Taking Steps Toward Reconciliation at the Bargaining Table

Ken Neumann’s statement for June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day

In June, Steelworkers celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, and the rich history of the many Indigenous Peoples of this land throughout the entire month.

We can best honour the contribution of Indigenous Peoples by engaging in reconciliation, learning about and taking action to correct past wrongs and systemic injustice.

How do Steelworkers contribute to reconciliation in a meaningful way? There are lots of options, but one is to use our role as bargaining agent to advance Indigenous rights and recognize the unique cultural identities of Indigenous nations and communities.

Bargaining good collective agreements is something that Steelworkers know how to do. We can add language to our agreements so members can take time off for spiritual and cultural practices, have access to Elders and other culturally appropriate supports, have clear paths to promotion and can work free of discrimination. We can add language to give Indigenous people from nearby communities (and communities on whose land we work) access to job openings, training and apprenticeship programs.

We’ve updated our USW Bargaining Guide for Advancing Indigenous Rights. It’s full of model language from the USW’s and other collective agreements. Please give copies to all bargaining committee members and read it. Talk to Indigenous Steelworkers in your unit or local to find out what they think should be added or changed in the contract.

Celebrate the rich history and cultures of Indigenous peoples by taking action at the bargaining table!

USW Bargaining Guide for Advancing Indigenous Rights - Revised June 2021

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