Workers Uniting at USW Paper Conference - Day 1
Ian Tonks, National Officer for Unite, along with three UK representatives participated in the USW Paper Conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA on July 10 – 12.
The conference included participation by 500 USW paper sector delegates.
The first day plenary session was opened by USW Vice President Jon Geenen. It included an international panel session in which union leaders from the UK, Australia and Sweden briefed delegates on the situation in the paper industries in their countries.
“This was a great opportunity to inform delegates of what was happening internationally,” said Tonks. “It also gave us the chance to thank the USW on behalf of Unite and Workers Uniting for not only their words of support during the MMP lockout, but also for their actions outside the Kellogg’s shareholders meeting in the U.S. It’s this kind of international solidarity action that shows companies there’s no place to hide. I have no doubt this action was fundamental in bringing MMP back to the bargaining table.”
In the afternoon of the first day, the UK delegation attended the Health & Safety workshop.
Julian Atkinson, a Unite member who works for Kimberly-Clark, said “After attending the Health & Safety workshop, I fully understand that no matter where you come from, safety is always the number one priority. I also took great respect for the actions of Steve Sallman in his role in the aftermath of the explosion in Verso Paper in Sartell, Minnesota and how he dealt with the fatality of one of our brothers and I cannot express how much his Rapid Response team would have helped myself and my colleagues during a similar event at the Kimberly-Clark Barrow mill in the UK where in 2007 my close friend was killed at work.”