Your Voice, Your Choice
OPEIU Local 39
August 2017
Learning about our Membership
Last month, we began a series to showcase all of the bargaining units in our Local. As we continue the merger with Local 95, we wanted to introduce everyone to the broad-ranging membership!

We started this series with our largest, at CUNA Mutual Financial Group. This month, we're going to take a look at two of the newest, at least to Local 39. These are units that have been part of Local 95 for years: Domtar Nekosa and Catalyst Paper Biron Mill.

Our membership is diverse, in almost every sense: geography, personnel, and industry. The more we know about our membership, the stronger our local will be.
Catalyst Paper
Biron Mill
A lot has changed for Biron since its inception as a saw mill back in 1843. It began making paper in 1896 and has grown and expanded ever since: shifting from producing newsprint, to coated paper, to paperboard for the war effort in the 1940s.

The changes haven't stopped, leading to three ownership changes in the last 20 years and ever increasing demands on the product itself. According to Lynn Meshak, "Biron, through steady rebuilds and upgrades, met the demands. In the past 15+ years, more than $200 million has been invested into Biron to stay competitive and continue to produce quality products."

The members of OPEIU at Biron are all clerical staff working in purchasing, payroll & timekeeping, scheduling employees, accounts payable processing, raw materials ordering, maintenance crew support, storeroom part repairs and transfers, and managing plant and property for the mill.

OPEIU is not the only Union in the company. In addition to OPEIU there are members of United Steelworkers, IBEW, IAMA, and UAJ.

Lynn says: "The relationships between all unions is one of support. The unions all work in unison to improve working conditions, communications and relations with the company for all workers."

Management at Biron respect the workers for their contributions to the company and work closely with the unions. Union members at Biron, like most unions, are willing to step up when needed, take on new skills, and challenge themselves to make sure the challenges of the paper industry are met to keep the mill operating and profitable.
Domtar Nekosa has been part of Wisconsin manufacturing since the 19th century, having been established as Nekoosa Paper Company in 1883. It had new owners in beginning of the twentieth century and then changed ownership twice in the last part of that century when so much of the consolidations at paper mills was taking place. At the beginning of this century, the Nekoosa mill became part of Domtar, Inc, which is, according to Jenny Hoffman, "the largest integrated manufacturer and marketer of uncoated freesheet paper in North America and third larges in the world."

Currently, the Nekoosa Mill produces a variety of publishing, specialty, and security papers, as well as many functional coating base stocks. These are items such as thermal, point of sale receipt, carbonless, labels, poly base, EDP, repositional notepad, release liners, etc.

OPEIU is one of three Unions at the plant and while it is a small unit, currently with 16 members, their presence is felt throughout the company, with clerks in half a dozen different departments who may schedule employees in their areas, order chemicals and packaging, setting delivery schedules, etc. There are also quality technicians performing tests and chemical make ups and accounting clerks handling invoices and other disbursements.

Management works closely with all of the Unions at the Mill, holding monthly Union/Management meetings where issues and concerns can be raised as well as planning for the future. Being a small unit, OPEIU members often feel as if they have to work harder to have their concerns noted by management. We hope that in the merger with Local 39, we can do more to get our voices heard.
Unit Chair and Steward at Catalyst
Below are the names of the Unit Chair and Steward for Catalyst Paper, Biron Mill. Click on the link to open an email. (Note: these go to work addresses)

We are always in need of more people to participate. If anyone is interested, please reach out to the Unit Chair or our Business Agent, Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill in the office. We can provide information on the duties and answer any questions you may have.

Unit Chair
Sue Glodowski
715-347-5220 mobile
715-422-2354 work

Lynn Meshak
715-347-9540 home
715-422-2577 work
Unit Chair at Domtar
Below is contact information for the Unit Chair for Domtar Nekoosa. Click on the link to open an email. (Note: this goes to a work address)

We are always in need of more people to participate in keeping the Union strong. If anyone is interested, please reach out to the Unit Chair or our Business Agent, Kathryn Bartlett-Mulvihill in the office. We can provide information on the duties and answer any questions you may have.

Unit Chair
Jenny Hablovic
Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30 PM in the Union Office.

November 15, 2017
February 21, 2018
May 16, 2018
August 15, 2018

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both companies and politicians.
Unions = Gym Membership
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff. These are called Weingarten Rights.
An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.
You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview. Management does not have to remind you of this right. If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer. Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed. If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Local 39 Union Offices
701 Watson Ave
Ste 102
Madison WI 53713
If you have any news you would like to share with other Members, please let us know! You can contact us via email or on our Facebook page.

Photo of Catalyst Paper Biron Mill by Heidi Hammitt MH PhotoDesigns , used by permission.