I want to thank all Steelworkers who got involved in this election – as volunteers and as voters.
Our union is engaged in politics because it shapes the lives of workers and our families. Our votes matter and make a difference.
The results are (mostly) in, and we will have another Liberal minority government in Ottawa. At the time of writing this, the NDP has won in 25 seats, with a couple of others that are still being counted.
The United Steelworkers union in English Canada endorsed Jagmeet Singh and the NDP in this election. We can be proud that Steelworkers helped elect New Democrats to fight for us.
Jagmeet’s positive campaign focused on the issues that matter to workers and everyday people. NDP proposals to make the wealthy pay their fair share, create a million jobs, make housing more affordable and bring in pharmacare and dental care resonated with millions of voters.
The NDP committed to undertake the important work of reconciliation in true and equal partnership with Indigenous communities across the country.
The NDP had the most diverse slate of candidates of any party in this election – more women and gender-diverse candidates, the most LGBTQ2SIA+ candidates, the most racialized candidates and the most Indigenous candidates. This equates to better representation.
I had the chance to join Jagmeet and the Hamilton-area NDP candidates on Labour Day, where Jagmeet highlighted the NDP’s plans for workers including paid sick days, a $20 minimum wage and universal, affordable, accessible child care.
As usual, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals claimed NDP policies as their own and used scare tactics to win.
Erin O’Toole and the Conservatives tried to woo working-class voters, but voters viewed his promises with distrust based on the Conservatives’ lousy track record of attacking workers and unions.
Despite the snap election call, the USW was able to organize in many ways, including telephone town halls for Steelworkers in District 3 (Western Canada) and District 6 (Ontario and Atlantic Canada) where members had a chance to discuss policy and get updates on the union from our elected leadership. Thanks to all who participated.
We held Steelworkers Vote schools online and in person to develop political activists within our ranks and hear from our members about the election issues that affect them.
In District 5 (Quebec), members got politically active with the Féderation des travailleurs(euses) du Québec (FTQ).
During the pandemic, it was Jagmeet Singh and the NDP who delivered results for workers.
Now that the election is over, our union in English Canada will continue our work with Jagmeet and the NDP to pressure the Liberals to actually deliver on all their promises.
Thank you again for your election involvement. Please stay healthy and safe.
USW Local 2009
Parent: Eddie Dusecina
USW Local 6166
Maple Ridge, BC
Parent: Teri Lane
USW Local 1-1937
Parent: Brian Clatney
USW Local 7689
Parent: Gordon Hiebert
USW Local 7458
Parent: Alain Duhamel
USW Local 2423
Parent: Keven Lavoie
USW Local 9344
Parent: Pascal Paquette
USW Local 6486
Parent: Alain Perreault
USW Local 9291
Parent: Yanick Gobeil
USW Local 9490
Parent: Pascal Lance
USW Local 9490
USW Local 1998
Parent: Ivan St-Louis
USW Local 7940
Parent: Robert Yates
USW Local 4610
Parent: Ian Campeau
USW Local 6500
Parent: Mike Kremastiotis
USW Local 6500
USW Local 1998
Parent: Christopher White
USW Local 1944
Seddons Corner, MB
Parent: Kathy Klassen
USW Local 1976
USW Local 1944
St. Andrews, MB
Family member: Timothy Fedora
USW Local 5442
USW Local 5890
Family member: Glen Bobbitt
USW Local 5778
Labrador City, NL
Family member: Tony Reccord
USW Local 6731
Sault Ste Marie, ON
Family member: Raymond Cuillerier
USW Local 2251
USW Local 5917
USW Local 7552
USW Local 7619
USW Local 8644
Mary Kate Ewing
USW Local 2010
USW Local 9329
Belle River, ON
“For us, Don spoke real truth that night, and we appreciated it,” said Local 9548 President Cody Alexander, whose local represents about 350 workers at Tenaris Algoma Tubes, including a strong Indigenous contingent.
“We agreed and felt deeply about what Don had to say. There is a real alignment between our union and our Indigenous communities,” Alexander said.
Waboose, an elder from the Batchewana First Nation outside Sault Ste. Marie, was asked by USW Local 9548 to open and close the all-candidates’ debate with land acknowledgements and prayer. The local also welcomed the elder’s request to make personal remarks to the candidates regarding issues that should be front-and-centre in the federal election campaign.
Waboose cited longstanding failures of the federal and provincial governments to honour treaties, countless other unfulfilled promises made to Indigenous people, as well as environmental devastation and the thousands of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
“Many promises have been made, yet have been broken one by one. Not by us. By the federal government, the Crown and even the province. When are we going to stand up and ... start honouring our relationship of the original Indigenous treaties of this great country we call Canada?” Waboose asked.
“When are we going to stand up as people in this country to stop this genocide that’s happening to our people?”
Local 9548 did not endorse a candidate in the Sault Ste. Marie riding, opting instead to host an all- candidates’ debate to allow union members to make their own decisions, Alexander said.
“It was the first time we hosted a debate and it went well. Our members were able to ask union-focused questions and hear what the candidates had to say.”
Local 9548 is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous communities and peoples, as well as advocating for the issues important to Indigenous union members , Alexander added.
“We created an Indigenous Circle in our local and it is officially recognized in our collective agreement to represent the interests of our members in the workplace and to support our Indigenous communities as well,” he noted.]]>
This physically distanced Labour Day is a moment to reflect on a critical challenge facing unions and employers: addressing the worsening mental health crisis. Exacerbated by COVID-19, this crisis is a secondary pandemic, quietly brooding but ferocious.
A household survey by Statistics Canada during the pandemic found that one in five Canadians had symptoms of at least one of three mental disorders: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, LifeWorks’ Mental Health Index Report found 80 per cent of Canadians reported the pandemic having a negative effect on their mental health.
United Steelworkers union (USW) members have reported similar impacts: “extreme feelings of isolation and intermittent loss of hope that things will get better”; “fear that I’ll lose my mind before things get better”; “feeling overworked and drained”; “work is overwhelming.” Hundreds of USW members report feeling burned out, lonely, depressed and anxious, and that is just a small snapshot of the workforce.
Even pre-pandemic, Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported 500,000 Canadians missing work each week due to mental illness. Mental health issues present challenges for morale, retention, absenteeism, productivity and overall wellness.
This is a workplace crisis because trauma, stress and illness follow us to work, as surely as job-related frustrations follow us home. It is not enough to create safe, supportive spaces away from work. Employers and unions must assertively develop programs, policies and greater awareness to support mental well-being. The reality for many workers is that workplaces are sources of strife. This is why unions steadfastly push for stronger workplace and legislative frameworks to combat bullying, harassment and violence — occupational hazards that chip away at one’s mental well-being. We take the same attitude toward racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and employment precarity — all health and safety issues.
The USW is taking a multi-pronged approach, partnering with employers where possible to create stronger support mechanisms to address psychological safety and mental well-being.
In some cases, union bargaining committees negotiate mental health training for all employees, including managers. This is important because management often dictates the climate of a given workplace. USW peer educators also offer weeklong mental health courses for union members, building awareness, addressing employer obligations around accommodations and highlighting the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace — the first such standard in the world. It sets guidelines for employers to create workplaces that prioritize psychological safety and positive mental health.
In B.C., the union has partnered with forestry sector employers to create the Safety Advisory Foundation for Education and Research (SAFER). It focuses on physical safety in the industry and leads the way on programming such as tracking mental health issues, creating mental health awareness on the job, mindfulness initiatives, mental health first-aid courses for employees, and more.
Much like physical health and safety advocacy, where unions have excelled, mental health must be a priority of equal importance. Our collective well-being depends on it.]]>
USW members, who donated and raised more than $1 million for United Way initiatives in 2020, have been recognized with the organization’s Thanks a Million award.
“Please extend our gratitude to USW’s members,” Dan Clement, United Way President and CEO, states in a letter to USW National Director Ken Neumann, announcing the award.
“In these unprecedented times, your support has been critical to the well-being of Canadians. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt right across the country, with many facing unparalleled uncertainty. Your continued support has been vital in ensuring we are able to support our most vulnerable citizens throughout the pandemic,” the letter states.
“Through your collective action and generosity, we are able to make investments in local programs and community agencies that create lasting change by addressing the root causes of social issues like mental illness, social isolation, poverty, hunger and domestic violence.”
United Way/Centraide Canada is a network of 71 non-profit organizations that fund and support local initiatives in more than 5,000 communities across the country]]>
The pandemic has been tough on all of us. Uncertain times continue with many parts of the country now in a fourth wave.
Calling a federal election is a self-serving move by the Liberal government. An election right now is unnecessary, especially as many communities are threatened or evacuated by wildfires.
While we may not want this election, we still need to participate. It’s a chance for Steelworkers to have our say. Elections matter and your vote matters, too! It is with this in mind that the union has created a number of materials geared to give you the information you need.
Find out more at usw.ca/election2021.
While the Steelworkers union has done our part to keep workers safe on the job during COVID-19, Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party also have been delivering results, for all workers.
The Liberals like to take credit for the government supports provided to people through the pandemic. In reality, it was pressure by Jagmeet Singh and the NDP who worked to get help to millions of Canadians who needed it, and who made sure it was done quickly:
And what about the Conservatives? Erin O’Toole just keeps making mistakes as leader. And we know Conservatives cut public services – even when we need them most.
While Liberals and Conservatives look out for corporations and their well-connected friends, imagine what we could do if we elect more New Democrats to Parliament? Canadians will benefit from an even stronger NDP in Ottawa.
Jagmeet is a compassionate leader who is sincere in his efforts about helping people. He’s not like the other leaders. He doesn’t have a hidden agenda.
In this election, Jagmeet and the NDP are running on their record of getting results for people.
The NDP is the party that stands for better jobs – jobs with decent wages and protections, a higher federal minimum wage, paid sick leave and income support for those who need it most – including seniors and people with disabilities.
The NDP has a buy-local plan that supports jobs here at home – ensuring governments source Canadian-made building materials in public infrastructure and manufacturing.
Jagmeet Singh and the NDP are focusing on affordability and a better start for young people and families – student debt relief, lower cell phone bills and housing affordability.
Jagmeet and the NDP will take real action on racial and Indigenous justice and address inequalities that have worsened during the pandemic.
Canadians are heartbroken by the mounting discoveries of unmarked graves at the sites of former residential “schools.” While the Liberal government continues to avoid its responsibilities to Indigenous children, Jagmeet and the NDP are committed to addressing the systemic racism Indigenous people face.
Jagmeet has a plan to tackle the unequal impact of the pandemic by bringing in a wealth tax and a pandemic profits tax, to make the ultra-wealthy pay their share.
These are bold but practical ways we can pay for programs that will create a fairer Canada.
Steelworkers know that elections matter. That’s why we vote. Please support your local NDP candidate.
To find your electoral district and NDP candidate, visit: www.elections.ca.
Let’s work together to help elect more New Democrats to deliver results for working people.
P.S., Go to elections.ca to find out if you are registered to vote, where you vote and early voting options.
As we move out of the pandemic, workers need to be at the forefront of rebuilding our economy. We cannot hide the fact that the pandemic has been hard on a lot of us. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their jobs, they aren’t able to find new work, or they are afraid they could lose the job they have.
It’s our job as a union to be focused on fighting for our members – fighting to keep them safe and secure in their jobs.
In the months ahead as governments find ways to jumpstart local economies, we need to make sure that everyone will benefit. As new infrastructure projects are announced, we must continue to push for a “Buy Canadian” strategy, which would give Canadian materials priority in construction projects when building new roads, bridges, overpasses, water projects, gas lines, schools, hospitals, long-term care homes for seniors, addiction treatment centres, tourism infrastructure and agriculture and natural-resources projects.
I find it deeply concerning when you have Calgary’s Tenaris Prudential steel plant in the final stages of closing while the same pipe they make is being imported from Mexico and the United States. Whether it’s pipe, rebar, wood or other products, we need to ensure that Canadian workers are kept working instead of importing these products.
It’s also concerning to see workers struggle as companies lay off employees, governments cut back badly needed supports and big corporations and their ultra-rich CEOs and shareholders continue to profit from the pandemic. It makes you wonder, who is standing up to protect our jobs?
As we celebrate Labour Day, let’s take a moment to think about who we want standing up for workers.
Governments have the power to make changes to protect the working lives of all Canadians. That is why we need a Prime Minister who fights for us and works to make life better. Remember that as you head to the ballot box in this federal election.
I encourage all Steelworkers to get out and vote. Advance polling days are taking place Friday, Sept. 10 through Monday, Sept. 13, and election day is on Monday, Sept. 20. You can also vote by mail by applying before Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6:00 p.m. Find out where to vote at elections.ca.
Have a safe and enjoyable Labour Day.
District 3 Director
As a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in much of the country, we are forced to celebrate a physically distant Labour Day for the second consecutive year.
While we continue to face enormous social and economic upheaval, on this Labour Day I want to recognize and celebrate the incredible efforts of Steelworkers throughout District 6 who have been fighting tirelessly to defend our members’ jobs and for decent working and living standards for all.
Virtually every Steelworker family has been affected in some way by the pandemic, from layoffs and financial hardship, to increased safety risks and stress on the job, to social isolation, mental health struggles and COVID-related illness and death.
Steelworkers have responded to these daunting challenges with unmatched USW commitment, caring and solidarity.
USW local leaders and members have redoubled efforts to enforce health and safety protections at work. Many have committed their resources and labour to provide personal protective equipment not only to our members, but to other workers who have been callously placed at undue risk from a lack of protective measures from employers.
Across our district, our members continue to embody the USW motto that Steelworkers Make Great Neighbours, generously supporting and volunteering with all manner of causes and groups to help countless people in need.
Many District 6 locals have overcome pandemic-related challenges to negotiate good collective agreements that defend and improve our members’ working conditions.
While most of these agreements were achieved without labour disputes, several locals faced strikes and lockouts provoked by employers attempting to exploit the pandemic to deny workers decent contracts. However, our members stood strong, and their unwavering solidarity led to the best-possible contracts that ended these disputes.
Our union recognizes that too many of our members, particularly in sectors hit hard by the pandemic, remain laid off. That’s why Steelworkers and our labour and political allies are demanding that our governments improve supports for workers and families, and make major investments in a worker-centred economic recovery.
The pandemic has further exposed the fact that our laws must be improved to make it easier for workers to join unions and to enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining. Steelworkers throughout District 6 have been expanding our organizing efforts, and have helped workers in several communities join the union, with several similar campaigns under way.
Labour Day also is a time to remember and mourn members who have been killed on the job. Today we recommit to our fight for safer workplaces and greater enforcement of laws to ensure justice for grieving families and accountability for those responsible for workplace deaths.
In the midst of so many challenges and rising COVID infections across the country, it is shameful that the prime minister called an unjustified federal election that most Canadians don’t want. This self-serving attempt at a power grab will cost taxpayers more than $600 million – just to feed the Liberals’ lust for a majority government.
Though the election is unnecessary, Steelworkers are compelled to do everything we can to elect the party that truly supports unions and the working class – Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party.
It is a matter of record that the policy demands and pressure exerted by the NDP are responsible for improved government supports that helped millions of Canadians through the pandemic. Only the NDP pushed for a doubling of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a substantial enhancement of wage subsidies, paid sick days, and supports for seniors and students.
Unlike the corporate agendas of the Liberals and Conservatives, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP are genuinely committed to investing in an economic recovery that will create good union jobs; made-in-Canada infrastructure projects; a higher federal minimum wage; fair taxation to ensure the ultra-wealthy and corporations pay their share; and crucially, true reconciliation and justice for Indigenous peoples and communities.
Steelworkers, over the past year we have confronted a level of social and economic turmoil unseen in our lifetimes. On this Labour Day, I wish to thank all of you for your efforts and commitment to our shared goal of fighting for workers’ rights and social justice.]]>
Going into this Labour Day, I am reflecting on the last year and a half. I miss our annual Labour Day gatherings and the chance to share some solidarity in person. I am concerned about the worsening fourth wave of the pandemic in many parts of the country. My thoughts are also with our members who have been forced to evacuate their communities due to raging wild fires. Some members in British Columbia have even lost their homes. People have endured a lot and there is no clear sign of these challenges abating. I can see it taking its toll.
It is also my Last Labour Day as National Director. I announced back in May that I would not be seeking re-election. I have been deeply honoured to be a member of and then on staff of our great union for 44 years – first as a member of Local 5890 and then as a member of 4728, both in Regina, Saskatchewan. I have been humbled to have the confidence of members to be elected into leadership positions at my home local union, later as District 3 Director and then National Director.
Leadership and generational change are important for organizations like ours – the world around us changes and so must we.
The pandemic has brought into stark relief the necessity of taking action and being an agent of change to shape the reality around us. As Steelworkers, we know that politics matters, this is why we get involved in elections. But the reality is – the politics of the everyday matters even more than any election cycle – however important each one is. And I can tell you, this current one is very important.
In the face of such difficult circumstances like the pandemic, it can be difficult to know where to start. But there is no magic to social change – it is built on organizing, a lot of hard work, and a sense of purpose that drives us to believe that a better world is always possible.
Politics is how we choose to live our trade union values every single day – in how we treat each other, and how we support and fight alongside others. There are many ways to translate our thoughts into action – like showing up at a demonstration for an issue that is not directly our own and supporting those who are most affected, spending an evening making phone calls for a local candidate, volunteering in the community or supporting a picket line. It’s about making solidarity with others a guiding principle of one’s life.
There are many issues our union is tackling – from getting involved in the federal election, taking on unfair trade, health and safety on the job, to a worker-centred transition that truly prioritizes and seeks justice on climate change, better labour laws, racial justice, gender equity, and reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
There are many dozens of ways to get involved and make a difference. Get engaged through your local union or through the District. Connect with your local NDP candidate for this federal election. Your involvement does matter and it does help. If there is one thing that more than four decades in the trade union movement has taught me – it’s that taking action can make a difference and it can start with you.
Happy Labour Day and thank you for all that you do.]]>
USW members have again demonstrated that Steelworkers Make Good Neighbours, helping to raise $5,000 for relief efforts for victims of a devastating tornado in Barrie, Ont.
“I’m proud of our members, our local union and the Steelworkers Humanity Fund for stepping up to help those in need in our community,” said Chris Thompson, secretary of Unit 2311 of TC Local 1976 USW and a delivery driver with Canpar Express in Barrie.
“We’re proving once again that our union cares and that our members live up to our motto that Steelworkers Make Good Neighbours,” said Chris.
The tornado that ripped through Barrie on July 15 caused millions of dollars in property damage, left many families homeless and injured several residents. Fortunately there were no deaths.
The devastation led Chris to contact Local 1976 President Steve Hadden regarding a union donation to the relief efforts, and the local authorized a $1,000 contribution. The union also called on the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, which approved a $2,000 contribution. Chris then reached out to his employer, Canpar, which matched the Humanity Fund donation, resulting in a total of $5,000 to the tornado relief campaign.
“Like we do every day, our members and the company have delivered the goods in our community,” said Chris. “We’re happy that we could help out in a meaningful way.”
Photo caption: From left to right, Frank Schroeder, TC Local 1976 USW-Unit 2311 member, Chris Thompson, Unit 2311 secretary; Doug Tomlinson, Canpar area manager; Sheila Palmer, director of business, Salvation Army, Barrie.]]>
The USW is reaching out to share information and resources, and hear from members live!
Please join your fellow Steelworkers and District Directors in two telephone town halls to talk about union issues as well as hear about how our union is engaged in the 2021 federal election.
We also want to hear from you. Members will have a chance to ask questions and share your experiences live.
When you receive your shirt, please take a selfie and post it using the hashtag #USWMOVEMBER2021 and #USWNEXTGEN.
The USW District 6 NextGen Committee works to develop leadership, community service, and political activism among activists 35 years old or younger in District 6.]]>
David Ellis was killed on his second day at work. He was 18 years old. In David’s honour, and in honour of all the other young workers killed or injured on the job, the United Steelworkers established the David Ellis Scholarship to fight to ensure all young workers come home from work healthy and safe.
The David Ellis Scholarship is a health and safety scholarship award available to children and grandchildren of any Steelworker member.
For 2021, District 3 Director Stephen Hunt, offered scholarships of $500 to help selected high school students continue their education at university, college or another educational institution.
The recipients of the 2021 David Ellis Scholarships for District 3 are:
Member: Gordon Hiebert
USW Local 7458
Member: Rudy Chilagan
USW Local 7552
Member: Brenda Jones
USW Local 1-405
Member: Peter Vandeweyer
USW Local 1-405
“Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s David Ellis Scholarships and thank you to everyone who applied. I encourage everyone to help keep our workplaces safe as everyone has the right to be safe at work and to come home to their families at the end of the day,” said Stephen Hunt, District 3 Director.]]>
As Steelworkers, we’re passionate about standing in solidarity with social justice causes. The FCEF has project funds available to help your local union make a difference in your community.
Connect with service agencies and labour organizations in your neighbourhood whose work inspires you. Ask them to plan and host community engagement events with your local! Then, submit your project ideas to the Family & Community Education Fund for review. There’s no limit on the amount of applications a local can submit.
Joining the FCEF is easy. Contact your District Education Co-ordinator or Gabriele, the FCEF Co-ordinator at FECF@usw.ca, for more information.]]>
Note: You can toggle between English and French in the upper-right-hand corner!
Martell, a member of USW Local 2020, works as an occupational health co-ordinator at the Sudbury office of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW). In 2015, she founded the McIntyre Powder Project to document health issues and seek compensation for underground miners who were subjected to aluminum dust inhalation as a condition of employment.
Between 1943 and 1979, tens of thousands of miners in Canada (and several other countries) were exposed to mandatory inhalation of finely ground aluminum dust, known as McIntyre Powder. Mining companies told workers – falsely – that inhaling McIntyre Powder would protect their lungs from exposure to silica dust and the development of silicosis.
There was no such thing as informed consent. Submitting to the aluminum dust inhalation “therapy” was a condition of employment.
The results would turn out to be disastrous, as documented in the new article, Trading One Risk for Another, co-authored by Martell and Dr. Tee Guidotti, an international occupational and environmental medical expert.
The peer-reviewed article, under the full title, Trading One Risk for Another: Consequences of the Unauthenticated Treatment and Prevention of Silicosis in Ontario Miners in the McIntyre Powder Aluminum Inhalation Program, is published by New Solutions, an environmental and occupational health policy journal.
The McIntyre Powder therapy was a “faux-experimental medical treatment,” based on an unproven theory – ultimately shown to be false – that it would prevent silicosis, Martell and Guidotti note in their article.
In reality, the would-be therapy “was a cheap solution to a long-standing industrial disease, developed by the northern Ontario mining industry to mitigate their financial and legal risk once silicosis became recognized as a compensable industrial disease in Ontario.”
Mining companies opted to expose workers to aluminum dust rather than implement proven safety measures that were more costly, the article reveals.
“The more expensive – but proven effective – option was for the mines to supply adequate ventilation and improved dust control to reduce miners’ exposure to the cause of silicosis.”
Martell’s inspiration for the McIntyre Powder Project and her relentless activism is deeply personal. Her father, Jim Hobbs, was a uranium miner in Elliot Lake who was subjected to the mandatory program of aluminum dust inhalation. He developed Parkinson’s disease, linked to his exposure to McIntyre Powder, and died in 2017.
In the New Solutions article, Martell vividly depicts the “surreal ritual” of mandatory aluminum dust inhalation to which her father and his fellow uranium miners were subjected:
“Jim Hobbs was thirty-seven years old the first time that he tasted aluminum dust. It was March 1978, and it was his first day going underground at Rio Algom’s Quirke 2 uranium mine in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada. After changing from street clothes into his mining gear, Hobbs followed the other miners into a tunnel-like building that led to the cage that would transport them underground for their eight-hour shift of drilling, mucking, and blasting. The building – dubbed the ‘gas chamber’ by those who entered it – was lined with benches, and Hobbs followed the routine of the others, taking a seat and waiting for the cage call. Before that call came, and after the last man entered the building, the doors shut at both ends, the ventilation fans stopped, and the supervisor yelled what would become a familiar phrase in a surreal ritual that Hobbs would experience prior to every shift for the next year and a half: ‘Breathe deep, boys!’ The hiss of compressed air lines was quickly followed by a cloud of black dust filling the room, obscuring Hobbs’ vision of all that surrounded him as he took his first breaths of very finely ground aluminum powder swirling rapidly from punctured canisters attached to the air lines. His chest felt heavy, his exposed skin and clothes were blackened, a metallic taste formed in his mouth, and he soon joined the choir of coughing and gasping arising from the others. After ten minutes, the doors opened and Hobbs and his shift partners were herded into the cage. His first industrial medical treatment was over.”
Martell’s research and activism, supported by allies including the USW, are having a significant impact for many former miners and their surviving family members.
The USW has played an active role in the McIntyre Powder Project, helping to document as many cases of industrial disease as possible by organizing intake clinics where hundreds of miners, survivors and caregivers have been interviewed and provided support and resources.
Last year, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) officially recognized that Parkinson’s disease is a direct result of exposure to McIntyre Powder. As a result, previously rejected compensation claims are being reviewed, and many former miners or surviving family members already have had their benefit claims approved by the WSIB.
The USW is committed to supporting further research and to advocating for greater recognition of the links between exposure to McIntyre Powder and other occupational illnesses and diseases.
In their article, Martell and Guidotti credit the USW for its key role in the McIntyre Powder Project and in seeking justice for former miners and their families.
“We thank the United Steelworkers District 6 for your crucial initiative in co-organizing and sponsoring the 2016 McIntyre Powder intake clinics. Your support enabled affected mining families to access formal occupational health expertise from OHCOW, and workers’ compensation claims representation through the Office of the Worker Adviser,” the authors state.
Brought to you by the USW District 6 Political Action Committee.
WHAT: Steelworkers Talk Politics – Focus on Long-term Care
WHEN: Tuesday, August 24, 7:00 p.m. (EDT) online
WHO: All Steelworkers Welcome
Steelworkers are active in politics to have a positive impact on our workplaces, our communities and in our lives. During the pandemic we can’t gather in person, so let’s get together online.
Join us on Tuesday, August 24 to hear from:
Join our guests online in an open discussion about the problems and solutions in the long-term care sector including:
We hope you’ll join us.
Briana Broderick and Seppo Vataja
USW District 6 Political Action Committee Co-ordinators