United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/articles/rss United Steelworkers Canada News Feed Wed, 23 Dec 2015 12:00:00 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Budget Pledges to Strengthen Trade Remedy Process, but More Must Be Done: Steelworkers’ National Director http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/budget-pledges-to-strengthen-trade-remedy-process-but-more-must-be-done-steelworkers-national-director Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/budget-pledges-to-strengthen-trade-remedy-process-but-more-must-be-done-steelworkers-national-director OTTAWA – United Steelworkers’ National Director Ken Neumann says that while the federal budget commits to strengthening Canada’s trade remedy system, more must be done to protect jobs in vital economic sectors facing crisis in the industrial heartland and small communities across the country.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to modernize Canada’s trade remedy system and enhance the right of trade unions to participate in the trade remedy process.  But unions must also be able to file anti-dumping and countervailing duty complaints, a right that unions have in other countries such as the United States,” Neumann said.

“In the steel industry in particular, by providing unions with the right to both file and participate in trade remedy complaints, Canadian producers will benefit in any trade case they may file.”

At the same time, “the government’s plan to amend the Investment Canada Act by increasing the net benefit review threshold to $1 billion, two years earlier than planned, does not address the damage already done to the Canadian steel industry,” Neumann said.

“The steel crisis has resulted in thousands of lost jobs and retirees being robbed of benefits due to poor public policy on foreign investment and the secret deal between the previous federal government and U.S. Steel.”

The looming crisis in softwood lumber should also have been addressed in the budget, Neumann said.

“In the absence of a Softwood Lumber Agreement, forestry-dependent communities could well be decimated as a result of government inaction,” he said.

“This budget could have taken concrete steps to put communities first by committing to provide federal loan guarantees to industry in the face of potentially punishing tariffs from the United States. It could have committed to forest community restoration funds, to ease the terrible uncertainty being felt across Canada.”

Collective Bargaining Kicks Off for Steelworkers at Freedom Mobile http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/collective-bargaining-kicks-off-for-steelworkers-at-freedom-mobile Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/collective-bargaining-kicks-off-for-steelworkers-at-freedom-mobile WINDSOR, Ont. - Negotiations for a first collective agreement begin tomorrow between the United Steelworkers (USW) and Freedom Mobile in Windsor.

Over 185 customer care employees at Freedom Mobile's Windsor call centre became USW members in January following a majority vote in favour of joining the union. Freedom Mobile, previously known as Wind Mobile, was purchased in 2015 by Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion.

In the last few weeks, employees have taken part in a survey on collective bargaining priorities and elected their negotiating committee.

"We look forward to this set of negotiations," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

"We hope for effective talks toward a fair collective agreement for these hard-working people in Windsor. We have a number of dates set aside for negotiations in March and April and we anticipate good-faith bargaining from Freedom Mobile and its parent company Shaw. We are going to work hard toward fair improvements for our members," Neumann said.

"As Freedom Mobile grows and expands, its employees deserve a fair share in the success they help create. The United Steelworkers is a growing union in the telecommunications sector and we are in full support of our new members in Windsor," said Lee Riggs, President of the Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944, which represents more than 11,000 workers in the telecommunications sector across Canada.

USW Cares: Langley Steelworkers Participate in Weekend Fuel http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/langley-steelworkers-weekend-fuel Tue, 21 Mar 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/langley-steelworkers-weekend-fuel USW Local 1944, Unit 60 recently took part in fundraising for the Adopt-A-School program. The program aims to provide food for breakfast and lunch programs at participating schools in B.C.

This is the local unit’s fourth year raising funds for the Adopt-A-School program, with Steelworker Corey Mandryk taking the lead in organizing efforts. Previous year’s fundraising provided the food served to children at various schools around the Lower Mainland for the entire school year.

This year, Steelworkers are building an outdoor eating area for the breakfast and lunch program at H.D. Stafford Middle School, which serves over 60 children each day. Many of the students in this program are newcomers to Canada. Having a safe, welcoming place to eat will promote a sense of community among the students from all backgrounds for many years to come.

Over the course of the year, the local unit raised a total of $3,650, with the employer matching the funds 100%, bringing this year’s total to just over $7,000.
This year’s total is also the highest amount that the local unit has raised since their first year of participation.

Related coverage from the Vancouver Sun: Langley students' food drive ensures pupils have fuel all week

Heart pills or food? Wabush mine pensioners struggle after benefits cut http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/heart-pills-or-food-wabush-mine-pensioners-struggle-after-benefits-cut Sun, 19 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/heart-pills-or-food-wabush-mine-pensioners-struggle-after-benefits-cut By Sue Bailey
Canadian Press

Jim Skinner thought after a 35-year career at the Wabush iron ore mine in Labrador he’d be set for the golden retirement he had earned.

He was wrong.

U.S.-based Cliffs Natural Resources shut the mine down in 2014, blaming high costs, falling prices and waning global demand. Its operations in Labrador and at Bloom Lake in Quebec were placed under creditor protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act as part of debt restructuring.

Health benefits for more than 2,400 retirees have since been cut and pensions slashed by 21 to 25 per cent because the plan was not fully funded, Skinner said in an interview.

“I lost over $1,000 a month on my pension,” he said. “I’ve lost all of my medical insurance, all of my life insurance.

“We have people that are in worse shape than I am. It’s really life changing,” added Skinner, 66.

“We have a terminally ill pensioner now who has been forced to choose between buying food and life-saving medication.”

Union leaders say it’s just the latest example of how retirees get left behind when multinational companies leave the country.

Skinner, who negotiated contracts at the mine as the former United Steelworkers local president, said it’s time for Ottawa to stop allowing corporations to walk out on pensioners.

Complete article in the Globe and Mail

Steelworkers Reach Tentative Agreement with CP Rail http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-reach-tentative-agreement-with-cp-rail Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-reach-tentative-agreement-with-cp-rail MONTREAL – A tentative agreement has been reached between bargaining teams for United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1976 and CP Rail.

USW Local 1976 represents 600 CP Rail employees across the country, primarily in administrative support and intermodal positions. Meetings will be held over the next few weeks in several cities across the country for union members to review terms of the tentative agreement and hold ratification votes.

Details of the agreement will not be made public until ratification votes are completed. The employees’ existing collective agreement expires Dec. 31, 2017.

“We will be recommending that our members ratify this tentative agreement. We look forward to presenting it to our members,” said USW staff representative Nathalie Lapointe.

"Why Are We Building a Bridge in Montreal with Foreign Steel?" http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/why-are-we-building-a-bridge-in-montreal-with-foreign-steel Fri, 10 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/why-are-we-building-a-bridge-in-montreal-with-foreign-steel OTTAWA - Parliament must reform trade laws to counter steel dumping by Chinese mills, union and industry executives yesterday told the Commons trade committee. Weak legislation has made Canada vulnerable to shipments from state-owned China producers, officials said.

“We have great mills, we have great workforces, we are state of the art,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers national director for Canada; “Why in this country still today, why are we building a bridge in Montréal with foreign steel?”

Neumann said the Special Imports Measures Act should be amended to permit unions to file unfair trade complaints, similar to legislation in the U.S. and Australia. “This reform is essential to the ability to compete fairly against international producers within the Canadian market,” said Neumann.

“We should be looking in Canada to buy Canadian,” said Neumann. “That is something that makes a lot of sense.”

“Canadian producers can thrive in an open, international marketplace,” said Joseph Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association. “We cannot compete with the government of the People’s Republic of China.”

Galimberti said the Canada Border Services Agency has limited ability to track dumped steel transshipped to the U.S. market, and no legislative powers to jail traders who thwart anti-dumping laws. “We have to be very, very careful about being perceived as a back door for dumped and subsidized product,” said Galimberti.

MPs have noted even major public works in Canada are using imported steel. Canadian-made product accounts for only 19 percent of steel used in construction of the $4 billion Champlain Bridge at Montréal, by official estimate.

The trade committee was told Chinese steel mills are able to ship cheap product worldwide with the benefit of low-interest government loans, cash grants, land use and utility subsidies and currency manipulation.

“Of the 11 largest steel companies in Asia, eight of them are state-owned,” said Neumann. “That speaks for itself.”

One steel distributor, Amalgamated Trading Ltd. of Langley, B.C., said Chinese imports are so inexpensive it is cheaper to ship product across the Pacific than buy Canadian steel manufactured in Ontario. “It is fifty percent cheaper,” said William Miller, CEO.

“When we import steel into Western Canada we’re paying a freight charge from Asia to Vancouver of $45 to $50 per metric tonne,” said Miller. “When we bring it from Ontario to Western Canada we are paying $120 per metric tonne – that’s rail. If we bring it by truck we pay $180 to $200 per tonne.”

“It’s important that we have the laws to protect Canadian steel producers, and I think those laws are very effective; I think our trade department is very quick and effective,” said Miller. “But I also believe this is Eastern Canadian protectionism.”

The trade committee is scheduling two additional hearings on Chinese trade practices in steel. “I don’t know if we have a steel strategy here in Canada,” said Liberal MP Peter Fonseca (Mississauga East-Cooksville, Ont.).

Quebec Government Finds CEZinc Violated Anti-Scab Law http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-government-finds-cezinc-violated-anti-scab-law Thu, 09 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-government-finds-cezinc-violated-anti-scab-law SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – A Ministry of Labour investigation of the CEZinc refinery has found the company in violation of Quebec’s anti-scab law in the midst of a labour dispute at the plant southwest of Montreal.

The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 370 employees on strike at CEZinc, will use every means at its disposal to ensure the company respects Quebec law prohibiting the use of replacement workers and that it is held accountable for its actions.

Following an inspection of the CEZinc refinery on Feb. 27, Quebec’s labour ministry found the company was illegally using at least three replacement workers at the plant. However, the USW believes the company has been using an even greater number of replacement workers, in violation of Quebec law.

“We believe there are many more strikebreakers than what the Ministry of Labour inspector uncovered during the inspection,” said USW staff representative Luc Julien.

“It’s unacceptable. We have gathered considerable evidence of work being performed illegally by strikebreakers and our lawyers continue to work on this case. We will be bringing this file to the authorities in coming days to demand that this company respect our labour laws.”

The labour ministry inspection confirmed what the union already knew, said Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486.

“We knew it was impossible for the employer to operate the plant without resorting to the illegal use of replacement workers. All the information we’ve been receiving from inside the plant has indicated as much. We are continuing to gather incriminating information showing the employer is clearly violating the law,” Castonguay said.

The 370 USW members at the CEZinc refinery have been on strike since Feb. 12. The dispute revolves around company demands for concessions, in particular an attack on workers’ pensions, even though the pension plan is overfunded.

The USW has called out the company for refusing to explore cost-cutting alternatives proposed by the union.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

Steelworkers Leader Pledges Union-Wide Support for CEZinc Strikers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-leader-pledges-union-wide-support-for-cezinc-strikers Wed, 08 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-leader-pledges-union-wide-support-for-cezinc-strikers SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – At a special meeting and rally today, United Steelworkers (USW) Quebec Director Alain Croteau pledged union-wide support for 371 workers on strike at the CEZinc. refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., co-owned by Noranda Income Fund and Glencore.

“Keep up the fight!” Croteau told the strikers, members of USW Local 6486, who are now into the fourth week of their labour dispute.

“You are absolutely right to fight to preserve the gains that were achieved through the struggles of workers who came before you. You are absolutely right to expect a decent retirement after a lifetime of working in harsh conditions, exposed to excessive heat and industrial contaminants. You are absolutely right to resist the demands of an employer that refuses to consider alternatives to unnecessary concessions.”

Croteau issued an appeal to all Steelworkers locals to financially support the striking workers. Several USW locals already have committed to ongoing donations throughout the strike, he noted.

“This strike, your fight, is an example for the labour movement. You are determined, organized and disciplined. I invite every local union to support you to help you keep up this fight. No one will bring you to your knees!”

The USW has called out the company for refusing to explore cost-cutting alternatives at the CEZinc. plant and accused the employer of provoking a labour dispute with demands such as major pension concessions, despite the fact the pension plan is over-funded, with a 114% funding ratio.

Picket line vigilance

The strikers, picketing day and night, have been noting the comings and goings of subcontractors’ trucks and other vehicles at the plant and raising questions about possible circumvention of Quebec’s anti-scab laws.

“We suspect the company is hiring people who aren’t allowed to work – strikebreakers. We’re gathering proof in order to bring the company before the courts. This is a serious strike and we’ll do what’s necessary to ensure that the law and the rules are respected,” said Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486.

“We will provide the legal resources and all other support needed to prevent the company from resorting to strikebreakers,” Croteau said. “Production at this plant will resume only when its workers have a good contract.”

Croteau invited Noranda Income Fund shareholders to start asking questions of company management.

“Why are they foot-dragging? Why are they refusing to consider solutions other than cutting the pension plan? Why are they not disclosing the terms of the concentrate supply contracts and the production purchase agreement between Noranda Income Fund and Glencore? There are a lot of grey areas in this file,” Croteau said.

No Justice in Bruneau Death if Criminal Charges Not Pursued, Say Steelworkers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/no-justice-in-bruneau-death-if-criminal-charges-not-pursued-say-steelworkers Tue, 07 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/no-justice-in-bruneau-death-if-criminal-charges-not-pursued-say-steelworkers OTTAWA – While Ministry of Labour charges against two Ottawa corporations for last year’s death of Olivier Bruneau are necessary, the United Steelworkers (USW) says criminal charges are more important if justice is to be served.

“We have been down this road before and we know Ministry of Labour charges are not enough to hold corporations criminally accountable for killing workers,” said Marty Warren, Ontario Director of the USW.

The union has an ongoing campaign for better enforcement of Criminal Code amendments, which were passed unanimously by the House of Commons and became law in 2004. Collectively, the amendments are known as the Westray Law. The USW campaign aims to Stop The Killing, Enforce the Law.

“2017 marks 25 years since the explosion that killed 26 miners at the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia – the worst Canadian industrial mass death in recent memory,” said Warren. “The Westray Law was intended to prevent more Westrays and deter employers from putting workers’ lives at risk. But over the last 13 years, companies are still getting away with practices that kill workers, at a rate of about 1,000 a year.”

Warren noted the Ministry of Labour had to make a decision on non-criminal charges within a year of Bruneau’s death on March 23, 2016.

“Police are under no such restrictions. The criminal investigation must continue.”

Bruneau was killed at a Claridge Homes construction site, contracted to Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd. Both corporations have been charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Less than two months after Bruneau was killed by falling ice, the City of Ottawa passed a motion supporting the USW campaign, which calls for:

  • Education, training and direction for Crown attorneys to apply the Westray amendments;
  • Dedicated prosecutors with the responsibility for health and safety fatalities;
  • Education, training and direction for police to apply the Westray amendments in investigations of workplace incidents;
  • Greater coordination among regulators, police and Crowns so that health and safety regulators are trained to reach out to police when there is a possibility that Westray amendment charges are warranted.

“Now the Ottawa Police Service has a chance to make these goals a reality,” said Warren.  “Olivier Bruneau’s grieving family deserves nothing less.”

Steelworkers Local 816 Members Locked Out by Lafarge Reach Tentative Agreement http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-local-816-members-locked-out-by-lafarge-reach-tentative-agreement Sun, 05 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-local-816-members-locked-out-by-lafarge-reach-tentative-agreement TEXADA ISLAND, B.C. – Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 816, locked out by Lafarge Canada at the Texada Island limestone mine since Oct. 17, 2016, have reached a tentative agreement with their employer. 

After previous offers were rejected the parties agreed to return to the bargaining table. As a result the USW secured an agreement with no concessions, maintained seniority rights and secured wage and benefit increases similar to other collective agreements in the sector.

In the coming week the USW Local 816 bargaining committee will provide members with details of the tentative agreement, followed by a ratification vote.

Local 816 thanks the many community members, other Steelworkers locals and unions in the region for their support as well as the important global solidarity from international labour federation IndustriALL and its allies.

Texada Island has a rich history of mining limestone dating back as early as 1918. The mine is the oldest active mine in the province and produces limestone used to make cement that is critical to many infrastructure projects.

Quebec Must Demand Investments and Greater Transparency from Noranda Income Fund http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-must-demand-investments-and-greater-transparency-from-noranda-income-fund Thu, 02 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-must-demand-investments-and-greater-transparency-from-noranda-income-fund SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – The Quebec government must disclose the conditions imposed on Noranda Income Fund in return for significant rebates on electricity rates – conditions the company now says it doubts it will fulfill, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

The USW also is asking the Quebec government to hold off on any electricity rebates for NIF’s CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield until a labour dispute at the plant has been resolved.

After NIF’s disclosure of its 2016 annual and fourth-quarter results, it was discovered yesterday that the government approved electricity rebates for the CEZinc refinery, where some 371 Steelworkers members have been on strike since Feb. 12.

In the wake of the company’s cryptic news release yesterday, there are crucial questions to be answered by the company and the government, the USW says.

Under what conditions were these electricity rebates granted? Is Quebec making any actual demands with respect to investments and the creation and maintenance of jobs?

“We demand more transparency,” said Steelworkers staff representative Luc Julien.

“It’s important for the government to show it is equally as demanding when it comes to creating and maintaining good jobs for Quebec workers, as it is generous when it comes to corporate rebates for our publicly owned resources.”

When NIF announced its 2016 annual and fourth quarter results, the company deferred the disclosure of its production targets for 2017, citing the CEZinc labour dispute as the reason.

Greater transparency is also what the 371 striking workers are demanding from NIF. The company is refusing to disclose the terms of the zinc concentrate supply contract it has with Glencore and the terms of the zinc production purchase agreement it also has with Glencore.

The company continues to demand pension concessions from the striking workers, while refusing to discuss alternative ways to achieve its cost-cutting objectives.

“The workers on the picket line are very committed to fighting these concessions as long as we have to. We hope that the company understands this and that it will agree to open its books to discuss solutions that are both realistic and respectful of its employees,” Julien said.

“These workers do difficult jobs, often in a harsh and challenging environment. It’s reasonable for them to expect good working conditions and a decent retirement. After devoting their working lives to this company, our members should be able to enjoy a secure retirement.”

Hang Up on Abuse Campaign Featured on Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/hang-up-on-abuse-campaign-featured-on-cos-mag Tue, 28 Feb 2017 20:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/hang-up-on-abuse-campaign-featured-on-cos-mag Employers should allow workers to hang up on abusive callers, deny repeat abusers service, says union.

Michelle Ravary was helping a customer figure out a problem with his cellphone bill when the call took an unpleasant turn. 

Read the full article (pages 16 to 18):


Or here:

Page 16-17

Page 18

The Canadians are coming, the Canadians are coming! http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/the-canadians-are-coming Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:27:26 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/the-canadians-are-coming Canadian delegates to the International SOAR conference in Las Vegas on April 7-8, 2017, will have a full and active role in the proceedings – discussing and voting on all resolutions and setting policy.

This conference will see 22 delegates and a number of observers from Canada. At the 2016 Canadian SOAR conference held in Montreal, chapters with fewer than 250 members came together and elected “at large delegates” to represent the smaller chapters in their districts: Kay Noonan (Chapter 3-14, District 3) Gérard Gregoire (Chapter 5-05, District 5) and Mansell Gullis (Chapter 6-13, District 6) and Rob Clark (Chapter 6-05, District 6).

The SOAR district board members and one SOAR coordinator from each district attend as delegates because of their positions.

The number of delegates that chapters may elect is based on the size of their membership.

Chapters 3-09, 3-19, 6-02, 6-80 and 6-Sa2 each elected one delegate.
Chapters 6-07 and 6-SA1 each elected two delegates.
Chapter 6-17 elected three delegates.

Given the recent political shifts in Canada and the U.S. we can expect a very interesting and exciting conference.

Belleville Lockout Exposes Wynne Government’s Complicity in Precarious Employment Trend http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/belleville-lockout-exposes-wynne-governments-complicity-in-precarious-employment-trend Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/belleville-lockout-exposes-wynne-governments-complicity-in-precarious-employment-trend The following op-ed column by USW Ontario Director Marty Warren has been published by the Belleville Intelligencer:

The lockout of security guards at Belleville’s Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf is a striking example of how Ontario’s Liberal government is not only failing in its promises to help precarious workers, it is directly contributing to the problem.

The security guards, members of the United Steelworkers, were attempting to negotiate their first collective agreement when they were locked out by their employer two weeks ago.

The security guards are among the growing ranks of Ontario’s “precarious workers” – those with insecure jobs lacking in wages, benefits and standards needed to support a household. Precarious workers now account for 40% to 50% of the province’s workforce.

Since becoming premier in early 2013, Kathleen Wynne has been assuring vulnerable workers that she sympathizes with their plight and is committed to reversing the rise in precarious employment.

“We’ve chosen to reject the notion that the growing numbers of precarious workers are an unfortunate and unavoidable economic reality of the 21st century,” Wynne has stated.

The harmful social, economic and health effects of precarious employment on millions of families are simply unacceptable, she has asserted.

“The stress of not being able to pay bills, of having to worry about keeping up with rent, obviously those are things that people shouldn’t have to contend with, and kids shouldn’t be affected because their moms and dads and family don’t have a consistent opportunity to help them with the things that they need in their lives.”

After four years however, the premier’s sympathetic words have begun to ring hollow. Workers seeking jobs with dignity see first-hand how the Wynne government is deliberately creating precarious employment within its own public-sector workplaces.

Sir James Whitney, for example, is a provincially owned and operated school. The Wynne government could lead by example, by directly employing more workers within its own facilities and ensuring they have reliable, non-precarious jobs. Instead, this government prefers to “outsource” services to private contractors.

The government subjects these workers to the race-to-the-bottom cycle of “contract flipping” – continually changing service providers and exerting downward pressure on wages, benefits and conditions. It compounds the problem by refusing to mandate living wages or basic protections such as “successor rights” for precarious workers.

Under the Wynne government, when a service contract is flipped, the new contractor does not have to honour existing employees’ wages, benefits or working conditions. The government won’t even guarantee precarious workers can keep their jobs when contracts are flipped.

Precarious workers who join a union find the Wynne government tacitly condoning contractors who lock out employees and recruit replacement workers to break the union’s resolve.

At Sir James Whitney School, years of contract flipping have denied security guards stable jobs with a livable wage. Despite extensive training and responsibilities, they earn less than $13 an hour. Their employer demands they pay $1,300 a year for modest benefits, another $300 for uniforms and that they work up to 60 hours a week – without overtime pay.

As they fight for stable jobs with dignity, the Belleville security guards will have the full support of their union and many allies in their community. Sadly, their allies don’t include a premier and government whose actions fail to match their sympathetic words.

Marty Warren
Ontario Director
United Steelworkers

View the column in the Belleview Intelligencer

Steelworkers Welcome Wabush 3 Mine Expansion http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-welcome-wabush-3-mine-expansion Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-welcome-wabush-3-mine-expansion LABRADOR CITY, N.L. – United Steelworkers (USW) representatives welcome today’s announcement that the Iron Ore Company of Canada (IOC) will proceed with its Wabush 3 mine expansion project.

“Our members, our families and our community are encouraged this project will proceed and that it will support good, local jobs for generations to come,” said Ron Thomas, President of USW Local 5795, which represents employees at IOC’s Labrador City operations.

“Our members have worked very hard to contribute to the company’s success and to build a strong future for our community and we’re committed to building a relationship with IOC’s new management,” Thomas said.

“We believe the relationship with IOC going forward must be much different than the situation that existed under the previous management,” he added.

“We need a relationship based on trust, integrity and respect for our legally binding collective agreement. This approach to labour relations is needed to ensure this new project succeeds and benefits our members, their families and our community.”

Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, hailed the announcement that the Wabush 3 project is going forward.

“This project has been years in the planning and it’s good news for this region that it will now become reality,” Warren said.

“We welcome the new IOC management’s willingness to engage with our union to address issues and concerns. There is still much more to do and we are ready to work together to make this project a success and build a prosperous future for the company, our members and for Labrador West,” Warren added.

“We are delighted that IOC is making this significant investment and to finally see that the Wabush 3 project is proceeding,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“This is long-awaited, positive news that creates optimism and promises real benefits for working families and the community. We are encouraged that there is a commitment to seize on this optimism to develop a new, productive labour-management environment,” Gerard said.

IOC today announced a $79-million investment for the Wabush 3 project, which will include a new pit developed within existing mine operations, extending the life of these operations and increasing production of quality grade iron concentrates and pellets.

The company said construction will begin within the next few months, with initial ore production expected in the second half of 2018.

Parliamentary Petition on Electoral Reform - Add Your Name http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/electoral-reform-petition Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/electoral-reform-petition Sign the petition calling for the government to follow through on its promises for electoral reform. NDP MP Nathan Cullen’s petition has momentum with over 120,000 signatories.

Electoral reform was a cornerstone of the current government's electoral campaign and a parliamentary committee has undertaken substantial public consultations and issued a report. Of those who wanted change, "the overwhelming majority of testimony was in favour of proportional representation."

It's time to make our voting system more fair and ensure every vote counts.

Please sign this parliamentary e-petition sponsored by NDP MP Nathan Cullen.

Petition to the Government of Canada (e-616)

Steelworkers Support Safety Recommendations in CN Rail Derailment Report http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-support-safety-recommendations-in-cn-rail-derailment-report Thu, 16 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-support-safety-recommendations-in-cn-rail-derailment-report TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s report on a 2015 CN Rail train derailment near Gogama, Ont., but also is calling for additional rail safety measures.

“The Transportation Safety Board has produced an in-depth report into this disaster and we support the board’s findings and recommendations,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“We also believe that the board and the federal government should pursue further steps to improve rail safety,” Neumann said.

The Transportation Safety Board today released a 100-page report on its investigation into the Feb. 14, 2015, derailment of a CN Rail freight train near the northern Ontario community of Gogama. A total of 29 oil tanker cars derailed, an estimated 1.7 million litres of crude oil were released into the environment and resulting fires burned for five days.

The safety board concluded that the derailment was caused by joint bar failures in the track, also citing cold weather and insufficient training of CN Rail track inspectors. The board’s recommendations include greater training and other safety measures, such as lower speed limits for trains carrying dangerous goods.

“We have been advocating for some time for increased safety measures, including lower speed limits in certain situations, improved training and greater employee retention and recruitment,” said Randy Koch, President of USW Local 2004, which represents 3,000 CN Rail employees who maintain and repair the railway's track, bridges and infrastructure across Canada. The union’s members do not include track supervisors and assistant supervisors who are primarily responsible for inspections.

The authorized track speed for freight trains in the area of the February 2015 CN Rail derailment is 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph), the safety board report indicates. The USW believes the limit should be as low as 50 kilometres per hour in certain situations involving freight trains carrying dangerous goods.

“We support the safety board’s recommendation calling on the federal government to pursue changes to the rules on speeds for trains carrying dangerous goods,” Koch said.

The safety board report highlighted longstanding concerns regarding “the vulnerability of older tank cars used to transport crude oil and other flammable liquids.” Continued use of older, ‘Class 111’ tank cars – such as those involved in the 2015 CN Rail derailment – will contribute to “an elevated risk” in the transportation of flammable liquids, the report states.

“Current regulations allow railways to continue using these older, vulnerable tank cars until 2025,” Koch noted. “Another eight years is far too long to wait. We believe the federal government – specifically Transport Canada – should require companies to expedite the replacement of these outdated cars.”

The USW also is calling on Transport Canada to consider taking over responsibility from railways for training rail inspectors and other key employees. Transport Canada should at least improve its oversight and regulation of railways’ internal training programs, the union says.

Steelworkers Make Gains in New Contracts with Ivaco Rolling Mills http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-make-gains-in-new-contracts-with-ivaco-rolling-mills Tue, 14 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-make-gains-in-new-contracts-with-ivaco-rolling-mills L’ORIGNAL, Ont. – Employees at the Ivaco Rolling Mills steel plant in L’Orignal have ratified new collective agreements providing improved wages, benefits and other significant gains.

The employees, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 7940 and 8794, have voted overwhelmingly to ratify three-year collective agreements with Ivaco, a leading producer of steel billets and hot rolled wire rod. The new contracts cover 370 USW members at the steel plant in this eastern Ontario community.

“These collective agreements recognize the hard work and contributions our members make every day to the success of this operation,” said Marty Warren. “These were challenging but professional negotiations and the results provide a foundation for a productive labour management relationship going forward.”

The new agreements provide enhanced contracting-out protections for workers, improvements to benefits such as long-term disability coverage, vision care and life insurance, a new provision for mental health awareness training and improvements in contract language.

Wage increases and adjustments for trades positions will range from $3.82 per hour to $7.11 per hour. Wages for production employees will range from $1.50 per hour to $3 per hour. A new provision calls for retention premiums of up to $2 per hour for key positions.

Members of USW Local 9740, who work in office, clerical and technical positions at Ivaco Rolling Mills, will be negotiating a new collective agreement later this year to replace their existing contract that expires in November. The Ivaco mill in L’Orignal employs more than 500 workers.

Investigate Highway Death as Potential Criminal Case: Steelworkers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/investigate-highway-death-as-potential-criminal-case-steelworkers Mon, 13 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/investigate-highway-death-as-potential-criminal-case-steelworkers OTTAWA – The death of a courier driver on an Ottawa highway last Friday must be investigated as a potential criminal case, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“When a worker is killed on the job, justice cannot be served if the death is not investigated at the outset as a potential criminal case,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“Criminal investigations must be considered first and foremost in all work-related fatalities,” Warren said.

Police reported that Gennadi Brianski, 50, of Carleton Place, Ont., was killed last Friday when the cargo van he was driving on Highway 417 in Ottawa was struck by a flying set of double wheels that had come loose from a tractor-trailer travelling in the opposite direction.

Police said the wheels bounced across three lanes of the highway and over the median before smashing into Gennadi Brianski’s van. Brianski, a longtime courier/delivery driver and a member of USW Local 1976, was beginning his workday at the time.

The company that owns the tractor trailer, as well as the truck’s driver, have been charged with Highway Traffic Act offences. However, the fatality must be investigated through a criminal lens, the USW says.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gennadi Brianski’s grieving family, friends and co-workers,” said USW Local 1976 President Steve Hadden.

“This was a preventable death and everything must be done to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. Our members work in the transportation sector across Canada and cases like this not only put the general public at risk but also become a workplace issue,” Hadden said.

“It is alarming to learn through the media that reports of truck wheel separations in Ontario actually have increased significantly in recent years,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

From 2010 to 2012, an average of 67 incidents of wheel separations were reported in Ontario, according to the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada. From 2013 to 2016 there were an average of 139 such incidents per year, according to the council.

The USW is continuing to build public and political support for its national campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, which calls for criminal investigations to be considered in all cases of work-related deaths.

The campaign urges federal, provincial and territorial governments to provide better training and direction for police, health and safety officers and Crown prosecutors for the investigation of workplace deaths and injuries.

“The Westray Act that was passed into law in 2004 after a decade of lobbying is supposed to hold employers criminally accountable for workplace deaths. However, there have been more than 10,000 workplace deaths since the law was passed and only one manager has received a prison sentence,” said Neumann.


Next Generation Workshop http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/next-generation-workshop Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/next-generation-workshop

To: All District 3 Presidents, Recording Secretaries/Financial Secretaries:

At our International Convention in 2011, a resolution was passed to promote the involvement of young workers in our union and the development of its next generation of leadership. Since this time, the district has seen some amazing young activists move up in the union, and we are encouraged by the energy and perspective they are bringing to our locals, and to the union as a whole.  

Our district has been leading in the representation of young people in the LDS program, and we have seen a change in the demographics at our annual summer school. We are also now witnessing a shift in the leadership of our locals, with many young members stepping up to take on leadership roles. As an outcome of this momentum, we are often approached by young members asking how they can get more involved in the Next Generation program. 

Because of this we have recently developed a Next Generation course to address these demands on local unions.  

We are excited to announce that we are piloting the course in two regions in March. The two locations we have selected will be Edmonton, on March 13-14 and at our district office in Burnaby on March 30-31. Following the pilots, the course will be available to locals upon request.

If you have any question, please feel free to contact Dayna Sykes at the district office (dsykes@usw.ca).

I encourage you to extend this opportunity to young members in your local.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Hunt