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Updated: 1 hour 25 min ago

Tell Congress: On and Off the Job, Workers Need Protection!

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 13:36

We are at an unprecedented time in our nation. While many of our members are facing mass layoffs, others are on the job or being ordered to return to work.

That’s why we must work harder than ever to push Congress to enact consistent, uniform safety standards that would help slow the virus’ spread and demand employer compliance.

Protecting Workers on the Job

In March, we demanded that OSHA implement an emergency, temporary infectious disease standard that would specify the steps employers must take to keep workers safe. Unfortunately, the Secretary of Labor refused.

A bill in Congress, the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6559), would require OSHA to immediately issue an enforceable Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), based on CDC guidance, to protect all workers from exposure to Covid-19 in the workplace.

These measures are absolutely necessary to keep workers safe while we restart our economy.

Protecting Health Care for Those Who Have Lost Their Jobs

Over the past seven weeks, over 33 million Americans have lost their jobs - tens of thousands of Steelworkers and their family members included.

We have deep concerns that our members will not be able to afford to continue their health care during this time because of the high cost of COBRA coverage.

The Worker Health Coverage Protection Act (H.R. 6514), would provide 100 percent federal financing to cover the full cost of COBRA premiums owed by workers who have lost their jobs, who are furloughed, or who have had their hours reduced as a result of the coronavirus crisis. We know that this is also a priority for those we represent. 

Click here to send your Representative a message urging them to support the Covid-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 and the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act today!

There are two ways you can help.

  1. Click HERE to email your Representative and urge them to cosponsor both of these critical bills.
  2. Make a quick call to urge your Representative to cosponsor these bills.
    • Dial our toll-free number to the U.S. House: 866-202-5409. You will be automatically routed to your Representative’s office.
    • Tell the office who you are and where you are from, and ask your Representative to COSPONSOR BOTH the Covid-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6559) and the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act  (H.R. 6514).

We know we don’t typically ask for engagement on two issues at once, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented action, especially with our members’ and their families’ health and safety on the line.

Please take a moment to email and call your legislators. Urge them to cosponsor both of these critical bills!

Click HERE for a printable version to distribute in your workplace.

Michigan miners take care of fellow health care members in Upper Peninsula

Mon, 05/11/2020 - 13:12

United Steelworkers Local 4950 is an amalgamated local union primarily made up of iron ore miners in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  To show support and solidarity for their 200 fellow members who work in health care, the membership mailed out nearly 200 gift cards valued at $25.00 each to those brothers and sisters who are working in nearby medical facilities.

The local will also be providing face masks for each health care member with the USW logo imprint.  Patients will know they are receiving the best care possible from a professional group of dedicated individuals from the Steelworkers. 

Local 4950 President Chad Korpi said, “It’s the least we can do to acknowledge what our members are doing on a day-to-day basis and they take it in stride like any other day at work.” 

USW Local 4950 represents LPNs, CENAs, care aides, clerical workers and administrative staff at a clinic, an assisted living center, and a nursing home within Marquette County of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Nuclear Waste Operations at WIPP

Fri, 05/08/2020 - 07:42

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how Local 12-9477 members do their jobs, and how they handle nuclear waste shipments at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M.

While many WIPP employees who work in departments like engineering, administration and training can telework, most Local 12-9477 members have jobs handling the incoming nuclear waste shipments and mining and maintaining the underground salt repository.

WIPP is the only underground waste repository of its type. It receives shipments of special boxes and barrels packed with clothing, tools, rags, residues, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material from Department of Energy (DOE) sites in Idaho, South Carolina and other places.

Fewer shipments, personnel

Since January, the site has accepted fewer shipments for emplacement in the underground salt deposit each successive month as COVID-19 spread across the country.

In January, the site received 24 shipments and emplaced 283 containers. Ten shipments were received in February. A maintenance outage from Feb. 16 to March 14 interrupted shipments. As of March 22, four waste shipments were received.

Usually, three rotating crews operate at WIPP, but the pandemic has cut that down to two crews, said Javier Leyva, Local 12-9477 safety representative.

He said that the union learned through word-of-mouth that at least 20 workers were quarantined or in self-isolation because of exposure to someone who showed COVID-19 symptoms or for being in a high-risk category because of their age or health problems.

DOE contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) manages WIPP’s operations and does not tell the union who is in quarantine or self-isolation, Leyva said.

“We would like to know when a brother or a sister gets sick, so we can do an investigation and ensure the areas are cleaned up,” he said.

He said that NWP did not immediately notify the union when a contractor, who had a fever, walked into a trailer containing 12 plant helpers who were having lunch. Management sent the contractor home and as a precaution, several of the union workers were quarantined. The contractor tested negative for COVID-19.

Another factor, Leyva said, affecting the number of waste shipments deposited underground is the lack of qualified staff on the night shift to run the hoists for the three shafts leading underground, do waste operations and handle mining.

The two night shift hoist operators who are qualified to run the air, salt and waste intake hoists are quarantined or in social isolation because of risk factors for developing COVID-19, he said. The third night shift operator is only qualified for handling the waste and salt shafts, and is working to get qualified for the air intake shaft. This process takes six months to a year.

Not having a hoist operator who can handle all three shafts and the lack of staff for waste emplacement and mining meant that WIPP had to shut down its nighttime operation, Leyva said. Night shift waste handling crew and radiation control technicians joined the day shift on April 6, he said, and are bolting the salt panels to maintain the mine.

Social distancing

Leyva said WIPP is practicing social distancing, but that it is hard at times when there is much noise above- and -below ground, and he has to move closer to communicate with others.

“Sometimes, it is difficult. Going up and down the shaft elevator in a six-foot by nine-foot cage makes social distancing go away,” he said.

Workers used to check in for their shifts in one of the facility’s buildings, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, they check in for work outside by showing their badge to the guards and signing in, he said.

Leyva said he and the local would like to change the protocol when people are on the site by asking management to check workers’ temperatures and oxygen level. Thanks to the local's persistence, management is now taking everyone’s temperature who comes into the facility.

The local also requested N95 respirators for everyone. Currently, only the fire fighters and medical staff have N95 respirators.

While COVID-19 is exploding in the northern portion of New Mexico, Carlsbad has had fewer cases in its population of 40,000. The nearest town, Loving, has only 10,000 residents.

“We’re pretty spread out in this part of the state, and it has been a blessing in a way,” Leyva said.

On April 24, WIPP reported that an employee of a subcontractor tested positive for COVID-19 while teleworking at home. The person had not been on the site since March 18, according to the subcontractor, Carlsbad Technical Assistance Contractor (CTAC).

The Oilworker: May, 2020

Wed, 05/06/2020 - 07:27
FROM THE UNION

A message from the NOBP Chair

Brothers and Sisters,

It has been two months since our National Oil Bargaining Conference, and I know it seems like years ago.  I hope all of you are well as we continue to navigate this unprecedented time.  As we all know, this pandemic is proving to our employers that our members in the oil sector are essential.  The majority of our members are required to go into the plants every day to keep them running.

Unfortunately, we have encountered unnecessary fights with some of our employers when it comes to health and safety.  While we worked with most of them to fix some of these issues and concerns, we must also continue to fight to ensure that the health and safety of our members are the number one priority as our workplaces continue to operate. Here are the latest guidelines, resources and documents from the union to help you as together we work to keep everyone safe.  Watch out for each other, and please let us know what we can do to help you resolve any issues that arise.

This is an unprecedented time in our society, and the oil industry is also in uncharted territory.  Along with the impact from Covid-19, the oil price war has created a perfect storm for the industry.  As the country’s economy slowed and U.S. gasoline consumption fell to its lowest levels in more than 50 years, this crisis created a huge glut of oil.  The extraordinary uncertainty in the market, including the cost of oil dropping below $0 for a few days in April, added even more pressure to a tenuous situation. Most of our plants reduced feed over the past few months, and one refinery is idled due to the impacts.

While we work through these tough times, and we see our employers’ quarterly earnings reports, it is also important to remember that the oil industry has benefited from decades of record profits, even as we have weathered past economic crises. 

As we always do, we’ll work through this together. The resiliency and dedication of our members and our union will ensure that we not only survive this hardship, but come out of it stronger.

In solidarity,

Mike Smith
NOBP Chair
mjsmith@usw.org

Steve Sallman discusses workers’ safety during COVID-19 on The Leslie Marshall Show

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:46

USW Assistant Director of the Health, Safety and Environment Department Steve Sallman appeared on the Leslie Marshall show last week to discuss Workers Memorial Day and the Trump administration’s responsibility to workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On April 28, the USW conducted its annual Workers Memorial Day ceremony online, honoring the 29 people who lost their lives in USW represented workplaces past year. That number is likely even higher, Sallman said, due to the unknown number of coronavirus-related deaths.

“We mourn their loss and the loss of all the victims of this cruel disease across our nation, and globally,” said Sallman. “Unfortunately, we are not dealing with this as a country the way we should be dealing with it.”

Unions, including the USW, have made a series of common-sense recommendations for employers to keep workers safe, which have been successfully implemented in some workplaces.

But the biggest challenge has been the lack of leadership from the federal government, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which has yet to issue an emergency temporary standard for infectious disease.

Unions sounded the alarm on this issue in a petition to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in early March, but to no avail. Now, the USW is backing H.R. 6559, the COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act, which would require OSHA to issue an enforceable standard for COVID-19 preparedness, Sallman said.

“Workers are looking for leadership from our government, and they’re not getting it,” said Sallman. “We need an emergency temporary standard for essential workers and health care workers, and we needed it yesterday. There’s no why reason the government can’t start enforcing that now.”

Sallman also addressed the Trump administration’s targeting of the Chemical Safety Board, which conducts important safety investigations in USW-represented workplaces, as well as the rollback of chemical safety regulations.

“We need a government to step up and lead, and hopefully people remember that when they cast their votes, and not just for president.”

For the entire interview about the administration’s responsibility to workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, click below:

USW New Media · Steve Sallman discusses workers’ safety during COVID-19 on The Leslie Marshall Show

#USWMade: American Roots aims to make a million masks in midst of pandemic

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 17:39

 

A few weeks ago, USW members at American Roots were laid off as the USA-based apparel maker lost 75 percent of its business. Today, they're hiring as they work nonstop to make masks and PPE to help battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our workers could have stayed home, collected unemployment," said American Roots CEO Ben Waxman. "And they made a choice in the middle of a national crisis, a global pandemic, to come to work and make masks for people they've never met before."

The operation was bolstered by sisters and brothers at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), themselves out of work, who volunteered time to help retool the factory from making sweatshirts and blankets to safely making face shields and masks.

"In the first week we put out 10,000 face shields, working day and night" Waxman said. "Our workers made sacrifices that I will never forget."

American Roots, whose workers are members of USW Local 366 in Maine, District 4, is now doing custom face masks, including those made with union and other logos. Those interested in custom orders can email info@americanrootswear.com, call 207-854-4098 or visit the American Roots website.

The company is scaling up - and hiring workers - so that it can produce 1,000,000 washable face masks and 500,000 face shields in the next few months.

"It is hopeful, and it is promising, and it's just a wonderful thing that we were able to bring our workforce back," said American Roots co-owner Whitney Waxman.

Cast of Mine 9 movie to join us for USW Facebook Live

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 13:37

Click here to download a printable flyer.

While quarentine and essential work have a lot of people looking for new things to binge, our Education and Membership Development Department is kicking off Workflix: A Labour Film Series, and we are excited to announce our premier film: Mine 9, an award-winning independent film about a fictional but very realistic and tragic coal mine accident.   While most of those we represent in mining are not from the coal sector, Mine 9 presents a story familiar to many of us in the labor movement.  The dangers workers face in mining are pervasive and remind us that safety concerns transcend industry sector. We are sending this first to all of you from the mining sector because we think you might be particularly interested in this event.   You will have two opportunities to engage with this heart-breaking film. We hope you will join us for both. To participate please watch the film on Netflix or another streaming service, the register for our online events:   Thursday, May 7: Group Discussions of Mine 9 Eric Angel, USW member from Local 1023 will facilitate conversations with Chris Mark, a former UMWA member, mining engineer and lifelong safety advocate. He will bring his expertise and insights about coal mining globally. As part of this discussion, we will develop questions for our Facebook Live session with the cast of Mine 9. You have two opportunities to join this discussion via Zoom on May 7. Please click which time for which you want to register: Noon EST 8 p.m. EST   Tuesday, May 12, 7 p.m. EST: Facebook Live with Director & Cast of Mine 9! Join Eddie Mensore, a West Virginia native and the writer and director of Mine 9, and members of the cast in a conversation about the making of the movie. Join us on our USW Facebook live stream to tune in and join our conversation: https://www.facebook.com/steelworkers/live/   Watch the movie ahead of time and be ready with your comments and questions. If for some reason you cannot access the movie, please contact Paulette Battisti via e-mail. 

Members continue helping front-line workers stay fueled and protected

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 12:29

Across the United States and Canada, USW members continue supporting health care workers by ensuring they are fueled and protected in their fight against Covid-19.

In Connecticut, USW Locals 12160, 12000, 134L and 859-4, with the help of several others, recently collected donations to provide lunch through Amanda's Deli and Grill for the doctors and nurses at Yale New Haven Health, who work on the Covid-19 floor. The food even arrived with custom USW Thank You tags.

In Northwest Ohio, USW Local 1-346 also did their part keeping hospital workers’ stomachs full. So far, they have donated more than 50 pizzas and trays of macaroni to front-line health care workers.

Local 318 out of Edison, N.J., stepped up to the plate, as well, and delivered a bundle of PPE donations from companies Mauser and Bristol Myers Squibb to USW nurses at Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick and Somerset.

In District 11, several USW employers, including WestRock (Local 264), Flint Hills Refinery (Local 662), and Conwed Plastics (Local 1259), rallied to provide much-needed hand sanitizer to USW-represented long-term care facilities. The nursing homes included Chisholm Health Center, Ecumen Lakeshore, Lake Superior Community Health Center, Range Center, Inc., Guardian Angels Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Monarch Waterview Pines.

These donations will not only help keep health care workers and their families safe but also help protect patients and residents in these facilities, making this a true community effort.

To find out how you can join the donation drive of critical supplies to front-line workers, click here.

USW demands action, accountability from OSHA as health care workers struggle with coronavirus exposure

Mon, 05/04/2020 - 12:18

Last month, a coalition of unions, including the USW, called upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an enforceable emergency standard to better protect front-line health care workers. Now, a bill is working its way through Congress to turn that call into a law.

The COVID-19 Every Worker Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6559), introduced by Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA), would require OSHA to enforce standards of action that health care employers must take in order to protect their workers from exposure to the coronavirus.

“Our union was founded on a principle of a safe workplace, and the United States has an obligation to protect all workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway in a letter of support to the U.S House of Representatives on April 27. “Facing illness and even death from on-the-job exposure to COVID-19, our members and the country’s essential workers are in dire need of protection from potential infections in the workplace.”

The bill would require the enforceable standard to be issued within seven days and prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report issues or use their own PPE when their employer fails to provide it.

This legislative push comes after a recent CNN investigation discovered records showing that inadequate infection control is one of the primary reasons behind the surge of fatal COVID-19 cases, particularly in nursing homes.

Routine health and safety inspections were suspended by the federal government to protect against any additional exposure to workers and residents, but this has resulted in increased cases of abuse and lack of communication from facility operators. OSHA only recently began launching investigations after news of this surge in cases was revealed.

To read the USW letter sent to Congress in support of this bill, click here

Special Message for Health Care Workers from Workers Uniting on International Workers Day

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 13:06

Workers Uniting, the transnational union representing over 3 million workers across the UK, Ireland, United States, Canada and Mexico, pays tribute and stands in solidarity on this International Workers Day with our thousands of health care workers on the front line of the battle against Covid-19.

Workers Uniting salutes the great sacrifice and selfless dedication of all our health and care workers - from those working in hospitals to those in the community, social care, assisted living facilities and nursing homes - in the face of this unprecedented crisis.

It has been a deep scandal that many of these workers have been left without protection, have had to use insufficient safety equipment and procedures or have had to re-use their personal protective equipment (PPE), putting their own lives at great risk whilst caring for the loved ones of others.

We collectively reiterate the demands of our respective unions – the United Steelworkers (USW), Unite the Union and Los Mineros – that adequate PPE is provided to protect the lives of all health care works, that PPE is not used as a political football by our governments and that no worker should be working in conditions that risk their health and safety.  

Workers Uniting is also concerned for the long term mental health effects on our health care workers post crisis with predictions of high cases of post-traumatic stress disorder. We call on our governments and legislators to ensure that that there is sufficient accessible mental health and wellbeing provisions for all health care workers in the years to come.  

Workers Uniting pays tribute to all our members who lost their lives while protecting us from this terrible virus, and we will not forget their sacrifice. We join our trade union colleagues from across the world in demanding that governments have a moral responsibility to take care of these key workers post crisis and ensure that they are adequately prepared for any future pandemic events.

Workers Memorial Day 2020: Join us for a virtual ceremony

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 14:15

The COVID-19 pandemic prevents us from gathering in person, but it won’t stop us from memorializing our Steelworkers sisters and brothers who were injured or killed on the job in the last year.

Join us TOMORROW, April 28, at noon EST as we stream our 2020 Workers Memorial Day ceremony on our union Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and website. Here are the links:

Facebook: facebook.com/steelworkers/live

Instagram: Instagram.com/steelworkers

YouTube: youtube.com/steelworkers

We’ll take a few moments to reflect on those we’ve lost then do what we do: pivot into action to continue pushing for laws to make our workplaces safer. Stay tuned for a series of educational webinars on our Facebook page kicking off this this week from our Health, Safety and Environment Department

Also look for information from Rapid Response about worker safety legislation we’re pushing. And watch for our Education Department’s video watch party series starting with the film, “Silkwood,” a drama based on health and safety concerns at a nuclear facility. 

Finally, a reminder to visit our usw.org/covid19 in the U.S. and usw.ca/covid19 in Canada pages often as we’re adding resources there daily to help us all get through this.



USW members kick up production of PPE in U.S. and Canada

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 11:34

While most workers in both the United States and Canada have been forced to stay home amidst the coronavirus pandemic, many, including quite a few USW members, have continued working as essential workers. A group of workers in West Virginia, however, have brought their home to work, playing a vital role in the battle against the pandemic.

More than 40 members of Local 721 at Braskem America have been participating in a “live-in” at their production facility in Neal, West Virginia, since March 31, rotating in 12-hour shifts to create raw materials needed for medical supplies as well as respiratory masks and other protective equipment. This is both serving to protect the workers and their families at home as well as to meet the high demand for products.

“We’re truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way,” operations shift supervisor Joe Boyce told WPVI. “All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That's what makes our job easy to do.”

Local 1-500 members, who manufacture refrigeration products, will also now be adding production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical transportation coolers to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers at Koolatron Corporation’s Brantford, Ontario, plant are already producing face shields. Further production of masks, including N95 masks, is expected to begin as soon as the company gets federal approval.

“The term ‘Made in Canada by USW Local 1-500’ has more significance than ever before,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren. “Our members were involved in supporting the company’s move to add production that will help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This is about more than jobs. This is about doing the right thing.”

The face shields, made at a rate of 100 per hour, are already being manufactured and sold in southern Ontario, and union members are ready to begin work on other products.

Members at USW Local 366 in Portland, Maine, are also currently producing 5,000 face shields every day at American Roots in a partnership with Flowfold. They are also making surgical-grade masks, designed in conjunction with professors at the University of Connecticut.

“Two weeks ago, American Roots shut its factory down in order to evaluate the safety and well-being of our employees and their ability to work during the COVID-19 crisis,” said American Roots CEO Ben Waxman in a memo. “Within one-week, American Roots, a 100-percent American-made and proudly USW Local 366 union-made company, made the decision to move forward with re-tooling our current factory to produce desperately needed PPE for those on the front lines of this crisis.”

Waxman also stated that they have the ability and space to potentially increase capacity, if needed.

“We are doing everything in our power to get the costs of our face shields down, including new, more efficient designs and inviting unemployed union volunteers to help us assemble them,” said Waxman.

You can order face shields from American Roots, as well as custom masks with filters, by emailing info@americanrootswear.com or calling 207-854-4098.  

Congress Has More Work to Do

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 07:39

We know working people are the backbone of this country, and this crisis has turned the lives of our members upside down.

Some are working from home to do their part to keep our communities safe while others risk their own lives upholding the dignity of life in health care facilities with inadequate resources. Many continue to work under uncertain conditions to keep our country supplied and moving during this crisis. Some have suffered the devastating blow of a lay-off or closure.

Congress has offered some relief to folks with the last trio of bills they passed, but we know that much was missing and more is needed.

Last week, our union sent a letter to Congress, urging them to include:

Aid to Workers:

  • Congress must fully use the Defense Production Act through administrative action or through federal legislation.
  • Ensure workers who are on strike or lockout receive federal unemployment benefits pre-empting state laws limiting access to benefits,
  • Fully fund COBRA benefits for laid off workers until the economy recovers to pre-recession levels and ensure all workers, no matter the size or type of employer, receive paid sick leave and FMLA expansions. See what we are working on at the state level HERE.
  • Require an OSHA emergency temporary standard to ensure there are enforceable workplace health and safety protections for everyone who is still working.
  • Improve workers’ ability to negotiate with their employers through collective bargaining for protections during the pandemic.

 Aid to Retirees, Companies, and the Economy:

  • Provide direct aid and support to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and not underfund the Social Security system through inefficient payroll tax cuts.
  • Ensure the Federal Government verifies maximum accountability of taxpayer funds by making sure companies that receive aid don’t move business overseas and they abide by our collective bargaining agreements.
  • Provide aid to state and local governments and to the U.S. Postal Service that ensures continued operation of vital public services.
  • We don’t want to stop medical supplies from entering the country, but must defend current tariffs on other goods so other countries don’t flood our markets while our workplaces are not operating due to the pandemic.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about how to stay safe at work if you’re considered essential and what you qualify for if you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19. To help with that, we have put together many resources for you that are being updated as we get new information. You can find those HERE.

You're keeping our nation going – doing the jobs that really matter, making the things we need the most. Please take a moment to listen to this message of gratitude from International President, Tom Conway. As Congress continues negotiations on additional stimulus bills, please be ready to act to ensure our members, and all workers, are represented and Congress includes our demands.

Spirit of solidarity lives on during Mineros anniversary

Tue, 04/21/2020 - 07:05

 

For the past 13 years, Steelworkers gathered in Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, with members of Los Mineros to commemorate 65 workers who were killed in the Pasta de Conchos mine disaster. COVID-19 stopped travel this year, but not our solidarity.

"Because of the pandemic, the Steelworkers are not able to march with you physically this year, but we continue to march with you in spirit, as always," International President Tom Conway wrote in this letter

The USW entered into a strategic alliance with Los Mineros on April 13, 2005.

On Feb. 19, 2006, an early morning methane explosion rocked a Grupo Mexico-owned coal mine in the Mexican state of Coahuila, killing dozens of workers. There has never been a thorough investigation of the disaster, and only two bodies were recovered before the mine was sealed by the government.

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, president of Los Mineros, denounced the killings and the unsafe working conditions that caused them, calling for strikes across the country. He's now a senator in Mexico.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox ordered police and military forces to attack the strikers. Two members of Los Mineros, Hector Ấlvarez Gómez and Mario Alberto Castillo Rodríguez, died in the encounter on April 20, 2006.

Every year, thousands of Los Mineros members joined by their USW brothers and sisters march through the streets on the anniversary of the disaster to commemorate the fallen workers and remind the world that the fight for safe and decent working conditions is not over.

Below is the entire text of President Conway's letter: 

April 20, 2020

Senator Napoleón Gómez Urrutia
President and General Secretary
National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic

Dear Napoleón,

On the 14th anniversary of the murder of our brothers Hector Alvarez Gómez and Mario Alberto Castillo during the Los Mineros strike at the steel mill in Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, the United Steelworkers in the U.S. and Canada send condolences and solidarity to their families and to our Mineros sisters and brothers.

Hector and Mario live on in the fight for justice in Mexico and everywhere in the world.

Because of the pandemic, the Steelworkers are not able to march with you physically this year, but we continue to march with you in spirit, as always.

In solidarity

Thomas M. Conway International President

Join our Solidarity Forever virtual sing-along!

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 12:30

Quarentine and social distancing may be physically keeping us apart, but our solidarity will never be broken. To help us show the world what it means to be #UnionStrong and to help us spread some joy and light, join us for our Solidarity Forever Virtual Sing-Along.  

Participating is easy!

  1. Look over the shortened rendition of our union rallying cry, "Solidarity Forever," and familiarize yourself with the lyrics below. Watch the video of our sister Elise Bryant, Executive Director of the Labor Heritage Foundation, for an example.
  2. Use your phone or table to video record yourself (or others) singing selfie-style (try to be in a well-lit environment with little background noise to be sure we can hear your beautiful voice!)
  3. Upload your video using our upload tool by clicking here.
  4. Share our social media posts so we can get as many people as possible to participate!
  5. Have fun and be creative!   

Check back for the finished product on our Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram pages. 

Solidarity Forever Lyrics

When the union's inspiration,

Through the workers' blood shall run,

There can be no power greater,

Anywhere beneath the sun!

Yet what force on earth is weaker

Than the feeble strength of one?

But the union makes us strong!

 

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

For the union makes us strong!

 

In our hands is placed a power

Greater than their hoarded gold!

Greater than the might of armies

Magnified a thousand-fold!

We can bring to birth a new world

From the ashes of the old!

For the union makes us strong.

 

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

Solidarity forever!

For the union makes us strong!

USW paper workers donate gear, food to those in need

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 12:18

As health care workers struggle to obtain enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to combat the coronavirus, Steelworkers and employers keep answering the call to assist with donations.

Workers at Domtar paper mills in the United States and Canada are still rolling out products amidst the global outbreak, and many are also going the extra mile by donating time and equipment.

At the company’s Johnsonburg mill in Johnsonburg, PA, workers donated 27 powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) to Penn Highlands Healthcare, a regional hospital network. These respirators will be used by medical staff when working near patients with confirmed or suspected illnesses that can be spread through the air.

The devices look like a bicycle helmet with a clear plastic face shield, a computer-controlled fan, LED indicators and a filter. The fan at the top of the helmet, which runs by battery, pulls air in through a filter and is pushed down and out, giving the wearer a constant flow of clean air.

At Domtar’s Ashdown Mill, in Arkansas, employees partnered with the local Harvest Regional Food Bank to deliver food to the elderly. Volunteers from the mill unpacked roughly 3,500 pounds of food, which fed roughly 100 families, and delivered 21 boxes of food to senior citizens in the area who are unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19.

If you or your local have participated in the fight against the coronavirus, please send your stories and photos to Tamara Lefcowitz (tlefcowitz@usw.org) or Chelsey Engel (cengel@usw.org).

CDC needs to retract guidelines that endanger essential workers

Wed, 04/15/2020 - 10:32

We're proud to be one of more than 500 organizations that has signed on to this letter spearheaded by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) and Protecting Workers Alliance. The letter has been signed by over 500 labor, racial, legal, interfaith and women's justice organizations and individuals signed the demanding that the CDC retract its harmful guidance allowing exposed workers to return to work without self-quarantining.   

Here is the full text of the letter: 

National Letter to CDC Director Robert Redfield and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci

We, the undersigned, are writing to demand that the Centers for Disease Control retract its

“Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected of Confirmed COVID-19”, issued on April 8.

The guidance advises that “...critical infrastructure workers may be permitted to continue work following potential exposure to COVID-19, provided they remain asymptomatic and additional

precautions are implemented to protect them and the community.” The CDC list of critical infrastructure workers includes janitors, housekeeping workers, workers in food and agriculture, critical

manufacturing, information technology, transportation, energy, and government facilities. The guidance makes the unfounded assumption that employers have the ability and will to systematically

monitor and establish contagion prevention measures. Yet, there are currently no federal mandates for any employer to provide protection to workers: OSHA has decided not to conduct

enforcement related to COVID-19 hazards in the workplace. Permitting exposed workers to be in close contact with others contradicts the CDC’s overall guidance, requiring that anyone exposed to

an individual with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 self-quarantine for 14 days. The guidance threatens the health and safety of essential workers and the public, especially blue collar workers,

and it undermines national and state efforts to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

The significant risk of transmission from asymptomatic and presymptomatic individuals is well established. Workers in food processing, agriculture, janitorial, and many other critical industries are

disproportionately workers of color, who are underpaid and already at increased risk of serious complications if they become infected with coronavirus. Recent news reports document the

disproportionate incidence of COVID-19 in communities and populations of color, largely due to inequality in income, wealth, health services, and internet and information access. The CDC

guidance will deepen the health inequalities that are being worsened by COVID-19. What’s needed instead are critical safety and health protections, guaranteed paid sick leave for all

workers in these sectors, a presumption that infection occurred at work so that the workers are eligible for workers' compensation protections and benefits, and epidemiological surveillance of

workplace incidence of COVID-19 infection. We demand that the CDC retract this guidance and establish priority measures that protect the economy by protecting workers rather than

corporations. We cannot risk creating a new surge of infections in an effort that clearly is aimed to present the illusion that the pandemic is over and everything is back to

normal. It is not. In fact, we need to strengthen protections for all essential workers immediately to protect both workers and the general public.

 

 

Critically needed PPE donated to USW workplaces in District 11

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:58

 

Our union in District 11 has been working hard with USW-represented workplaces to gather donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks and gown to get them to the frontline healthcare workers, also USW members, who desperately need them. 

Thank you Lakehead Constructors in Aurora, MN, for donating much-needed PPE to Waterview Woods Nursing Home/Assisted Living in Eveleth, MN, and to Waterview Pines Nursing Home in Virginia, MN. A special thank you to Minnesota District 6B State Representative David Lislegard helped make the donation on behalf of Lakehead Constructors. 

We're proud to represent the Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) at USW Local is 9349, Unit 09. Pictured above accepting the donations are USW members Jennifer Potter-Thiel, LPN, and Beckie Golnick, Director of Nursing at Waterview Woods. In the other picture is Lea Sauter, DON, and USW Unit President David Hiltunen.

Also in District 11, Jamar Company and its President Craig Fellman in Duluth, MN, worked with USW Staff Representatives John Arbogast and Michele Fredrickson to arrange for delivery of N95 masks and Tyvek suits to our health care siblings at USW Local 9349, Unit 22. Jamar Company donated the critically needed supplies to Essentia Health Northern Pines Hospital in Aurora, MN. Pictured accepting the donations below are Kathy Johnson, RN, Pam Kleino, LPN, Billie Reid, RN, and Diana Kallberg, DON. The LPNs at Essentia are represented by our sisters and brothers at AFSCME Council 65.

For information on how to donate PPE and other supplies to frontline workers, click here.    

Watch us team up with firefighters to give quarantined 8-year-old birthday surprise

Tue, 04/14/2020 - 10:29

As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and the sometimes isolating quarantine that comes with it, we're uplifted by the stories of how we're creatively sticking together. That's why we just love this story from our District 11 office:

Chief Tony Nygaard of the Biwabik Township Fire Department in Northern Minnesota received a phone call from a grandmother asking if they could help to make her granddaughter Ellie’s birthday extra special. Josh Olson, a Steelworker who is the Assistant Fire Chief and a 20-year member of the department, and his wife, Tiffany, were more than happy to help out! The group planned with Yvonne, Ellie’s grandmother, and Ellie’s parents Noah and Tanya Hines for a special surprise. The department purchased a special gift for Ellie and showed up on her special day with lights flashing! Her family was there waiting with signs and flowers for Ellie as well. 

Josh Olson is a Heavy Equipment Operator at U.S. Steel, Minntac, and a member of USW Local Union 1938. His wife, Tiffany Olson, is the Sr. Administrative Assistant for District 11 in Eveleth, MN, and a member of USW Local Union 3567.

Watch the video:

USW members continue stepping up, producing PPE for health care workers

Mon, 04/13/2020 - 12:44

Steelworker locals and activists continue to showcase their solidarity with health care workers in their fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As calls for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front-line workers ramp up, members are stepping up to fill the growing need.

In the District 6, member Matt Nault teamed up with Fortis Customs Builds in Welland, Ontario, and purchased several 3D printers to print and supply free PPE face shields to nearby health care workers as they battle COVID-19.

Nault partnered with the USW Niagara Area Council to raise funds, and also received donations from other area local unions, including his own Local 1424, Local 6519, Local 7012, Local 7200, and the District 6 office.

The printers, operating out of the home of Nault’s friend Mike Ruddell, are now able to produce 100 face shields per day. So far, the shields have been donated to facilities and organizations such as the Wainfleet Volunteer Firefighters, Joseph Brant Hospital, and local airport screeners, with many more to come.

“This effort is a remarkable example of union members giving back to their communities,” said USW District 6 Director Marty Warren. “I am more than proud of what our members are doing. They are heroes in this fight.”

In Aurora, Minn., Lakehead Constructors made a generous PPE donation to Waterview Woods Nursing Home/Assisted Living, where members of USW Local 9349 work as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). And in Ohio, Local 9309 member Mason Tilly produced face mask straps that provide extra comfort for front-line health care workers.

For information on how to donate PPE and other supplies to frontline workers, click here.

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