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Union at center of mill closing placed under administratorship

Changes have come to the United Steelworkers local in Canton. Changes have come to the United Steelworkers local in Canton. Cory Vaillancourt photo

The union that represents most workers at Pactiv Evergreen’s Canton mill has been placed under control of its Pittsburgh-based international union, stripping local officers of their titles and power.

“This is a common practice when there is a closure,” said Daniel Flippo, District 9 President of the United Steelworkers Union. “It’s no reflection of the officers and leadership.”

On March 22, Flippo told The Smoky Mountain News that the practice of administratorship ensures continuity in the union’s operations when workers begin to be let go from their jobs. The move also ensures that contract rights and grievance procedures can be enforced until the very last worker leaves the mill for the final time.

The Smokey Mountain Local 507 represents the majority of the mill’s estimated 1,000 workers.

Flippo said local officers would continue to help with operations for as long as possible, and that Alan Jones, a staff representative with the USW, would be heavily involved and serve as the administrator.

In the past, Jones has been involved with collective bargaining agreements, contract administration, union organization and legislative advocacy, according to a USW website. Jones was also a 2020 candidate for the North Carolina House seat currently occupied by Rep. Mark Pless (R-Haywood).

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The next task, according to Flippo, is for the union to engage in effects bargaining with Pactiv Evergreen, which centers around closure responsibilities and workers’ rights. Negotiations could cover anything from health care coverage to shutdown protocols to severance pay.

Troy Dills, who was president until the international union stepped in, had last week called for effects bargaining with Pactiv Evergreen to take place from March 28 to March 30. Dills says that hasn’t changed, but the administrator now has the authority to make decisions on the timing of the negotiations.

 “I’m no longer president of the local,” Dills said. “I didn’t want to step out of the role of president but that’s the process and this is a transition.”

Dills said that at the discretion of the administrator, he’ll work to prevent disruption of the local’s operations.

This is a developing story.

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