District 4 getting coverage on a local news station in New York City. 

Many of our chapters and members volunteered to participate in the Your Union, Your Voice postcard writing campaign. Special mention must go to District 7 SOAR Board member Dorine Godinez, and the SOAR chapters in District 7, as they worked in solidarity to prepare over 2600 postcards.

Many of our members have volunteered to get involved in the upcoming election. Some will be working at voting locations or simply be an observer. Others have volunteered to jump in with both feet, to do leafleting and door knocking, and to participate in rallies for candidates that support our position on issues important to active and retired workers and their families.

Our members may have retired from the company, but they never left their Union. They continue to be involved in issues important to them, and they continue to be "SOAR IN ACTION!"

Local 7600 welcomes two dozen new members in California

Mon, 10/03/2022 - 09:05

A group of outside referral coordinators (ORCs) at Kaiser Permanente in Riverside, Calif., are officially members of the Steelworker family after joining Local 7600.

The small yet determined crew reached out to the large health care local about joining, then met with Local President Micheal Barnett, Lead Organizer Joel Maya, and Staff Representative Rosie Gonzalez to talk about their goals. They also discussed the challenges they’ve been facing, including forced mandatory overtime, denied time-off, and wage disparities.

“We’re so proud of the ORCs staying united during this campaign,” said Barnett. “It was clear from the first time they reached out to us that they wanted better working conditions and a voice on the job.”

On Sept. 15, the group of essential workers met with District 12 Organizer Derek Swanson and signed their union cards that were read by an arbitrator.

On that very day, it was determined and certified that the majority of the 24-member unit voted to the join Local 7600. They are now members of the USW as well as the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU).

Local 7600 represents approximately 7,400 workers at 72 Kaiser Permanente locations in Southern California in a wide range of job classes, from respiratory care practitioners to surgical technicians, engineers, pharmacy technicians and assistants, licensed vocational nurses, dietary aides, environmental service workers, medical assistants, appointment clerks, phlebotomists, and more.

Funding for Nuclear Projects a Highlight of Fall AEWC Meeting

Wed, 09/28/2022 - 08:17

USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown set the tone for the Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC) meeting held Sept. 19-20 in Washington, D.C., urging the council to think strategically about ways to use the infusion of funds from the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill to create density in the sector.

The new legislation presents opportunities for atomic workers to play a critical role in achieving a net-zero carbon future, Brown said.

She provided AEWC council members with an in-depth look at the numerous funding sources available for nuclear projects and emphasized the unprecedented opportunities the USW can harness amidst climate-driven energy goals.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed last month, includes a series of tax incentives to help deploy advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors, which have the potential to generate safe, clean and cost-effective energy.

“This is the first time U.S. tax policy will be used to deploy nuclear technology – it’s never been done at this scale before,” said Brown to the council. “This is a huge potential opportunity for this sector if it’s done right, and if industries and companies actually decide to invest in what’s possible in terms of these pots of money.”

COVID-19 policy, workforce shortages concerns

AEWC President Jim Key helped bring the council’s concern about vaccine requirement discrepancies among contractors to Ike White, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management at the DOE, who spoke in-person to members of the council at the end of meeting day two.

“You shouldn’t have three contractors at one site, where one contractor will terminate five people and the other two contractors will make accommodations. I think that’s totally wrong,” said Key. “It’s a hurt and disgrace to those workers to be terminated and not have the provisions for weekly testing and masking that the other two on-site contractors provided.”

COVID-19 policy is all over the charts, said Local 689 President Herman Potter of Piketon, Ohio. Potter said contractors still requiring vaccines have trouble finding new hires and keeping the workers they do have.

This compounds broader challenges with work force shortages. Non-union building trades provide shorter training programs, said Potter, which attracts new hires but produces workers who have less technical training and puts the community’s safety in jeopardy in the long run.

“We’re having problems getting people, but we’re also having for the first time ever people turning offers down,” said Bill Collins, Local 12-369 president at Hanford in Washington state.

Radiological Control Technician training program a ‘huge success’

Ashlee Fitch from the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment department gave an update on the Tony Mazzocchi Center’s six-month radiological control technician training program, which recently ran highly successful pilot programs at Portsmouth and Paducah.

“Paducah did this training as a pilot program, and it’s been a huge success. 18 out of 20 people passed the test the first try,” said Gary Wilson, president of Local 550 at Paducah. “This is developing human infrastructure, and now’s the time to do it.”

The USW is the only union that is authorized to give RCT trainings.

“This is a model that is Steelworker-led and that we can own,” said Brown.

The council set March 12-13, 2023, as tentative dates for the next council meeting in Washington, D.C.

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