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Updated: 1 hour 28 min ago

USW Negotiates Top Wage Increases at Solvay Marietta, Ohio, Plant

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 06:33

Local 1-4200 members at Solvay’s Marietta, Ohio, plant overwhelmingly ratified a four-year agreement in September that included wage increases of 3.1 percent each year for the first three years and 3.15 percent for the fourth year.

The new agreement also included increases in Sunday pay, vision benefits and the shoe allowance.  A new drug policy is in the contract. Both parties settled seven outstanding grievances that were in the system at the time of negotiations.

The local also beat back management negotiators’ concessionary language on contracting out, overtime opportunities, Sunday pay and work rule changes.

“Our raises came in better than the national average, and most of all, we didn’t give anything back,” said Local 1-4200 President Randy Irvine.

District 1 Staff Representative John Saunders said the membership is attuned to the regional and world economy, and was concerned about the site’s two largest customers—Apple and Boeing. Fewer orders are coming in and there is uncertainty regarding the quality of Boeing’s planes.

Photo caption: (L-R) Local 1-4200 member Gregory May, Local 1-4200 President Randy Irvine and D1 Staff Rep. John Saunders.

“Members looked at the total value of the contract,” Saunders said. “I think they understood that it was a good collective bargaining agreement and that they have good benefits that were developed over numerous contracts. Our local union negotiators have been creative in getting the members’ their piece of the pie.”

Saunders said that membership support for the negotiating committee was overwhelming. “The local had key people in the plant who had access to the bargaining committee, and they communicated to the members what was happening with negotiations.”

Irvine said the negotiations were difficult this time. “The first two weeks we couldn’t agree on almost anything. It was a very negative atmosphere,” he said.

Saunders said that negotiations were harder because the site was not in full production mode and the company was reducing overtime.

“We said there would be no concessions of any kind in this collective bargaining agreement. We told them, ‘You’re not that poor,’” he said. “Our members appreciated that we stood strong against contracting out and protected overtime opportunities.”

USW Gains Paid Family Leave in New 3M Contract

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 05:51

Seven months after starting negotiations on April 15, 2019, with 3M, Local 11-075 President Thomas Heimer said he was optimistic the local could resolve its bargaining differences with the company.

Almost one month later, the membership overwhelmingly ratified a three-year contract on Dec. 9 that covers about 200 workers at 3M’s Maplewood, Minn., maintenance facility.

The new agreement contains three weeks of 100 percent paid parental leave. “This was the first time we obtained this benefit ever, it was a total positive,” Heimer said.

Members also gained more flextime, with clearer contract language, Heimer said. Now, workers can use up to two hours of flextime at the beginning or end of the shift. So, if a person comes in late, they can make up that time at the end of the day.

Another important contract victory was relaxing the language on bereavement leave. Previously, management had the right to determine if and how long an employee could take bereavement leave. Now, management is out of the process.

The 3M workers have sick leave, and negotiators aligned this with vacation time so that both will start Jan. 1 of each year.

The contract also includes a 2.4 percent wage increase each year, and workers received a $700 lump sum upon ratification.

The agreement expires Aug. 19, 2022, and covers building maintenance workers who care for 3M’s headquarters facility, which includes 40 some buildings and is expanding.

From the USW Chemical Chair: Challenges and Opportunities Abound in the New Year

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 08:02

2019 was a year of change for our union. In addition to the retirements and promotions within the USW executive board, our chemical sector leadership changed. International Vice President at Large Carol Landry, who oversaw our chemical sector, retired last July, and I now oversee this industry.

Until July 15, 2019, I was the director of District 4. I had many chemical plants in my district, and helped Carol organize the Districts 4 and 10 chemical sector conference in Atlantic City, N.J., several years ago. I serviced chemical locals as well when I was a staff representative, so, I understand the challenges and opportunities that we have in this industry.

One of those opportunities is to organize the vast number of non-represented chemical workers. In mid-November, 44 workers from Cray Valley in Beaumont, Texas, voted to join Local 13-243. Cray Valley is a subsidiary of Total Petrochemicals. This is a sister plant to the Total Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas. Congratulations to everyone who supported the organizing campaign and to our new brothers and sisters!

One of our challenges is to increase the coordination of our bargaining within our chemical company councils. We need to be strategic in our thinking and start establishing common bargaining goals.

One council that could take this approach is the USW BASF council. The BASF locals in Middle Georgia are currently in negotiations, and are sticking together, as their members resoundingly rejected the company’s last, best and final offer. The biggest area of disagreement concerns the entry level wage rate and the jobs that the company wants in this category. Other issues in dispute are the 401k contributions in the defined contribution plan and the time period for long-term disability benefits. Both parties agreed to meet again on Jan. 16. We will keep everyone informed in case a solidarity action is needed.

Congratulations to Bill Powers of Local 90 in Knoxville for winning a 2019 Jefferson award for his community service work. Bill works at the Dow Chemical plant, and as chair of Local 90, he has led his local to participate in projects that improve the Knoxville community. He has helped raise more than $300,000 in member donations for the United Way of Greater Knoxville over the past several years. He also took the lead on two Habitat for Humanity homes, and has personally donated more than $10,000 to the United Way of Greater Knoxville. In addition, he is a longtime volunteer at the Cerebral Palsy Center. Way to go Bill and Local 90! Our members do great work in the community, and through their efforts, they show the value of being a union member.

With repeated communication between our chemical locals, whether or not they are engaged in bargaining, we can form a tight-knit chemical sector. This communication is the basis for coordinated bargaining, and helps chemical locals learn from one another on how to resolve similar issues. Together, we can make this communication happen in 2020.

John Shinn
USW International Secretary-Treasurer/Chair of the USW chemical sector
jshinn@usw.org

Bill Alston - USW District 7 PAC Contributor

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 07:49

Bill Alston
District 7
USW Local 9777
Emploer: Atkore International
Harvey, IL

I have been a dues-paying member of the United Steelworkers for nearly 35 years, and I am a proud contributor to our union’s Political Action Committee (USW PAC). The labor movement is the last line of defense for working men and women across this nation and world. All the achievements labor has won over the years are being challenged and rolled back by corporate-backed lobbyists and politicians. My monthly contribution to USW PAC helps our union fight back against these attacks.

I currently serve as Vice-President of my Local and have served in many official capacities during my years in the USW.  Being a PAC contributor is more than a slogan, it is a pocket-book necessity.

Click HERE to share your story about why USW PAC matters to you.

Note: Federal law prohibits USW PAC from soliciting contributions from individuals who are not United Steelworkers Union members, executive and administrative staff or their families. Any contribution received from such an individual will be refunded immediately.

Health Care Workers Council talks organizing, technology at annual meeting

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 09:10

The union’s Health Care Workers Council strategized for the future of the union and the evolving industry in Pittsburgh last December, leaving the city with several action plans moving forward.

Over the group’s two-day session, the activists reported on their districts’ work, including pushing legislators to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill passed the House late last year, thanks in large part to the council’s work with the Rapid Response program collecting more than 80,000 postcards in support of the legislation, which now faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The diverse council of heath care members also talked about the coming of automation and the impact it is already having on the industry. District 12 Health Care Council Coordinator Alma Garzon spoke on her experience attending Unite the Union’s health care conference last fall that focused on automation and technology.

“Technology absolutely is a great tool to use,” said Garzon, “but it should not replace bodies and real workers.”

Another challenge facing the health care industry the members touched on was short-staffing. But activists like Kim Smith, a health care staff representative in District 9, believe there is more opportunity than opposition when it comes to fixing this and many other problems.

“The health care sector right now is primed for organizing,” said Smith.

USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the council, addressed the group and also agreed that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future. He said the work of the council is indicative of the recent changes in the union toward expanding its organizing efforts and diversifying an already diverse membership.

“This is a growth sector,” said Redmond. “And how we grow this council and get engaged is going to be crucial in strengthening our ability to represent health care workers. Our union is on the move.”

History made! 10,000+ members at Local 8888

Fri, 01/10/2020 - 12:08

USW Local 8888 has begun the New Year and new decade by reaching a significant milestone. On Wednesday, January 8th, Justin Bates, a painter at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding became the 10,000th member of the union.

Local 8888 represents hourly workers at the Virginia shipyard. Hitting the 10,000-member marker is especially sweet because Virginia is a right-to-work state. 

USW Local President Charles Spivey called the milestone “a phenomenal achievement shared by organizers from our local and our international union in Pittsburgh that sent a great team here last spring to help us sign more new members.”  

In 2019, nearly 1,500 shipyard workers joined Local 8888, reversing a downward trend that could have weakened the union’s leverage in contract negotiations with Huntington Ingalls in 2021. 

Spivey has made organizing and training the next generation of Steelworker activists his top priority since he was elected president of Local 8888 in May, 2018.

“Folks are really engaged now,” he said. “We’re approaching people at the gates, over the phone, and during home visits. We’ve revamped our message and approach in company orientation for new hires and apprentices. Now, we’re signing up 90-95 percent of them.”

Local 8888, which was already one of the largest locasl in the Steelworkers international union, is poised to flex its added strength in Richmond, where key pro-labor bills will be put before politicians who campaigned hard for labor votes last November.

President Spivey said the membership milestone and union’s organizing success show “8888 is back in the game.” He cited some tangible gains: “We’ve got more dues-paying members and fewer freeloaders. We have better morale and less negativity. We’re keeping the union spirit alive with new energy. Most of all, we have sent a powerful message to the company: At contract time, we won’t be coming for crumbs. We’re 10,000 strong now.” 

Bargaining Begins with ATI Management, Initial Proposals Exchanged

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 14:51

Today in Pittsburgh, our 2020 contract negotiations with ATI began with our first face-to-face meeting with management.

We exchanged proposals.

Our union proposed a substantial wage increase and pension improvements and provisions to protect our health care and other benefits.

Management proposed below industry standard wage adjustments and concessions in other areas of the contract including health care.

They also proposed non-economic concessions in seniority that would negatively impact every member of the bargaining unit at each USW-represented location. 

The committees will continue to meet on local issues and will update the membership as we make progress.

Solidarity is our strength and our path to achieving a fair and equitable contract.

Click here for this update as a PDF.

New Contract at Cigna Local 985 in Tampa

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 06:19

Members of Local 985 in Tampa, Fla., were able to enjoy their holidays with a little less stress after ratifying their latest contract on December 23 with health insurance provider Cigna. Negotiations only lasted two days and focused on tightening language from the union’s International round of bargaining for all Cigna locals that concluded in the fall of 2019.

The approximately 77 pharmaceutical call center workers at the Tampa location, along with the other USW members across several Cigna locals, obtained two additional holidays, a readjusted PTO schedule, and more.

Cigna employees have been undergoing many changes since the company bought out their former employer Express Scripts, a pharmaceutical benefit management organization, in 2018. Most of the transition has taken place, and overall, the company and its workers are now set up for a more secure future, according to William Jones, who works as USW staff with the union’s ESI-Cigna Council.

“I think it will be good in the long run as all the sites are receiving additional work with the additional clientele, including government contracts and Medicare/Medicaid,” said Jones. “This has made them more diverse.”

Members of the negotiating committee featured in the above photo (left to right): Cavan Simon, Jim Hendricks, William Jones, Winston Callum.

A Mexican Oligarch Is Undermining the New NAFTA

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 08:40

Grupo México CEO Germán Larrea threatens to undermine the new NAFTA agreement as the USW’s unfair labor practice strike continues at its subsidiary ASARCO in Arizona and Texas.

Read more from the American Prospect here: prospect.org/world/a-mexican-oligarch-is-undermining-the-new-nafta/

Marshall “The Counselor” Pullen dies in West Paducah

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 07:15

Marshall Pullen, known by many of his union brothers and sisters as “The Counselor,” died in October at age 68 in West Paducah, Ky. 

Pullen served as an OCAW Local 550 committeeman beginning in 1978, and continued in this position through the PACE and USW mergers until 2010.  During his tenure, he studied and became knowledgeable about the National Labor Relations Act and its benefit to workers. Union members eventually nicknamed him "The Counselor," after he filed several charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Paducah Gaseous Diffusion plant management. 

Pullen worked at the atomic plant near Paducah for 41 years, starting in 1973. J.W. Cleary, a Local 550 retiree, said Pullen helped negotiate contracts that resulted in substantial pay and benefit hikes for union workers.

"Marshall Pullen was a defender of workers' rights and despised injustice against anyone," said Jim Key, USW Local 550 vice president and president of the USW Atomic Energy Workers Council. “He was never one to quit, or back down when it came to making a wrong a right. His legacy will always include his fight, determination and a voice for the common worker.” 

Pullen, an African American man, grew up when segregation and race discrimination were still the law and social order in Paducah. He was "a follower and a believer of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King that all men are created equal," Key said.

Pullen is survived by his wife of 46 years, Iva Rouse Pullen, a daughter, Michelle Pullen of Louisville, and a granddaughter.

USW Atomic Council Mourns Passing of District 12 Director Bob LaVenture

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 06:15

District 12 Director Bob LaVenture was a staunch supporter of the Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC), who always tried to attend meetings if his busy schedule permitted it.

This included the Oct. 31/Nov. 1 meeting earlier this fall. Almost two weeks later, he passed away suddenly while on a trip to meet with the Arizona AFL-CIO to gain support for the Asarco workers engaged in an unfair labor practice strike. He was 68.

“Bob was a tireless union activist who always fought on the side of working people, first in his home state of Wisconsin and later on behalf of our members in District 12,” said USW International President Tom Conway. “Bob was a good friend who touched many lives. He will be sorely missed.”

LaVenture had three major USW-represented nuclear sites in his district:  the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington State, the Idaho National Laboratory west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Project, east of Carlsbad, N.M. Each site had its own unique challenges.  At AEWC meetings, LaVenture listened intently to the members describing their issues and worked with them on possible ways to address the problems.

“Bob was an invaluable member of the Atomic Energy Workers Council,” said USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown, who leads the union’s nuclear sector. “We will miss his leadership, his dedication to our members and union, and his kind, thoughtful manner.”

LaVenture joined the labor movement in 1970 when he went to work at an International Harvester—now Navistar—foundry in Waukesha, Wis., as a member of Local 3740. He participated in his local as a trustee, local union steward, vice president and president.  While he was a local president, he helped create the first worker education center in Wisconsin, called the Navistar Education Center. He then went on to help develop other worker education centers as a state AFL-CIO coordinator.

In 1993, LaVenture was appointed to a USW staff representative position, and in 2009, he became District 12 director.

“As a director, Bob was a fierce advocate for American industry and jobs, chairing contract negotiations with EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, Kaiser Aluminum, ASARCO, and Kennecott Utah Copper, as well as heading the USW Cement Council,” Conway said. “He was also profoundly dedicated to cross-border solidarity, working closely with our union brothers and sisters at Los Mineros in Mexico, fighting so that all workers could have a better life.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made in honor of Bob LaVenture to the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization (disaster relief fund) that helps USW members when they are in need and struggling to recover after a natural disaster.

Checks should be made out to the “Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization,” and mailed to:

Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization
60 Boulevard of the Allies
Room 1109
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Local 9-677’s New Hire Orientation Program Builds Union Solidarity

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 10:39

Building union power requires orienting new employees to their local and following up with communication in the workplace so they will join and become active members. Local 9-677is doing this with its new employee orientation sessions that have company support and include follow-up communication on the shop floor at the Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) plant in Erwin, Tenn.

But this was not always the case.

During 2011 negotiations, the local proposed to have 30 minutes of time with the new employees.

“The company didn’t want anything to do with that,” said Local 9-677 chief steward Heath Shook, who was a committeeman at the time. “They didn’t want the union to have time with the new hires.”

By February 2019, the company’s orientation program was providing incorrect information to new employees, Shook said.  He said it was not intentional, and was a matter of the human resources director not having experience working with labor unions and understanding the collective bargaining agreement.

“There was so much confusion,” Shook said.

So, he asked Andrew Nelson, the local’s president, about approaching NFS with a new orientation program that management and the local would present jointly. “The company thought it was a great idea, Shook said.

Explaining the contract

He and the new labor relations manager, Kelly Grieger, presented the first new employee orientation on March 23, 2019 at the general employment training facility outside of the plant.

A USW Atomic Energy Workers Council meeting at the Local 9-677 union hall across from the Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin, Tenn.

“I do most of the talking because I understand the contract, I am the former union president, and I have years of experience,” Shook said.

He said he keeps the one-hour orientation easy to understand with bullet points on issues like seniority, shift preference, pay rates, vacation time, floating holidays, the attendance policy, hourly sick leave, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the calculation of union dues.

“I give them information that is contractual so that the new hires know their rights and are prepared before they enter the plant,” Shook said. “I want to make sure they understand this is a contract negotiated by the union and is not given to them by the company.”

He tells the new employees that if they have a question or an issue during the probationary period or if they have a family emergency, they should contact him or Grieger and they will handle it.

“It is inevitable that someone has something going on that we can help them with. It takes a lot of pressure off of Andrew and the union committee,” Shook said. “The company, overall, has been pleased, too. They realize we are not trying to hijack the process.”

Shook and Grieger average one new hire orientation per month because NFS is in a hiring spurt. As of Oct. 31, the company hired 38 new employees. Shook said that 16 are in probation and 22 are members. New hires cannot join the local until they complete their six-month probation period.

“After they get their probation time in, I remind them what we talked about in our new hire orientation, like the floating holiday,” he said. “I went back to the new hires that came in February before the revamped orientation program and talked to them about the union and the contract.

“We’re trying to do a good job of educating new employees. It sure is effective. So far, everyone has come in and joined the union,” Shook said.

Local 9-677 represents 322 workers at NFS, which makes the nuclear fuel that powers the U.S. navy’s submarines and aircraft carriers.

Message From VP Brown: Warm Holiday Greetings to Atomic Workers and Their Families

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 10:22

This has been a year full of changes at the USW International headquarters and with the USW Atomic Energy Workers Council (AEWC).

As you know, International Vice President Carol Landry retired last July and the International Executive Board appointed me to take her place.  I worked with Carol and the council for several years, so I understand the issues affecting nuclear workers and their families as contractors change and government officials come and go.

(L-R) USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown and retired USW International Vice President Carol Landry.

Contractor changes at Hanford

A number of long-term contracts the Department of Energy (DOE) had with its contractors at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are coming to an end. The agency is replacing the Plateau Remediation Contract that CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company LLC, a subsidiary of Jacobs, held with a Central Plateau Cleanup contract. DOE announced the change on Dec. 12, 2019.

The new contractor is Central Plateau Cleanup Company LLC of Aiken, S.C., and its members are AECOM Management Services, Inc. (Germantown, M.D.); Fluor Federal Services, Inc. (Greenville, S.C.), and Atkins Nuclear Secured, LLC (Oak Ridge, Tenn.).

DOE said the environmental cleanup contract is worth up to $10 billion over a 10-year period.

Under the existing contract with CH2M Hill, nearly 1,700 workers are cleaning up contamination mostly in the center of the Hanford reservation and near the Columbia River.

There will be a 60-day transition period following a notice to proceed to the new contractor.

DOE also announced on Dec. 5 a change in the contractors for the Hanford support services contract. Currently, Mission Support Alliance (MSA) holds the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract, and provides site, security and emergency services, land management services and information technology services. MSA also manages the Hazardous Material Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Federal Training Center in addition other functions.

The new contractor is Hanford Mission Integration Solutions, LLC in Richland, Wash. The contractor’s members are Leidos Integrated Technology, LLC (Gaithersburg, Md.), Centerra Group, LLC (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), and Parsons Government Services, Inc. (Pasadena, Calif.).

The contract is worth over $4 billion over five years and includes a 120-day transition period. The contract includes a potential option period of three years and a second option period of two years.

Changes at DOE

Amid much media coverage and speculation since last spring, Energy Secretary Rick Perry stepped down effective Dec. 1, 2019.  President Trump nominated his deputy, Dan Brouillette, who sailed through his Senate confirmation hearing in mid-November.

Brouillette previously worked for the DOE and has extensive experience on Capitol Hill.  In the confirmation hearing, he pledged to fight for DOE’s budget.

It looks like the agency will receive the necessary funds for fiscal year 2020. On Dec. 12, congressional appropriators reportedly reached agreement on several funding issues. The House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said he expected Congress to vote on Dec. 17 on two funding packages; one included DOE appropriations.

Other Changes

We have had changes in the AEWC executive board as well. AEWC Vice President Herman Potter, from Local 1-689 at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant cleanup site, stepped down after a number of years on the board, and Matt Chavez, Local 12-652 president at Idaho National Laboratory, was elected to take his place. We also have a new recording secretary, Kayla McWaters, from Local 1-689.

I think we can all agree that the saddest changes of all were the unexpected passing of former AEWC chair and USW International President Kip Phillips in September and District 10 Director Bob LaVenture in November. They were two great union leaders who dedicated their lives to our members. We will miss them greatly.

We are working on establishing an education fund in Kip Phillips’s honor at the International.

For those who wish to honor Director LaVenture, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization that helps members rebuild their lives after a natural disaster. Checks should be made out to Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization and sent to:  Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization, 60 Boulevard of the Allies, Room 1109, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Let us embrace the New Year ahead with energy, solidarity and action to create a more just workplace for everyone. I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday full of joy, togetherness and relaxation.

In solidarity,

Roxanne D. Brown
USW International Vice President

Local 2-21 uses holiday parade as organizing opportunity

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 07:53

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 05:16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To listen to the conversation, click here.

USW Cares: 2019 Jefferson Award Winners Announced

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 10:21

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

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

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

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

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

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

The winners follow:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October Update from SOAR Director Julie Stein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October Update from SOAR President Bill Pienta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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