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‘Enough Is Enough,’ Steelworkers Say as Federal Government Betrays Another 1,700 Pensioners

December 17, 2015

WABUSH, NL – More than 1,700 Cliffs Natural Resources pensioners learned today they will suffer a substantial loss of income because federal laws continue to protect corporations over workers and retirees, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

“Today another 1,700 families in Labrador and Quebec have been victimized by federal laws that allow corporations to break their obligations to pensioners and workers,” said Marty Warren, the USW’s Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario.

“Enough is enough. For years we’ve called on our federal governments to stop allowing corporations to abandon their responsibilities to workers, pensioners and their communities,” Warren said.

“Canadian families need the new federal government to pass progressive legislation ensuring workers and pensioners are secured creditors in corporate bankruptcy protection cases, rather than being pushed to the back of the line. It’s only fair that working people receive the pensions and benefits they earned over careers spent generating wealth for their employers.”

The federal Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Superintendent of Pensions jointly announced today a decision to wind up the Wabush Mines pension plans.

The decision affects 1,700 workers and pensioners in Labrador and Quebec, whose pensions will be substantially reduced, with the specific cuts to be determined in the new year.

Cliffs Natural Resources has closed its Canadian operations, which are currently under bankruptcy protection under the terms of Canadian federal legislation, the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). Earlier this year, Cliffs eliminated health and life insurance benefits for pensioners and stopped making special payments into pension funds, which were already underfunded.

“Canadian law continues to protect corporations while abandoning workers and pensioners who have to struggle to survive. Cliffs Natural Resources continues to operate in the U.S., but is allowed to walk away from its obligations to workers and pensioners in Canada,” Warren said.

Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792, mwarren@usw.ca
Euclide Haché, USW Staff Representative, 709-944-5010, 709-280-0996 ehache@usw.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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