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 United Steelworkers and Mexican Mineworkers Demand Justice for Murdered Protesters in Mexico http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/united-steelworkers-and-mexican-mineworkers-demand-justice-for-murdered-protesters-in-mexico Fri, 24 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/united-steelworkers-and-mexican-mineworkers-demand-justice-for-murdered-protesters-in-mexico TORONTO, 24 November 2017 – The United Steelworkers (USW) in Canada and the United States join the Mexican National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers (“Los Mineros”) in demanding justice for the families of two protesters against the Media Luna mining operations in Guerrero, Mexico, owned by the Canadian company Torex Gold Resources, who were killed on November 18. 

In a letter to Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and chief NAFTA negotiator Cynthia Freeland, USW International President Leo W. Gerard and Canadian National Director Ken Neumann called on the Canadian government to meet with Mexican authorities, the employer and Los Mineros to reach a solution to the conflict that avoids further violence. 

Workers at the mine have been on strike since November 3, protesting working conditions and demanding the right to join Los Mineros. The workers have been supported by residents of local communities. Members of the company-supported protection union, the CTM, have been accused of responsibility for the attacks.

According to the USW leaders, the conflict at Media Luna underscores the need for enforceable labour rights protections that must be implemented prior to the launch of a new NAFTA. Without such measures, they argue, “there is little possibility for improving freedom of association and closing the wage gap that has driven the relocation of Canadian jobs.”

In addition, they state, the conflict “underscores the need for an extractive industries Ombudsperson to ensure transparency and accountability in overseas operations” of Canadian mining companies.

The USW will be sending a delegation to Guerrero to investigate the attacks on the striking miners and their communities. The USW and Los Mineros have had a strategic alliance since 2005 and have worked closely on cross-national organizing, bargaining and human rights issues.

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Tentative Deal Reached at CEZinc Refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/tentative-deal-reached-at-cezinc Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/tentative-deal-reached-at-cezinc Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que. – A tentative agreement has been reached between the United Steelworkers Local 6486 negotiating committee, representing 371 workers at the CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, and Noranda Income Fund.

Union members will review and vote on the terms of the tentative agreement at a closed-door membership meeting on Saturday, Nov. 25. Details of the agreement will not be disclosed, nor will public statements be made prior to the membership meeting.

The 371 workers have been on strike since Feb. 12 of this year.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL-FTQ), is Quebec’s largest private-sector union, with more than 60,000 members working in all sectors of the economy.

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Quebec’s ABI Employees Reject Company Offer, Adopt Strike Mandate http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/abi-employees-reject-company-offer Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/abi-employees-reject-company-offer BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Unionized employees at Bécancour’s ABI aluminum smelter have voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s contract offer and to adopt a strike mandate.

At membership meetings over the last two days, members of United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700 voted 97% to reject the company’s offer and give their bargaining committee a strike mandate. About 90% of union members turned out for the vote.

The collective agreement for the 1,030 union members expires tonight, at which time the workers will be in a legal position to strike and the employer will have the right to lock them out.

“We don’t want to trigger a dispute at this time. We want to achieve a negotiated settlement,” said Clément Masse, Steelworkers Local 9700 President.

“But the employer needs to grasp the message and take negotiations seriously. We have categorically rejected the proposal to impose a two-tier pension plan,” Masse said.

In addition to the employer’s demand for a two-tier pension plan that would discriminate against the next generation of workers, negotiations have stalled on the issue of seniority rights, particularly with respect to widespread job transfers and mobility issues expected in coming years as hundreds of new workers are hired.

Steelworkers Local 9700 will be contacting the employer with results of the membership vote. To help keep the door open to negotiations, union officials will not be speaking with media today.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour (QFL-FTQ), is Quebec’s largest private-sector union, with more than 60,000 members working in all sectors of the economy.

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NDP Moves to Enshrine Indigenous Rights http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/ndp-moves-to-enshrine-indigenous-rights Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/ndp-moves-to-enshrine-indigenous-rights We have the chance to strengthen human rights legislation in Canada.

NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, C-262, would ensure that the laws of Canada are in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The bill comes is currently in its second reading.

Members of the USW have been active and vocal with our support for C-262, meeting with MPs to ask for support. USW National Director Ken Neumann wrote an open letter to the prime minister calling on the government to support Bill C-262.

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

Bill C-262 “legislates a national action plan in cooperation and collaboration with Indigenous Peoples as called for by the TRC and will provide clarity and highlight the importance of harmonizing federal laws: something that will facilitate investment and development,” according to Saganash’s website promoting adoption and implementation of Bill C-262.
In 2016, USW endorsed the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and its calls to action. According to the TRC, Canada must adopt and implement the declaration as the framework for reconciliation.

2017 is the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the declaration by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Yet there continues to be a gap between formal recognition of Indigenous Peoples and implementation of policies on the ground.

Saganash was involved in negotiating the UN declaration over 30 years ago. Steelworkers are lobbying for broad support for Bill C-262 to complete the circle.
It’s time for action. Delay and avoidance won’t cut it any longer.

How you can help support Bill C-262:
- Sign on with support at adoptandimplement.com.
- Meet with your local MP and ask them to support Bill C-262. Request speaking notes and other support materials by sending an email to info@usw.ca.

This article appears in the Fall Edition of the USW@Work magazine.

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Trudeau Government Must Act after Striking Workers Murdered at Canadian-Owned Mine in Mexico http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/trudeau-government-must-act-after-striking-workers-murdered-at-canadian-owned-mine-in-mexico Mon, 20 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/trudeau-government-must-act-after-striking-workers-murdered-at-canadian-owned-mine-in-mexico TORONTO – The murders of two strikers at a Canadian-owned mine underscores the widespread repression of basic labour rights in Mexico – even when the employer is Canadian, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“On Saturday, November 18 – four days after the Canadian government was warned of the potential for such violence – an armed group murdered two striking workers from the Canadian-owned Media Luna gold mine in the state of Guerrero,” said Ken Neumann, the USW’s National Director for Canada.

“The root of these brutal murders is the widespread repression of labour rights in Mexico – including by Canadian companies,” Neumann said.

“We are once again urging the Canadian government to intervene with Mexican authorities and the company to recognize the basic rights of Mexican workers and prevent further violence. The Mexican government and this Canadian company must ensure this conflict is resolved without further bloodshed.”

The Media Luna mine is owned by Canada’s Torex Gold Resources. The company’s President, CEO and founder is Fred Stanford, a longtime Canadian mining executive and former president of nickel miner Vale’s Ontario operations.

Like many foreign companies operating in Mexico, Torex reached a deal with one of Mexico’s notorious “protection unions” that don’t legitimately represent workers.

It is common for foreign companies to sign agreements with Mexican protection unions – even before the company begins operating – without the input or knowledge of affected workers. Even long after they’ve been hired, workers often have no idea they actually belong to a union.

Such employer protection contracts are illegal in Canada and the U.S. because they violate the most basic rights of citizens. But they remain common in Mexico despite a recent reform of the Mexican Constitution that is supposed to outlaw such corrupt practices.

In the case of Torex Gold’s Media Luna mine, the company struck a deal with Mexico’s largest confederation of protection unions, the Confederación de Trabajadores de México (CTM).

However, in early November workers at the mine went on strike to demand their rights to join a legitimate, democratic union that will defend their interests. They demanded the right to a vote to join a legitimate, democratic union – the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, known as Los Mineros, led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.

The striking Media Luna miners are supported by local communities, which also have raised troubling issues regarding the impact of the Torex operations.

On Nov. 13, scores of armed police forces arrived at the mine, taking over the site. The prospect of violence prompted a telephone conversation three days later between Stanford, the Torex CEO, and Gomez, the Los Mineros union leader. Stanford made a commitment to resolve the conflict peacefully, Los Mineros officials say.

But on the night of Nov. 18, an armed group affiliated with the CTM attacked the Media Luna strikers at a roadblock the workers had set up near the mine.

Two brothers, Víctor and Marcelino Sahuanitla Peña, were killed.

Los Mineros issued a news release stating that it “holds responsible for this perverse and cowardly aggression the company, the CTM,” as well as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and his government.

The striking workers reported that Mexican armed forces briefly detained the attackers, but released them shortly afterwards, Los Mineros says. The union also alleges that the armed attackers are linked to the same group responsible for the kidnapping and murders of 43 university students in Guerrero state in 2014.

“The United Steelworkers supports the workers of the Media Luna mine in their struggle against the violent repression of their most basic rights,” Neumann said.

“Mexican authorities must conduct an aggressive and authentic investigation of the murders of these two workers and prosecute all those responsible,” he said.

“The Mexican and Canadian governments must intervene to ensure the security of the striking miners at this Canadian-owned mine. In view of the violence, the Mexican authorities and the company must immediately recognize Los Mineros as the legitimate bargaining agent and representative of these workers.”

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McIntyre Powder Miners Deserve More http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/mcintyre-powder-miners-deserve-more Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:20:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/mcintyre-powder-miners-deserve-more Janice Martell’s father, Jim Hobbs, died last May. He was a McIntyre Powder miner and he had developed neurological problems in retirement including Parkinson’s disease.

Between 1942 and 1979, employers required workers to inhale McIntyre Powder (aluminum) in mines and other industries where workers might be exposed to silica dust. The theory, eventually proved false, was that inhaling the powder would protect workers' lungs.

Martell had tried to file a claim for compensation through Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) on behalf of her father while he was still alive, but withdrew the application once she realized his claim would be unsuccessful.

But she also realized that many other miners and their families might be experiencing similar diseases from forced inhalation of the powder. Martell became an advocate on behalf of affected miners and their families. The McIntyre Powder Project began.

In 2016, the USW organized intake clinics to collect information from exposed miners and their families with the help of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) including Martell, the Office of the Worker Advisor (OWA), local unions and volunteers.

The clinics, held in Timmins and Sudbury, did more than collect information. Survivors, spouses and their caregivers got help opening WSIB claims. They also got a chance to share stories and discover that they weren’t alone.

The plight of the miners has captured media attention with continuing coverage and investigations by CBC and The Toronto Star.

This work is gaining ground, but there is more to do and the injustice continues.

In August, the WSIB announced another study on the effects of exposure to McIntyre Powder.

In October, the Ontario government announced $1 million in new Ontario government funding to OHCOW to further study the links between miners forced to inhale McIntyre Powder and neurological and lung diseases developed later in life.

But existing claims for compensation won’t be reconsidered. And while the new funding will help assess more miners, it is only half of the amount OHCOW requested.

Meanwhile, victims of the 36-year use of McIntyre Powder are dying of neurological and lung diseases.

“These miners are dying. They and their families need more than assessments. They deserve more. We call for compensation now,” said Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director.

www.mcintyrepowderproject.com

From News@6 Winter 2017 – a newsletter for USW members of District 6 (Ontario & Atlantic Canada)

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News@6 Winter 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/news-at-6-winter-2017 Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/news-at-6-winter-2017 News@6 Winter 2017In this issue:

  • Marty's Message: Taking pride in our bargaining achievements
  • Bargaining successes
  • End Pension Theft
  • Hospital bed activism - Glenn Nolan's ride for safety for members of USW 9316
  • Power for good - Political Action
  • Training sparks new skills - D6 Fall School
  • News Roundup
  • McIntyre Powder miners deserve more

Download the News@6 PDF

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Trudeau Government Must Intervene in Labour Rights Crackdown at Canadian-Owned Mine http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/trudeau-government-must-intervene-in-labour-rights-crackdown-at-canadian-owned-mine Tue, 14 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/trudeau-government-must-intervene-in-labour-rights-crackdown-at-canadian-owned-mine TORONTO – As NAFTA renegotiations shift to Mexico City, the United Steelworkers (USW) is calling on the Canadian government to intervene in a potentially violent crackdown on labour rights at a Canadian-owned mine in Mexico.

“The situation developing at the Media Luna mining project in the state of Guerrero is extremely troubling. It demands the Canadian government’s intervention to defend the democratic rights of workers and communities affected by a Canadian mining company’s operations,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director for Canada.

The Media Luna mine is owned by Canadian company Torex Gold Resources. Workers at the site are on strike as they attempt to join a legitimate, democratic union that will defend their rights and interests. Local communities, which also are raising troubling issues regarding the impact of the Torex operations, are supporting the workers.

However, the Torex Gold subsidiary, with the apparent support of Mexican government officials, is opposing the miners’ attempts to join the democratic National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Allied Workers of the Mexican Republic, known as Los Mineros, led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.

On Monday, Nov. 13, armed police forces converged on the site in what workers and observers fear could lead to another violent crackdown on fundamental labour and human rights in Mexico.

Workers at the Media Luna mine went on strike after the Torex Gold subsidiary signed an agreement with one of Mexico’s so-called “protection unions” that don’t legitimately represent workers. It is common in Mexico for companies to sign agreements with protection unions without the input or knowledge of affected workers. Such contracts are illegal in Canada and the U.S.

The USW in Canada and the U.S. is supporting the striking Mexican miners and their efforts to join the Los Mineros union. The USW and Los Mineros have had a strategic alliance since 2005.

“The Canadian government claims that it wants ‘progressive labour standards’ in a new NAFTA to improve wages and working conditions for Mexican workers. As NAFTA renegotiations shift to Mexico this week, this is an opportune moment for the Canadian government to back up its words with meaningful action,” Neumann said.

“This is a blatant example of the repression of fundamental rights at the operations of a Canadian company. We call on the Canadian government to intervene with the company and with Mexican authorities to ensure a peaceful resolution to this conflict that respects the workers’ right to choose their union. We also call on the Canadian ambassador to Mexico to meet with officials of the Los Mineros union.”

The USW also has raised these issues in a message sent to Canada’s lead negotiator of the labour chapter in the NAFTA renegotiations.

Background:

Torex Gold is the most-recent Canadian mining company operating in Mexico to be associated with labour rights violations.

In early October of this year, four Mexican miners died of gas poisoning at the La Encantada silver mine owned by Vancouver-based First Majestic. In a news release the company appeared to blame the victims, stating they “were carrying all required protection equipment … But sadly did not use the equipment.”

Workers and residents in Durango, Mexico, have been locked in a multi-year conflict with Canadian miner Excellon Resources over labour, environmental and community rights related to the company’s La Platosa mine.

The USW is part of a broad-based civil society coalition calling on the Canadian government to establish an independent ombudsperson to investigate human rights complaints associated with Canadian mining companies’ global operations.

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Coal Mining Union Positive on Government Transition Announcement http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/coal-mining-union-positive-on-government-transition-announcement Fri, 10 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/coal-mining-union-positive-on-government-transition-announcement EDMONTON – The United Steelworkers (USW) says coal workers, their families and communities must come first as the Government of Alberta releases the final recommendations of its Advisory Panel on Coal Communities.

The union, which represents 600 workers at a TransAlta-owned coal mine near Wabamun, is pleased that the government has listened to the voices of workers in developing its transition plan for those affected by the announced phase-out of coal-fired electricity generation.

''Coal workers have more than done their part in supporting the province and building Alberta's wealth. It's important the government be there for them now," says Scott Lunny, Assistant to the Director of USW in Western Canada.

“When society determines a direction like phasing out coal-fired electricity, it is imperative that the costs of such a decision are not borne exclusively by the workers, their families and their communities.”

Items like dedicated funding for relocation and retraining will assist, but Lunny says it's critical that affected workers be first in line for new jobs, through preferential hiring by companies like TransAlta that will continue to be operating in natural gas, renewable energy and other projects in the province.

“We say the best transition for a worker is to continue to have a good, family-supporting job,” he adds.

Equally important to the steps announced by the Alberta government today is the need for the federal government to come to the table to ensure that Employment Insurance can be extended and that top-ups are not clawed-back and don’t impact worker eligibility for EI.

''We are pleased that the Alberta government plan contemplates assistance for workers retiring and for workers who need to retrain to remain employed, but that takes a partner in the Government of Canada. The Trudeau government must do its part to support workers and their families," says Lunny.

The United Steelworkers is Canada’s mining union and is proud to represent coal miners in Alberta and across the country.

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Steelworkers Reject ABI’s Discriminatory Pension Plan for Young Workers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-reject-abis-discriminatory-pension-plan-for-young-workers Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:53:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-reject-abis-discriminatory-pension-plan-for-young-workers BÉCANCOUR, Que. – The employer’s demand for a discriminatory, two-tier pension plan for new workers is jeopardizing contract negotiations at the Bécancour Smelter (ABI), which employs 1,030 workers in the Centre-du-Québec region.

The smelter’s unionized employees, members of Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9700, categorically reject a discriminatory, inferior pension plan for the next generation of workers.

The potential labour dispute is developing as the Quebec government considers legislative reforms that would prohibit companies from imposing two-tier pension and benefit schemes on young workers.

With a hiring boom expected at the Bécancour Smelter over the next few years, the Steelworkers union is rejecting any change that would discriminate against new workers.

“We all do the same work and there is no reason why newly hired workers should not be entitled to the same pension plan,” said Clément Masse, Steelworkers Local 9700 President.

“The company is trying to tighten the screws and create division among workers. Employers have to understand that, in Quebec, we reject discrimination against new workers. It is simply not acceptable,” Masse said.

Aside from ABI, other employers have tried to introduce two-tier pensions schemes on Quebec Steelworkers. Several ran into a brick wall.

Quebec Steelworkers went on strike at Ciment Lafarge and at refractory brick maker Resco to resist such changes and were poised to strike at ArcelorMittal before the company withdrew its concessionary demands.

Quebec law already bans discriminatory, two-tier wage schemes. At its 2015 convention, Quebec’s Liberal Party passed a resolution to also ban two-tier pension plans, but the Liberal government has yet to act on its own policy.

“The Steelworkers have been fighting against two-tier pension plans for several years. We are asking that legislation be finally introduced to prohibit such discrimination, as happened with wages in 2001,” Masse said.

“ABI needs to be aware that it is heading straight into a wall with its demands. Steelworkers before us fought for these rights and we are ready to follow in their footsteps. The current economic climate is particularly favourable to aluminum producers that are reaping huge profits. This should be reflected in the working and living standards of their employees,” he added.

In addition to discriminatory pension demands, negotiations at the ABI smelter have also stalled over the company’s opposition to seniority rights for employees, particularly with respect to widespread job transfers and mobility issues expected in coming years as hundreds of new workers are hired.

The existing collective agreement at the smelter is set to expire on Nov. 22.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

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Softwood Lumber Duties by U.S. Remain Devastating for Canada http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/softwood-lumber-duties-by-u-s-remain-devastating-for-canada Fri, 03 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/softwood-lumber-duties-by-u-s-remain-devastating-for-canada VANCOUVER – “The U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement of final duties averaging 20.8% on Canadian softwood is completely unjustified and will be crippling for Canadian workers and our forestry industry if not overturned,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

“Canada must do more to protect our forest-dependent communities in the face of such baseless and illegal action,” Neumann said.

The U.S. announcement of duties of 20.8% on most softwood exports from Canada comes after the breakdown of industry negotiations by Canadian and American softwood producers and in the midst of the deadlocked renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“This decision to uphold the imposition of tariffs is a major setback for the Canadian forestry sector, including tens of thousands of Canadian workers and communities with remaining mills,” said Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chairperson, representing 40,000 workers across the country.

“Forestry workers and communities in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec will be particularly hard hit if these unwarranted and baseless duties are allowed to stand,” Matters said.

“In B.C. alone, more than 100 sawmills have closed and thousands of jobs have been lost as the previous government allowed raw log exports to skyrocket. Canada cannot allow our forestry sector to be further decimated,” he said.

Decisive action is needed from Canada’s Liberal government, which has indicated it is considering options to try to overturn the U.S. tariffs, said Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

“Ideally, the best solution for workers on both sides of the border is a negotiated settlement on softwood lumber and the termination of unfair duties,” Hunt said.

“In the absence of such a solution, Canada must state unequivocally that it will use every avenue possible – including legal action through NAFTA and the World Trade Organization – to overturn these duties which are without merit,” he said.

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Steelworkers Make Gains in 9th Straight Successful Contract with Goldcorp http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-make-gains-in-9th-straight-successful-contract-with-goldcorp Tue, 31 Oct 2017 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-make-gains-in-9th-straight-successful-contract-with-goldcorp TIMMINS, Ont. – Improved wages, benefits and pensions are among the gains achieved by United Steelworkers (USW) members in a new collective agreement with Goldcorp in Timmins.

Members of Steelworkers Local 7580 voted overwhelmingly on Monday to ratify a three-year collective agreement that includes total wage increases of 6%, a $500 signing bonus and improved language on cost-of-living allowances.

The new contract for 280 workers at Goldcorp’s Timmins operations will also provide pension benefit increases of more than 8% over the agreement’s term, to $66 per month, per year of service. As well, the qualifying age for a full pension has been reduced to 62.

The agreement includes several benefits improvements and an increase in the parental leave top-up to $225 per week. The contract strengthens language on recall and seniority rights, employee training related to technological change, as well as new provisions to support employees affected by domestic violence.

Ratification of the new contract marks the ninth successive collective agreement reached between the USW and Goldcorp without a labour dispute – over a period of 27 years.

“The union and the company came to the bargaining table with a willingness to engage in good-faith, respectful negotiations and the result is a good collective agreement that has been ratified by our members,” said USW Local 7580 President Mike Huard.

"We are committed to working together to ensure sustainable operations and maintain good jobs in our community,” Huard said.

“I congratulate Steelworkers Local 7580 members for building on the progress made over the years to improve their working and living standards, from wages and benefits to pensions and health and safety,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“This successful collective bargaining history exemplifies the USW’s track record in negotiating good contracts with employers across the country. In fact, 97% of USW collective agreements are negotiated and ratified without a labour dispute of any kind,” Warren said.

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Steelworkers Ratify Contract at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-ratify-contract-at-canadian-nuclear-laboratories Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-ratify-contract-at-canadian-nuclear-laboratories CHALK RIVER, Ont. – More than 500 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1568 employed at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) have reached a new collective agreement improving work standards at the Chalk River facility.

The two-year contract covers employees including technicians, technologists, IT personnel and radiation surveyors at the former Atomic Energy of Canada Limited site. The Crown corporation turned over operation of the site to the private sector and the facility is now controlled by an international consortium of corporations including SNC-Lavalin.

The collective agreement for USW Local 1568 members is effective retroactively to April 1 of this year. It includes total wage increases of 3% and provisions to resolve pension issues caused by the federal government’s privatization of AECL.

In the event the federal government follows through with plans to remove CNL employees from a public service pension plan, the collective agreement provides for a switch to the Canadian Energy and Related Industries (CERi) Pension Plan, a union-sponsored, multi-employer plan.

The agreement improves contract language affecting issues such as seniority, hours of work and disciplinary matters. It also introduces new provisions recognizing the impact of domestic violence and mental health issues on the workplace.

USW Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren congratulated the Chalk River workers for achieving a new collective agreement under challenging circumstances created by privatization and austerity policies of successive federal governments.

“Our federal government continues to make it more difficult for working people to improve their working and living standards and to protect their retirement security,” Warren said.

“It is a significant achievement for our members at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories to confront these challenges and to reach a new collective agreement that addresses these issues in their workplace,” he said.

“The work of United Steelworkers members is a primary factor in the success of CNL operations and for Canada’s standing as a leader in the peaceful use and development of nuclear energy, science and technology.”

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Steelworkers' Taxi Workers Council Will Provide Strong Voice for Taxi Workers in Western Canada http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-taxi-workers-council-will-provide-strong-voice-for-taxi-workers-in-western-canada Wed, 25 Oct 2017 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-taxi-workers-council-will-provide-strong-voice-for-taxi-workers-in-western-canada SASKATOON, Oct. 25, 2017  - The United Steelworkers (USW) commitment to providing a strong voice for taxi workers has taken a significant step forward today with the creation of the District 3 Taxi Workers Council, which will represent taxi drivers and dispatchers across Western Canada.

The Council brings together representatives from USW local unions to work together on the specific issues faced by taxi drivers and dispatchers, to provide leadership that will ensure that USW taxi workers are at the forefront of building a safe and fair taxi industry.

The Chair of the newly created District 3 Taxi Workers Council says taxi drivers and dispatchers are standing together to fight for their rights as workers.

"The establishment of the District 3 Taxi Workers Council demonstrates the USW's commitment to ensuring that every taxi worker in every province is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve," says Malik Umar Draz of USW Local 2014 in Saskatoon.

Over two days of meetings, USW members employed in the taxi industry strategized about how to bring forward solutions to the many issues faced by taxi drivers and dispatchers; and how to grow their membership and ensure that more taxi workers benefit from the strength and voice that comes with belonging to the Steelworkers.

"As Canada's most diverse union, we are proud of our record of fighting for workers in many different industries and sectors of the economy. I'm proud that we are building on our work representing taxi drivers and dispatchers by creating the District 3 Taxi Workers Council," says USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

"Together, we will make progress for taxi workers and ensure they have a seat at the table."

From a growing number of incidents of workplace violence, to challenging working conditions and issues like Uber, Lyft and others, taxi workers face many daunting matters. The District 3 Taxi Workers Council will provide the forum and leadership to address these issues and pursue respect, fairness and dignity. 

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Nanticoke Steelworker Norm Jamison Made History with NDP in 1990 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworker-norm-jamison-made-history-with-ndp-in-1990 Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworker-norm-jamison-made-history-with-ndp-in-1990 By Daniel Nolan

No one believed Norm Jamison would win — including Norm Jamison.

The Nanticoke steelworker had doubts he could win Norfolk riding for the New Democrats and unseat longtime Liberal incumbent MPP Gord Miller in the 1990 provincial election. He ran unsuccessfully for the NDP against Miller in 1987.

But a series of circumstances — including angry voters and bad timing by the governing Liberals — conspired against them and helped Jamison make history in the conservative-minded rural riding.

He and 73 of his colleagues were elected in an Orange wave on Sept. 6, 1990, ushering in Ontario's first, and so far only, NDP government.

"Just think about it," the victorious, and obviously elated, Jamison said to supporters and reporters election night. "This is the first time that Norfolk went to the NDP. That says it all, don't you think?"

But just as easily as the New Democrats came into power, they were ousted five years later by a Progressive Conservative sweep. Jamison — who died Oct. 3 at 67 at his Port Rowan home after a battle with liver cancer — was ousted by Conservative Toby Barrett, who is marking 22 years in office this year.

Complete article in the Hamilton Spectator

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CEZinc Steelworkers in Australia to Build Labour Solidarity http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/cezinc-steelworkers-in-australia-to-build-labour-solidarity Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:13:20 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/cezinc-steelworkers-in-australia-to-build-labour-solidarity QUEENSLAND, Australia, Oct. 17, 2017 - A delegation of Quebec Steelworkers representing striking employees at the CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield is in Australia building a solidarity campaign for workers under attack by multinational resource giant Glencore.

The Quebec delegation, representing members of United Steelworkers Local 6486 who have been on strike at CEZinc since February, includes Steelworkers union representative Luc Julien and Local 6486 executive member Maurice Vallée.

The Quebec Steelworkers met today with workers at the Oaky North coal mine in Queensland state who have been locked out by Glencore since June. The 190 locked-out workers are members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

Glencore also is the principal shareholder of Noranda Income Fund, the operator of the CEZinc refinery in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que.

"No matter where you are, whether it's Australia or Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Glencore's greed and its determination to weaken worker solidarity are common issues facing working people. But in Australia as in Quebec, corporations such as Glencore and its progeny Noranda Income Fund are meeting a wall of resistance from the solidarity, resilience and pride of workers," said Julien.

As negotiations with Noranda Income Fund remain at a standstill, the Quebec Steelworkers are building global solidarity with Glencore workers in several countries.
The 371 striking Steelworkers at CEZinc voted by a 97% majority on Oct. 2 to reject a company offer that was virtually the same concessionary offer that triggered the strike last February.

"Management negotiators like to tell us that this conflict will be resolved in Quebec. They're quite right, but they need to have a real mandate to negotiate," Julien said.

"They appear to want to keep us in Quebec, even though nothing is happening at the bargaining table, because we're disrupting things abroad. Workers are standing up and building ties and this bothers them. These are workers who are refusing to give in to a multinational corporation intent on breaking them. They are not alone; we are not alone."

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We’re Not In It For the Money: Counselling Staff on Strike for Fair Contract http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/counselling-staff-strike-for-fair-contract Mon, 16 Oct 2017 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/counselling-staff-strike-for-fair-contract SUDBURY – “A message to our clients: We care about you,” is the headline on a leaflet that counselling staff are handing to clients visiting the Sudbury Counselling Centre.

Counselling staff at the centre, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, are not at work today. They’re outside the building delivering apologies to their clients.

The 10 counselling staff, all women, are on strike. Working at a charitable non-profit centre is by no means highly paid, but it’s not about the money.

“These women are passionate about the work they do. They’re invested in their jobs and their clients. They come to work because they care about the clients. Unfortunately, the new management suddenly doesn’t feel the same way,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a re-write of an employment contract that’s been effective for over 30 years. There’s been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason,” said Lynne Descary, USW Staff Representative.

“After four meetings with a conciliator, we didn’t even get to monetary discussions at the table,” said Descary.

While on strike, the counselling staff will continue to offer their children’s services, such as the Child Witness Program, for vulnerable children in the community scheduled to appear in court.

Counselling staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing sexual and domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

Counselling staff are apologizing to clients and to community partners who refer clients to the centre.

The staff members are asking clients and agency partners to contact management and ask the employer to respect the staff and return to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement.

The existing collective agreement expired on July 31. Bargaining since August 24, there’s been no movement after four conciliation meetings. With a 100% strike mandate, counselling staff were in a legal strike position as of Oct. 14. 

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New Collective Agreement for Safety Agents http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/new-collective-agreement-for-safety-agents Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:51:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/new-collective-agreement-for-safety-agents Katinniq, Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - Three years after getting their union certified, the Raglan mine security officers, near Katinniq in the far north of Quebec, finally have a new employment contract.

Following a rather unusual legal procedure, possible only before a first collective agreement, an arbitrator decided and enacted the terms of their new employment contract after hearing the official requests of the parties.

"I would like to acknowledge the resilience of our members who waited three years before getting this contract," says Harold Arseneault, union representative. "They had to deal with an employer who was busy making all the legal provisions within its reach to push back the possibilities of agreement. They never gave up. "

Workers, who are members of USW Local 9449 will therefore benefit from a new three-year collective agreement as of September 1st. They are granted retroactive salary increases because of an increase in their classification in the company's wage policy. On normative questions, this contract confirms the current situation with regard to collective insurances, overtime, vacations, bonuses, as well as prohibiting executives from performing the work that is reserved for them.

"Our arguments were heard by the arbitrator," concludes Harold Arsenault. "On all normative questions, the employer sought to obtain setbacks in the working conditions of our members. His decision to impose the status quo on these issues and to incorporate the current conditions into the collective agreement is in itself a victory."

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Regina Cabs Ignoring City Bylaw Change, Taxi Drivers Blocked from Using City-Issued Licences http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/regina-cabs-ignoring-city-bylaw-change-taxi-drivers-blocked-from-using-city-issued-licenses Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/regina-cabs-ignoring-city-bylaw-change-taxi-drivers-blocked-from-using-city-issued-licenses REGINA – Taxi drivers are calling out Regina Cabs management for their refusal to recognize drivers with taxi plates issued through a newly amended city distribution system.

In August of this year, a change was made to a city bylaw to issue taxi plates directly to drivers, instead of brokers who lease them back to drivers for steep monthly fees. This change is a first step to a fairer, equitable system, which provides better service to the public and gives more choice and control to drivers over their working conditions.

Regina Cabs, which in previous years would have been issued the plates directly, is refusing to allow drivers who were awarded plates through the new lottery system to work under their name.

“This move by Regina Cabs is a slap in the face to the public, taxi drivers and Regina City Council,” says Muhammad Ameer, a driver with Regina Cabs.

“We knew that the brokers weren’t happy about the change. In fact, the owner of Regina Cabs lobbied to keep the former, broken system intact,” says Leslie McNabb, United Steelworkers Staff Representative.

United Steelworkers represents over 500 taxi drivers in the province of Saskatchewan and has been fighting for better working condition for the industry for over five years.

“Our members have been mistreated, bullied and taken advantage of by the broker companies that charge fees to drivers which in many cases means they don’t even make minimum wage per-hour,” says Steve Hunt, Western Canada Director for the United Steelworkers. “The taxi industry has run with impunity for many years and it’s time for them to be held accountable.”

The Regina system is not unique as it was modelled after a similar system in Saskatoon. The Steelworkers are demanding that the City take steps to ensure that all the seasonal taxi plates are in operation for the winter season when our community so desperately needs them.

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Steelworkers Issue Joint NAFTA Statement at Trinational Labour Summit http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-issue-joint-nafta-statement-at-trinational-labour-summit Thu, 12 Oct 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/steelworkers-issue-joint-nafta-statement-at-trinational-labour-summit WASHINGTON, D.C. – A renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement must reverse the erosion of economic security, raise living and working conditions for all and provide broad, effective and enforceable labour rights, say leaders of the United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest industrial union.

At the Trinational Labour Summit in Washington, D.C., the USW’s International President Leo W. Gerard and Canadian National Director Ken Neumann today released the following joint statement:

Joint Press Statement
Leo W. Gerard, USW International President
Ken Neumann, USW Canadian National Director

Trinational Labour Summit
October 12, 2017

We have come together today as the NAFTA renegotiations reach a critical point. Labour leaders from Mexico, Canada and the United States were joined by progressive leaders from the U.S. Congress and discussed the challenges and opportunities that workers face in the three countries.

The United Steelworkers (USW) is the largest industrial union in North America. We know first-hand the impact of failed trade policies. That impact has been devastating. Since NAFTA, wage inequality has worsened and wage growth has stagnated in both Canada and the United States. Workers’ economic security has been eroded. In Mexico, wages and working conditions have fallen further behind and workers’ rights are suppressed on a regular basis.

USW members in Canada and the United States and our free and independent brothers and sisters with the Los Mineros union in Mexico all fought for broad, effective and enforceable labour rights provisions in the existing NAFTA. Our calls were rejected, and the ruinous impact of NAFTA on working people has been clear.

We all want a renegotiated agreement if it will raise standards, ensure that they are enforced, and provide growth and opportunity for workers in all three countries. NAFTA has concentrated income, wealth and power in the hands of wealthy investors and corporations instead of creating good jobs and protecting the environment. 

Rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement, currency issues, and many others need to be addressed in any renegotiated agreement. But, without significant improvements in workers’ rights provisions, there will be little progress in any updated agreement. Working people will not share in any of the benefits their work helps to create.

Last year, voters here in the United States made trade a core issue in the campaign. Our brothers and sisters in Mexico and Canada have the same aspirations. It is time for our political leaders to keep the promises that were made and not bow to the special interests and free trade ideologues. We intend to work together. We intend to fight. And, we intend to win.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: www.usw.org and www.usw.ca.

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