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 Union Takes Aim at Federal Liberals Ahead of Fall Vote https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-takes-aim-at-federal-liberals-ahead-of-fall-vote Thu, 05 Sep 2019 10:14:10 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-takes-aim-at-federal-liberals-ahead-of-fall-vote OTTAWA—One of the country’s largest private-sector unions has come out swinging against the federal Liberals, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of failing to make good on his pledges to improve life for working families.

The United Steelworkers, which represents 225,000 workers in Canada, plans to focus its campaign against the Liberals in key Ontario ridings, using television and radio ads to paint Trudeau as betraying campaign vows from 2015. The federal election is set for Oct. 21.

“Why would we choose Justin Trudeau when he doesn’t choose us. There’s only one party that puts working-class people first — Jagmeet Singh and the NDP,” says the union’s radio ad.

Union executive Mark Rowlinson said the steelworkers union takes issue with the government’s record on several fronts, notably on its trade deals, saying the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was a “mistake,” the European Union pact “leaves a lot to be desired” and that the prime minister has “bungled” Canada’s trade relationship with the United States.

The union is also unhappy with the lack of progress on measures to ensure workers’ pensions are protected in the event of a corporate bankruptcy, said Rowlinson, the administrative assistant to the union’s national director.

Read the full article in The Toronto Star: Steelworkers union takes aim at federal Liberals ahead of fall vote

Building trade union solidarity in Madagascar https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/building-trade-union-solidarity-in-madagascar Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:09:20 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/building-trade-union-solidarity-in-madagascar Participants to the exchange organized by the Steelworkers Humanity Fund in Fort-Dauphin, Madagascar. (Photo: Guillaume Charbonneau)Eugene and Anthony are two union activists in Fort-Dauphin, a small town located at the southern tip of Madagascar. Both have been elected to the head of their respective unions, SVS and SEKRIMA. In this island country south-east of Africa, labour laws allow for the presence of two different unions in the same workplace. At the QMM mine, a subsidiary of the multinational Rio Tinto, SVS and SEKRIMA both represent workers. In Fort Dauphin, Anthony and Eugene encourage their members to work together rather than compete in order to face the many challenges they face as unionists. Indeed, SEKRIMA mainly represents the direct employees of the company, while SVS focuses on the employees hired by the many subcontractors.

QMM is the main employer in Fort Dauphin, and its impact is felt strongly on the city’s, and to some extent the country’s economy. Faced with such a giant, unions cannot take anything for granted, hence the importance of solidarity among them. In order to help build a more equitable balance of power, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) recently implemented a pilot project that contributed, among other things, to the opening of a single office for both unions – a first in the region. This will allow Anthony and Eugene, as well as many other local union representatives, to access important resources to do their jobs better.

Anthony and Eugene (Photo: Doug Olthuis)In this context, a first delegation of the SHF took place earlier this month with the aim of consolidating the relationship with its local partners, learning more about the impact of the mine, as well as organizing an exchange of experiences with close to thirty activists affiliated to SVS and SEKRIMA. During this two-day workshop led by District 5 staff Denis Trottier and Guy Gaudette, participants recognized the critical importance of communication, consensus, and member engagement to better represent workers and their needs in front of their employer. As for the members of the Canadian delegation, they found that they had much in common with Malagasy workers, and learned from the resilience of their brothers and sisters in a context that makes union organizing difficult.

All in all, the delegation observed that trade union solidarity definitely has a future in Madagascar, and the Steelworkers Humanity Fund will respond vonona! (present! In the Malagasy language) to continue supporting the building of this movement.

Changing the World One Heart at a Time: STAND! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changing-the-world-one-heart-at-a-time-stand Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:58:21 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changing-the-world-one-heart-at-a-time-stand This year is the 100th anniversary of the largest and most influential strike in Canadian history. The Winnipeg General Strike started on May 15 and lasted six weeks, with approximately 30,000 workers walking off the job, bringing economic activity to a standstill in what was then Canada’s third largest city.

Winnipeg 1919 is the setting for a movie about the lives of people caught up in the struggles of massive unemployment, poor working conditions, poverty wages, immigration and discrimination. This full-length motion picture is both a love story and a musical.

The United Steelworkers Union is proud to be one of the sponsors of this unique project.

STAND! premieres during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 9 at the historic Royal Cinema.

Treat yourself to an inspiring and moving story, a great musical score and a post-screening conversation with the stars, writer and director.

Tickets are $12 at the door. September 9, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. Royal Cinema, 608 College St. in Toronto. For more information or to watch the trailer, visit: http://stand-movie.com/

Changes Announced to SOAR Executive Board https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changes-announced-to-soar-executive-board Tue, 27 Aug 2019 14:44:35 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changes-announced-to-soar-executive-board Harry-HyndHarry Hynd Appointed SOAR Vice President, Emeritus

In April, Int’l President Leo W. Gerard honoured SOAR Vice President Harry Hynd for his considerable contribution to the growth of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, and to the many years of service to our union, by appointing him to the position of SOAR Vice President, Emeritus.

Harry’s union career began in 1951, in the Scottish coal mines with his early membership in the National Union of Mineworkers where he was a steward.  He immigrated to Canada in 1957.  In 1958 he was hired on at Stelco in Hamilton where he became an active member of Local 1005 as plant grievance chairperson.

Harry has a wide range of experience in the labor movement.  He joined the Steelworker staff in 1971 where he served members in Hamilton, Vancouver, the Niagara Peninsula and Toronto.  

Throughout his career in the labor movement, education was always a priority for Harry. He was an instructor in the Steelworkers’ education program for many years, served on the Mohawk College Board of Governors, and was a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour's (OFL) Education Committee. He was the Education Coordinator for the Steelworkers’ District 6 for six years prior to his appointment to Director. As a retiree, Harry was often called on to teach, passing his skills on to another generation of Steelworkers. 

Harry served as the Assistant to then-District 6 Director, Leo Gerard, and became the District 6 Director in 1991 when Leo became Canadian National Director. 

Harry’s reputation was always as a skilled negotiator and troubleshooter, skills that added to his leadership throughout his years as director. Following his 1991 appointment, he was elected to a full term in 1993 and again in 1997. He retired at the end of that term in March 2002.

In 2005, USW International President Leo W. Gerard appointed him SOAR Vice President, to fill the vacancy created when Ken O’Neal stepped down due to health concerns. Harry was then elected SOAR Vice President at the following International SOAR Conference and subsequent elections thereafter.

Harry and his wife, Margaret, are both active in the New Democratic Party. They reside in Hamilton, Ontario and have two daughters and three granddaughters.

Doug-MPDoug MacPherson Appointed SOAR Vice President

In June, Doug MacPherson was appointed by International President Leo W. Gerard to fill the vacancy of SOAR Vice President created by the appointment of Harry Hynd to SOAR Vice President, Emeritus.

Doug was born in Perth, Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1965. Doug began his union career in Scotland as a member of the Plumbers Union, and attended his first union education, when he was 18 years old, at a Trades Union Congress (TUC) school, held at the ancestral home of Sydney and Beatrice Webb, founding members of the Fabian society, fore runner of the British Labour Party. 

Doug joined the Steelworkers in 1968 when he hired on at Stelco, Parkdale Works, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, USW Local 5328, where he quickly became active in the union’s affairs. Elected as steward, mechanical department chief steward, trustee, negotiation committee member, and ultimately president of the local.  Doug was the first president to be elected from the mechanical department in the local’s history. He also served as secretary of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council for a number of years.

Graduating from the Labour Studies Program of Hamilton’s McMaster University in 1982, Doug was appointed to the USW staff in 1985 and assigned to the Peel-Halton office of the union. In 1989 he was appointed by then-District Director Leo Gerard, as Area Coordinator for the same area. In 1991 Doug was transferred to the District 6 office to be the assistant to District Director Harry Hynd where he served until December 2000.

In January 2001 Doug moved to the Canadian National office as assistant to then-National Director Lawrence McBrearty, and in September of that year was seconded by the Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress, (CSTEC) to be Executive Director. CSTEC is a joint labour management sector council, monitoring steel trade and providing education, training to the Canadian steel industry.

Returning to the National office, and upon the retirement of Rod Bezo, Canadian SOAR Coordinator, Doug was appointed to fill that position to work on increasing the membership of SOAR. Doug was elected to fill the position of District 6 SOAR Board member on the resignation of Dan McNeil, emeritus member, and had been re-elected at subsequent SOAR conventions.

Doug and his wife, Una, reside in Burlington, Ontario and have two surviving children and five grandchildren.

Doug will continue to serve the Canadian National office in his role as the Canadian National SOAR Coordinator. 

Lena-SLena Sutton Appointed to SOAR Executive Board

In June, International President Leo W. Gerard appointed Lena Sutton District 6 SOAR Executive Board Member to fulfill the remaining term of office vacated by Doug MacPherson.

Lena began her union career in 1974 when she hired into the office of a phosphorus plant, ERCO Industries, in her hometown of Long Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador; and became an active member of USW Local 7711, which represented the office and technical workers. 

Lena became a shop steward for the office workers, and it is also where she first witnessed the injustice of worker rights in the workplace. Lena was elected recording secretary and also served as chair of the health and safety committee while continuing her role as steward. In 1988, she was elected to the local’s bargaining committee in contract negotiations. 

Lena’s workplace closed in 1989, a casualty of the NAFTA Free Trade agreement, and she found employment with Newfoundland Telephone.  After her probationary period, Lena got involved with Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada – CEP Local 410, serving on the balloting committee and a delegate to the local Labor Council of which she became Recording Secretary. 

Lena then moved to Ontario in 1993 and became actively involved with the unions in her various workplaces, such as RWSteel.  Through her union involvement, she spent a lot of time working in the New Democratic Party election campaigns, including the Obama election in 2008.

Lena then became a member of SOAR Chapter 10 in 2003, serving as Recording Secretary, Vice President and currently as President, since 2006.   

She is a member of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, a member of Women of Steel, special events committee and a USW delegate to the Hamilton Labour Council. Lena is also a member of the District 6 PAC.

Lena received the Lynn Williams Award in 2016 and the USW Jefferson Award in 2017. In 2018, she was elected to the National Executive of the Canadian Congress of Union Retirees.

Lena and her husband Bob reside in Hamilton, Ontario, with their dog Kasey. They enjoy spending time with Bob’s three adult children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  

On behalf of SOAR, we congratulate each of them on their newly appointed positions; and, we welcome Lena to the SOAR Executive Board and look forward to working with them as we continue our mission to protect and enhance the quality of life for retirees and working families.

Think Carefully About Your Vote! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/think-carefully-about-your-vote Tue, 27 Aug 2019 09:00:01 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/think-carefully-about-your-vote As we move closer to the federal election in October, it is increasingly important that we, as union retirees think critically about how we use our vote.

Over the course of the last year or so we have seen a trend in provincial elections away from centre left governments toward decidedly right wing governments, Quebec, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. By far the majority of Canadians today are governed provincially by conservative leaning governments. In some instances these changes in governments were motivated by an attitude that change was necessary because the sitting government had been in power too long or their policies were unpopular. However, change for changes sake alone, is not always good, and certainly not a good way to use your vote!

That’s particularly true in Ontario where the liberals, after 12 years in government had become complacent, only to be replaced by the Ford Tories. The Ford government, only in power for a little over a year has caused great upheaval and uncertainty in almost every aspect of our daily lives. From health care to children’s services, funding for the arts, tree planting, transportation, municipal transfer funds, stem cell research, the size of local governments, the proposed amalgamations of cities, and boards of health, ambulance services, class size and sexual education curriculum and more. The list is endless and growing bigger each day.

All in the name of supposed fiscal efficiencies, Ford daily tells us he inherited a financial mess from the liberals and the province is a failed bankrupt state. But even his friends in the conservative business press are calling him out, the Globe and Mail on May 22 had an editorial titled “The Doug Ford government is peddling a fiscal fantasy”, calling him out on the unnecessary austerity. Each and every cut has a negative effect on services that people need and require.

None of the changes work to the advantage of working people, it does mean longer wait times for services, in some cases increased costs to you and I through downloading of costs from the provincial government to municipal government. Remember Ford’s first act as premier was to freeze and delay increases to the minimum wage, which were already adopted.

Premier Kenny in Alberta mimics Ford with reductions to student wage rates and proposed changes to labour law to make organizing unions more difficult. These changes in legislation are in fact attacks on you and I as retired union members. I’m simply making the case that the Tories are all cut from the same cloth whether they are provincial or federal.  Andrew Scheer, the conservative leader is simply a Harperite with a smile. Do not be fooled as the voters in Ontario were.

We cannot allow complacency or a desire for change to simply determine our vote. We need to think critically about the issues which are important to us as working folks, what policies are going to make our daily lives better, and our country better, for us, our families and grandkids. For me the choice is easy I believe the New Democrats have the best policies to make my daily life better, to make Canada a fairer and more equitable society and that’s what I will be voting for. Only you will really know how you voted.

Use your vote wisely; it’s the only one you get!

Help for Local Families Thanks to USW Sault Ste. Marie Charity Golf https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/help-for-local-families-thanks-to-usw-sault-ste-marie-charity-golf Tue, 20 Aug 2019 14:36:13 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/help-for-local-families-thanks-to-usw-sault-ste-marie-charity-golf The Twinkie Foundation was the big winner at the second Annual Steelworkers Charity Golf Open on August 18. Hosted by the United Steelworkers local unions of Sault Ste. Marie and area, this year’s tournament raised $10,000 for the local charity.   

The Twinkie Foundation is a registered charity that helps local families of sick children by providing financial assistance for food, accommodations, travel and other incidentals that are incurred on medical trips so that families can focus on their children and not stress over financial obligations.  

In addition to the $10,000 raised at the tournament, USW Local 2724 and USW Local 2251 made additional donations totaling $7,000; bringing this year’s total to $17,000. 

The United Steelworkers local unions and the Twinkie Foundation would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the sponsors, and all the golfers and volunteers that helped us have such a successful event. This year’s sponsors were Algoma Steel, All Star Auto Glass, Grand Gardens, Greenwoods’ Locksmith, Highland Ford, Holiday Inn Express, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, Krown Rust Control, Metro (2nd Line), the USW Northeastern Ontario Area Council (NEOAC), Novex Group Insurance, Paliare Roland, Rivet Insurance, Sault Airport Development Corporation, Soo Foundry, Station Mall, Superior Chrysler, Universal Promotions, USW District 6 Director Marty Warren, USW Locals 2251, 2724, 7129, 8748 & 9548 and USW National Director Ken Neumann.


Steelworkers Charity Golf Open cheque presentation 

(left to right) Dan Cooper (USW Local 2251 Union Coordinator, Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director), Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member) and Marc Ayotte (USW District 6 Area Coordinator, Northwestern Region)



USW Local 2724 cheque presentation: $2,000 

(left to right) Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member), Lisa Dale (USW Local 2724 President) and Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director)


USW Local 2251 cheque presentation: $5,000 

USW Local 2251’s golf team presented the cheque to the Twinkie Foundation. 

(left to right) Chris Izydorczyk, Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director), Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member), Kevin Kainula, Brent Woods and Don Court.

Twitter blitz for locked-out Local 2020 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/twitter-blitz-for-locked-out-local-2020 Mon, 19 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/twitter-blitz-for-locked-out-local-2020  

Please join USW Local 2020 Unit 79 in a Twitter blitz on August 20 in order to encourage the Ontario Health Minister to pressure CarePartners to end their lockout and get back to the bargaining table! You can participate from anywhere as long as you have internet access.

The approximately 30 USW members of Local 2020 have been locked out by the for-profit service provider CarePartners since May 31 in Sudbury, Ontario.

See the belows sample tweets and hashtags for the Twitter blitz:

@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to end the lockout and get back to the table. Our members at Local 2020 deserve a fair deal now! #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to put people over profits – it’s time to reach a fair deal for workers now! #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork 
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to end workplace violence. No-one should be abused on the job. #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork 
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to start caring and end the lockout now. #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork

Hashtags to use: 



Health Care Workers Council Spotlight: Ray White, District 3 Coordinator https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/ray-white-d3-hcwc Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:54:54 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/ray-white-d3-hcwc Ray White, president of Local 1-207 in Alberta, Canada, took his first union course in 1992. He knew right away he wanted to play a role in the fight for workers’ rights and has been an activist ever since.

“I enjoyed helping people and educating myself so I could be a more effective advocate,” said White. 


In the early 1990s, he was inspired to fully commit to the labor movement when he noticed his co-workers being treated with disrespect by his employer, Russel Metals. He now uses the knowledge and strength he’s gained throughout the years to continue standing up for fellow workers as president of a healthcare-heavy local union that includes more than 3,000 members and 38 collective bargaining agreements.

For White, who serves on the USW Health Care Workers Council as District 3 coordinator, the experience fighting on their behalf is rewarding because of the workers themselves, many of whom work for long-term care facilities that are ripe with problems like workplace violence and short staffing.

“The people that work in the healthcare industry are there because they care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said. “The emotion that these people deal with on a day-to-day basis is unbelievable.”

The one issue that White believes to be the most dire for healthcare workers is violence. To combat the epidemic, he and his fellow union members lobby the Canadian government and take to the streets to fight for health and safety laws such as the right to refuse unsafe work. He believes employers need to be held accountable and should provide all workers with the tools and support necessary to deal with incidents of violence.

“More staff and training would be a good start,” said White, “but they should also create the right setting to care for violence patients when they have those behaviors.” 

One moment in White’s career that made him particularly proud of the union was when his local distributed “Working Short Forms” to their healthcare members to fill out every time they worked short-staffed. It wasn’t long before they had collected more than 600 forms, which they presented at a news conference in the Alberta Legislature in 2009.

“We spread them out on the floor and reporters from every news station in the Province took pictures of them,” he said. “Our members could see how working together brought their issue to the public like never before.”

When not fighting on behalf of healthcare workers, White enjoys taking it easy out in the wild with a camping trip or kicking into high gear on an ATV ride.

News@6 Summer 2019 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/news-6-summer-2019 Wed, 03 Jul 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/news-6-summer-2019 In this issue: 

  • Standing Up for Health and Safety - Marty's MessageNews@6-Summer2019
  • Community Rallies to Support Brunswick Smelter Workers
  • A Widow's Victory - Intake Clinic Helps Win Compensation Benefits
  • Vote for Those on Our Side - Apply to a Steelworkers Vote School Near You!
  • Lobbying for Pension Protection
  • Univerity Staff Approve New Innovative, Secure Pension Plan
  • Rubber Workers Seek Justice
  • Ford Fightback - Official Opposition NDP Calls Out Doug Ford's Lies and Attacks
  • Bagaining Successes
  • USW Family and Community Education Fund - Develop a Project, Join the Fund!
  • USW Mentorship Program - Building Our Union Through Mentorship 
  • News from the Locals - Read about What is Happening around District 6
  • Scully Mine Reopens

Download the PDF of News@6

USW Local 7619 Celebrates 50th Anniversary https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-local-7619-celebrates-50th-anniversary Tue, 02 Jul 2019 07:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-local-7619-celebrates-50th-anniversary 7619-50USW Local 7619 celebrated their 50th Anniversary over three eventful days – a Weekend of Steel in Logan Lake, British Columbia.

The three-day celebration was a great showing of solidarity for all members and retirees. The weekend kicked off with the annual Retirees’ BBQ and live music. USW leaders, International Vice-President Carol Landry (former USW Local 7619 member and president) and USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt (former servicing staff representative for USW Local 7619), joined in on the celebrations. Both Vice-President Landry and Director Hunt have been instrumental over the years in helping build up the local union’s collective agreement.

The rest of the weekend consisted of camping fun, a pig roast feast, golf and horseshoe tournaments. Steelworker kids weren’t left out either – there were fishing lessons, bouncy castles, face painting, drumming lessons, gold panning and paint-ball. There was also live entertainment from local bands, outdoor movies at the campground and a special performance by the Sage Hills Drumming and Performance Group.

Overall, the Weekend of Steel was very successful. Steelworkers and their families not only celebrated the local union’s proud history of strong collective agreements, but also the ways they have made a mark in their communities over the years.

Congratulations to USW Local 7619 – we look forward to seeing you celebrate many more years of solidarity, friendship and unity!


Click here to view the photo album from USW Local 7619's Weekend of Steel celebrating their 50th Anniversary:



Every Vote Counts! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/every-vote-counts Tue, 02 Jul 2019 07:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/every-vote-counts “Every vote counts.” Very cliché, right? Not for the case of Jordan Brown, the newly-minted Member of House Assembly (MHA) for Labrador West (Newfoundland and Labrador).

Jordan Brown is the son of Labrador Steelworkers – his father, Tony Brown, is a member of USW Local 6480 and his step-mother, Marcie Brown, is the president of USW Local 6185.

In April, Jordan announced his intention to run as the candidate for the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party (NL NDP) in the constituency of Labrador West. Tony, Marcie, family and friends quickly got to work to help Jordan get elected.

The campaign period requires long days and a lot of hard work – knocking on doors, phone calls, putting up signs, leafletting and more. But at the end of the day, there was never a question in either Tony or Marcie’s minds of how strong their commitments are to Jordan and the NDP, and it paid off!

On election night, May 16, 2019, Jordan was declared the winner in Labrador West with a five-vote lead over the then-current Liberal MHA and Minister of Municipal Affairs Graham Letto. The five-vote difference automatically prompted a re-count, administered by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. 

After the completion of the recount on June 21, 2019, Jordan was declared the winner in Labrador West, winning by two votes. Yes, you read that correctly: two votes.

Even though the NL NDP did not win the majority of seats required to form the government, Jordan’s win means that the Liberal government is reduced to a minority. Any laws that they want to pass will require the support of an opposition party, which gives NL NDP MHAs the balance of power.

We asked Tony and Marcie what is the most important message they want to share from this experience. This is what they had to say: “It is extremely important to exercise your right to vote. It matters! A single vote can make a big difference.

“Every vote counts.” Not so cliché anymore, right?

Read: CBC article on Jordan's win

USW settlement at long-term care facility improves conditions, wages, and benefits https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-settlement-improves-conditions-wages-benefits Thu, 27 Jun 2019 07:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-settlement-improves-conditions-wages-benefits Workers at the Caressant Care Nursing and Retirement Homes in Cobden, Ontario, settled two collective agreements for USW Local 6936 that recognize the growing issues of staffing and increased levels of care. 

“Our members are experiencing more and more stress as they deal with changing workloads, increased patient acuity and government austerity,” said USW District 6 Director Marty Warren. “This is all at a time when long-term care is becoming more important to an aging and ailing population.”

The three-year agreements will see wage increases by a total of 4.5 percent in the nursing home and by 6 percent in the retirement home. The contracts cover service workers, personal support workers (PSWs), registered practical nurses (RPNs), and registered nurses (RNs).

In both contracts, there are increases in uniform allowances, vision care, weekend premiums and benefits covering such services as chiropractors, psychologists and others. Employees will also be able to be paid for 50 percent of unused sick leave.

For the first time, there is also a provision for time off for employees to deal with domestic violence.

“This settlement is a step forward for these 138 members of our union,” said Warren. “At the same time, however, due to government austerity and the consequent restraint practiced by boards of arbitration, wage increases tend to be below the rate of inflation. “That needs to change as long-term care generally faces a shortage of skilled workers. The future demands secure public services for older Canadians and better working conditions for care providers.”

Local 2020 members locked out, rally in Sudbury, Ontario https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/local-2020-members-locked-out-rally-in-sudbury-ontario Tue, 11 Jun 2019 12:21:07 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/local-2020-members-locked-out-rally-in-sudbury-ontario Nearly two dozen workers, all members of USW Local 2020, took to the streets on June 3 to picket their employer, CarePartners, after being locked out on May 31. The union rejected the company’s latest contract that included debilitating compensation cuts and increased weekend work, and took away the workers’ pensions. 

“The union was prepared to continue bargaining to reach a negotiated settlement, but the company opted to lock out its employees, going so far as changing the locks on the office doors,” said USW District 6 Director Marty Warren. “Instead of bullying its employees, CarePartners should get back to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair deal." 

All but one of the employees are women and their top wage, regardless of seniority, is $16.15 an hour. 

One of the issues the union is trying to address at the bargaining table is language regarding the company’s harassment policies. 

The two parties will meet again at the bargaining table on June 11. 

Community and union members who would like to show solidarity with the locked-out local can contact the CEO of the North East Local Health Integration Network (LIHN), Jeremy Stevenson, with messages of support for the workers. LHIN is the government provider that funds CarePartners. Stevenson can be reached at jeremy.stevenson@lhins.ca or at 1 800-461-2919, extension 2390. 

Community Rally to Support USW Local 7085 in Belldune, N.B. https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/community-rally-support-uswlocal7085-belldune Thu, 30 May 2019 11:11:19 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/community-rally-support-uswlocal7085-belldune COMMUNITY RALLY TO SUPPORT WORKERS OF THE SMELTER IN BELLEDUNE, N.B.

Everyone is invited to join the members of USW Local 7085:

  • Tuesday June 4th, starting at 2:00 pm
  • Belledune Ball Field and Recreation Centre, 2404 Main Street
    *In case of rain, we will be using the arena.

 There will be live entertainment and a BBQ.


3:00 pm // Busses will transport people to the Picket Line at the Smelter.

4:30 pm // Busses will bring people back to the Ball Field

5:00 pm // BBQ, Music and Games for the Kids

6:00 pm // Speeches by Union and municipal representatives

7:00 pm // Music

8:00 pm // Closing remarks

USW District 6 Health Care Activists Mobilize in Canada and Prepare for More Action https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/district-6-health-care-activists-mobilize-in-canada-and-prepare-for-more-action Tue, 21 May 2019 10:54:39 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/district-6-health-care-activists-mobilize-in-canada-and-prepare-for-more-action D6HCWC

Approximately 30 USW health care members met to talk about the importance of bargaining and learn how the union approaches negotiating strategies to win the best possible contracts for its members. With health care workers having no right to strike in Canada, activists must use union organizing and other grassroots efforts to obtain the language and standards they need and deserve in an industry plagued with short staffing and workplace violence.   

“Right now, there’s not enough funding or resources to suffice the growing needs in the long-term care industry,” said District 6 Area Coordinator Richard Leblanc. “And the legislated process to resolve impasse during bargaining is broken, so we need to go back to the good old days of activating our membership.”

One major outcome of the council’s meeting was the creation of a subcommittee, which will focus on those mobilization efforts and begin forming an action plan to tackle the many issues health care workers need addressed, including burnout, standards of care, and the right to refuse unsafe work.

The activists in Ottawa last Thursday also rallied at an intersection near the office of Lisa MacLeod, a politician serving in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, to call for real fixes to these challenges. They handed out leaflets to drivers waiting at red lights as well as directly to MacLeod’s office.

“The private sector is not the answer,” said Audra Nixon, president of the District 6 Health Care Council. “Good public policy is, and that’s why we need to make our voices heard.”

For more photos from the event, click here.


CLC/UWCC Post-Secondary Scholarship https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/clcuwcc-post-secondary-scholarship Wed, 15 May 2019 14:26:31 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/clcuwcc-post-secondary-scholarship The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) Young Workers Program and United Way Centraide Canada (UWCC) are pleased to present the annual CLC/UWCC Post-Secondary Scholarship.

The CLC and the UWCC are long-time partners in taking action to create prosperous, inclusive, diverse and respectful communities, safer workplaces, and a fairer Canada for working people. We recognize that post-secondary education provides important opportunities for young people but is out of reach for many working-class people due to ever-increasing tuition fees.

Young workers today are facing many social and workplace issues. However, many have taken these challenges as an opportunity to create positive change, and impact their communities for the better. This scholarship is offered in recognition of the efforts and commitment of young workers across Canada who have demonstrated commitment to positively impacting social and workplace issues in their community.

We are pleased to offer a scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to support a young activist who is starting their first year of full-time post-secondary study in September 2019.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Current union member, or the child/dependent of a union member, that is affiliated to the CLC;
  • Age 30 or under as of September 1st, 2019;
  • Enrolled for September 2019 to enter their first year of full-time study at a Canadian public post-secondary institution: university program (leading to a degree) or college program (leading to a diploma or certificate);
  • Does not have any prior post-secondary studies; and
  • Currently enrolled or not more than two years out of secondary school.
The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, June 7, 2019. This year’s winner will be announced at the end of June 2019.
For more information and to apply, please visit: https://canadianlabour.ca/scholarship
Join the International Campaign for a New Social Contract for Working People https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/join-international-campaign-for-social-contract Mon, 13 May 2019 12:20:04 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/join-international-campaign-for-social-contract Cartoon image of people holding signs and a banner

Sign ITUC’s petition calling for a fair deal for all working people

We know the economy is rigged against workers: people are disenchanted with a model of globalization that has put profit ahead of people.

On the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling for a fair deal for all working people.

ITUC is calling on the ILO to include a New Social Contract in its centenary declaration. That means:

  • Rights for all workers, whatever employment arrangements they have.
  • Fairer wages, including minimum wages on which people can live in decency.
  • More control for people over their working time and more oversight over their bosses to make sure they can’t discriminate or evade responsibilities.
  • Building justice into the climate and technology transitions.

It’s time to make the economy work for everybody.

Sign ITUC’s petition for a New Social Contract to ensure a fairer deal that puts people, not corporate greed, back in the driver’s seat.

USW is affiliated to the ITUC as members of IndustriALL and Workers Uniting.

Remembering Westray https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/27-years-after-westray Wed, 08 May 2019 15:23:04 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/27-years-after-westray Westray25

In the early morning of May 9, 1992, an explosion ripped through the Westray coal mine in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, killing all twenty-six miners working the night shift. This explosion not only took the lives of those twenty-six men but it changed the lives, forever, of so many more. Families, friends, co-workers and the communities around the mine collectively suffered the loss. Wives lost husbands, children lost fathers, and others lost brothers. 

What will always stay with me is the story of a young woman who lost her father that day. Many years later, now a mother herself, she told me of how she was waiting that morning for her father to come home with a cake. May 9th is her birthday. Every year, as she celebrates another year in her life, she remembers the terrible day when her father was taken away from her. It is for her and all the other victims of Westray that we continue our fight for justice. 

The Westray Mine disaster was a totally preventable tragedy. The inquiry that followed pointed to greed, incompetence and total disregard for the health and safety of the workers. The presiding judge, Justice Richard, pointed out that criminal law did not provide an avenue to properly punish those responsible, and that the law should change. After a decade of lobbying by the USW, the law did in fact change to allow for the criminal prosecution of employers who blatantly disregard the well-being of workers. The union continues to press for the prosecution and conviction of such employers. 

It has now been twenty-seven years since that tragic day in Pictou Country, Nova Scotia. Since that time, around one thousand workers a year have lost their lives because of their work. Thousands more have suffered life-altering injuries, and the toll of occupational disease is often under reported. 

On the National Day of Mourning, we say “Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living”. In reality, this is what we do every day. We will never stop our fight for justice, and we will never let the death of those twenty-six miners be in vain. 

USW National Director Ken Neumann's Statement (PDF)

The struggle for an ombudsperson “with teeth” continues in streets of Toronto https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/the-struggle-for-an-ombudsperson-with-teeth-continues-in-streets-of-toronto Wed, 08 May 2019 11:36:37 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/the-struggle-for-an-ombudsperson-with-teeth-continues-in-streets-of-toronto The drizzle and cold weather did not discourage human rights activists from attending an urgent event in Christie Pits Park in Toronto, on May 4. Along with other prominent Canadian human rights organizations, the United Steelworkers union was present to call on the federal government to appoint an ombudsperson with real power to investigate corporate abuses abroad.

Government officials claim that this was achieved last month – more than 15 months after an initial announcement. The proposed powers of the new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) have been stripped; it currently does not have any real independence or power to compel evidence from Canadian companies operating abroad who have been accused of human rights abuses.

In the announcement, Minister of International Trade Jim Carr said that a study is underway to assess the extent of those powers, but nothing indicates that the upcoming results will be sufficient. Trade unionists know for a fact that companies will not respect labour rights unless there is a strong framework in place to regulate their actions. Relying on the good will of corporations does not work. And stripping the office of all powers sends a clear message to people who have had their labour rights violated by Canadian mining companies: Don’t expect your concerns to be taken seriously.

As the colourful contingent of protesters marched through made it loud and clear, we will continue to push the federal government to be on the side of communities and not cave under the pressure of corporate lobbyists.

Labour a Key Partner in a Canadian Green New Deal https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/labour-a-key-partner-in-canadian-green-new-deal Mon, 06 May 2019 15:19:19 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/labour-a-key-partner-in-canadian-green-new-deal

In a month where unprecedented floods have ravaged many Canadian communities, the immediate perils of climate change have never been more evident. At the same time, the news is full of reports underlining the economic anxiety felt by many Canadians. One recent poll showed that nearly half of us fear that we’re only $200 away from personal bankruptcy.

South of the border, some U.S. progressives have started floating the idea of a “Green New Deal” — a modern version of President Roosevelt’s historic effort to restore prosperity to America coming out of the Great Depression. Though the idea is still nascent, the core of the Green New Deal concept is to arrest the creeping catastrophe of climate change by decarbonizing the American economy through massive investments in green jobs and infrastructure.

For now, the Green New Deal discussion is in its early stages: an ambition designed to reconcile the often false dichotomy created between economic and environmental priorities. Much work remains to be done, both when it comes to policy specifics and building broad coalitions of political support. The same applies here in Canada.

While Canadians should seek to harness the momentum created by our progressively minded American counterparts, we must generate our own, “Made in Canada” approach. Canada, after all, never had a New Deal. More importantly, our economy and history are distinct and the challenges we face — both in fighting climate change and winning a just transition for workers — are unique.

Designing our own solutions also gives us the opportunity to learn from any missteps south of the border. The lukewarm response from much of the American labour movement to the Green New Deal resolution currently before the U.S. House of Representatives illustrates why co-operation between unions and environmental activists is essential in the work ahead. Labour will be absolutely critical to the success of any effort in Canada.

Our urgently needed transition to a low carbon future won’t be achieved without the support of Canadian workers. That support can and should be won through a plan that guarantees them a just, fair and prosperous future. We can build a formidable coalition to fight climate change by bringing together unlikely allies to reconcile environmental necessities with economic priorities. A partnership between unions and environmentalists may also allow us to break the gridlock of Canada’s current climate discussion, which has been focused almost exclusively in two areas: pipelines and carbon taxes.

Though a juicy target from the point of view of many in the environmental movement, the overriding emphasis on pipelines often serves to alienate workers who see job losses on the horizon. We must remember that jobs connected to energy intensive industries and fossil fuel extraction are good jobs that provide a decent standard of living to Canadian workers. Moreover, in an age of where affordability concerns are rampant, we shouldn’t be surprised to find that carbon taxes have become a popular target for those resisting climate action.

Clearly, an alternative route is needed. And, however we ultimately decide to label it, a Canadian Green New Deal could offer us an exit from this cul-de-sac by putting the concerns of labour and environmental groups to work in a mutually reinforcing way.

The transformative task of greening our economy for a new generation will ultimately depend on the skills and expertise of workers throughout Canada. From pipefitters and electrical engineers; from steelworkers to construction professionals, care workers, teachers, machinists and others, a just transition will require a monumental effort across the country. Millions of good jobs can be created in the process.

Well over a decade ago, we were involved in the creation of Blue Green Canada — an initiative that emerged to address historic mistrust between trade unions and environmentalists. In the years since, friends and allies on both sides of the equation have worked hard to strengthen relations. Once a novel idea, co-operation between union and environmental activists has increasingly entered the mainstream. In the emerging and urgently needed climate discussion, those bonds can become frayed once again or they can be strengthened for a new century.

To win climate progress in Canada and safeguard the future of our planet, let’s make sure it’s the latter.

Rick Smith is executive director of the Broadbent Institute. Ken Neumann is the United Steelworkers national director for Canada.

This article was originally published in The Toronto Star on May 1, 2019.