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United Steelworkers-Made Toilet Paper: ‘We've Got Your Backs!’

Published Sunday, March 22, 2020
by USW News
United Steelworkers-Made Toilet Paper: ‘We've Got Your Backs!’

(FORT EDWARD, NEW YORK) - All over the country, rolls of toilet paper, paper towels and tissue paper are flying off the shelves as people respond to the global Coronavirus pandemic, but did you know that a lot of these products are made by United Steelworkers (USW)-represented Members in the United States and Canada?

The USW represents tens of thousands of Paper Workers, including about 8,500 who are employed at facilities that make some of the biggest brands in the Toilet Paper Industry, including Scott, Cottonelle, Angel Soft, Quilted Northern and many generic brands sold at retailers across both nations.

USW Local 4-2 Member TJ Cutler said his mill in Fort Edward, New York received an order this past week for 1.5 million cases of toilet paper. "Not sure ‘why’ toilet paper ‘is the thing, but we will make it!," Cutler said.

Paper companies say orders have increased by 20% during the pandemic.

Paper mills were already running 24/7 so the extra orders are being fulfilled even as Workers worry about staying healthy and safe.

USW Members work at several paper mills around the country that help make toilet paper, including almost all of Georgia Pacific’s Mills, many Kimberly-Clark facilities, Marcal Paper and Scott Tissue Paper in Franklin, Virginia. 

Like all Workers right now, the pandemic is causing uncertainty among the Union’s Paper Workers.

While demand is high for toilet paper at home, it is falling for retail uses at places like hotels, restaurants and airports.

And because everyone is stocking up on TP right now, it’s unknown what demand will look like in the future

“These are ‘uncertain times for everyone, including our Paper Workers who are working so hard as they do every day,’” said USW International Vice President Leeann Foster who oversees the Union’s Paper Industry. “At the Union, ‘we’re all working really hard to keep all workers from every industry and their families’ safe, healthy and secure during this pandemic.’” 

Toilet paper is made from one of two sources - virgin pulp from trees or recycled pulp obtained from materials like discarded copy paper that's reprocessed and then turned into pulp. 

Virgin pulp comes from Canada and the United States. 

The pulp (virgin or recycled) is delivered to paper mills that turn it into large rolls of paper called "parent rolls" that are over 100 inches wide.

The rolls then arrive at paper-converting facilities, where many USW Members work to cut them into toilet paper or paper towels.

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