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 Steelworkers Talk to NDP Leadership Candidate Guy Caron http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-talk-to-guy-caron Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:24:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-talk-to-guy-caron Thanks to Steelworkers for participating in our telephone town halls with USW National Director Ken Neumann and NDP Leadership candidate Guy Caron on Sept. 18.

Steelworkers asked questions about jobs and the economy, minimum wage, international peacekeeping, pipelines and more. Scott Duvall, MP for Hamilton Mountain, joined the call to talk about the NDP's efforts to End Pension Theft.

Audio from our two town halls are below. The first town hall was for Steelworkers in District 6 – Ontario & Atlantic Canada. The second town hall was for Steelworkers in District 3 - Western Canada.

The USW Leadership's statement endorsing Guy Caron for NDP leader is here.

Audio of the telephone town hall for USW District 6, 7-8 p.m. Eastern, Sept. 18, 2017

Audio of the telephone town hall for USW District 3, 6-7 p.m. Pacific, Sept. 18, 2017

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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $25,000 to Hurricane Irma Relief in Caribbean http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/humanity-fund-contributes-to-hurricane-relief Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/humanity-fund-contributes-to-hurricane-relief TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $25,000 to communities throughout the Caribbean impacted by Hurricane Irma.

“Irma was a devastating storm, unlike anything seen in decades, where it touched down in Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

“Once again it is the poorest communities that will have the greatest difficulty recovering and re-establishing livelihoods. It is an all-too-familiar pattern that global climate change is making worse,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and National Director of the United Steelworkers.

The aid will be channelled through the Red Cross and Oxfam.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that promotes respect for human rights and contributes to development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, as well as supporting Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the Fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions.

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Steelworkers: NAFTA Has Been a Failure and Requires Stronger Rules of Origin in Renegotiations http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/nafta-requires-stronger-rules-of-origin Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/nafta-requires-stronger-rules-of-origin Pittsburgh, Toronto – The United Steelworkers union (USW) released the following statement identifying its position on rules of origin in the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations. Rules of origin are a critical part of the renegotiations and identify the percentage of content that must be included in products to be eligible for trade benefits. Press reports indicate that NAFTA negotiators will begin addressing this topic at the next round of negotiations which takes place September 23-27.

“The USW has long supported the renegotiation of NAFTA, but negotiations must advance and protect the interests of North American workers by significantly strengthened regional ‘rules of origin’ requirements to promote production and jobs in the NAFTA region,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

The existing NAFTA rules of origin were negotiated more than a quarter century ago and do not reflect current economic reality and sourcing patterns. The current rules allow for significant amounts of content from outside of North America to be included in a product but still be eligible for the trade agreements’ benefits. Other countries, like China, have been able to ship increasing amounts of products into North America to the detriment of production and employment in North America. The attached proposal would strengthen the rules and ensure that a new agreement promote growth and opportunity for those covered by the agreement.

United Steelworkers Union:
Rules of Origin a Critical Provision in NAFTA Renegotiations

The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a failure for workers in all three countries. While trade flows, outsourcing and corporate profits have all increased; job quality, labor rights and compensation have all suffered. NAFTA has simply been a tool for production and wage arbitrage for corporate Bay Street and Wall Street interests.

NAFTA renegotiations have the potential to reverse these trends and be a force for progress. That, however, requires fundamental changes, not simply tinkering around the edges. Repealing NAFTA and starting completely over would be far preferable than minor changes which simply continue the trends of the past.

Fundamental changes must be made to the agreement. For manufacturing workers, a key issue will be reforming the rules of origin that determine what production activities will qualify a product for the preferences offered by the agreement. In the critical area of automotive products, the existing rules are insufficient, full of loopholes and allow for significant amounts of foreign content – an increasing percentage of which is Chinese – in a vehicle while still obtaining trade benefits. A dramatically strengthened rule of origin should require that only a limited amount of foreign content be allowed in a vehicle to be eligible for trade benefits.

And, for the components that are critical to the future of automotive production in terms of fuel economy, emissions control and driverless vehicles, the rules should provide a significant preference for parts made in the U.S. and Canada to capitalize on existing competitive advantages and ensure that the next wave of investments in the automotive sector occur in the U.S. and Canada in light of the substantial investments Mexico gained in the first 25 years of NAFTA’s existence.

Rules of origin requirements must also be strengthened for critical products which are key to our national security and economy. Steel products, to qualify for domestic procurement and trade preferences must be melted and poured in North America. Aluminum products – both primary and secondary – must consist of aluminum smelted in North America and downstream products must be extruded, forged or rolled in North America.

The Rules of Origin is only one of many provisions that must be updated. Trade enforcement must be significantly strengthened to ensure that circumvention, evasion and manipulation of trade laws and existing remedies be eliminated. China and other countries have been able to game the system by cheating and stealing our jobs. Mexico, Canada and the U.S. should coordinate activities, as appropriate to ensure our trade laws work for working people.

Workers’ rights provisions must also be fundamentally changed so that no workers are exploited. Disciplines to eliminate currency manipulation must be adopted. Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) must be cut from the agreement. Many other provisions need to be renegotiated.

Existing trade agreements have reshaped the world economy and trade flows. It’s time to update and reform all our trade agreements to ensure that the workers in participating countries gain the benefits of the agreements their political leaders initiate.

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With Many Employees Already Near Poverty Line, Freedom Mobile Threatens Lockout of Windsor Workers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/reedom-mobile-threatens-lockout-of-windsor-workers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/reedom-mobile-threatens-lockout-of-windsor-workers WINDSOR, Ont. – Freedom Mobile, owned by telecom giant Shaw Communications, has threatened to lock out its call centre employees in Windsor next Friday, September 22.

Freedom Mobile’s threat to lock out employees comes on the heels of its refusal to improve a collective agreement offer that was firmly rejected by those employees in a vote held Aug. 10. 

After an all-day meeting Thursday in Toronto convened by the federal labour board’s mediation service, Freedom refused to improve its substandard offer. Issues remaining in dispute are wage increases, seniority recognition and vacation rights.

Many of Freedom’s Windsor bargaining unit employees earn wages that are near the poverty line. At the same time, Shaw’s corporate executives are well-known for their lavish compensation packages.

The median hourly pay in the Windsor bargaining unit is $13.68. For context, Shaw CEO Bradley Shaw’s total 2015 compensation was $13.1 million – the equivalent of $6,718 an hour – 491 times the median hourly wage.

Meanwhile, many Windsor residents, including some Freedom employees, are still recovering from damages they suffered recently due to flooding of their homes.

Freedom’s call centre employees joined the United Steelworkers (USW) in January, winning their vote in the face of an aggressive effort by Freedom and Shaw to undermine their organizing drive.

“This company is choosing the low road and the public should know it,” said Lee Riggs, President of TWU, USW National Local 1944. “Freedom told us that it wants to remain a low-cost operator. Yet its top executives rake in tremendous incomes.”

Despite a past statement about maintaining Shaw call centre jobs in Canada, Freedom Mobile has call centre operations in Egypt and the Philippines.

“Comfortable Shaw executives in Calgary are menacing low-paid Windsor employees with a threatened lockout – it is outrageous. Freedom is building a bad name for itself in the eyes of hard-working people in Canada,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “Windsor deserves better treatment than this.”

During Thursday’s mediation session, Freedom took the position that it expected the union to “remain silent” about the position its members might take on this matter. “Freedom’s offer shows it does not value its employees’ work, and the corporate demand that the union remain silent shows it does not respect their opinions,” said Riggs.

Over the next few days the union will consider options and engage membership input about next steps and actions.

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Sign-up to talk to Guy: Steelworkers Telephone Town Hall with Guy Caron http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/town-hall-guy-caron Thu, 14 Sep 2017 09:49:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/town-hall-guy-caron

Sign up is now closed.

Join USW National Director Ken Neumann and NDP Leadership Candidate Guy Caron.

Click here to listen live

Monday, September 18

  • District 6 (Ontario & Atlantic Canada) – 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
  • District 3 (B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Canada’s North) – 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT
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Steelworkers Step Up Global Campaign Against Glencore http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-step-up-global-campaign-against-glencore Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-step-up-global-campaign-against-glencore MONTREAL/BOGOTA – As part of a global campaign against resource giant Glencore, representatives of United Steelworkers (USW) members on strike at the CEZinc refinery in Quebec are meeting today in Bogota, Colombia, with fellow Glencore employees from around the world.

The meeting of worldwide Glencore workers is being held under the aegis of IndustriALL Global Union, an international labour federation representing 50 million workers in 140 countries.

“We are here to build solidarity with Glencore workers and to expose the true nature of the labour dispute in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (Que.), where workers at CEZinc are now into their seventh month on strike,” said Dominic Lemieux, Assistant to the USW/Syndicat des Métallos Quebec Director.

“Company management is saying this dispute will be settled in Quebec. That’s true and it’s why we remain open to meaningful negotiations, once the company shows it is serious and willing to seek a resolution,” Lemieux said.

“In the meantime, we also know from experience that when dealing with multinationals that profit from globalisation every day, building international worker solidarity matters.”

Lemieux is accompanied at the Bogota meeting by Vincent Mercille-Barrette, a representative of Steelworkers Local 6486, which represents the 370 workers on strike at the CEZinc refinery.

“We are at the stage where the employer has to understand that CEZinc’s workers are ready to see this through all the way to the end,” Mercille-Barrette said. “The company must never doubt the strength of our convictions. We will last that famous ‘one day longer.’ ”

When he returns from Colombia, Mercille-Barrette will travel across Quebec to meet with other Steelworkers locals and build support and financial assistance for the CEZinc strikers.

“A multinational like Glencore will not bring Quebec workers to their knees,” Lemieux said. “They don’t understand trade unionists in Quebec and they don’t understand us. Thanks to our solidarity, we’ll get through this.”

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USW supports Bill C-262 on United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-supports-bill-c-262 Wed, 13 Sep 2017 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-supports-bill-c-262 Bill C-262 is a unique opportunity for Canada to move towards a true nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples, says Ken Neumann.

Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Ministers Bennett, Philpott, and Wilson-Raybould

Re: Bill C-262: United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act

Dear Prime Minister, Minister Bennett, Minister Philpott and Minister Wilson-Raybould,

The United Steelworkers supports reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and has endorsed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Canada must adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.

Over a year ago, the USW announced our support for Bill C-262, because it will ensure that the laws of Canada respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We agree that, as a nation, no relationship is more important than the relationship with Indigenous peoples. Bill C-262 is a unique opportunity for Canada to move towards a true nation-to-nation relationship.

Our union cares about this bill because, as Canadians, we want to heal relationships between Indigenous Canadians and other Canadians. And we care about this bill because our members include Indigenous people. This is a Steelworker issue.

As Steelworkers have met with Liberal MPs to ask for their support, we’ve heard two criticisms of the Declaration: that it is inconsistent with Canada’s Constitution and that it gives Indigenous peoples a veto over development. We respectfully disagree. Scores of Canadian legal scholars have publicly stated that the Declaration is consistent with the Constitution and the Charter, if not essential for its true implementation. And the right to free, prior and informed consent is not automatically a veto, but instead a means for Indigenous peoples to participate fairly and equally in key decisions affecting their lives and territories.

For all of the above reasons, we are asking your government to vote in favour of Bill C-262.

Sincerely,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Download PDF

USW endorses bill to adopt and implement UNDRIP

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Steelworkers Improve Wages, Job Security, Conditions at U of T http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-improve-wages-job-security-conditions-at-u-of-t Tue, 12 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-improve-wages-job-security-conditions-at-u-of-t TORONTO – United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1998 members at the University of Toronto have ratified a new collective agreement that improves wages, job security and working conditions.

The three-year collective agreement, to be in effect until June 30, 2020, covers 4,300 administrative and technical employees at the university. USW Local 1998 members voted to approve the contract on Monday.

The agreement includes total wage increases of 6.5%, several improvements in contract language affecting key issues such as job security and enhanced provisions on severance and early retirement bridging.

“This is a concession-free agreement that makes important gains in monetary and non-monetary areas,” said USW Local 1998 President Colleen Burke.

“The bargaining process was very challenging, but our negotiating committee was buoyed by the tremendous support of our members throughout,” Burke said. Prior to reaching a tentative agreement with the university last week, union members had voted 94% in favour of a strike mandate, she noted.

The collective agreement provides a 2.5% wage increase this year, followed by increases of 2% in each of the following two years. The wage increase this year includes a salary adjustment of 0.7%, retroactive to July 1, as an offset to an increase in employee pension contributions.

“We’re pleased that we were able to negotiate this offset, so our across-the-board wage increases were not eroded by the pension contribution increase,” Burke said.

The new contract improves health and education benefits, re-establishes an early-retirement bridge benefit, enhances severance packages and strengthens job security with gains made in the rights, options and re-employment opportunities for employees facing organizational change.

“This collective agreement represents a significant achievement by these employees who have faced a government-led agenda of austerity and demands for concessions,” said Marty Warren.

“I congratulate the members of USW Local 1998 for their solidarity in confronting these challenges head-on and making real gains in their working and living standards.”

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Report: Are the Steelworkers Trying to Recruit You? http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/are-the-steelworkers-trying-to-recruit-you Thu, 07 Sep 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/are-the-steelworkers-trying-to-recruit-you Today, the vast majority of workers struggle to make ends meet at the centre of Canada’s worst ever income gap, where average CEO earnings are 180 times the income of an average employee.[1] In this kind of work environment, it’s easy to imagine that more people might be seeking the protection of unions to push back against the exploitation. For low-wage, precarious workers who are younger, more often women, and disproportionately from Black, Indigenous, racialized and other minority groups, the need for union protection and support is even greater.

However, union membership isn’t growing. In fact, union density, the percentage of workers covered by a collective agreement, is declining among private sector workers in North America. Scholars, researchers and union organizers agree that unbalanced and outdated labour legislation that favours corporations is largely responsible. Such laws make it very hard for people to join a union.

So we asked: what kind of organizing intervention might help shift this decline in union density?

A common challenge in private sector unions is that their membership demographic is mostly made up of middle-aged, Anglo men. The purpose of this project was to discover the demographics of workers in new member organizing campaigns run by the United Steelworkers of Canada (USW). This information could be used by the union to determine if they should be doing more outreach to certain marginalized and equity-seeking groups, and help them analyze which communities of people are generally more willing to unionize and willing to help with campaigns.

Demographic targeting is used by corporations like Netflix and Spotify in company decision-making to help guide their choices on which new television shows or music to invest in. Likewise, demographic targeting is used by progressive electoral campaigns, to help them identify ridings where they can mobilize to defeat their better funded opponents.

When workers start a campaign to join a union, interested workers fill out a card with their information, including personal information like their name, address and contact details. Organizers also track information about the campaign itself, such as which workers said they would help, who actually volunteered to help with the campaign, who was part of the core inside campaign team and which workers voted. This information is stored in separate spreadsheets, organized by campaign and then filed away.

The worker data that organizers diligently collect should not be forgotten simply because those first campaigns have ended. They contain very useful information that could help determine if they should be doing more outreach to certain minorities and other communities of vulnerable workers. They can also help answer the question: does this public image of unions as old, white men align with the organizing goals of the union?

Procedure

The first step in this project was to create a sample of USW union campaigns that were won, lost or no longer active. We found 362 for use in this study, ranging from 2000 to 2016 and including alloy welding companies, bookstores and security firms. Together we collected spreadsheets, cleaned up the information for consistency and transferred the data stored in these separate spreadsheets into one big Microsoft Access dataset. This way, all the information from all those campaigns could be analyzed at once, giving us a total of 20,516 individual people who worked at non-union job sites that were targeted by the USW for unionization.

The database was then sent for analysis to Strategic Communications Inc. (Stratcom), a consulting firm that provides data analysis services. Stratcom then ran the data through an algorithm created by Environics Analytics, to determine the gender and ethnic make-up of individuals in our dataset. Using a list of more than one million individuals with their known genders, the algorithm uses first names to analyze the gender of workers with 70% accuracy. To analyze ethnicity, the algorithm uses Census SM Research to create an ethnic surname candidate list. Then the last names of members were used to determine their ethnicity.

Results

The data analysis showed that the majority of individuals targeted for unionization were men. With 3,027 individuals having male names with 100% accuracy and 7,352 individuals labeled as having male names with 70% accuracy, 69% of workers are male.

Women made up 31% percent of the total number of individuals whose names were gendered, with 994 people identified as having female names, and 3,577 female names with 70% accuracy.

In regards to ethnicity, most workers have an Anglo or unidentifiable ethnic origin with 11,719 people in that category. This means 57% of individuals are either Anglo or had an unidentifiable ethnic last name. In second place, we have 1,311 people of Chinese origin and in third we have 1,304 people that come from a Punjabi origin. Other common ethnicities were Irish, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, French and Hindu. This shows that 43% of workers have last names that algorithm found to be ethnic.

Conclusion

With the information provided and analyzed, we concluded that the stereotype of most union members being male and Anglo is mostly true for the people USW campaigned to. While more than half of the individuals fit this category, there are still a large number of people who do not. A third of its potential membership base consists of women, and little less than half is made up of people of non-Anglo ethnic backgrounds.

Some of the campaigns analyzed were ones that the union had lost. Often, immigrants, women and other minority groups are scared to unionize and continue to endure harsh working conditions because they are unaware of what unions do. “Visible minorities actually tend to generally be more pro-union, once they get over any pre-conceived notions about the unions,” said one of the USW organizers. To address this issue, the union could be doing more to appeal to them directly, such as having more multi-lingual and female organizers, translating flyers into different languages and catering directly to the needs of individuals in these groups. Not only would this benefit the workers, but this would ensure that more people would support unions and be willing to help in campaigns.

Due to time restrictions, only gender and ethnic origin could be analyzed. Also, the group labelling for Statistics Canada census data results in limitations due to its confusing roster of ethnic, racial, cultural and language group categories. These categories are sometimes additionally confused with region of origin and religion. In the future, this database and method could be used to analyze other factors as well, including age, type of dwelling, income, commute from work, etc., which would provide further information to the union about who the USW is targeting in their unionization campaigns and how to best provide assistance. In the future we expect that alternate standards and categories will need to be applied to yield reliable results.

About the authors:

Tyler Morris is a 17 year old student, currently in his last year of high school. He is interested in data, analytics, digital card signing and has a lot of experience working with Microsoft Excel and Access. He plans to study software engineering.

Adeen Rizwan is a second year mechanical engineering student at the University of Toronto. She aspires to be a leader in the realms of science and technology. Her expertise includes data analysis, computer programing, statistics and all things math.

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[1] Hugh Mackenzie (Jan. 2016) Staying Power, CEO Pay in Canada, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

 

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USW Cares: A Purpose Beyond the Walls of Our Mills http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-a-purpose-beyond-the-walls-of-our-mills Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:34:29 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-a-purpose-beyond-the-walls-of-our-mills There are lots of reason to celebrate Labour Day for members of a union; work conditions, the 40 hour week, stat holidays, vacations and pensions to name a few.

But really Labour Day is about solidarity, coming together to recognize that when we are at work we sweat and toil for the company to be profitable with little thanks but on this day we get to be with each other, share food, share stories and to allow our families into what is mostly a private place; we celebrate our Labour.

For Labour Day 2017 the Locals of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council got together to do just that. We decorated our float in support of Local 1005 MANA workers, we joined most of our Locals to have a picnic that saw 4 Barbecues on the go and live entertainment. With a bouncy castle and a train ride through Gage Park along with the games and toys for the kids, we created what we set out to do.

Collectively we had and have a purpose beyond the walls of our mills.

Photos:

Labour Day Sunday volunteering at Wesley House

Labour Day Parade and Picnic

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Guy Caron Is Best Choice for NDP Leader: USW Leadership http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/guy-caron-is-best-choice-for-ndp-leader-usw-leadership Fri, 01 Sep 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/guy-caron-is-best-choice-for-ndp-leader-usw-leadership United Steelworkers Directors Ken Neumann, Marty Warren and Stephen Hunt released the following statement on 1 September 2017:

As leaders of the United Steelworkers, we believe that the next leader of the NDP must be a strong voice for working men and women across Canada. To that end, we have sought to engage our members in this leadership contest. The USW sponsored a lively leadership debate that included all the candidates. Our members also engaged with the candidates in USW-organized interactive telephone town halls. We are delighted by the many USW members who have taken this opportunity to join the NDP or to renew their membership to help choose our next leader.

USW has been impressed by each of the candidates and we value our strong labour connections and friendships with Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Jagmeet Singh and Guy Caron.

Among this strong field we, as leadership in USW, believe Guy Caron is the best choice for the future of the NDP. Guy Caron is an articulate social democrat with the vision, principles and political abilities to advance the interests of working Canadians and form the first-ever federal NDP government.

Guy is clearly the best-placed candidate to build on Jack Layton’s hard-fought breakthrough in Quebec with a social democracy built on progressive movements and working class issues and solutions. While other candidates are bilingual; only Guy is a strong communicator in both English and French.

“Guy has introduced strong policy ideas during this race. His basic income proposal is a bold and thoughtful measure for eliminating poverty in Canada,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

“The Steelworkers particularly salute Guy for his visionary Workers First policy. This set of measures shows that Guy has the knowledge and commitment to drive an economic and jobs agenda that progressive Canadians have long been waiting for,” emphasized Marty Warren, USW District Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“We need a leader who is personable, likable and authentic. Like other leadership candidates, Guy scores highly on these traits. However, we also need policy depth and working class grounding that will carry across the country. Guy is the leader that provides these strengths,” said Stephen Hunt, USW District Director for Western Canada.

Guy has demonstrated strong leadership skills on the debating stage, challenging his opponents effectively yet respectfully. He will be tough on Justin Trudeau and he will take on Andrew Scheer.

We encourage debate within the Steelworkers and respect individual members’ opinions, particularly concerning Quebec politics. We cherish democracy within our union and respect those choices.

Based on background, experience, proposals and ability to lead us towards a social democratic government in Canada, we strongly support Guy Caron for Leader of the New Democratic Party.

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

Stephen Hunt
USW District 3 Director

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NDP Triples Membership During Leadership Race http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/ndp-triples-membership Thu, 31 Aug 2017 13:42:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/ndp-triples-membership The federal NDP has tripled its membership ahead of the leadership vote. The party announced that more than 124,000 members are eligible to vote for the next leader of the NDP when voting begins in September. This is more than three times March 2017 membership total of 41,000.

Congratulations to the leadership campaigns, activists and organizers who have been signing up new NDP members to take part in the leadership vote.

The strong membership numbers demonstrate momentum and excitement for the party.

“It’s a very exciting time for the NDP. The fact that so many new members joined – and so many renewed members came back – shows there’s lots of enthusiasm around our leadership race,” said Federal NDP President Marit Stiles.

Steelworkers have been engaged in the leadership race by encouraging USW members to join or renew their NDP membership so they can vote for the next leader; USW locals organized membership drives or included information about joining the NDP in their local newsletters; we promoted the leadership race and the membership deadline on our USW Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The USW was proud to host a full-house Leadership Debate focused on labour issues in June and organized two telephone town halls in July, where USW members had a chance to put their questions to the leadership candidates directly.

The last leadership debate will take place in Vancouver on Sun., Sept. 10. The Leadership Showcase, where each candidate will make a final appeal for support before voting begins, will take place in Hamilton on Sun., Sept. 17.

Online voting begins on Mon., Sept. 18, which is also the deadline for mail-in ballots. The first ballot results announcement will be on Sun., Oct. 1 in Toronto. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the second and third ballot round results announcements would take place on Sun., Oct. 8 (Montreal) and Sun., Oct. 15 (Ottawa).

Our union is a founder of the NDP and steadfast supporter of Canada’s labour party. We believe that our party is stronger with Steelworkers as active members of the party. As NDP members, Steelworkers can strengthen our political partnership and continue our shared work to fight for fairness and justice for workers.

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USW Cares: Operation Backpack 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-operation-backpack-2017 Tue, 29 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-operation-backpack-2017 HAMILTON, ON - Operation Backpack, which began six years ago as a modest effort to support a few Hamilton families, has grown into a major initiative that will help 1,000 kids returning to school this year.

The success of Operation BackPack 2017 will be on display Wednesday morning at the ArcelorMittal Hamilton East plant on Strathearne Avenue North, where volunteers will fill 1,000 backpacks with school supplies for kids in need. Volunteers from the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, ArcelorMittal Hamilton East and many partnering companies and union locals will be on hand to prepare the backpacks.

Operation Backpack 2017's sponsors:

USW Locals 5328, 16506, 4153, 7135, 1005, 4752, 1976
Steelworkers Humanity Fund
ArcelorMittal Hamilton East
Hamilton Specialty Bar
ARaymond Tinnerman
Kromet International
Golden Horseshoe Credit Union
Many other community sponsors

"In our first year we packed 92 backpacks which were delivered to a few local schools," said Darren Green, president of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council.

"The response from teachers told us the need was much greater so we have been working very hard to grow the program to where we are today. This year 500 backpacks will be distributed by St. Matthew's House and 500 will be delivered directly to schools throughout the city.

Click here to see photos: usw.to/2af

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USW Cares: Steelworkers Welcome Back Clinton, B.C. Community http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-steelworkers-welcome-back-clinton-b-c-community Tue, 29 Aug 2017 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-steelworkers-welcome-back-clinton-b-c-community The residents of Clinton, British Columbia were welcomed back to their small community in a grand way on August 26, 2017.

Clinton, B.C. was on an extended evacuation order due to the wild fires still burning across the province. The alert was lifted on the same day as the planned Welcome Home BBQ.

USW Locals 1-417 and 7619 out of Kamloops, B.C. organized the event, along with the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. The event served to welcome back the residents of Clinton as they resettle into their lives.

The event also doubled as a fundraiser to help rebuild the Loon Lake Fire Hall. The fire hall was one of the many buildings in town that was burned down to the ground during the wild fire in the area.

Steelworkers and other volunteers served over 200 hamburgers and 150 hotdogs during the BBQ that saw them raise $3,100 for the Loon Lake Fire Department.

The USW locals in Kamloops, B.C. have been actively helping nearby communities affected by wild fires and continue to monitor the various situations. Both locals have helped tremendously in assisting evacuees and raising money for the different communities fellow Steelworkers live in.

Other initiatives by Steelworkers during the B.C. Wild Fires:

USW Cares: Kamloops Steelworkers Act Swiftly to Help B.C. Wildfires Evacuees

Steelworkers Contribute $100,000 to B.C. Fire Relief

United Steelworkers donates $41,000 to wilfire relief efforts (via CFJC Today)

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WSIB Study Another Tactic to Avoid Compensation, Says Steelworkers' Director Marty Warren http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/wsib-study-another-tactic-to-avoid-compensation-says-steelworkers-director-marty-warren Fri, 25 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/wsib-study-another-tactic-to-avoid-compensation-says-steelworkers-director-marty-warren TORONTO - While the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) spends years on yet another study, victims of the 36-year use of McIntyre (aluminum) powder at Ontario mines are dying of neurological and lung diseases with no compensation, says United Steelworkers' (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren.

"This is just another stalling tactic to avoid justice for workers who are suffering intolerable health problems caused by being made to inhale vast amounts of a thick, black, finely-ground aluminum over many years," said Warren.

USW has been part of the McIntyre Powder Project, which includes Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) and Janice Martell, who has been gathering evidence on the health of exposed miners.

McIntyre Powder was used between 1943 and 1979 in mines and other industries where workers might be exposed to silica dust. The theory, eventually proved false, was that inhaling the powder would protect workers' lungs.

"These workers were human guinea pigs," said Warren. "We have conducted intake clinics, where we interviewed former miners, survivors and caregivers. Everyone came with a story about how breathing in the dust – so thick you couldn't see – in closed rooms affected breathing, overall health and life expectancy.

"And yet the WSIB says it needs another study to decide if it should compensate people. It's a disgraceful tragedy that should have never happened, but must be acknowledged and reconciled with the benefits that are owed to workers and survivors."

Warren accused the WSIB of delaying until there are no claimants left.

"Are the bureaucrats just waiting for all the victims to pass away? This is no way to run a system that is supposed to support workers who are injured or made sick by their work."

The irony, said Warren, is that the WSIB announced it was repealing a policy that has been used to deny claims based on aluminum exposure. However, the repeal is said to be in effect on a "go-forward" basis and will not apply to workers who are currently waiting for a decision or an appeal on the denial of their entitlement.

"For the repeal of a policy to have any meaning at all, it must apply retroactively," said Warren. "It's time we had a system and a government that cares about the health of its most vulnerable citizens."

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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $8,000 to Sierra Leone Mudslide Relief Efforts http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-8000-to-sierra-leone-mudslide-relief-efforts Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-8000-to-sierra-leone-mudslide-relief-efforts TORONTO - The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $8,000 to assist hillside communities in the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone, impacted by severe mudslides.

"Mudslides have taken the lives of hundreds of people. In addition to the loss of life, many already poor families have lost everything. This calamity has received limited press coverage in Canada, but we felt we had to respond," said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and National Director of the United Steelworkers.

The aid will be channeled through Oxfam Canada, which is providing clean water and hygiene kits to survivors.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that promotes respect for human rights and contributes to development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, as well as supporting Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the Fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions.

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Stricter Regional Rules-of-Origin, Stronger Labour and Environmental Rights Go Hand-in-Hand, Say USW’s Gerard, Neumann http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/stricter-regional-rules-of-origin-stronger-labour-and-environmental-rights-go-hand-in-hand-say-usws-gerard-neumann Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/stricter-regional-rules-of-origin-stronger-labour-and-environmental-rights-go-hand-in-hand-say-usws-gerard-neumann TORONTO – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard and Canadian National Director Ken Neumann released the following joint statement today as the United States, Canada and Mexico begin discussions to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):

“A significantly strengthened regional ‘rules of origin’ requirement should promote production in the NAFTA region, rather than outsource or otherwise leak production and the benefits of the agreement to China, Vietnam and other exporting countries that exploit workers and don’t play by the same rules. We urge negotiators to pursue proposals that significantly strengthen regional rules of origin requirements for autos, auto parts and other manufactured products including steel and aluminum while eliminating loopholes that weaken these provisions.

“The USW also believes that regional rules of origin requirements relating to the production of steel should require steel to be melted and poured in the NAFTA region in order to be considered for tariff preferences. A similar standard should be adopted for other materials such as aluminum, in order to ensure the entire process relating to the production of these materials occurs in the NAFTA region.

“Significantly higher regional rules of origin requirements will benefit North American manufacturing workers by discouraging the use of high levels of offshore content, such as auto parts or steel from Asia. But these rules must be implemented in a way that benefits workers in all three NAFTA countries. In Mexico, the United States and Canada, companies exploit weak labour standards to move jobs to jurisdictions where wages are lowest and working conditions are the weakest.

“The best and easiest way to a level playing field for North American workers is not to punish Mexican workers, but to negotiate strong and binding labour and environmental protections with strict timelines which are enforced in all three NAFTA countries.

“The USW has long supported the renegotiation of NAFTA, but negotiators must focus on advancing and protecting the interests of workers in all three NAFTA countries. We will fight to ensure that NAFTA’s rules, including regional rules of origin as well as labour and environmental rights, are strengthened so that workers and their industries across North America are the primary beneficiaries of a renegotiated NAFTA. Our governments must also strengthen NAFTA to protect workers from unfair trade practices outside the region – including currency manipulation – and eliminate disparities within the NAFTA trading bloc that tilt the playing field for corporate interests while exploiting workers and harming the environment in areas with the weakest standards.” 

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, universities and municipal governments and agencies.

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Steelworkers Contribute $100,000 to B.C. Fire Relief http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-contribute-100000-to-b-c-fire-relief Tue, 15 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-contribute-100000-to-b-c-fire-relief TORONTO - The United Steelworkers (USW), joining with the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, are contributing $100,000 to ongoing relief and recovery efforts for the continuing wildfire crisis in the B.C. Interior.

"The wildfires and evacuations have deeply affected individuals and families, and continue to create uncertainty about the future impacts on jobs in affected communities," said Steelworkers Canadian National Director and Steelworkers Humanity Fund President Ken Neumann.

"The Steelworkers and the Humanity Fund pledged support to the B.C. Red Cross and the Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way. We are pleased to be able to provide funds to these two outstanding agencies so they can continue their invaluable support for affected USW members in the B.C. Interior and their communities," said Steve Hunt, District 3 Director, United Steelworkers.

"We want to thank B.C. USW locals for responding to the crisis with on-the-ground support for evacuees and fire responders, and with the support of USW locals and SOAR chapters across Western Canada, setting aside additional emergency funds for members facing evacuation," said Hunt.

"This support is possible thanks to Humanity Fund contributions by thousands of individual USW members across Canada and to special contributions from the National and District offices of the USW," Neumann said.

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, and supports Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, employers make matching contributions.

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After 14 Years of Inaction, Ontario Liberals Must Enact Fundamental Labour Reforms http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/after-14-years-of-inaction-ontario-liberals-must-enact-fundamental-labour-reforms Tue, 15 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/after-14-years-of-inaction-ontario-liberals-must-enact-fundamental-labour-reforms TORONTO – After a generation of inaction, Ontario’s Liberal government must enact fundamental labour law reforms to address rising inequality and precarious work, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

“Over 14 consecutive years in power, the Liberals ignored the need for meaningful, comprehensive improvements to Ontario’s labour laws, even as levels of inequality and precarious work skyrocketed,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“Now, with an election looming next year, the Liberals are finally promising labour law reforms. But these changes don’t go nearly far enough to improve working and living standards for many Ontario workers and families,” Warren said.

Warren has called on the government to accept a series of amendments to the Employment Standards Act and the Labour Relations Act put forward by the USW, other labour groups, workers’ advocates and the opposition New Democratic Party.

“The government even ignored the advice of its own special advisors for reforms that would help many low-paid workers improve their working and living standards through collective bargaining,” Warren noted.

The USW is calling for several amendments to Bill 148 – the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act – including greater fairness in the process allowing employees to form unions and to strengthen collective bargaining rights, he said.

The USW also supports proposed amendments to Bill 148 introduced by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, such as three weeks of paid vacation after the first year of employment, removing minimum wage exemptions for some worker categories, and making it harder for employers to label long-time workers as contractors rather than employees.

“We are calling on all parties to support the amendments put forward by Andrea Horwath to improve Bill 148 and address real problems faced by working people across Ontario,” said Warren.

“Meaningful amendments are needed to Bill 148 to ensure all Ontarians are afforded the rights, decent wages, working conditions and benefits that they deserve.”

For a full list of the labour law reform priorities identified by the USW, click here.

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Liberals Won’t Make Real Commitments on NAFTA: Steelworkers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/liberals-wont-make-real-commitments-on-nafta-steelworkers Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/liberals-wont-make-real-commitments-on-nafta-steelworkers OTTAWA – Only two days from the opening of North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, Canadians are still waiting for meaningful commitments from the federal government on jobs and labour and environmental standards.

“The U.S. and Mexico have for several weeks presented their detailed NAFTA priorities, while the Canadian government’s ‘progressive’ negotiating objectives remain high on rhetoric but short on specifics,” United Steelworkers (USW) National Director Ken Neumann said today.

“Negotiations are set to begin in two days. We are disappointed in the level of transparency and consultations thus far,” Neumann said following a hearing before the House of Commons Committee on International Trade, during which Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland discussed her government’s negotiating plans for the first time.

The Liberal government will pursue "progressive" elements in a renegotiated NAFTA, including stronger labour and environmental provisions as well as chapters on gender and Indigenous rights, Freeland said. 

However, the minister did not provide details on those protections, except to state that negotiators plan to use provisions from Canada's recently negotiated trade agreements with the European Union (CETA) and Chile as guidelines.

Freeland gave no indication that Canada would insist that NAFTA partners accept the United Nations’ International Labour Organization’s convention on union and collective bargaining rights that was recently ratified by the Canadian government.

“This government has so far failed to commit to meaningful, binding commitments on labour and environmental standards in a renegotiated NAFTA,” Neumann noted.

Neumann also decried Freeland’s commitment to maintain powers granted to corporations under NAFTA’s controversial Chapter 11, which covers investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

“The minister talks of a ‘reformed’ ISDS model in a renegotiated NAFTA. But investor-state dispute mechanisms cannot be reformed,” Neumann said.

“These provisions allow foreign corporations to undermine regulations and policies developed in the public interest. There is practically no civil society organization outside of the investor community that supports ISDS. We see no rational justification for it. It must be eliminated, not reformed.

“Canadians expect their government to deny multinational corporations the power to sue our country because they object to laws that protect our health, our environment and our jobs. Canadians expect their government to stand up for workers’ rights and good middle-class jobs, to strengthen environmental standards and to defend our key industries,” he said.

“Two days before NAFTA renegotiations begin, the Liberal government has provided no such commitments to Canadians.”

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