Thursday, April 17, 2008

Management-Labor Cooperation Increases Profits

Okay, I know SCA Tissue North America is not a Film/TV/Theatre/Print/Media company, but I thought their example worth sharing. The employees are every company's most valuable asset. When Employers recognize and embrace this concept, profits increase.


SCA Tissue North America

From American Rights At Work

scalogo.jpg Partnering with its workers' unions enables this trend-setting paper firm to develop an efficient and environmentally-sound manufacturing system.

In Partnership With: USW

Worker collaboration translates into higher profits

SCA Tissue North America began U.S. operations six years ago and quickly established itself as a leading producer of paper towels, napkins, and bath and facial tissues used in the "away from home" market. SCA's success comes, in part, from the company's strategic business decision to establish a cooperative relationship with its workers and their union, the United Steelworkers (USW).

At a Glance

SCA Tissue North America is one of the largest producers of "away from home" tissue products in North America. It is a subsidiary of Sweden-based Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, founded in 1929.

Philadelphia, PA (US)


Paper manufacturing and tissue products

Union Employees
1,600 production and maintenance workers

Total Employees

Annual Revenues
$1 billion (US)

8 locations in AL, AZ, IL, NY, and WI

Office buildings, industrial sites, healthcare facilities, and food service establishments

Upon entering the U.S. paper market, SCA bought several paper mills from Georgia-Pacific. Workers at several of these locations were already affiliated with the USW, and initial contract negotiations between SCA and the union started out as shaky and contentious. But during the heated negotiations, SCA and USW realized that an adversarial labor-management model harms both the company and the workers. A partnership emerged out of that initial struggle that promotes cooperation over conflict.

One of the first initiatives of the partnership was the adoption of a neutrality agreement between SCA and the union. This voluntary pact established a code of conduct prohibiting either party from disparaging the other, or using intimidating or coercive tactics on employees. The agreement at SCA's Barton, AL, operation also set rules to ensure workers have the ability to freely decide to form a union, and if so, by which process: a National Labor Relations Board election or majority sign-up. In 2003, workers chose to organize through majority sign-up and SCA abided by their agreement to recognize the union.

An integral component of the labor-management partnership is the Joint Advisory Committee comprised of company executives and union leaders. The committee meets quarterly to address challenges in the workplace and highlight successes. Joey Weston, a converting technician at the Barton facility and president of the local union, speaks to the value of having an employer who respects workers' rights, "It gave me the feeling they were truly concerned about their employees and willing to listen to them."

Another notable program that emerged from the partnership is the work system redesign of three key manufacturing facilities. The program aims to use worker input to create a more efficient and worker-friendly production process.

The company's steadfast commitment to employee collaboration is already reaping rewards: the employee turnover rate decreased by 29 percent in one of SCA's high turnover locations, and the company boasts one of the best safety records in the industry. Confirms Chuck Gintz, Director of Employee Relations, "Overall productivity has improved as a result of the joint partnership and labor-management work system redesign process and programs."

SCA touts more than a cooperative labor-management model. The company has an exemplary environmental record and invests in sustainability efforts worldwide. This paper manufacturer deserves praise as a forward-thinking, socially-responsible employer.

Selection Criteria

> Free and fair chance to form a union

> Collaborating as equal partners with workers and their unions to craft innovative strategies on compensation, performance, and productivity to meet business goals and address challenges

> Creating new jobs and implementing employee retention strategies

> Offering training and professional development opportunities

> Protecting workers' safety and health

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