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 On Rana Plaza Anniversary, Transparency Needed from Mark’s, Sport Chek http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/on-rana-plaza-anniversary-transparency-needed-from-marks-sport-chek Thu, 20 Apr 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/on-rana-plaza-anniversary-transparency-needed-from-marks-sport-chek TORONTO – On the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster that killed more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh, Canadian apparel retailers such as Mark’s and Sport Chek must commit to greater transparency regarding their supply chains, an international coalition of human rights and labour rights advocates says.

“It is now four years after the Rana Plaza disaster that killed more than 1,100 workers on April 24, 2013. Canadian consumers want Canadian retailers to ensure a minimum level of safety in factories to stop fashion killings from ever happening again,” said Ken Neumann, Canadian Director of the United Steelworkers (USW).

“The Canadian Tire family of brands, including Mark’s and Sport Chek, imports products from 67 factories in Bangladesh. However, they don’t publicly report which garment factories they use. That means human rights groups can’t independently verify if these factories are safe and how they are treating their workers,” Neumann said.

A new report, based on a survey of 72 of the world’s leading apparel brands, has identified Canadian Tire among companies, including Walmart, which have made no commitment to publish supplier factory information.

The report, Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry, calls for companies to adopt the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge.

The report notes that 17 leading brands, including Nike and Adidas, have committed to the Transparency Pledge to disclose information identifying the factories that produce their goods. Other companies, including Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Loblaw and Hudson’s Bay Company, are taking steps to disclose more information about the factories that manufacture their products.

“Four years after the Rana Plaza tragedy, we are calling on Canadian Tire, Mark’s and Sport Chek to make a clear commitment to transparency and accountability,” Neumann said.

The USW and several allies in Canada today launched the ‘No More Operating in the Dark’ campaign urging the Canadian Tire family of brands to adopt the international Transparency Pledge.

Canadians can call or email the CEOs and decision makers with one simple click: www.usw.ca/april24

“We invite Canadians to join the campaign to encourage Canadian Tire to do the right thing,” Neumann said. “Keeping factories hidden from public scrutiny is unacceptable. It’s time to stop operating in the dark.”

Join the campaign: No More Operating in the Dark.

Read the Follow the Thread report.

Steelworkers Ratify Collective Agreement with CP Rail http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-ratify-collective-agreement-with-cp-rail Wed, 19 Apr 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-ratify-collective-agreement-with-cp-rail MONTREAL, 19 April 2017 – Approximately 600 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) who work at CP Rail across Canada have ratified a new, five-year collective agreement.

Votes received from USW Local 1976 members were counted today. A tentative agreement was negotiated at the end of February by the union and CP Rail, after which ratification meetings were held with Local 1976 members across the country.

The new contract includes annual wage increases of 2% in each of the agreement’s five years. Additional 1% increases will be paid in the contract’s fourth and fifth years if specific performance indexes are met.

“This is a good agreement which assures stability for our members for the next five years. It favours wage development over cost of living changes,” notes USW staff representative Nathalie Lapointe.

The new contract was negotiated prior to the expiry of the existing collective agreement in December 2017.

“While developing our bargaining proposals, our members insisted that their defined-benefit pension plan be maintained for all. With the ratification of this contract, we have achieved this important goal and ensured the pension plan’s viability,” Lapointe said.

The agreement improves insurance and benefits coverage and provides increased payments for safety apparel in applicable cases.

The 600 Steelworkers at CP Rail work primarily in administrative support, the intermodal department, yard office and customer service positions.

USW Cares: Steelworkers Walk the Talk http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-steelworkers-walk-the-talk Wed, 19 Apr 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-steelworkers-walk-the-talk Our friend and brother Bruce Frost from Local 1-2010 in Thunder Bay suffered a sudden heart attack while attending the United Steelworkers International Convention in Nevada. The heart attack was severe. He was rushed to the hospital and remains in their care. Bruce's family flew in right away to be by his side.

Bruce is someone who has always been there for his friends, his family, his brothers and sisters. He is active in his community and is the kind of person to always lend a hand.

In his moment of need, his fellow Steelworkers came together for him.

During the convention, brother Guy Bourgouin got up to the mic twice – first to ask the more than 3,000 Steelworkers in the room to keep brother Bruce in their thoughts as he goes through his ordeal, and a second time to appeal to everyone to give what they could to help with hospital and care bills.

How did over 3,000 Steelworkers respond? They backed up their solidarity talk with the walk. They flooded Bruce’s GoFundMe page started by brothers Guy Bourgouin and Don Guest of USW Local 1-500. Within the first hour, the $5,000 goal set had already been surpassed.

Steelworkers from across locals, districts, states/provinces, and countries came together for their brother in need. The theme of unity used throughout the convention was shining through that very moment.

A few days after, Bruce’s daughter sent an update: he is getting stronger with each day that passes and the Frost family is deeply appreciative of the love, solidarity and support they have received from the United Steelworkers family.

As of this writing, Bruce’s GoFundMe is at $8,225. For more information and updates on the campaign, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/brucefrostusw

Working Forest: More Jobs and a Stronger Economy http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/working-forest-more-jobs-and-a-stronger-economy Fri, 07 Apr 2017 11:10:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/working-forest-more-jobs-and-a-stronger-economy factsheet

It's time for a better B.C. with John Horgan and the NDP.

Check out this factsheet on how the B.C. NDP will support our Working Forest. 

Steelworkers Recommend 10 Ways to Improve Canadian Women’s Economic Security http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-recommend-10-ways-to-improve-canadian-womens-economic-security Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-recommend-10-ways-to-improve-canadian-womens-economic-security OTTAWA – The United Steelworkers union (USW) has told a parliamentary committee that ensuring economic security for women is dependent on many factors, from better access to unionization, pay equity legislation, secure pensions, child care and putting a stop to gendered violence.

“Every day we fight for the rights of women through collective bargaining,” says USW National Director Ken Neumann. “We know that, without unions, the wage gap between men and women would be larger than it is – and it is already unacceptable.”

The USW submission offers 10 recommendations including federal pay equity legislation, true universal child care, access to EI maternity and parental leave, housing, and apprenticeship programs.

“There should be increased federal-provincial collaboration on apprenticeship programs and placements aimed at equity-seeking groups,” said the submission. “We also call on the federal government to assess infrastructure investment through a gender and equity lens.”

The USW submission points out that inequalities faced by indigenous women, black women and other women of colour, women with disabilities and LGBTQ women lead to even larger wage gaps and more precarious work.

“Our union’s Canadian membership of 225,000 is 20% women and that number is growing,” said Neumann. “Steelworker women have developed training and are involved in politics and their communities to advance the interests of all working women.

“But the federal government must show leadership by ending historic inequality and taking concrete steps, such as following Quebec’s lead and improving EI maternity and parental leave.”

The USW submission says eligibility should be based on an income of $2,000 during a longer eligibility period and a reduction of required hours to 300.

Neumann said Steelworker women are fighting for economic security and are active both within the union and outside. Alberta’s premier, Rachel Notley, is a Steelworker.

USW Submission on Women's Economic Security

USW Testifies on Parliament Hill on Women’s Economic Security http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-testifies-on-parliament-hill-on-womens-economic-security Thu, 06 Apr 2017 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-testifies-on-parliament-hill-on-womens-economic-security West Kootenay Steelworker Locals Endorse Katrine Conroy http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/west-kootenay-steelworker-locals-endorse-katrine-conroy Thu, 30 Mar 2017 12:36:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/west-kootenay-steelworker-locals-endorse-katrine-conroy Trail, BC – USW Locals 9705, 480 and 1-405 are endorsing Katrine Conroy for re-election as MLA for Kootenay West in the upcoming provincial election, the union announced today.

“Steelworkers and their families have a lot at stake in this election. Christy Clark leads an anti-union government that has consistently made decisions that have hurt workers, their families and our local communities,” says USW Local 9705 President Mike Mozak, Local 480 President Armindo deMedeiros and Local 1-405 President Doug Singer.

The local presidents say the union is proud to endorse Conroy, who is seeking her 4th term as a BC NDP MLA.

“Katrine is a fighter who stands up for the issues important to working families in the West Kootenays. She has a stellar record of being a strong representative for our members and bringing our voice to the Legislature. Families in the West Kootenays deserve to have an MLA who is on their side, not a rubber stamp for Christy Clark and her rich political donors,” says Mozak, deMedeiros and Singer.

The United Steelworkers represents over 30,000 men and women in British Columbia, including over 5000 in the Kootenay region.

The union has recently launched Steelworkers Vote, a campaign to target battleground constituencies by mobilizing USW members to vote, informing voters of important issues and endorsing candidates who will stand up for Steelworkers and working families. The union’s campaign will include public events, paid advertising and an all-out on the ground effort to deliver votes on election day.

More information is available at www.usw.ca/steelworkersvote

Quebec Steelworkers to Protest at Noranda AGM in Toronto http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-steelworkers-to-protest-at-noranda-agm-in-toronto Thu, 30 Mar 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/quebec-steelworkers-to-protest-at-noranda-agm-in-toronto SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – Employees on strike at the CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que., plan to make their voices heard at Noranda Income Fund’s Annual General Meeting on April 28 in Toronto.

Protest plans for the Noranda AGM were announced by Syndicat des Métallos (United Steelworkers) Quebec Director Alain Croteau on Thursday during a rally by more than 400 demonstrators outside the CEZinc plant in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield.

“If CEZinc management continues to ignore the proposals of its workers, we will take the necessary steps to be heard by the people who make the decisions,” Croteau said.

“We have gone to London and to Australia in the past to stand up to multinationals that have provoked labour disputes with our members, so we don’t mind a short trip to Toronto to expose this corporation’s behaviour,” he said.

Striking employees from the CEZinc refinery were joined for Thursday’s demonstration by members of several Quebec unions, including CSN labour federation members from the Glencore-owned Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. The CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield is co-owned by Noranda Income Fund and Glencore.

“From the very beginning of this dispute, we have suspected there is something fishy about the company’s behaviour,” said Manon Castonguay, President of Steelworkers Local 6586, representing the 370 striking workers at the CEZinc refinery.

“We have to wonder if the shareholders really have a clear understanding of this situation. One thing is certain, they will be hearing from us, very clearly, through the walls of their meeting room in Toronto,” Castonguay said.

The CEZinc employees are into the seventh week of their strike, provoked mainly by the company’s demands for major pension concessions and its refusal to consider efficiencies and 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 Launch B.C. Election Campaign http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-launch-bc-election-campaign Tue, 28 Mar 2017 14:24:51 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-launch-bc-election-campaign BURNABY, BC, March 28, 2017 - The United Steelworkers (USW) is launching a campaign to raise issues important to working families during the coming British Columbia election and elect a government that will make decisions that are in the best interests of our province – not the people who make big political donations.

Steelworkers Vote will be targeting battleground constituencies by mobilizing USW members to vote, informing voters of important issues and endorsing candidates who will stand up for Steelworkers and working families. The union's campaign will include public events, paid advertising and an all-out, on-the-ground effort to deliver votes on election day.

"Steelworkers and their families have a lot at stake in this election. Christy Clark leads an anti-union government that has consistently made decisions that have hurt workers, their families and communities," says Stephen Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada.

"We've lost over 35,000 forestry jobs and log exports are at a record high. We've seen temporary foreign workers hired over British Columbians in mining and we've seen the health and safety of workers tossed aside so Christy Clark's financial supporters can make more money. It's time for working people to stand together and elect a government on their side," Hunt says.

Hunt says John Horgan and the BC NDP are focusing on the things that matter to everyone – not just the people who give big political donations.

"John Horgan and the BC NDP will make the right choices for working people by standing up for good jobs that families can live on, investing in the services that we all depend on and making life more affordable," says Hunt.

Information about the Steelworkers Vote campaign, including fact sheets, questionnaires and opportunities to get involved can be found at www.usw.ca/steelworkersvote.

Technosub Workers Unanimously Ratify First Contract http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/technosub-workers-ratify-first-contract Mon, 27 Mar 2017 09:40:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/technosub-workers-ratify-first-contract committeeRouyn-Noranda – The new Steelworkers members working at submersible pump manufacturer Technosub in Rouyn-Noranda have voted 100% in favour of their first collective agreement, an excellent three-year labour contract that meets the satisfaction of all members.

“An experienced union group could not have negotiated a better agreement! There is a lot to be proud of with this first contract. Seniority will be respected, gains protected, everything well organized, and workers will all receive increases and move up through the wage scale, reaching the highest level of the salary scale much more quickly than before. In the first year, increases will range between 3.2% and 4%, which is important,” explains Steelworkers staff representative Benoit Locas.

Some 70 workers at Technosub, which supplies equipment to mining companies, chose to unionize with the Steelworkers, and obtained their certification on May 26, 2016. This labour contract is a concrete affirmation of their decision. Specifically, workers will receive salary increases of 2.5% in the 2nd and 3rd years of the contract, and these increases will apply to all workers, not only those at the top of the scale, as was the case in the past. We note the elimination of four pay levels, a move that will allow workers to reach the maximum rate of pay more quickly. Workers who are bumped will now have the assurance of knowing that they can keep their previous salary if it was higher. Vacation pay has also been increased, as have the employer’s contributions to the group RRSP. Provisions for floating holidays and sick leave have also been improved.

“We feel that we obtained the very most we could. We’re very proud of the results and very pleased that our members unanimously approved the agreement. Our union is definitely off to a good start!” asserts Francis Lévesque, president of the new unit organized within Local Union 9291.

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.