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 Personal support worker shortage still plaguing Ontario nursing homes https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/psw-shortage-still-plaguing-on-nursing-homes Tue, 21 Jan 2020 11:14:36 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/psw-shortage-still-plaguing-on-nursing-homes A new report released in December showed that Ontario’s personal support workers are suffering from a chronically underfunded long-term care system. The report was based on roundtable discussions held in 2019, which included long-term care home directors, owners, administrators, PSWs, union reps, and other advocates.

Short staffing in the industry has long been a problem in Canada, and elsewhere, which undermines patient care and safety. A survey of 1,200 PSWs released in March 2019 showed alarming levels of violence in long-term care due to persistent understaffing.

Steelworkers in Ontario have been working with different agencies on these issues for quite some time, including Richard Leblanc, who sits on the USW Health Care Workers Council representing District 6. Last fall, Leblanc was able to organize a meeting of local labor unions, health care providers, workers, and members of the Ministry by partnering with Employment Services Centre (ESCPR), a local employment agency in Ontario that works with the government. There they were able to discuss concerns and set goals for improving the industry.

“One of our goals is to make the trade more accessible financially and to promote it better,” Leblanc said. “This will be good for everyone because we need bodies, we need workers.”

The report highlights that PSWs are leaving the industry due to demanding working conditions, poor compensation, high rates of injury and abuse, and lack of full-time work. These problems are not new and not confined to Canada. In the United States, violence in the health care industry has increased 30 percent since 2012.

To watch a video of a long-term home resident speaking on how the worker shortage affects patients and why things must change, click here.

Health Care Workers Council talks organizing, technology at annual meeting https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/hcwc-talks-organizing-technology Mon, 13 Jan 2020 13:23:46 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2020/hcwc-talks-organizing-technology The union’s Health Care Workers Council strategized for the future of the union and the evolving industry in Pittsburgh last December, leaving the city with several action plans moving forward.

Over the group’s two-day session, the activists reported on their districts’ work, including pushing legislators to pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. The bill passed the House late last year, thanks in large part to the council’s work with the Rapid Response program collecting more than 80,000 postcards in support of the legislation, which now faces an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate.


The diverse council of heath care members also talked about the coming of automation and the impact it is already having on the industry. District 12 Health Care Council Coordinator Alma Garzon spoke on her experience attending Unite the Union’s health care conference last fall that focused on automation and technology.

“Technology absolutely is a great tool to use,” said Garzon, “but it should not replace bodies and real workers.”

Another challenge facing the health care industry the members touched on was short-staffing. But activists like Kim Smith, a health care staff representative in District 9, believe there is more opportunity than opposition when it comes to fixing this and many other problems.

“The health care sector right now is primed for organizing,” said Smith.

USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who oversees the council, addressed the group and also agreed that there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future. He said the work of the council is indicative of the recent changes in the union toward expanding its organizing efforts and diversifying an already diverse membership.

“This is a growth sector,” said Redmond. “And how we grow this council and get engaged is going to be crucial in strengthening our ability to represent health care workers. Our union is on the move.”

Wishing you a happy end of 2019 and thank you https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/happy-end-of-2019-and-thank-you Mon, 23 Dec 2019 10:22:58 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/happy-end-of-2019-and-thank-you Greetings,

I’m writing to wish you a happy end of the year. With a little over a week left of 2019, I am reaching out to thank you for your efforts in building our union this year.

From local union barbeques and anniversary events to rallies and picket lines, tens of thousands of USW members have worked tirelessly to make our union stronger. I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish together. We fought for an end to unfair steel and aluminum tariffs, we took on corporate giants like ABI, Glencore and Western Forest Products with determination and grit and we pushed the federal government on NAFTA/USMCA.

We also brought together more than 600 local union leaders, staff and rank and file activists for our National Policy Conference in Vancouver in April, which was a great success. There was the federal election, where hundreds of USW members engaged in local campaigns and Steelworkers Vote schools.

As a union, we supported members who were out on strike or locked out by bullish employers. To be sure, we lost members due to layoffs and workplace closures, which is painful and a terrible tragedy for our union and communities. But we have also gained thousands of new members, who made the courageous choice to stand up for the rights and join USW. This is a great source of optimism and renewal.

At the international level, our union underwent important leadership changes with the retirement of our mentors and friends Leo W. Gerard and Carol Landry and a number of others. Thank to you everyone who attended the very special tribute event in October. Our International President Tom Conway is off to an exciting start and I am looking forward to continuing to work together. 

It has been a busy year, but a gratifying one. Next year promises more excitement, with a steel sector conference and lobby in Ottawa, the Canadian Labour Congress Convention in Vancouver (both in May), the USW International Convention in Las Vegas in August and our Justice Conference (Health, Safety, Environment and Human Rights) in Montreal and much more. We’ll have many opportunities to meet, exchange ideas and build our union now and for the future.

Over the next week, I hope that you’ll have the opportunity for time off with loved ones. On behalf of USW members across the country and with the Directors of District 3, 5 and 6, I wish you a happy end of the year and a great beginning of 2020. I’m looking forward to this upcoming year.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

USW Cares: 2019 Jefferson Award Winners Announced https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-cares-2019-jefferson-award-winners-announced Mon, 16 Dec 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-cares-2019-jefferson-award-winners-announced Since 2015, the USW has partnered with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, recently renamed Multiplying Good, to celebrate Steelworkers who do amazing works of community service, and to show the world that Steelworkers have big hearts.

The USW is proud to have generous and compassionate members who foster a culture of giving back in our union. Don’t forget to nominate members who are active in their communities for the USW Jefferson Awards and encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same!

The Canadian winners follow:

District 3 – Brian Arnold, retired from Local 7619: Over the nearly 30 years he worked in a mine and over the course of his lifetime, even after he retired, Brian has devoted his life on a daily basis to the sincerest service and care of everyone around him. He visits hospitals to check on friends and co-workers, he volunteers as a pastor to those who are sick or otherwise afflicted, and he has participated in countless community events and fundraisers for worthy causes.

District 5 – Gilles Bordeleau, retired from Local 6887: Although retired, Gilles is still active in his local as a member of its Retirement Committee. He meets with workers and their families to explain the defined benefit pension plan and other benefits.

Bordeleau is founder of the breakfast program “Petits déjeuners CCR” for the children of St-Octave school of Montréal-East. He organizes the collection of Christmas baskets for distribution to the most disadvantaged people of the Montréal-East and Pointe-aux-Trembles area, and he created a soccer league for people with trisomy, a genetic disorder.

District 6 – Alex Patterson, Local 6500: Alex is on the Health Sciences North Foundation Board in Sudbury, Ontario. He dedicates much of his spare time and energy to the board, which funds a variety of projects for the hospital ranging from raising money for equipment to donating to other causes that help better serve hospital patients. Most recently, the board has been raising funds to purchase two badly needed MRI machines for the hospital.

SOAR – Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson, District 3: Eleanor organizes the annual Terry Fox Run, fundraises for Relay for Life, is heavily involved with her church’s service and philanthropy, volunteers for Silver City Days, cooks and serves food for junior hockey teams and fans at Cominco Arena, provides service and support to struggling community members at Trail Association for Community Living, is serving her fourth consecutive term as a city councilor, and does so much more. She is truly devoted to building her community. Friends say her impact is priceless.

USW District 6 is Seeking Applications for Casual Organizers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-district-6-is-seeking-applications-for-casual-organizers Wed, 04 Dec 2019 15:28:08 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-district-6-is-seeking-applications-for-casual-organizers If you are interested in helping other workers exercise their collective rights and grow our union, this may be an opportunity for you. If you meet the requirements below, we want to hear from you! 


  • Must have collective agreement leave language that allows you to take union leave for short and long term.
  • Must have the ability to be away from home for up to three weeks at a time.
  • Must be outgoing and be comfortable talking to strangers.
  • Must be able to work all different hours.
  • Must be able to work alone or in a team setting.
  • Must be a member of a USW District 6 local union. 

If this sounds like you, please fill out this application and email it to djalbert@usw.ca

USW is an equal opportunity employer and we especially encourage applications from women, workers of colour, Indigenous workers, NextGen (under 35), workers with disabilities and workers from the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

Winnipeg General Strike Musical Heads to Major Theatres https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/winnipeg-general-strike-musical-heads-to-major-theatres Thu, 28 Nov 2019 11:30:51 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/winnipeg-general-strike-musical-heads-to-major-theatres Winnipeg General Strike Musical Heads to Major Theatres

May 15, 1919 might have started as a regular day in Winnipeg, but the six weeks that followed changed our country, and the world, forever. Over 30,000 workers participated in a what is now called the Winnipeg General Strike, walking off their jobs to protest massive unemployment, poor working conditions and poverty wages.

Stand! The Musical, follows Stefan, a Ukrainian refugee, and Rebecca, his Jewish suffragette neighbour, as they attempt to navigate love against a backdrop of deep inequality and racial discrimination. Returning soldiers are pitted against immigrants, while the rich continue to make off with massive wealth, until a movement develops that lets workers unite to fight for basic human dignity.

The United Steelworkers are proud to have been one of the sponsors for this movie.

Stand! premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival this past fall, and has now returned for a wider release starting November 29 in select Canadian cities:

VICTORIA Silver City
VANCOUVER International Village
  Silver City Riverport
MISSION Silver City
EDMONTON Scotia Bank Theatre
CHINOOK Scotia Bank Theatre
SASKATOON Scotia Bank Theatre
WINNIPEG Scotia Bank Theatre
  Cineplex McGillivray
TORONTO Yonge and Dundas
OTTAWA Scotia Bank Theatre
LONDON Westmount
WINDSOR Silver City
OSHAWA Cineplex
LAVAL Cineplex
ST. FOY Cineplex
HALIFAX Scotia Bank Theatre
ST. JOHN’S, NL Mount Pearl

For more information, please visit: http://stand-movie.com/

SOAR International Executive Board Goes to Washington! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/soar-international-executive-board-goes-to-washington Wed, 27 Nov 2019 10:09:44 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/soar-international-executive-board-goes-to-washington

Four Canadian SOAR Board members joined with SOAR delegates to the Rapid Response conference in Washington, DC to lobby US House Representatives and Senators on issues important to working people and the USW on both sides of the border.

The Canadian Board members played a full part as delegates with USW District 1 on lobbying, speaking up eloquently and passionately from a Canadian perspective on all of the issues, namely Improving the new NAFTA 2, the Butch Lewis Act of 2019 (S.2254), Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act (HR 2474/S.1306) and Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (HR 1309/S.851).

We have since been advised that the US HOUSE of Representatives adopted with overwhelming bi-partisan support (HR 1309) on Nov 11, 2019. All in all a very successful and educational experience .


Canadian Labour Legend Leo Gerard on the Past, Present and Future of Unions https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/canadian-labour-legend-leo-gerard-on-unions Sun, 24 Nov 2019 10:53:18 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/canadian-labour-legend-leo-gerard-on-unions Leo Gerard was 11 years old when he handed out his first union leaflets. That was in 1958, and he was living in Sudbury, a mining town. The leaflets were for the Mine Mill, the union his father belonged to. 

What Gerard didn't know then was that he would spend much of the rest of his life as a labour leader and activist. 

He began as a staff representative at the United Steelworkers (the USW) and moved quickly through the ranks. This summer, he retired as international president of the USW, a position he held for 18 years.  

Gerard spoke to The Sunday Edition's Michael Enright about his life in the labour movement and the future of unions in an age of globalized trade, a collapsing manufacturing sector and precarious employment.

Read more or listen to the segment that aired Nov. 24 on CBC's The Sunday Edition

News@6 Winter 2019 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/news6-winter-2019 Tue, 19 Nov 2019 12:30:32 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/news6-winter-2019 News@6 Newsletter - Winter 2019In this issue:

  • Dig Deep, Stand Strong - Marty's Message
  • Tom Conway Becomes 8th USW International President 
  • Organizing New Members Across District 6
  • USW Builds Community Fund for Wabush Retirees
  • Bargaining Successes
  • Federal Election - Steelworkers Vote!
  • Fighting Ford
  • District 6 News From the Locals
  • Celebrating Extraordinary Legacies - Retirement of Leo W. Gerard and Carol Landry

Download the PDF

Honouring One of Our Own this Remembrance Day https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/honouring-one-of-our-own-this-remembrance-day Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/honouring-one-of-our-own-this-remembrance-day This Remembrance Day, we would like to honour one of our own that has done outstanding work for our veterans in Canada: Scott Casey, from USW Local 7619, at Teck Resources, in Logan Lake, British Columbia, has used his own struggle to help others. Working with our Veterans of Steel program and Military Minds, Brother Casey has experienced first-hand the connection between being Steelworker and a veteran. He describes this connection in his own words:

SCasey“When we got back, we were shunned, a lot of our guys just crashed. Thirty days from the day I left the army, I was on the streets. You didn’t understand how to fit back into society so you create your own environment to fit into, one filled with good guys and bad guys. Living on the streets, the people there were my sheep, I tried to protect them because I was connected to that whole feeling of hopelessness because I understood it.  I was soul searching, I was drinking, I was trying to find my place. 

For 18 years I drove truck, so I didn’t have to deal with people, I didn’t want to be anybody at that time and on the road I could escape that or so I thought. In hindsight, it wasn’t good, in fact, I took myself away from society. Then I found Military Minds. They showed me there was good out there still. I got involved pretty early on, just as a way to give veterans job opportunities.  Then it morphed into a PTSD peer support organization.  Since then, we now provide support to about 135,000 veterans around the world.  There is online peer support for a multitude of issues from losing your job, to helping with veterans affairs paperwork, to I’m just not doing well right now.  We are on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone is there in every time zone for you. 

When it comes to activism and being a part of the Steelworkers, I started in 2010 and it was there that I found a brotherhood/sisterhood within the Steelworkers that gave me the connection again, with people who look out for each other, people who want to do good and make a difference and I fell in love with it right away. Two things stood out for me, the strength already here in the union and then being a soldier, we are forced multiples and are good at strengthening from within.

Soldiers have a different set of issues that come with them after service and when we enter the work force, we find that it’s difficult to transition, but if we have a network of our own within, like the union, then we have somebody to fall back on who gets us and understands us.  Working with our Veterans of Steel program, I want to see veterans looked after as the government isn’t doing its job.  I want our veterans to know they have the full support of the USW in creating this network in the United States and Canada to support each other from war to work, as soldiers to brothers and sisters.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Veterans of Steel, click here: usw.ca/vetsofsteel.

Carol Landry: Trailblazing Woman of Steel https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/carol-landry-trailblazing-woman-of-steel Thu, 24 Oct 2019 08:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/carol-landry-trailblazing-woman-of-steel In 2008, Canadian Steelworker Carol Landry made history when she became the first woman to serve on the USW International Executive Board.

In the ensuing 11 years, Landry’s leadership skills and history of achievement inspired Steelworkers at all levels of the union, particularly women and Next Generation members.

Landry joined USW 7619 at Highland Valley Copper in British Columbia in 1987. It didn’t take long for her to show her mettle in the male-dominated workplace. The only female member of her local’s bargaining committee during a 107-day strike, she helped lead a struggle that achieved a settlement providing equality for women on wages and job opportunities.

Landry rose through the ranks to become the local’s president before she was hired as a staff representative in 1999. She also worked as District 3 Education Co-ordinator and Women of Steel leader. She served as Assistant to District 3 Director Stephen Hunt prior to joining the USW International Executive Board.

As International Vice-President, Landry was responsible for the USW’s nuclear and chemical sectors and served as Co-Chair of the union’s Next Generation program as well as Vice-President of IndustriALL Global Union.

Throughout her career, Landry spearheaded programs encouraging women to take leadership roles in the union. With her retirement on July 15, the USW International Executive Board added two Women of Steel as new Vice-Presidents – Roxanne Brown and Leeann Foster.


This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

Leo Gerard: An Extraordinary Legacy https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/leo-gerard-an-extraordinary-legacy Wed, 23 Oct 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/leo-gerard-an-extraordinary-legacy Leo W. Gerard’s introduction to the value – and necessity – of unions came at an early age.

As a boy growing up in the 1950s in the hardrock mining town of Sudbury – dominated by global nickel giant Inco Ltd. – Gerard spent hours perched on a stairway in the family home, listening in fascination as his father Wilfred and fellow union “rabble rousers” held meetings in an adjacent room.

The young Gerard was struck by the fact that workers had to risk their livelihoods to achieve the most basic improvements to horrible working conditions, such as plotting a work stoppage to pressure the company to provide safety glasses.

“I was amazed that they would have to take action like that to get essential work equipment. The company, I thought, should voluntarily take this simple step to ensure workers were not unnecessarily injured on the job,” Gerard recalls.

“I learned two important lessons from sitting on the steps and listening to those meetings. One was that the company would do nothing for the workers unless forced by collective action. The other was that labour unions were instruments of both economic and social justice.”

The lessons of those formative years led Gerard into an extraordinary, five-decade career of labour activism, including 18 years as United Steelworkers International President.

Gerard’s retirement this summer cemented an undeniable legacy as one of his era’s most accomplished and influential labour leaders on the international stage.

“There are few labour leaders who can match Leo Gerard’s record and commitment in leading the fight for good jobs, for workers’ rights and for social justice in Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world,” says USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann.

Gerard began his career at age 18 at Inco’s mining operations in Sudbury. His blunt advocacy for fellow workers led to his first elected union position, as a shop steward within Steelworkers Local 6500.

In 1977, Gerard was hired as a Steelworkers staff representative and several years later he  began his ascent through the union’s elected leadership positions – District 6 Director, National Director for Canada, International Secretary-Treasurer and finally in 2001 as the seventh USW International President.

Gerard became the second Canadian Steelworker to lead the international union, following in the footsteps of his mentor Lynn Williams, who served as International President from 1983 to 1994.

Gerard was a constant, strong and credible voice for the USW in both Washington, D.C., and Ottawa, advocating on behalf of the union’s membership and their jobs, families and communities.

Under Gerard’s leadership, the USW formed the first global union, Workers Uniting, and built several other labour alliances around the world.

Gerard retired as International President on July 15 and has been succeeded by Thomas M. Conway, who served as a USW International Vice-President for 14 years.

Under Conway’s leadership, the USW is well-positioned to build on its unmatched legacy of standing up for our members, our communities and for economic and social justice for workers around the world, Gerard says.

“If we fight together, we can’t guarantee we will win every battle. But if we don’t fight for justice, I can guarantee we will lose,” he says. “For labour to secure gains, we have to mobilize. We have to bring everyone together.”


This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

Elections Matter – Thank You for Engaging https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/elections-matter-federal-election-2019 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:14:13 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/elections-matter-federal-election-2019 Steelworkers, thank you for engaging in the recent federal election.

While the results are not what many of us had hoped for, we can still be proud of our hard work and of our party, the NDP.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh led a positive and hopeful campaign that resonated with voters, giving the party momentum in the polls, particularly after his strong performance in both the English and French-language nationally televised debates.

As the first national political party leader to be a person of colour, Jagmeet provides hope, promise and a point of connection for many Canadians who have not seen themselves reflected in our party leaders until this election.

The USW engaged our members around the issues that matter to workers – Pharmacare, good jobs, putting retirees first in corporate bankruptcies, advocating for fair trade deals, investing in housing affordability and action on reconciliation – issues that remind us we can do better.

Members took part in our Steelworkers Vote schools to deepen their learning about the connections between our workplaces, our union and politics, and how workers need representatives in our parliaments and legislatures who understand and give voice to the perspective and experience of everyday people.

Steelworkers union members put in long hours as volunteers in NDP campaigns, supporting candidates that share our values of social and economic justice, equality and fairness.

Two steelworkers ran as candidates in this election. Scott Duvall was re-elected as the NDP Member of Parliament in Hamilton Mountain. Congratulations, Scott! And although he did not get elected, Dennis Van Meer from Local 1005 ran a strong campaign as the NDP candidate in St. Catharines, Ont.

While we know that not all Steelworkers members agree with our union’s political stance, our support for the NDP has been affirmed by our members repeatedly at our union’s national policy conferences.

Following four years of Liberal broken promises, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have a minority government – not a blank-cheque majority. This outcome puts Jagmeet Singh and the NDP in a bargaining position.

We are so proud of our Steelworkers union members who were actively involved in this election and will continue to encourage political engagement to bring working people’s viewpoints to the discussion.

Thank you for engaging in the federal election.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

Steelworkers Vote Fuels NDP Momentum https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-vote-fuels-ndp-momentum Fri, 18 Oct 2019 11:07:05 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-vote-fuels-ndp-momentum Wow, what a campaign this election has been!

With just a few days left in the federal election, the NDP is surging and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is riding an upswing of support in all provinces.

The rising polls and positive momentum in the election’s final days put the NDP and Jagmeet in a good position no matter the outcome on Monday. There is no doubt that the NDP will be playing a strong role in the next Parliament.

USW members have been volunteering in ridings across the country, knocking on doors and talking to our members about the NDP policies that will make a difference for workers and the candidates who are on our side.

Jagmeet has had an incredible campaign. He performed well in both the English and French television debates, showing how both the Liberals and the Conservatives are letting people down.

The NDP has the best platform and policies for working people. And Jagmeet has been consistent throughout the campaign on who this election is about: it’s about people – not corporations and the wealthy.

From Pharmacare, dental care and good jobs, to tackling housing affordability and putting retirees first, the NDP is the party that is on our side.

Justin Trudeau has shown he’s not who he appears to be. For four years, Trudeau and the Liberals have not been on our side. The Liberals have broken their promises to us.

Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives will revive harmful Stephen Harper policies and corporate-friendly trade deals that hurt workers and unions. He’ll make cuts to important public services to balance the budget.

No matter who wins the election on Monday, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP can be proud of their positive, hopeful campaign that’s put people first.

Our Steelworkers Vote schools gave our members a chance to learn more about the connection between politics and our workplaces, and why it’s important to be involved as working people.

“The Steelworkers Vote school taught me a lot about how the political structure works, also that we as Steelworkers need to support the party that has our interest. It opens your eyes to the political world to get involved in,” said one of our vote school participants.

“I truly believe our Steelworker activism and involvement makes a difference. Elections matter and Steelworkers vote. No matter the outcome on Monday, we can be proud of our engagement and hard work on behalf of our members to elect NDP candidates who will be a strong voice for workers and the working-class in the next Parliament,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

Thanks to all our members who have been volunteering, putting in long hours and working hard in campaigns to help contribute to the positive momentum for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP team.

Election 2019 Voting Guide https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/election-2019-voting-guide Wed, 09 Oct 2019 08:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/election-2019-voting-guide Election 2019 Voting Guide

Online Election Tools

Steelworkers make a difference when we vote! Visit the Steelworkers Vote Election 2019 website for Steelworkers Vote election materials to share with members, links to connect to your local NDP campaign, Elections Canada information and more. www.usw.ca/steelworkersvote

Advance Voting

If you can, avoid the rush and vote early. Advance polls are not as busy and some of the advance polls are held over a weekend. Find dates and locations for advance voting on the Elections Canada website www.elections.ca. 

Bring Identification

You can use the Elections Canada website to register to vote or confirm that you are registered to vote: www.elections.ca.

Bring identification when you go to vote. Bring one piece of identification with your photo, name and address, for example, your driver’s licence. Or bring two pieces, one with your name, and one with your name and address, for example, your voter information card and a utility bill. Visit the Elections Canada website to see a list of acceptable identification: www.elections.ca.

You do not have to be on the voters’ list to vote. You can take identification with you to the polling station, register and vote on election day.

Election Day: Monday, October 21

Polls are open for 12 hours on Election Day, Monday, October 21.

By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.

Remember to bring identification with you when you go to vote.

Help Your NDP Campaign

Steelworkers are known for our activism for the NDP. While unions can’t donate directly to political parties at the federal level, we encourage our members to volunteer and make individual donations. Bring a friend or co-worker with you and help out in your local NDP campaign.

  • Distribute and post Steelworkers Vote election posters in your workplace.
  • Organize Steelworker plant gates to distribute Steelworkers Vote election materials.
  • Invite your NDP candidate to a union meeting, event or plant gate.
  • Include information on your local NDP candidate and USW election issues in your newsletters, emails, website and Facebook page.
  • Talk to your friends and family about voting pro-labour.

This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

District 6 Council Partners with Ontario Agency on Worker Training and Recruitment https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/d6-council-partners-with-ontario-agency Mon, 23 Sep 2019 09:28:39 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/d6-council-partners-with-ontario-agency Richard Leblanc’s work on the District 6 Health Care Council has shown him many things, including the dire need for more health care workers in Ontario—specifically, more personal support workers (PSWs).

PSWs provide care to patients at hospitals as well as long-term care homes, private residences, and additional employment settings. Just like in the United States, short-staffing and increased workloads are common in Canada for health care workers, and PSWs are no exception.

“Long-term care facilities are usually funded by residents and the government,” Leblanc said. “And the government funding often falls short to hire enough staff to take care of their residents, so it just becomes a vicious cycle.”


Figure 1: Courtesy Pexels.com

Even though the PSW trade is regulated by the government and requires a certificate, Leblanc realized last year that even if the industry was successful in obtaining more funds, the training itself has not been up to par.

So, he reached out to the Employment Services Centre (ESCPR), a local employment agency in Ontario that works with the government, in order to start a conversation about increasing funds for PSW training, and improving the training itself, along with recruitment.

Earlier this month, the connection paid off, and the agency brought together a working group of local labor unions, health care providers, workers, and members of the Ministry to talk about these issues. It was the first of many conversations the working group will have as they seek to improve the industry.

“One of our goals is to make the trade more accessible financially and to promote it better,” Leblanc said. “This will be good for everyone because we need bodies, we need workers.”

The problem is an old one unfortunately, according to a February 2019 CDC article featuring a former PSW, Ashley Hopkins, who believes funding is a major factor of the chronic shortage, along with fatigue.

“There's a lot of high turnover in those types of jobs cause the job is just so stressful and workers get burnt out at alarming rates," she said.

This affects overall patient care as workers are overloaded and often handling up to thirty residents alone, leaving patients in vulnerable, sometimes inhumane, conditions.

All of these things need to be considered when updating training and curriculum, and improving working conditions for caregivers.

Dave Lipton, a USW staff representative in Ontario, was glad the council was able to bring a labor perspective to the meeting and remind the stakeholders to keep workers’ rights at the forefront of their minds.

“We pointed out that a community effort to tackle the problem is laudable, but part of the problem that can’t be ignored is poor working conditions, including work overload, and low pay,” said Lipton.

To watch a video of a long-term home resident speaking on how the worker shortage affects patients and why things must change, click here.

Steelworkers Humanity Fund Supports the Rebuilding of the Casual Workers Advice Office, Destroyed During Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-humanity-fund-supports-the-rebuilding-of-the-casual-workers-advice-office-destroyed-during-xenophobic-attacks-in-south-africa Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:20:58 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-humanity-fund-supports-the-rebuilding-of-the-casual-workers-advice-office-destroyed-during-xenophobic-attacks-in-south-africa TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has contributed $3,000 to rebuild the Casual Workers Advice Office in Johannesburg, which was ransacked and looted during the most recent wave of xenophobic violence that has taken place in the country.

Earlier this month, South Africa’s migrant population has been the target of a series of attacks targeting mainly foreign-owned shops, in what has become an increasingly common occurrence, linked with the country’s high unemployment rate.

In the midst of those deadly attacks, the destruction of the office of the Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) appears to be no coincidence. Founded in 2011, CWAO is a non-profit, independent organization that has been providing free advice and support to workers, privileging casual, contract, labour broker and other precarious workers – many of them undocumented.

In a statement issued the day after the attack, the CWAO reiterated its steadfast commitment to the human rights of workers, whatever their race, religion or place of origin: “Our strength is not in the things we lost in the fire. Our strength comes from the solidarity, organizing and struggles of the thousands of workers […]”

“Scapegoating migrants for economic problems blinds people to the real issues. Xenophobia has no place in South Africa, in Canada, or anywhere else,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers. “Steelworkers stand strongly against any attempt to pit workers against each other. This is why we are proud to do our small part to help an organization that has been targeted for doing the right thing.”

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

Health Care Worker Spotlight: Misty Lafond Finds Voice in Union as an Organizer https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/health-care-worker-spotlight-misty-lafond Mon, 16 Sep 2019 15:59:14 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/health-care-worker-spotlight-misty-lafond HCWC-MistyL2Although Misty Lafond has only worked in health care for five years, she has taken advantage of that time as a Steelworker to become an activist, on top of being a licensed practical nurse (LPN). As unit chair for Youville Home, a long-term care facility part of Covenant Health located in St. Albert, Alberta, and as a budding organizer, she is taking her passion for helping others outside of health care to fight for workers’ rights.

Lafond first became involved with the union four years ago, in 2015, when the previous unit chair asked her to attend her first shop steward training.

“From then on, I’ve been active in trying to help employees have better workplaces free from abuse,” Lafond said.

Her experience with external activism began when she had the opportunity to work on a campaign to organize workers at a Walmart in December 2018. As a result of the multibillion-dollar corporation’s anti-union tactics, the effort was unsuccessful as the workers were scared to lose their jobs. But the moment was far from a wash for Lafond, who walked away with more knowledge than she could have hoped for.

“It made me realize that the majority of employees in their workplaces don’t know their rights,” Lafond said. “I learned how to engage with what workers really want and that it doesn't matter what industry you are in—everyone wants decent wages and benefits, and to be treated fairly.”

Lafond took her new skill set and ran with it, eventually helping to organize two assisted living facilities into her local union. For her, organizing this industry is something that comes naturally.

“I understand firsthand the challenges workers face in health care—short-staffing, injuries, and abuse from within the workplace and from families because the employer has made promises that cannot be met when people are working short,” Lafond said.

Workplace violence, unfortunately, is an all-too-common reality now for health care workers thanks to staff rollbacks by employers who like to say the hazard is merely part of the job.

“Health care teams working on the floor then can’t properly deal with aggressive patients as we can no longer restrain them chemically or physically,” she said. “This leads to aggressive residents who verbally and physically abuse staff on a daily basis.”

Despite the challenges, being a member of Local 1-207 has offered Lafond the chance to grow and have a voice when it comes to righting these wrongs.

“I am grateful that the Steelworkers recognize activists and provide education so that they, too, have opportunities within the union,” she said.

When she isn’t organizing or working, Lafond enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.


Left to right: Misty Lafond, LPN, Unit Chair, Youville Home with Ruby Sab-it, HCA, Unit Chair, Chartwell St. Alberta; Maria Stantos, LPN, Unit Chair, Chartwell Sherwood Park; Shirley Clark, LPN, Bargaining Committee, Chartwell Sherwood Park.

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.