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 News@6 Spring 2018 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/news-at-6-spring2018 Thu, 03 May 2018 15:17:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/news-at-6-spring2018 News@6 Spring 2018In this issue:

  • Marty's Message: From Bargaining to Politics, Members Making a Difference
  • Ontario Election - In It To Win It
  • Ontario Election - Steelworkers Vote
  • Ontario Election - Steelworkers Run as Candidates
  • Bargaining Successes
  • Retirees First - Scott Duvall's End Pension Theft Campaign
  • A New NAFTA Must Help Workers
  • Power Up - D6 Conference Coming Soon
  • District 6 Wins International Health and Safety Honours
  • Real Help for Injured Workers
  • Women of Steel Honoured with Labour Arts Award

Download the PDF of News@6

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Ontario Steelworkers Talk to Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/ontario-steelworkers-talk-to-andrea-horwath Thu, 03 May 2018 11:59:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/ontario-steelworkers-talk-to-andrea-horwath Marty, Andrea and Alex at our telephone town hall

Thanks to Steelworkers from across Ontario for participating in our telephone town hall with Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and USW Ontario Director Marty Warren on April 30.

Steelworkers got to hear from Andrea about her plan for a better Ontario – better hydro, better health care and better jobs.

Members from across Ontario spoke with Andrea about pension theft, changes to WSIB to support injured workers, jobs and the economy, improving our health care and other workers’ issues.

During the call, Andrea gave a shout-out to six Steelworkers who are running as NDP candidates in this election.

In this election, Ontario deserves better. As Andrea says on the call, we don’t have to choose between bad and worse. USW believes there is a better choice: Andrea Horwath and the NDP.

Audio from our telephone town hall is below.

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Accelerate! Accelerate! Said the Workers to Their Wages https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/accelerate-accelerate-said-the-workers-to-their-wages Fri, 27 Apr 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/accelerate-accelerate-said-the-workers-to-their-wages The recent wage data provided by Statistics Canada, from their monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS), is encouraging. The data for March 2018 confirms the trend we began to see emerge in late 2017. After stagnating for much of 2016 and 2017, wage growth appears to be finally accelerating. For the sixth month in a row, wages have grown over 2%, while in the previous three months they have grown over 3%. However, it is important not to overstate the acceleration evident in the recent data. While wage growth is apparent, the survey tends to overstate this acceleration. This is largely due to the Total Employees, All Occupations (TEAO) category which contains both management and non-management employees. When we exclude management from the data, we obtain a much more sober picture of wage growth. Even though there is clear evidence of wage growth for non-management employees, it is slower than the TEAO figure and much slower than the growth of management wages. Charts I and II below provide a more accurate picture of the recent wage data.

1

For March 2018, the TEAO average hourly wage had increased by 3.25% on a year-over-year basis to $26.97. When we remove management from the calculation, the year-over-year figure declines to a 2.96% increase. In wage terms, the increase for Non-Management Occupations (NMO) places the average wage at $25.72. While the difference between the two categories and accompanying wage rates may be seen as insignificant, this difference is created by a very small minority of the working population. Management, as a group within Total Employees, represents only 6-7% of the working population, yet their wages are still able to considerably skew the wage of the average worker, contributing approximately a 5% difference between the categories (TEAO and NMO). The category of NMO provides a more accurate picture of wage growth of the average worker than does the Total Employees, All Occupations category.

Total Employees vs Non-Management Employees

2

 The (late) 2017 wage trend is clearly in the direction of accelerating wage growth for both TEAO and NMO. However, when we remove management from the calculation a more accurate picture of the growth of the wages of the average worker emerges. While wage growth was largely flat for both TEAO and NMO – on a year-over-year basis – this was particularly the case for the latter. For NMO, wages only really began to accelerate in the latter part of 2017, in November, reaching slightly over 2% on a year-over-year basis which has so far continued in the early part of 2018. This is in contrast to the TEAO data that shows a consistent increase of over 2% year-over-year growth beginning in September and reaching over 3% for the first three months of 2018 (3.31% 3.10% and 3.25%). As of yet, NMO wage growth, on a year-over-year basis, has not managed to hit over 3%, although it came close in the previous month, reaching its highest year-over-year of 2.96% in March.

 If we look at wage growth in the latter part of 2017, there is much more parity in terms of acceleration between the two figures although NMO wages still show slower growth. From August to December, the period in which all of the nominal wage growth for workers in 2017 is concentrated, the TEAO data expresses a 2.9% increase, while for NMO it is slightly below at 2.8%. Furthermore, earlier in the year, from January to May, wages for NMO did not increase over 1% on a year-over-year basis and actually registered a decline if measured over that continuous period.

Speaking in real wage terms, as Chart II demonstrates, it was only in the latter part of the year, beginning in September 2017 (but only really taking off in November) that real wage growth for NMO accelerated and began to consistently trend above inflation. This is in contrast to the TEAO data, which expresses the trend much earlier. If we look at the data on a natural year basis (Jan.-Dec.), NMO wages grew by 2.07%, while inflation increased by 2% – an increase of 0.07% of real wages for the average worker – an insignificant increase in workers’ purchasing power. Looking at the TEAO data (2.73%) for the same time period, real wages would appear to have grown by 0.73%.

Mo’ Money for Management

Although management wage growth experienced a slowdown in early 2017 as compared to 2016, this growth was still significantly higher than NMO (Chart I). For the first half of the year, when economic growth was at its peak, management wages grew by 2.35%, compared to NMO which experienced negative wage growth. For management, things only got better as the year progressed. The year-over-year figures for management surged in late 2017 and into early 2018, reaching a 4.89% year-over-year for March. Looking at the data for the natural year of 2017 alone, management wages grew by 5.88% – significantly higher than NMO wage growth which clocked in at just 2.07% for the same period. Expressed in wage proportion terms, 2017 looks something like this: in January of 2017, the average hourly wage of NMO represented roughly 60% of the management hourly wage. By December 2017, the average hourly wage of a NMO had declined by 2%, representing only 58% of the average hourly wage of management.

Some occupations within management saw their wages explode in 2017 and have continued to do so in the early part of 2018. This is particularly the case with Senior Management (SM). In November and December of 2017, SM wage growth on a year-over-year basis increased 11.32% and 27.15%. This growth has continued in early 2018, with year-over-year increases of 18.10%, 19.74% and 19.84% for the first three months of the year. If we take 2017 alone, SM wages grew by 19.89%; in wage terms that equals a $9.20 raise, bringing the SM wage to $55.45/hr. In comparison, the average worker received a $0.52 raise. When we express these changes in the wage proportion terms of the average worker, the numbers are absolutely dismal. In January of 2017, the NMO hourly wage represented roughly 53.80% of the hourly wage of SM. By December of 2017, NMO hourly wage had declined to just 45.80% of SM hourly wage, a fall of 8%. While the average worker saw their nominal wage increase (the money price of their wage), their relative wages declined – relative to senior management – in 2017, even amidst strong economic growth.

While 2017 did see some wage growth for NMO, this was at best, mild. If the use of car metaphors is permitted, NMO wage growth was more like a Ford Ranger taking 10 seconds to hit 0-60 mph, while management was more like a BMW228 taking five seconds to do the same. By the end of 2017, while the average worker could claim some nominal wage gains, their real wages had largely stagnated while their relative wages had declined in comparison to their bosses’. In other words, it appears that much of the prosperity that 2017 heralded for Canadians was concentrated in the top 2% of occupations while the rest of the working population sat in their Ford Ranger watching that BMW speed by.

A Brief Occupational Analysis

Blue Collar Wage Blues[1]  

3

Chart III graphs the wage growth of blue collar workers for 2016-2018. Similar to the trend of NMO, blue collar workers only began to see their wages grow in the later part of 2017 and beginning of 2018. This long-awaited wage growth has only emerged after a largely stagnant 2016 and most of 2017. In fact, if the natural year of 2017 is measured, blue collar workers’ wages only, increased by 0.74%, with most of this wage growth, like NMO, concentrated in the latter part of the year. If we extend our analysis to early 2018, the picture becomes a little brighter. From August 2017 to March 2018, blue collar wages grew 4.29%. Although the wage rate of blue collar workers demonstrates quite dramatic fluctuations – sustained periods of wage growth and then decline largely due to the nature of the industries involved which are often characterized by seasonal high/low times (natural resources, construction), prodution slowdowns and shutdowns/retooling – a two-year time period analysis of the wage growth of blue collar workers demonstrates largely stagnant wage growth. From March 2016 to March 2018, blue collar wages have grown by just 3.6%, or 1.8% each year.

Service Sector Wage Surge

4

After stagnating for much of 2016 and most of 2017, sales/service occupation wage growth – excluding management/supervisory occupations – surged in the tail end of 2017, reaching a year-over-year highs of 5.1.8 % in January, 5.22% in February and 5.62% in March of 2018. Measured in terms of the natural year of 2017, those workers in sales/service occupations saw a 3.23% increase to their hourly wage. While the month-to-month increase – 1.9% – in December 2017 to January 2018 jump can, in large part, be attributed to the minimum wage increase in Ontario and its spillover effects, wage growth in sales and service occupations had begun demonstrating stronger month-to-month growth begining in July – from January to June, wages had grown only 0.77%, while from July to December, sales and service wages grew by 2.1% – and strong year-over-year growth beginning in September of 2017. This suggests, a largely secular bidding up of wages arising from a tightening labour market, following the tendency of NMO.

The Bottom 40% & 20%[2]

5

The most interesting data comes from an analysis of those occupations that compose the bottom 40% and 20% of occupations in the labour market. While for the average worker wage growth began very late and was relatively mild, when we take the bottom 40% and 20%, the wage growth picture demonstrates the opposite trend. Chart VI demonstrates that both NOC 4-7 (bottom 40%) and NOC 5-7 (bottom 20%) demonstrated much stronger wage growth which came much earlier in the year than NMO. Compared to the zero wage growth for the first six months of the year of NMO, the bottom 20% of those in the labour market saw their wages increase, albeit mildly, by 1.19%. While still relatively low, if analyzed on a year-over-year basis, we can see that both NOC 4-7 and especially NOC 5-7, begin to express much stronger year-over-year growth early on in 2017.

In fact, the bottom 20% see increases of over 2% year-over-year for 10 straight months beginning in March and over 3% five times, while the bottom 40% begin to show signs of stronger growth in May, consistently hovering around or over 2% and reaching 3% and 4% in the latter part of the year. In late 2017, as the wages of the average worker were finally growing consistently over 2% on a year-over-year basis, those in the bottom 40% and 20%, were witnessing increases in the range of well over 3% and 4%. Measured in terms of the natural year, those workers in the bottom 20% saw a wage increase of 3.76%, while those in the bottom 40% saw a 3.73% increase compared to the 2.07% of NMO. This wage growth has continued in the first three months of 2018 with year-over-year increases in the 4-5% rnage. Moreover, since December 2017, those at the bottom 40% and 20% have seen their wages accelerate faster than their fellow NMO, with increases of 1.33% and 2.03% respectively, in comparison to 1.26% of NMO. For 2017, in contrast to the average worker, those at the bottom of the labour market, and particularly those at the bottom 20% saw their wages bid up largely in line with economic growth, declining unemployment and tightening labour markets. In this sense, we could say that at the very least, those at the bottom of the labour market did manage to benefit a little bit more from Canada’s better-than-average 2017 economic performance than some of their fellow NMO workers. This is, of course, positive news. After all, these are workers making a relatively low hourly wage and therefore in much more need of getting a wage boost.


[1] Blue Collar Workers are those non-management/supervisory occupations classified in the NOC in Manufacturing, Natural Resources and Trades, Transport and equipment operators and related occupations.

[2] The bottom 40% is composed of NOC 4-7 Occupations excluding professional occupations but including technical ones. The bottom 20% is composed of NOC 5-7, and excludes both technical and professional occupations.

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"Be More Than A Bystander” Training Already Making An Impression https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/be-more-than-a-bystander-training-already-making-an-impression Wed, 18 Apr 2018 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/be-more-than-a-bystander-training-already-making-an-impression It seems that every time you open a newspaper or turn on the six o’clock news these days, you’re surrounded by bad news. Whether it’s the chaotic sideshow of American politics or the latest political scandal here at home, it can make you deeply cynical about the state of our world. That’s why it’s even more important to celebrate the stories that make us proud.

One such story recently appeared on the website of the Canadian Football League’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and there’s a USW connection.

Rob Desnomie is a Steelworker from Regina who works at Evraz Steel and is a member of local 5890. Desnomie recently had the opportunity to attend the first run of USW District 3’s “Be More Than A Bystander” training held in Harrison, BC.

Along with 15 other USW brothers, Desnomie went through an intensive 4 day session to prepare to become a spokesman for the “Be More Than A Bystander; Breaking The Silence On Gender Based Violence”. The training is led by Tracy Porteus from Ending Violence Association of BC and is a partnership between EVABC and USW District 3.

Supporting the training were four CFL players: JR Larose, Angus Reid and Jamie Taras of the BC Lions, and Matthias Goosen of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The players facilitated sessions throughout the week and Goosen’s message clearly resonated with Desnomie who told Bluebombers.com that he and his wife would be donning No.61’s jersey when the Bombers pay a visit to Roughriders country this season. A true act of bravery as Steelworkers from Saskatchewan will know.

USW spokesman have already begun to deliver sessions throughout the District and the feedback has been extraordinary. Locals interested in booking a session are encouraged to contacted Dayna Sykes at dsykes@usw.ca

To read the full story of Brother Rob Desnomie and Matthias Goosen visit: https://www.bluebombers.com/2018/04/17/goossen-leaving-lasting-impression-community/

 

 

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Introducing Atkinson Foundation Podcast: Just Work It https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/atkinson-podcast-just-work-it Tue, 10 Apr 2018 07:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/atkinson-podcast-just-work-it justworkitThe millennial generation spans two decades, 1981 to 2001. We all grew up with technology. The first wave grew up with personal computers, cell phones and video game systems. The second is known for their tablets, smartphones and apps. We have the edge over our parents and grandparents when it comes to communications, media and digital technologies, but we’re behind them by every economic measure. 

'Just Work It,' is the Atkinson Foundation’s brand new platform for podcasts and events on decent work for and by those of us who are called “millennials.”

Click here to listen now. 

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Workers Were Sold a Lie https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/workers-were-sold-a-lie Tue, 27 Mar 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/workers-were-sold-a-lie As NAFTA renegotiations drag on, Steelworkers and our allies across the continent are dogging the governments of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico with a clear message: if this trade agreement is worth saving, it must serve the interests of working people.

An open letter co-authored by leaders of the USW and Los Mineros, Mexico’s mineworkers union, attracted media coverage when NAFTA negotiations shifted to Montreal in January.

“With NAFTA, workers were sold a lie,” stated the joint letter from USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann, USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau, USW International President Leo W. Gerard and Los Mineros President Napoleon Gomez.

“NAFTA has not served the needs and expectations of working people and the most vulnerable in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. It was a corporate-rights agreement that … benefited the rich and powerful while effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has portrayed himself as a knight in shining armour, committed to negotiating a so-called “progressive” NAFTA.

To be truly progressive, however, a trade deal needs strong, enforceable provisions on key issues such as labour rights and environmental standards. Trudeau’s credibility on these issues took a severe blow in January when his government completed secret negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a corporate-friendly trade deal among 11 Pacific Rim countries.

A “progressive” deal in name only

Prior to the 2015 federal election, Trudeau denounced the Conservative government’s secret negotiations on the TPP. He promised a Liberal government would be open and transparent in pursuing trade deals.

Once elected, the Liberals continued the same secret TPP agenda. And with NAFTA’s fate in limbo, Trudeau became desperate to secure a Trans-Pacific deal.

As TPP details leak out, it has become clear why the Trudeau government kept Canadians in the dark. The agreement will further erode Canada’s manufacturing and industrial base, eliminate middleclass jobs and drive down wages and working conditions.

The TPP embraces corporate rights and power, while Canadian auto, steel, dairy, transportation and construction workers will face a race-to-the-bottom competition from cheap labour and poor working, safety and environmental standards in Asia.

The TPP entrenches one of the greatest failings of such trade deals – the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. ISDS allows multinational corporations to sue our government – in secret tribunals – if they believe our laws infringe on their potential profits.

Incredibly, the Trudeau government also is fighting to preserve ISDS in a new NAFTA, while even the rightwing American government recognizes that ISDS must be removed from the agreement.

“In its desperation to sign the TPP, the Trudeau government was severely outplayed in the negotiations by countries including Japan, Australia and Vietnam. Facing a choice to accept a bad deal or no deal, Trudeau blinked,” Ken Neumann said when the deal was announced.

The Liberals can take credit for one particular change – insisting on a cynical revision of the TPP’s official title. The new deal is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. But it is a “progressive” deal in name only.

A NAFTA for all workers

Steelworkers are not anti-trade. To the contrary, we recognize that many jobs rely on trade. We also believe trade deals must raise living standards for all workers and reverse growing inequality.

Canada’s government must recognize that NAFTA faces a crisis of political legitimacy because it places corporate rights and powers ahead of Canadian jobs and meaningful labour and environmental standards.

If NAFTA is to survive, it must create a fair, democratic and secure trade regime. It must finally serve the interests of working people.


This article can be found in the March 2018 edition of the National Director's Update.

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Stepping Up to Stop Harassment https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/stepping-up-to-stop-harassment Thu, 22 Mar 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/stepping-up-to-stop-harassment Photo of a woman with a placard: Stand with survivors


Speak Out. Speak Up. Believe Survivors.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have revealed just how prevalent and pervasive sexual harassment is. More and more women are bravely coming forward with stories of sexual harassment by men in positions of power.

Why do we call these women ‘brave’? Because the least-common response to harassment (of any gender) is to report it.

Employees don’t report harassment because they fear they won’t be believed. They fear they will be blamed. They fear they will suffer retaliation or a setback in their work life. They fear alienation from co-workers.

Harassment and sexual harassment are union issues regardless of the complainants’ gender. While we must be sensitive to gender, women are almost four times as likely to have been harassed as men.

Our union has an anti-harassment policy. We are strong advocates for taking action to stop harassment. We are joining campaigns, partnering with allies and front-line community organizations. But we know this isn’t enough.

Let’s take this #MeToo #TimesUp moment as an opportunity to revisit and expand our policies.

We must talk about anti-harassment policies so our members know what to do if they or someone they know is experiencing harassment. Our union executive members and stewards should know what to do if someone comes forward. We must work to bring employer policies up to date.

Unions have a role in developing and enforcing strong policies to prevent and stop harassment. But we must also devote energy to being more supportive of those who come forward with experiences of harassment. We must find ways to offer emotional, psychological and moral support to members and staff complainants as we navigate the process involved in a complaint.

Women particularly, are feeling emboldened by the silence breaking that is happening in our society right now. Our union must be there for our members when they turn to us to tell their stories of harassment in the workplace. Survivors who come forward expect us to take action against harassment. Let’s make sure we are there for them and know what to do.

USW Is Updating our Anti-Harassment Policies

The USW National Office is revisiting our policies and guides to ensure we are following best practices and offering practical resources for preventing and dealing with harassment.

The USW is developing a training program for advocates who will be available to offer support and referrals to members in our workplaces experiencing harassment or domestic violence.

The USW is reviewing our Steelworkers Anti-Harassment Policy, the Yellow Sheet.

We are active in campaigns and initiatives with community partners on advocacy and education.

In the meantime, there are lots of resources and ideas for local union initiatives.

Anti-Harassment Resources

Know the Policies that Apply

In a unionized workplace, there are three places to look for anti-harassment policies:

  • Employer anti-harassment policies
  • Collective agreement
  • Provincial or territorial occupational health and safety laws or federal law in workplaces under federal jurisdiction

What Unions Can Do to End Harassment

  • Familiarize yourself with anti-harassment policies (employer policies, collective agreement, applicable laws).
  • Review employer policies against the checklist for workplace policies in the Steelworkers Guide to Preventing and Dealing with Harassment.
  • Work to strengthen employer and collective agreement policies through bargaining, side letters or through your joint health and safety committee.
  • Display the USW poster on sexual harassment in your workplace (available to download at www.usw.ca/womenofsteel.)
  • Have your local take the IndustriALL Pledge – Unions Say No To Violence: Not in our workplace, not in our union.
  • Discuss this article with your USW Staff Representative and make an action plan.
  • Promote and sign up for USW courses on harassment prevention and investigation.
  • Partner with organizations working to end sexual harassment and violence against women.
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Canadian Health Care Workers Find Common Ground https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadian-health-care-workers-find-common-ground Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:49:45 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadian-health-care-workers-find-common-ground Health care workers in western Canada are all members of amalgamated locals, which brings a unique set of challenges. Health care is not typically the dominant sector in these locals, and there are not always opportunities for health care workers to connect as a group.

This is why meetings like the one that took place in Edmonton, Alberta, on March 1 and 2 are so important in helping health care units share information on common concerns.

“There is a lot of benefit to having members from different health care units talk to one another,” said Ray White, District 3 health care coordinator and president of Local 1-207. “It’s easy to feel that issues like staff shortages, inadequate training and unreasonable allotments for getting work done are unique to a workplace when in fact they’re endemic to the whole industry.”

Some 16 members from three locals in Alberta and British Columbia spent the two-day meeting networking, sharing experiences, and discussing potential actions around organizing and workplace hazards. 

First and foremost, the group found commonality in their reasons for working in the sector – a desire to provide nurturing and dignified care for fellow human beings.

They also discussed how employer policies like quotas and time frames can put unrealistic expectations on the workers, often leaving them in a position where they must choose between doing their job well or adhering to untenable rules.

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health for the Province of Alberta, spoke with the group and listened to their concerns.

The group learned about regulatory and legal requirements regarding workplace violence, hazards and safety, along with some practical tools to address these needs in specific workplaces. They also learned about the successes the union has had in lobbying for better workplace protections and charted a course for further strengthening their collective voice.

“Health care is a growing and vital sector of our union,” said White. “We want to keep the lines of communication open between health care units in our area so we can support and learn from one another.”

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Young Workers Building Solidarity Across Borders and Seas https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/young-workers-building-solidarity-across-borders-and-seas Tue, 06 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/young-workers-building-solidarity-across-borders-and-seas Palm trees, white sand, blue seas, and countless hours of sun – that’s how most people see, imagine and expect Cuba to be. What most people don’t see or know about Cuba is that it is home to an inclusive and worker-friendly nation.

While resorts are designed to operate in a capitalist system, in socialist Cuba, they continue to be successful. How? A majority of resort workers are union members. As socialist fate would have it, workers not only have a say in their wages, but in the overall budget of their workplace.

Speaking with resort workers – during their workday and with their bosses’ permission – is just one of the worker-centred experiences central to the Global Youth Exchange, edition 2018.

Workers Uniting – the global union of the United Steelworkers, Unite the Union in the U.K. and Ireland, and Mineros in Mexico – and the Central de Trabajadores Cubanos (CTC, Workers Central Union of Cuba) participated in the third exchange in February.

GYE2018-GROUPYoung workers and activists from the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Cuba and Mexico gathered in Matanzas, Cuba for eight full days of learning, networking and building solidarity.

Participants engaged in both classroom and practical settings that were interconnected. A diverse class called for a discussion on a wide range topics. Young workers discussed education, health care, politics, labour’s bread-and butter issues such as workplaces, union density, organizing new workplaces and the changing and developing ways of communicating with members.

Classroom sessions were followed by related activities in the afternoon. This experience allowed our members to engage in everyday Cuban life, whether in the workplace, in the community, in their unions or in politics.

A conversation about politics translated to a visit to a local constituency office in Matanzas, where participants learned about the political process. Cuba’s elected representatives are unlike the ones the visiting participants are accustomed to. A seemingly complicated political process has resulted in a strong representation of women and everyday working people being elected to represent their communities at the National Assembly.

A conversation about one-another’s trade unions translated to visiting local union offices and various workplaces in the region. Almost 3.5 out of 5 million Cuban workers are members of a union. This speaks volumes for the elected officials who are working people and who ensure that the policies and systems in place make it easy for workers to join a union.

The Cubans allowed our group unfettered access to their leaders, their facilities, their resources and their hospitality. Various labour leaders in the Matanzas region accompanied participants in excursions and activities.

An invitation to a community event hosted especially for the Global Youth Exchange members demonstrated true Cuban hospitality. Visits to community organizations, a children’s hospital and a university engaged participants with how Cubans look after one another. A social justice lens and approach has led to a society that ensures everyone has equal access to opportunities and that no one is left behind.

The overall group’s experiences and lessons proved that working people can indeed make a difference in our unions, in our communities and help shape society that benefits every citizen.

The group arrived as individual trade union activists and left as a multinational, multiunion family ready to be the change they wish to see in the world and support one another in solidarity to accomplish these goals. While companies have taken their attacks to a global level, we, as union activists have to have global alliances to fight on even playing fields. 

The Global Youth Exchange continues to provide a rich experience to young trade unionists across the globe. The exchange is building valuable, lifelong friendships, solidarity and alliances.

 

GYE2018-GROUP-2

A Spanish version of this article can be found here/La versión en castellano de este artículo puede encontrarse aquíusw.ca/gye2018-sp

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Canada’s Exclusion from U.S. Aluminum, Steel Tariffs Clearly Warranted https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadas-exclusion-from-us-aluminum-steel-tariffs-clearly-warranted Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:57:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadas-exclusion-from-us-aluminum-steel-tariffs-clearly-warranted TORONTO, MONTREAL – Canada’s steel and aluminum producers clearly must be excluded from U.S. import tariffs announced today by President Donald Trump, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“The evidence is clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem that the U.S. administration is trying to address through its Section 232 investigation,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

U.S. President Donald Trump today announced plans to impose tariffs of 10% on aluminum imports and 25% on steel imports. Key details, such as whether fair-trading allies such as Canada will be excluded from duties, have yet to be disclosed.

“The investigation heard extensive evidence that Canada is a key U.S. ally that should be excluded from tariffs. Canada clearly is not one of the ‘bad actors’ that engage in unfair trade and dumping of aluminum and steel into the United States,” Neumann said.

“On the contrary, Canadian steel exports are part of deeply integrated supply chains for U.S. products. Imposing tariffs on Canadian exports risks causing significant economic harm and job losses on both sides of our border,” he said.

“The aim of the U.S. government’s Section 232 investigation is to respond to countries whose trade practices represent a threat to American national security. The evidence confirms that tariffs and punitive actions are warranted against ‘bad actor’ countries that engage in illegal dumping and unfair trade practices, including China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.”

“Canada is not the problem,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“The United States and Canada have integrated manufacturing markets. In addition, the defence and intelligence relationship between the countries is unique and integral to our security. Any solution must exempt Canadian production,” Gerard said. “At the same time, Canada must commit to robust enforcement of its trade laws and enhance its cooperation to address global overcapacity in steel and aluminum.”

Steelworkers' Quebec Director Alain Croteau asserted that “U.S. tariffs against Canadian aluminum producers would not serve the interests of the American economy.

“Canadian producers represent a stable, secure and environmentally favourable source of aluminum that benefits American industry and consumers,” Croteau said.

“Canadian and American workers and consumers should expect that the U.S. government will do the right thing and exempt Canadian aluminum and steel exports from tariffs or quotas,” he added.

The USW reiterated its call for the Government of Canada to act decisively to defend Canadian industries and jobs.

“U.S. tariffs threaten to increase the dumping of cheap foreign steel into Canada,” Neumann said. “The federal government must act to protect Canadian industry and jobs from this potential diversion of cheap imports into our markets.”

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Steelworkers Hoping New Owner Comes Forward for Hamilton Specialty Bar https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/steelworkers-hoping-new-owner-comes-forward-for-hamilton-specialty-bar Thu, 01 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/steelworkers-hoping-new-owner-comes-forward-for-hamilton-specialty-bar HAMILTON – United Steelworkers (USW) representatives say they are doing everything they can to help find a new owner for the Hamilton Specialty Bar (HSB) mill that is in receivership and facing imminent closure.

“We have been informed that a motion to liquidate the company will be heard in court on March 14, as no formal bids have been received to take over operation of the plant,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“We are working with our legal and financial advisors to do everything we can to help convince a potential buyer to come forward with a viable offer for the mill. We hope that, in the next 10 days, there will be a proposal for a going-concern bid for the plant,” Warren said.

“We know there are parties that still have interest in the mill and we know this plant can be successful, if given the chance,” said Mickey Mercanti, President of Steelworkers Local 4752, representing HSB employees.

While the receiver in Hamilton Specialty Bar’s court-supervised bankruptcy protection case has accepted a liquidation bid, the liquidation plan can be terminated if a viable bid to purchase the plant is received in coming days.

“It’s not over and we’re not giving up. We’re doing everything we can to find a new owner,” Mercanti said.

The HSB plant is an electric-arc mill that melts its own steel and manufactures products such as ingots and round bars, mostly for the automotive industry.

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Join the USW in saying NO to violence, harassment against women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/nvaw Thu, 01 Mar 2018 10:39:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/nvaw

Violence seriously impacts women workers' lives around the globe, with sexual harassment its most reported form. Violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights. It is an obstacle to gender equality. Violence against women at work is a core trade union issue affecting workers’ rights, safety, health and dignity. All forms of violence and harassment against women and all workers are unacceptable! Please sign on to the pledge, then click here to print out a version you can take to your next local union meeting and ask them to sign on, too.

I am joining my union, the USW International, in taking the IndustriALL “Say No to Violence Against Women” pledge:

  • To take a public stand against all forms of violence and harassment against women and to condemn all attitudes and actions that perpetuate sexism and violence
  • To take up the issue as a priority in our union and to allocate the necessary resources for activities aimed at preventing and combatting this violation of women’s rights
  • To foster a culture of respect for women within our union by raising the awareness of our members, staff and officials and providing education on the importance of eradicating violence and harassment in the workplace and in our union
  • To encourage our members to actively take a stand against violence and harassment against women, especially in their own workplaces
  • To organize campaigns aimed at preventing and combating violence against women
  • To demand that governments enact and enforce laws to protect women from violence
  • To demand that employers develop policies against all forms of violence and harassment at work, and promote awareness among their employees on the devastating impacts of violence against women and the importance of eradicating it
  • To demand that employers develop concrete policies and procedures to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women in their premises and supply chains, and establish safe mechanisms for women to turn to if they are assaulted or attacked at work
  • To include demands for the eradication of violence and harassment against women in our collective bargaining claims*.

 

*Please contact your USW staff representative for ideas for language to add to your collective bargaining agreement.

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Locked-Out ABI Steelworkers Confront Alcoa CEO in Florida https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/abi-steelworkers-confront-alcoa-ceo-in-florida Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:03:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/abi-steelworkers-confront-alcoa-ceo-in-florida HOLLYWOOD, FL, Feb. 27, 2018 - Quebec Steelworkers have travelled 2,800 kilometres to Florida to confront Alcoa CEO Roy Harvey for the seven-week lockout of employees at the ABI aluminum smelter that is damaging an entire region's economy.

Locked-out ABI employees from Bécancour, Que., are demonstrating today outside the BMO Global Metals and Mining Conference, where Harvey is addressing investors.

Other locked-out ABI workers are simultaneously demonstrating today outside the Bank of Montreal (BMO) in Trois-Rivières, Que. They are denouncing the Canadian bank's decision to invite Alcoa's CEO to speak at its conference, while thousands of Quebec families are affected by Alcoa's unnecessary lockout at ABI.

The ABI smelter in Bécancour, the second-largest of its kind in North America, is co-owned by Alcoa (75%) and Rio Tinto (25%). The two multinationals locked out employees on Jan. 11.

"The best message that Alcoa's CEO could deliver to investors is that his company will resume negotiations to resolve the dispute in Bécancour," said Clément Masse, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9700, representing the locked-out ABI employees.

"Since locking out its employees on January 11 – rather than negotiating a new collective agreement – Alcoa's balance sheet has taken a hit with each passing day. The costs associated with shutting down two potlines at the smelter and the future restart of operations amount to more than $100 million," Masse said.

"These losses come at a time when aluminum prices are healthy. Investors should not have to tolerate these kinds of financial decisions that tarnish the company's balance sheet."

Alcoa and Rio Tinto opted to lock out ABI employees after the workers voted overwhelmingly to reject the company's attempt to impose a concessionary contract. The workers advised the company they had no intention of striking and reiterated a commitment to negotiating a resolution on the key issues in the dispute – seniority and pensions.

On Feb. 7, members of all parties in the Quebec government unanimously passed a resolution urging Alcoa and Rio Tinto to resume negotiations, noting the lockout's significant economic impact. Alcoa and Rio Tinto have yet to agree to the government's request to resume bargaining.

"We have already offered meaningful compromises on the outstanding issues," Masse said. "The employer's response has been to cut off negotiations and try to impose its will on employees, while holding an entire region's economy hostage." 

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Liberal Budget Fails to Really “Put People First” https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/liberal-budget-fails-to-really-put-people-first Tue, 27 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/liberal-budget-fails-to-really-put-people-first OTTAWA – The 2018 federal budget is not aimed at benefiting working Canadians or retirees, despite the Liberal government’s claim that the budget “puts people first.”

“The finance minister says he will seek ‘feedback’ from Canadian pensioners and take an ‘evidence-based’ approach to retirement security. What more evidence does he need than the thousands of retirees from companies like Stelco and Sears, whose deferred wages were stolen by creditors through archaic laws protecting companies facing restructuring or bankruptcy?” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

“The Liberals’ parental leave provisions are overshadowed by a low wage-replacement benefit through Employment Insurance,” Neumann added. “Leave must include benefits that support being away from a job with real pay. What is needed to advance women’s participation in the labour force is a universal, affordable child-care program instead of just more child-care spaces.”

Neumann said USW members in the forestry sector welcome the small step of a $191-million fund over five years to support trade cases involving softwood lumber (under the World Trade Organization and the NAFTA dispute-settlement mechanism). However, the budget is an over-cautious attempt at appeasing business interests that favour lower spending and deficit reduction, while holding back on stimulus spending that would create jobs and provide confidence in uncertain times, he said.

The budget has no comprehensive, meaningful plan to protect workers and create good jobs with higher wages, Neumann said.

“This is a timid budget, as if the Liberal government is afraid to assert an economic blueprint that will benefit working men and women, a growing number of whom work as many as three jobs just to make ends meet. It is more style than substance, more rhetoric than reality,” he said.

“There is not enough that is bold or progressive about the government’s plans for 2018-19, including no real change to end corporate tax evasion,” said Neumann. “Are the Liberals holding back in anticipation of an election year when they can buy support for another four years?”

The United Steelworkers would have welcomed a commitment to rebuilding critical industries such as steel and aluminum, threatened by unfair tariffs from the United States despite the reality that they are part of an integrated marketplace for these products.

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KL Gold’s Delay Tactics Unnecessary, Undemocratic, Steelworkers Say https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/kl-golds-delay-tactics-unnecessary-undemocratic-steelworkers-say Tue, 27 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/kl-golds-delay-tactics-unnecessary-undemocratic-steelworkers-say KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – The United Steelworkers (USW) is denouncing Kirkland Lake Gold’s ongoing attempts to prolong the process to determine if employees will join the union.

A secret-ballot vote was held last November to allow KL Gold’s Macassa Mine employees to decide if they wanted to join the USW. Since then ballot boxes have remained sealed by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) and results of the vote have not been determined.

The process continues to drag on because KL Gold wants the vote to include workers employed by outside contractors, the USW contends.

This week, the OLRB decided that additional hearings will be required to hear arguments on the matter. No dates have been set.

“KL Gold workers have been organizing to create a union for three years now,” noted USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The company continues to drag out this process with unreasonable positions. They want to delay a final decision as long as they can and thwart the democratic rights of workers to choose a union,” Warren said.

“The United Steelworkers will continue to stand with KL Gold employees and to support them throughout this process, until a just resolution is achieved.”

For more information, KL Gold workers can contact Pascal Boucher at the USW office in Kirkland Lake, at 705-567-1849 or 705-521-3414, on Facebook at Better KL Gold, or online at www.betterklgold.com.

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Introducing CLC Podcast: Smoke & Mirrors https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/introducing-clc-podcast-smoke-mirrors Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:43:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/introducing-clc-podcast-smoke-mirrors Smoke and Mirrors podcast imageThis Black History Month, the podcast SMOKE & MIRRORS: Uncovering Truths about Human Rights in Canada names critical issues in the state of human rights in Canada and what Canada’s unions can do to address them.

Real conversations about race, anti-Black racism, and the realities lived by Black workers are more important now than ever before. We invite you to tune in as we reveal stories from activists and their work in confronting and interrupting anti-Black racism.

Listen for captivating narratives and testimonies from Robyn Maynard, Desmond Cole, Afua Cooper, Hadiya Roderique. The French language podcast features conversations with Will Prosper and Isabelle Miller (a member of USW Local 1944). Produced by the Canadian Labour Congress.

Listen Now

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Canadian Aluminum, Steel Must Be Excluded from U.S. Tariffs and Quotas: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadian-aluminum-steel-must-be-excluded-from-u-s-tariffs-and-quotas-steelworkers Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/canadian-aluminum-steel-must-be-excluded-from-u-s-tariffs-and-quotas-steelworkers TORONTO, MONTREAL, 16 February 2018 – Canada is not among the “bad actors” engaged in unfair trade and dumping of aluminum and steel into the United States and must be excluded from potential U.S. tariffs and quotas, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“There is no justification to include Canada with countries that systematically violate trade laws and engage in the dumping of illegally subsidized aluminum and steel,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said following today’s release of a U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) report on the impact of imported steel and aluminum on U.S. national security.

The DOC’s Section 232 report has recommended three separate options for American President Donald Trump to consider regarding steel and aluminum exports to the U.S., ranging from across-the-board tariffs, to tariffs for “bad actor” countries and exclusions for “good actor” countries. The president also can implement modified versions of any of the recommendations, or take no action at all.

“The intent of the DOC’s report is to respond to countries whose trade practices represent a threat to U.S. national security,” Neumann said.

“The report, as well as testimony provided by expert witnesses during the investigation stage, demonstrate that Canada is not one of the ‘bad actor’ countries that threaten U.S. interests,” added Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada).

The DOC report includes several positive references to Canada, characterizing it as a partner and supplier to the American aluminum industry, rather than a threat.

During the DOC’s Section 232 investigation, retired U.S. army brigadier general John Adams urged that Canada’s steel sector not be hit with tariffs.

“The one supplier in whom I have complete confidence is Canada. Not only do we currently have a steel surplus with Canada, but we share a border and have synergistic strategic, economic and national security interests,” Adams testified.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard also said Canada should be excluded from punitive actions that should be focused on bad actor countries including China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

“Our economies are very closely intertwined and we hope the U.S. government won’t threaten the steel and aluminum industries by taking punitive action,” said Steve Hunt, USW District 3 Director (Western Canada).

U.S. trade action against Canadian aluminum and steel would not serve the interests of the American economy, Steelworkers' Quebec Director Alain Croteau said.

“Imposing tariffs or quotas on Canadian exports will result in job losses in the U.S. manufacturing sector and will increase prices for many goods and products. Workers on both sides of the border will lose,” Croteau said.

“Compared to other producers, Quebec’s aluminum sector is more environmentally friendly and produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.

The USW also is calling for a strong response from the Canadian government to defend the Canadian aluminum and steel industries from unjustified tariffs and quotas.

"The government of Canada must act decisively to defend fair trade and the tens of thousands of Canadian families whose livelihoods depend on the aluminum and steel sectors," Neumann said.

"The Canadian government should work with the U.S. in fighting the predatory and destructive trade practices of China and other bad actor countries.”

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Goderich Security Workers Win First Contract https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/goderich-security-workers-win-first-contract Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/goderich-security-workers-win-first-contract GODERICH, Ont. – Unionized security guards at ASAP Secured Inc. in Goderich have achieved their first collective agreement, overcoming significant challenges that included a lockout imposed by their employer.

The security guards, who are members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9597, voted Monday to ratify a two-year contract that includes wage increases and other improvements to the terms and conditions of their jobs.

“After joining the union, these workers stood together for many months to defend their right to collective bargaining and to have union representation in their workplace,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“Their solidarity allowed them to overcome an unnecessary lockout and achieve a fair collective agreement,” Warren said.

The USW Local 9597 members at ASAP Secured provide security services at the Compass Minerals operations in Goderich.

After being unexpectedly locked out of their jobs last Dec. 10 by ASAP Secured, the workers filed an application with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) for first contract mediation.

The OLRB also agreed with the workers’ contention that ASAP Secured should have ended its lockout after the mediation process began in early January. The OLRB ordered the company to end the lockout and the workers returned to their jobs on Jan. 19 as the mediation process continued.

The OLRB also awarded damages to the workers and the company paid employees all lost wages and premiums they would have earned during a 2½-week period in January when they were locked out.

The new collective agreement runs from Jan. 1, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2019. It includes pay increases above minimum wage hikes in 2018 and 2019, with the top rate to rise to $15.40 per hour as of Jan. 1 next year.

The contract also entrenches seniority rights and monetary payments including a $250 annual boot allowance and reimbursement for the costs of security licences and regular CPR and first aid training.

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Union, Government Await ABI’s Return to Bargaining Table https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/union-government-await-abis-return-to-bargaining-table Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/union-government-await-abis-return-to-bargaining-table QUEBEC CITY – Representatives of 1,030 locked-out employees of the ABI aluminum smelter today praised the efforts of Quebec Labour Minister Dominique Viens in advocating for a negotiated settlement to the month-long lockout.

The labour minister encouraged a resumption of bargaining during separate meetings today with representatives of the United Steelworkers and ABI management. The union reiterated its willingness to resume bargaining as well as its hope that the company will agree to seek a negotiated settlement.

“The tone was cordial and there was a sense that we’re working towards the same goal – to reach a satisfactory resolution,” Quebec Steelworkers Director Alain Croteau said of the meeting with the minister.

“We’ve been offering to resume negotiations all along, even before our members were locked out. We’re hoping that Alcoa and Rio Tinto will accept the call to get back to the table and that they will give their representatives the mandate they need to reach an agreement,” Croteau said.

The ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour is co-owned by Alcoa (75%) and Rio Tinto (25%).

During today’s meeting with the labour minister, union representatives called out the company’s tactics last month to abruptly end negotiations, table a second ‘final offer,’ then lock out employees despite making progress on key issues.

“We explained to the minister how the union had made significant movement, particularly on the pension issue. Shortly afterwards, the employer opted to end the negotiations, rather than continuing the talks and achieving an agreement,” said Steelworkers Local 9700 President Clément Masse, representing the ABI smelter workers.

“Twice the employer tabled a comprehensive offer that derailed the negotiations. The only way to settle this dispute is to get back to the bargaining table,” Masse said.

Steelworkers officials were awaiting news of the outcome of the labour minister’s meeting today with ABI management. The union has already advised a provincial government conciliator that it is ready to resume negotiations at any time.

“The way to find solutions to the outstanding issues is to speak to each other around the table, not by throwing around ill-thought out, unilateral demands,” Croteau and Masse said.

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Quebec Government Calls for Negotiated Settlement to ABI Smelter Lockout https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/quebec-government-calls-for-negotiated-settlement-to-abi-smelter-lockout Wed, 07 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/quebec-government-calls-for-negotiated-settlement-to-abi-smelter-lockout QUEBEC CITY – The United Steelworkers welcomes today’s unanimous vote in the Quebec National Assembly calling for a resumption of collective bargaining to end a lockout of workers at the ABI aluminum smelter.

Hundreds of locked-out workers from the ABI smelter in Bécancour travelled to Quebec City to demonstrate outside the National Assembly this morning as legislators debated a motion that acknowledged the damaging impact of the lockout and called for a return to the bargaining table.

The workers were supported by Quebec labour leaders who noted how multinational aluminum producers have been abusing a “social contract” in which they enjoy beneficial electricity rates from publicly owned Quebec Hydro.

“There is a social contract between aluminum smelters and the people of Quebec. The smelters enjoy favourable electricity rates from Quebec in return for creating good jobs in our communities. This lockout has broken the social contract,” said Daniel Boyer, President of the Quebec Federation of Labour.

“This is not just about the families of 1,030 workers forced onto the street – it’s about all Quebecers. The government cannot simply sit back and watch while companies hold an entire region hostage,” Boyer said.

Management at the ABI smelter, which is co-owned by multinational aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto, locked out 1,030 employees without warning on Jan. 11, rejecting union appeals to continue bargaining. Over the last four weeks, the locked-out employees, members of United Steelworkers Local 9700, have repeatedly offered to resume negotiations.

“Some have said this is a private dispute, but electricity rebates are a very public issue – we pay for them collectively. I looked at my electricity bill this morning and I’m pretty sure I’m paying more per kilowatt-hour than these foreign corporations are paying. We believe the government has a moral obligation to intervene,” said Quebec Steelworkers Director Alain Croteau.

Following a noisy demonstration this morning outside the National Assembly, the locked-out workers welcomed the unanimous vote by legislators calling for a resumption of negotiations.

“It shows that this situation transcends party lines and political allegiances. A resolution is crucial not only for the 1,030 working families who are directly affected, but for the economy of an entire region and for all of Quebec,” said Steelworkers Local 9700 President Clément Masse.

“It means a lot to us that this dispute has prompted a debate and a vote at the National Assembly,” Croteau said.

“This sends a clear message to Alcoa’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh and to Rio Tinto’s headquarters in London. We hope they will now give a real mandate to their negotiators to reach a negotiated settlement,” he said.

The union has questioned the motives behind ABI’s lockout of its employees, noting that significant costs associated with the decision – including shutting down two of the smelter’s three potlines – far exceed the costs of resolving the outstanding issues in negotiations.

“Right before Rio Tinto and Alcoa made the decision to withdraw from the bargaining table, we had already made major progress,” Masse said.

“There had been discussions on the possibility of a resolution on the pension issue and we were beginning to look at the issue of seniority rights in employees transfers and turnover. We’ve made our position clear from the start: we want to resume negotiations with the individuals who have the mandate to reach a settlement.”

The motion passed today in the National Assembly was introduced by the Québec Solidaire party and states, in part:

“The National Assembly of Quebec recognizes that the lockout at the ABI smelter is having a negative impact on workers, on the economy of the Centre-du-Québec and Mauricie region and on the Quebec economy ... The National Assembly of Quebec requests that the parties resume negotiations.”

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