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 “Canada has to take a strong stand” on NAFTA: Ken Neumann http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/canada-has-to-take-a-strong-stand-on-nafta-ken-neumann Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:48:28 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/canada-has-to-take-a-strong-stand-on-nafta-ken-neumann Ken Neumann BNN interview

The United Steelworkers (USW) is concerned about Donald Trump's 'America First' agenda and its potential effects on Canadian working families, USW National Director Ken Neumann says on the Business News Network.

“Canada has to take a strong stand” in NAFTA renegotiations to defend Canadian jobs, industries and communities, Neumann says.

View the entire interview on BNN

Canadians Need Transparency from Trudeau Government on NAFTA: Steelworkers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/canadians-need-transparency-from-trudeau-government-on-nafta-steelworkers Wed, 19 Jul 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/canadians-need-transparency-from-trudeau-government-on-nafta-steelworkers TORONTO – With hundreds of thousands of jobs across Canada at stake in the North American Free Trade Agreement’s renegotiation, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is in the embarrassing position of being less transparent with Canadians than U.S. President Donald Trump is with Americans.

“We have yet to see meaningful, transparent and open discourse with the Canadian public on this government’s trading priorities and objectives regarding NAFTA,” said Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

“Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Trump administration has publicly released its official list of more than 100 objectives and priorities for the renegotiation of NAFTA,” Neumann noted.

“It’s time for the Liberal government to tell Canadians what it wants to achieve in renegotiating NAFTA and how it will stand up for Canadian jobs, defend our key industries and strengthen labour and environmental standards,” he said.

“We call on the government to clearly detail the specific components, principles and provisions which make up what it has called its ‘progressive trade agenda,’ ” Neumann said in a comprehensive submission from the USW on the NAFTA renegotiation, delivered Tuesday to Global Affairs Canada.

“These negotiations provide the Canadian government with the opportunity to demonstrate to the world how a ‘progressive’ approach to trade policy can be used to benefit workers, communities, citizens and the environment instead of only benefiting corporations and transnational capital,” he said.

“Canadian priorities for a renegotiated NAFTA must include meaningful, enforceable and binding standards on labour rights and environmental protections – which are lacking in the existing agreement,” Neumann said.

Another key objective for Canada must be the elimination from NAFTA of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, he added.

“Trade agreements should not allow multinational corporations to sue our democratically elected governments in unaccountable secret tribunals to challenge regulations protecting workers' rights, health and safety, public services and the environment,” he said.

Neumann also called on the Canadian government to reject U.S. efforts to incorporate disastrous provisions of the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) into a renegotiated NAFTA.

“The U.S. negotiating position looks like a reanimation of the failed TPP. Civil society was unanimous in its rejection of the TPP as a regressive, corporate-friendly trade agreement,” he said.

Neumann cautioned the Canadian government against an “unwarranted sense of urgency” to renegotiate NAFTA, amid reports that the U.S. and Mexico are in a hurry to get a deal done before elections in their countries in 2018.

“Given the important role that the North American trilateral relationship plays in the Canadian economy, the Canadian government should not feel compelled to negotiate quickly to satisfy the domestic political concerns of its trading partners,” he said.

USW Submission to Global Affairs Canada re: NAFTA

USW Cares: NextGen and Women of Steel Grow Food for Their Communities http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-next-gen-wos-grow-food Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-next-gen-wos-grow-food USW Local 650’s NextGen and Women of Steel Committees, with the support of their local, USW Local 1-2010 teamed up with their local Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA) and leased a greenhouse from the Lakehead Regional Conservation Authority. The aim of this project is to attempt to strengthen their communities by growing fresh produce for Northwestern Ontario families in need, year round. 

The project, the Garden of Giving has been a huge group effort with members from all of the committees and organizations volunteering endless hours. Tasks included collecting materials such as soil, seeds, planters, watering the greenhouse on a daily basis and transplanting when necessary. Many hours have gone into this project and it has truly exceeded all expectations going into it.

Earlier this month, the first crop was harvested. The locals have full intentions of expanding and aspire the project reaching further. The eventual goal is for members to build greenhouses right in some of these communities and teach other locals how to maintain the greenhouses in order to keep a steady flow of healthy food available for all to enjoy.

Letter to the Prime Minister about the National Inquiry http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/letter-to-prime-minister-national-inquiry Mon, 17 Jul 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/letter-to-prime-minister-national-inquiry Ken Neumann is deeply concerned that the Canadian government is not providing adequate support to the national inquiry and to the families of the missing and murdered. 

Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau

Re: National inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women

Dear Prime Minister:
In early July, we held our second National Workshop for Aboriginal Steelworkers in Edmonton. As we sat around a talking circle, some of the more than 60 delegates shared stories of the pain they have suffered because of the loss of a beloved mother, sister, aunt, or other female relative. Not surprisingly, delegates reaffirmed their support for an effective national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.
The United Steelworkers knows that the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women is a Steelworker issue. It’s a Canadian issue. That’s why we have offered financial and moral support to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, which has played a leading role in raising awareness of and action on this issue. And that’s why we are also offering financial and other support to Steelworkers who have lost loved ones to this crisis and who want to attend a hearing of the national inquiry.
But I am deeply concerned that the Canadian government is not providing adequate support to the national inquiry, and, as a result, is not supporting families of the missing and murdered. The inquiry has struggled with logistics, when it should be paying attention to Indigenous women, to Indigenous women’s organizations, and to Indigenous families.
We need to hear the families’ stories, and the families need to be treated with respect, dignity, and support. And then we, as a country, need to act on what we have heard. It would be an additional tragedy if the inquiry process were mishandled due to inadequate resourcing. On behalf of all Steelworkers across Canada, I call upon you and your government to fully support the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women so that it can fulfill its critical mission.

Ken Neumann
National Director

Download the PDF

Imminent Labour Dispute Threatens Teck’s Profits http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/imminent-labour-dispute-threatens-tecks-profits Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/imminent-labour-dispute-threatens-tecks-profits LOGAN LAKE, B.C. – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is questioning why Teck is courting a potential labour dispute at its Highland Valley Copper mine that would have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

Members of USW Local 7619, who have been working without a collective agreement since last year, will attend strike vote meetings on Sunday, July 16, at the Logan Lake Curling Club. The meetings are in response to Teck’s demands for concessions from the 1,050 workers, said Randy Gatzka, USW staff representative and lead negotiator.

“With prices of copper on the rise and the global demand for copper strong, stopping production at Highland Valley Copper will have an immediate impact on the company’s bottom line,” Gatzka said.

“Our union has tried to work with management to negotiate a fair deal for our members, with working families in mind. Teck shows no desire to have meaningful discussions and refuses to come to the table with anything but millions of dollars in concessions. For a company that is boasting about record profits to their shareholders, the workers are left wondering why they are not sharing in these unparalleled increases in profitability,” he said.

“Teck has the ability to come to the table and negotiate a settlement. Our demands are simple, we want to maintain what we have and achieve reasonable increases on wages,” said USW Local 7619 President Kyle Wolff.

“The problem from my point of view is a management team that is unpredictable and that is focused on stripping away rights that workers have built over decades of collective bargaining,” Wolff said.

Teck is expected to announce another strong financial quarterly report on July 27. In the first quarter of 2017 Teck experienced substantially higher commodity prices, which had a significant positive impact on profits attributable to shareholders.

Adjusted profits attributable to shareholders rose from $0.03 per share in 2016 to $1.16 per share in early 2017. Based on continued high commodity prices, Teck – Canada’s largest diversified mining company – is expected to announce more positive news for investors.

The United Steelworkers is one of the largest private-sector unions in Canada, representing workers in all economic sectors.

USW Cares: Kamloops Steelworkers Act Swiftly to Help B.C. Wildfires Evacuees http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-kamloops-steelworkers-help-bc-wildfires-evacuees Tue, 11 Jul 2017 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-kamloops-steelworkers-help-bc-wildfires-evacuees As most people are aware, the province of British Columbia has suffered through a prolonged period of hot weather with little to no rain. This has resulted in an extreme forest fire hazard across the entire province.

As of writing this more than 200 fires are actively being fought across B.C. The Cariboo Region has been hardest hit due to a number of lightning strikes combined with tinder dry forests.

Almost every community in the Cariboo Region is under either an evacuation alert or an evacuation order. At this point more than 14,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to rapidly advancing forest fires.

The USW represents a number of workplaces throughout the Cariboo area. Many of our USW brothers and sisters have been forced to evacuate and regrettably, in a number of locations USW families have had their homes destroyed by fires.

Just like everyone else, USW locals and members want to do all we can to support the affected communities our members live in. USW Locals 7619 (Highland Valley) and 1-417 (Kamloops and area) have once again joined forces to assist our communities during crisis.

On July 8, 2017 brother Kyle Wolff organized a BBQ in Kamloops to welcome and serve lunch for evacuees at the Kamloops Evacuation Reception Centre.

On July 10, 2017 responding to a request from Steelworker and Vice President of the Ashcroft Legions Darrin Curran, the two locals mobilized on short notice to serve between 400-500 meals to first responders and residents in the community of Ashcroft. The two locals have collectively donated over $2,500 in supplies in addition to countless hours volunteering making these two events happen.

We would like to thank the following USW activists for their service to the communities and making these events possible:

USW Local 7619; Susan, Cecelia, Vivian, Jim McClean and family, James and Unice Lowey, Joe Petty, Ryan Hagan, Jim McCarthy, Travis and Trish Hilson, Amber Paulson, Amanda King and son, Luke Ghostkeeper, Jason Kyle Arnold, Dave Thurber and Gary Winslow.

USW Local 1-417; Darrin Curran, Krystal Gibbons, Tara Cavanagh, Dale Niessen, Meredith Desmarais, Sara May and Jeffery Campbell, as well as USW District staff.

It appears the fire crisis in B.C. is going to continue to get worse before it gets better. Any local union wishing to support our continued assistance of these comunitees can contact either Kyle Wolff of USW Local 7619 or Marty Gibbons of USW Local 1-417.


USW Cares: 2017 District 6 USW Jefferson Award Winner, Darren Green http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-2017-d6-jefferson-winner-darren-green Mon, 10 Jul 2017 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-2017-d6-jefferson-winner-darren-green When Darren Green noticed his local union hall was run down, he led a project to help spruce them up. When he realized children in his community were going without school supplies, he led efforts to buy more than 1,000 backpacks and load them with educational necessities. When he wanted to change the perception of labour, he created and pushed the #CommunityMatters hashtag on social media.

“To me, it’s the most important thing that we do,” said Green, president of Local 5328 in Hamilton, Ontario. “If people need help, they call me or the Steelworkers.”

For his leadership in his union and his community, Green is District 6’s 2017 USW Cares Jefferson Awards winner.

“Darren is a very respected leader in this community and is always there to support those in need,” said Sylvia Boyce, Green’s union sister and District 6’s Health and Safety Coordinator, “He does all of this for others, not for self-gratification or awards. He’s truly a remarkable human being.”

Green is also president of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, representing workers at ArcelorMittal Hamilton East. As President, he oversees thousands of union members from a variety of employers. He is also currently the labour representative on the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Workforce Development, chairman of the Building Committee at the United Steelworkers Centre in Hamilton, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Golden Horseshoe Credit Union. His involvement with the union began in 1988, and he has since held a variety of executive positions before becoming president in 2007.

Green previously served as chairman of the Political Action and Social Services Committees at the local Labour Council and was a director for the local United Way. Upon the creation of the Youth Worker Awareness program, Green organized and taught a group of instructors to educate thousands of local high school students about the importance of health and safety. Green has also organized the Union Kids Christmas Party since 1990.

As President of the Area Council, he noticed some of the spaces they spent their time in could use some updating, so Green worked to renovate the union hall and offices. Because of this, rentals have increased, which helped the Council become more involved in the community.

The Area Council also created a float for the annual Christmas parade, where children from the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs and their parents take part. This effort helped make union members more active in the community. Every year, the Steelworkers look forward to sharing the float with the children and passing out candy.

The Area Council has also created a project known as Operation Backpack, where Green, along with other volunteers, fills backpacks with school necessities to send to needy children. In the first year, he helped to fill 92 backpacks, but the project has attracted attention and has since expanded to filling 1,000 backpacks last year thanks to sponsors and people like Green.

Green also helped to create a sense of community within five local unions in the area by organizing an annual Labor Day picnic, where he provides meals for 500 families while also organizing entertainment and prizes for the children at the event.

One projects closest to Green’s heart is the ‘Community Matters’ program that focuses on assisting people with anything they may need such as collecting donations or organizing events to help bring the community together. The Area Council currently partners with different groups in the community to spread the message.

After joining the Mayor’s Committee Against Racism in the mid-90’s, he helped manage and organize the first International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Hamilton, which helps create a sense of togetherness, acceptance, and friendship. Green hopes that this event will continue to grow in the future.

Green also volunteers at food banks and homeless shelters and supports other charities whenever he can – a perfect example of how much Steelworkers contribute to their local communities.

If you know a Steelworker who is doing something amazing in their community, we want to know about it! Use the #USWCares hashtag and give a shout-out to @SteelworkersCA when you post on social media. Tosend us your stories, please go to usw.ca/uswcares.

Celebrating 30 Years of Women of Steel http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/celebrating-30-years-of-women-of-steel Wed, 05 Jul 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/celebrating-30-years-of-women-of-steel 2017 marks 30 years since Women of Steel began in District 6 and we are celebrating with a D6 Women’s conference July 23-25 in Toronto.

The Women of Steel program began as a way to support women’s involvement and leadership within our union. Women of Steel was created in District 6, but has since spread across our union and continues to break down workplace barriers, encourage women’s participation in union activities and develop leadership.

Soon after the Women of Steel program began in 1987, a committee of Steelworker women worked with a course designer to create a leadership development course. It was designed by women, facilitated by women, for only women participants. The goal: “Women will leave this course with a better understanding of the union and the situations women face.”

The course was piloted in Toronto, Sudbury and Winnipeg in 1990-91. Over the years, Women of Steel: Developing Leadership has been responsible for linking hundreds of individual Women of Steel with leadership roles inside the union and beyond. And we’ve added a second course, USW Women’s Committees: Leading Together.

Learn more about the history of Women of Steel: www.usw.ca/womenofsteel.

In 2017, we are proud to recognize 30 years of Women of Steel with our District 6 Women’s conference: Time for HERstory. We will highlight the accomplishments of our Women of Steel, look at how we have overcome challenges and plan for the future of our union. The conference will include panels, workshops, interactive theatre and a social event on Monday evening.

We welcome new and experienced activists and reflect on our past while building and strengthening our union for the future.

This article appears in the Summer 2017 edition of News@6 magazine.

USW Cares: 2017 District 5 USW Jefferson Award Winner, Marien Landry http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-jaf-d5-winner-marien-landry Tue, 04 Jul 2017 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-jaf-d5-winner-marien-landry Marien Landry, a retired member of USW Local Union 6951 in Quebec, Canada, was the District 5 Jefferson Award Winner for his work constructing education and health care facilities to benefit the children of Guatemala.

Landry worked for 30 years at ArcelorMittal as an inspector and casting tank preparer.

When Landry first visited Guatemmala seven years ago, he recognized the need for school buildings and adequate health care facilities. In an effort to create a better life for the people of the Central American country, he created “The Guatemala Project.”

Since retiring, Landry has worked on a variety of projects constructing and renovating vital buildings in small communities. He says the children of Guatemala are his main inspiration.

“My main goal is to give education to the greatest number of children by building schools,” said Landry, “Guatemala is very disadvantaged. They have a great need for help to be able to educate their children.”

Landry spends approximately six months a year in Guatemala and has successfully constructed 10 new school houses. In addition, he has renovated dozens of other facilities including an infirmary, physiotherapy and osteopathy center, and buildings to help care for disabled children.

In order to finance these projects, Landry spends a great deal of his time in his hometown Vecheres, Quebec organizing fundraisers for his organization. By selling paintings created by his brother, hosting events such as motorcycle runs, along with the assistance from the USW, he has currently raised over $165,000.

Despite all he has accomplished, Landry, shows no signs of slowing down. He hopes to build new schools in the cities of La Cueva, La Cumbre and Juvente this year. Provided he can continue to raise the funds, he hopes to continue these types of projects far into the future.

“I intend to help these people as long as my health will allow me and as long as I have the funds to carry out the projects,” Landry stated.

The time and effort that Marien Landry puts into his projects in Guatemala is just one example of the amazing things Steelworkers do to help others in need.

If you know a Steelworker who is doing something amazing in their community, we want to know about it! Use the #USWCares hashtag and give a shout-out to @SteelworkersCA when you post on social media. Tosend us your stories, please go to usw.ca/uswcares.

USW Leadership Key to Pension Security http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-leadership-key-to-pension-security Tue, 04 Jul 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-leadership-key-to-pension-security Groundbreaking work by the USW is expected to achieve a landmark agreement in the near future on pension sustainability for tens of thousands of university employees.

Steelworkers have been working for three years to counter intense pressure from employers and government on the defined-benefit pension plans of USW members and other university employees.

Thanks to USW leadership, a comprehensive agreement may soon be finalized to preserve decent pensions for about 36,000 employees at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and the University of Guelph. The USW represents more than 6,000 office, administrative and technical employees at these universities.

Steelworkers and several other unions are in the final stages of negotiations with the three universities to create a Jointly Sponsored Pension Plan (JSPP) for all employees.

A JSPP is a defined-benefit plan in which employers and employees share responsibility for plan governance and funding. The plan spearheaded by the USW will create long-term pension sustainability for members by combining a large pool of assets, reducing costs and providing better investment opportunities.

Creating the JSPP has been a challenging undertaking, requiring co-operation of several unions in negotiations with multiple university administrations. Steelworkers’ leadership in confronting this challenge has been crucial in achieving pension security for our members.

This article appears in the Summer 2017 edition of News@6 magazine.

News@6 Summer 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/news6-summer-2017 Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/news6-summer-2017 News@6 newsletterIn this issue:

  • Strength in Connection
  • 25 Years since Westray
  • USW Leadership Key to Pension Security
  • Steelworkers Make Great Neighbours
  • Celebrating 30 Years of Women of Steel
  • Labour Law Reform: Ontario Government Must Aim Higher
  • Special pull-out: USW District 6 Fall School Courses and Registration
  • Welcome to the Steelworkers – New members join D6
  • Bargaining Successes
  • We Remember
  • News Roundup
  • Stelco Restructuring Moves Forward

Download the News@6 PDF

Liberals’ Enthusiasm For China Trade Deal Should Raise Alarms http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/liberal-enthusiasm-for-china-trade-deal-should-raise-alarms Fri, 30 Jun 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/liberal-enthusiasm-for-china-trade-deal-should-raise-alarms As the federal Liberal government enthusiastically explores free trade talks with China, there is ample reason for Canadians to feel a sense of foreboding over the potentially disastrous impact on jobs, key industries, national security, human rights and the environment.

Since the Liberals were elected in 2015, concern has grown across the country over this government's behaviour on investment, trade and other issues regarding China.

The government's cavalier dismissal of such concerns and its failure to explain its puzzling decisions on important Canada-China issues prompted a national newspaper to ask, point-blank: "Why are the Liberals doing Beijing's bidding?"

Numerous developments have given rise to this unsettling question, including Liberal cash-for-access fundraisers with wealthy Chinese nationals and state officials. At one exclusive fundraiser Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rubbed elbows with Chinese billionaires, including a tycoon seeking Canadian government approval to open a bank in Canada. The government approved the bank a few weeks later.

National security experts have expressed concern at the government's approvals of takeovers of Canadian technology companies by Chinese firms co-owned by China's government. The Liberals' reviews of these deals have been secretive and failed to fully address potential security risks, experts have warned.

In February, the Liberals rejected the concerns of opposition parties as well as medicare and seniors advocacy groups by approving the $1-billion takeover of a Canadian retirement home chain by a secretive Chinese conglomerate whose chairman was recently arrested.

Recent media reports have revealed that an Ottawa-based think tank with ties to corporate Canada and the federal government has launched a campaign to persuade Canadians to embrace free trade with China, leading another national newspaper to conclude that "the Liberal government has become a pro-China propaganda machine."

Against this backdrop, a national public-opinion poll found a majority of Canadians are apprehensive about the economic, national security, human rights and environmental implications of free trade with China.

My union, the United Steelworkers, shares these concerns.

In our submission to the federal government's public consultations on a possible Canada-China free trade deal, we assert emphatically that it is not in Canada's interest to pursue such an agreement. We believe it would decimate key Canadian industries and threaten hundreds of thousands of middle-class jobs.

We know that China's state-driven development model is motivated as much by its political ambitions as it is by profit. Moreover, China has consistently shown itself to be a violator of global trade rules and norms.

So-called free trade with China would inevitably require that Canada compromise our national interest and our values. Canadian workers would suffer most as a result.

Steelworkers already have borne the brunt of China's unfair trading practices. Chinese over-production of steel, itself the result of state-led direction and policies, has depressed prices globally. But China continues to build its productive capacity in steel and other sectors and illegally dumps these products in other markets, including Canada.

China currently has more than 400 million tonnes of steel-making capacity – nearly 40 times the size of Canada's steel industry. China provides incentives to its producers to dump that steel into North America, displacing Canadian steel in the crucial NAFTA market and contributing to the loss of nearly $1 billion in Canadian exports to the U.S. last year compared to 2008.

Opening Canadian markets further to China's state-led exporters will devastate what remains of our steel sector and other key domestic industries, including aluminum, paper, glass and auto parts.

China's government also has made it clear that it opposes protections of human rights, labour rights or environmental standards in a trade agreement with Canada.

Furthermore, China wants its companies to be able to import their own workers to Canada to work on Chinese-financed investments, at the expense of Canadian jobs. Already, the Trudeau Liberals have twice made changes to the abuse-plagued Temporary Foreign Worker Program to allow companies to bring more temporary workers to Canada.

We believe that, before proceeding with any new trade negotiations, the Liberal government must clearly set out the specific components, principles and provisions of what it calls its "progressive trade" agenda. These must include meaningful, binding protections of human rights and labour and environmental standards.

Canadians and our trading partners must have a clear understanding of where our government stands on these critical issues. And whose bidding it is doing.

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post.

Kennametal Endangers 60 Years of Labour Peace in Belleville http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/kennametal-endangers-60-years-of-labour-peace-in-belleville Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/kennametal-endangers-60-years-of-labour-peace-in-belleville BELLEVILLE, Ontario – American corporate giant Kennametal is demanding harsh concessions from its Belleville employees, threatening decent jobs that support more than 100 families as well as 60 years of labour peace at the former Deloro Stellite manufacturing plant.

“Since 1957, there has never been a strike or lockout at this plant. The employees and management have always had a strong and mutually beneficial relationship. But it appears this is of no concern to Kennametal,” said John Goldthorp, Staff Representative with the United Steelworkers (USW).

The USW is concerned that Kennametal is provoking the first-ever labour dispute at the Belleville plant with unprecedented demands for concessions in areas including benefits, wages and mandatory overtime, Goldthorp said. USW Local 5533 represents more than 100 employees at the facility.

“Our members are shocked,” said Bert Dafoe, USW Local 5533 President. “They have decided these demands are not acceptable and they’ve voted 96% in support of a strike mandate for their bargaining committee.”

The former Deloro Stellite facility in Belleville, which produces metal alloy components for industrial uses, was purchased by South Carolina-based Kennametal in 2012.

“This is only the second collective agreement we’ve had to negotiate with Kennametal. The first time, we reached a fair contract and last year we agreed, in good faith, to the company’s request for a one-year extension. Now, they want to tear down what we’ve built over six decades,” said Ernie Clarke, an employee at the plant and a member of the union bargaining committee.

A mediation session with a Ministry of Labour mediator has been scheduled for July 11, after which a strike deadline could be set if sufficient progress is not made in the negotiations, the USW says.

“It’s the hard-working employees who are responsible for the success of this plant and for generations their efforts have been recognized with fair contracts and decent jobs,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“It remains to be seen if Kennametal has any interest in honouring that tradition by negotiating a fair, concession-free contract to avoid the first-ever work stoppage in this plant’s history,” Warren said.

From Awareness to Bargaining http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/from-awareness-to-bargaining Wed, 28 Jun 2017 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/from-awareness-to-bargaining Domestic violence against women and girls continues to be a problem in Canada, with one in three Canadian women over the age of 16 experiencing sexual assault in their lifetimes.

With incidence rates this high, chances are someone in your workplace is a domestic violence survivor, even if you don’t know about it. Recent research found that domestic violence often follows people to work, putting safety and jobs at risk.

Collective bargaining can play an important role in keeping people safe and supported at work. It also breaks the silence around a long-taboo issue.

Steelworkers Leading the Way

An anti-violence initiative developed by the USW National Women’s Committee in 2016 is raising awareness about domestic violence and producing tangible action by educating, engaging and mobilizing our members.

The Women’s Committee developed an anti-violence kit that USW activists are using for presentations to local and area councils and in workplaces with co-operative employers.

The anti-violence initiative includes a presentation available for download and resources include model contract language. Activists, union presidents and staff reps have in turn brought the initiative to the bargaining table. And it’s working.

Steelworkers are winning domestic violence leave provisions (DV leave) in collective agreements across the country including in several workplaces in B.C., Alberta and Ontario so far.

Achieving DV Leave in our Agreements

USW Local 2009 at the Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group (KPIRG) in Surrey, B.C., was the first USW unit to negotiate DV leave provisions with its 2016 agreement. Michelle Laurie was the USW staff rep at the table.

“One of our members had been to a conference where she learned about the domestic violence leave provisions and she proposed it for bargaining,” said Laurie.
The unit negotiated 12 weeks of paid leave and up to three months of unpaid leave.

Laurie has worked with three other Local 2009 units that have negotiated DV leave provisions – staff at MoveUP (COPE 388), staff at IATSE 891 and staff at the University of Victoria Students’ Society. All achieved paid DV leave, ranging from five days to six weeks, and a commitment to undertake workplace training and safety strategies.

Laurie introduces the concept at the bargaining table by noting that domestic violence is not a new issue.

“Society is saying we need to address it and how it affects employers – people’s ability to work, their productivity, safety in the workplace,” she said.

“We need to talk out loud about this. It’s real and there are real steps to deal with it,” said Laurie.

Violence Not Acceptable In Society

Lynne Descary’s motivation around DV leave is personal. She was raised in a home where domestic violence was present. Descary knows the situation women face when this occurs in their lives.

“Without domestic violence leave provisions, women are stuck in abusive homes,” said Descary, a USW staff representative in Ontario (District 6).

She acknowledges that domestic violence, while not spoken about, was ignored as an issue in society in the past. Not anymore.

Descary has successfully helped at least five bargaining units in Ontario obtain DV leave. Some include flexible hours; up to four weeks of paid leave and up to five months of unpaid leave without loss of benefits or seniority.

A legal clinic in Sudbury (USW Local 2020) had no hesitation accepting the contract language. Other employers have said no at first; but in many cases, they have come around.

“The committees are absolutely behind it,” said Descary.

She Persisted

Staff rep Darlene Jalbert was able to negotiate 10 days of paid leave for contracts at Your Credit Union locations in Ottawa and Cornwall (USW locals 8327 and 13292).

At first, the employer refused the provisions. But the employer came around as bargaining went on and as a result, the employer also added the same provisions for the management team.

Working with the bargaining team, Jalbert has also negotiated unpaid DV leave provisions for 35 members at another unit of Local 8327, Lanark County Interval House, a women’s shelter.

In bargaining, the teams have appealed to the compassion of the employer, noting that leave provisions are not special treatment. Once employers sympathize with the sentiment, teams persist.

“Put it in writing,” said Jalbert.

Media Coverage Spreads the Word

Two USW locals achieved domestic violence leave provisions within days of each other in B.C. and Alberta. Ray White, President of USW Local 1-207 in Edmonton, was able to achieve DV leave language at Rivercrest Care Centre, a long-term care facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

Local media coverage of the achievement in Alberta has made it easier to present the language at other units of the local, even in predominantly male work environments.

Since the achievement at Rivercrest, the local has achieved DV provisions for workers at UNA (United Nurses of Alberta) and a letter of understanding at Shaw Pipe in Camrose, Alta.

Business rep Ivana Niblett showed the Women’s Committee anti-violence presentation at the bargaining table during negotiations with Rivercrest. That helped move an employer that pointed to existing employee assistance (EA) programs as sufficient, even though those programs don’t include time off. Niblett connected domestic violence to workplace health and safety and changed the conversation.

“The provisions may not get used. But if it saves one life, it’s worth it,” said Niblett.

Niblett and White have achieved the language in some form at three units so far. There are 20 agreements to bargain in 2017 and Niblett says the DV language will be at all the tables.

USW members in Alberta are proud to include the language in bargaining proposals.

The same is true in B.C., where Local 1-405’s Jeff Bromley achieved DV language for members of a unit at Trickle Creek Resort in Kimberley.

Veronica Tanner is the local’s Women’s Committee co-chair and serves on the District 3 and National Women’s Committees. Tanner presented the anti-violence initiative and model DV language to the local and it has been included in bargaining proposals since, even in male-dominated work environments.

For both Tanner and Niblett, having USW men on board and supportive has helped get the word out.

“As soon as we talk about it, people are receptive,” said Tanner.

Make it the Law

Momentum is building for making provisions for DV leave the law. Manitoba added domestic violence leave provisions to employment standards legislation in 2016. Private member’s bills are under consideration in Ontario and Saskatchewan. The federal government is looking at it, and Alberta is likely to consider it as part of its labour law review.

In Quebec, the provincial labour federation (FTQ) unanimously passed a resolution in November 2016 calling for paid DV leave in laws and collective agreements.

Part of USW’s Equality Work

Social stigma encourages those experiencing domestic violence to keep their situation secret. Many abusers encourage it too. By talking about the issue and bringing it to the bargaining table, unions are helping to end isolation, recognizing it as a societal problem and taking action by supporting those experiencing domestic violence.

The USW’s recent success negotiating domestic violence leave provisions is part of our equality work; part of our union’s work for women. Domestic violence is also a workplace health and safety issue. While these provisions on their own won’t end violence against women and girls, negotiating it helps break the silence while advancing and prioritizing women’s issues within our union.

Ask your USW staff rep, local or unit president for more information. You can also visit usw.ca/antiviolence.

This article appears in the June 2017 edition of USW@Work magazine.

USW Cares: Rick Woods Memorial Golf Tournament 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-rick-woods-2017 Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/usw-cares-rick-woods-2017 On Saturday June 17, the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council along with USW Local 5328 hosted our annual Rick Woods Memorial Golf Tournament at the Kings Forest Golf and Country Club. The tournament is held in the name of Rick Woods, a long time WSIB activist with USW Local 5328 and passed away suddenly at age 50. It started out as a fundraiser for an education fund Rick's daughter who was autistic. 

As she grew older, she no longer needed the money. The Area Council and the local then agreed to donate any funds raised to Hamilton Food Share, an agency serving the Hamilton area by purchasing and providing food for the many food banks there. Food Share has an incredible purchasing power in that for every dollar donated they are able to purchase five dollars in food.

Once again this year, the tournament organizers and volunteers were able to present them with a cheque for $10,000. This is the third year in a row that they have been able to reach the $10,000 mark and is a testament to the hard work of the volunteers from SOAR and Hamilton USW locals.

The tournament is known throughout the province and has included politicians from all three levels of governments. The main speech this year was delivered by Scott Duvall, former Steelworker, president of USW Local 5328, city councilor and current NDP Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain.

A big thanks to our SOAR members Harvey Woodrow and Lena Sutton for their endless energy in making this happen.

Photo Album: Rick Woods Memorial Golf Tournament 2017

An Extraordinary Fighter http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/an-extraordinary-fighter Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/an-extraordinary-fighter In early 2016, Ian Lavoie’s life was changed forever. Today, to hear Ian recount these traumatic events is to recognize the story of an extraordinary fighter and survivor.

A member of Steelworkers Local 8897, working as a finisher at the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Longueil, Que., Ian suffered catastrophic injuries on the job on Feb. 19, 2016. He was rushed to hospital and hovered between life and death during lengthy surgical procedures, including the amputation of one of his legs.

In the late afternoon of Feb. 19, during his shift at the steel mill, Ian offered to help out a co-worker in the plant’s shipping department. In a split-second, a load of 23-foot steel rods came crashing down on him, causing him to fall onto red-hot steel just coming out of the rolling mill. His left leg was severed below the knee, he suffered third-degree burns, severed arteries and numerous other critical injuries.

A first responder on ArcelorMittal’s rescue teams for several years, Ian knew instantly that he was in a fight for his life. And he knew his chances would be better if he could stay awake.

‘I felt this fury, to live’

“I knew I couldn’t lose consciousness, so I fought it, very hard. I felt this fury, to live. As I was lying underneath that load of rods, I was thinking of my kids and Valérie (his partner),” he recalled.

“When I got to the hospital the doctors said it was 50-50. There was so much internal bleeding, two of my arteries were severed.”

Ian thought about how both he and Valérie had already lost their parents.

“There are no grandparents anymore. So there was no way I was leaving. So I fought. I was conscious right up until I got to the operating room,” he said.

Ian ultimately underwent six surgeries, including an initial, 13-hour operation and the amputation of his left leg above the knee. Following the initial surgery, he remained in a coma for three weeks.

“The first thing that came to me when I woke up from my coma was to celebrate life, because I was still alive,” he said.

But Ian’s battle was far from over. He spent the next few months in hospital, after which he was transferred to a rehabilitation centre where he stayed until late summer. More than a year later, Ian is continuing his rehab as an outpatient.

Health and safety prevention – ‘super important’

Quebec’s workplace health and safety agency, the CNESST, has investigated the disastrous incident at the ArcelorMittal steel plant. While the process continues, the company has been contesting some of the corrective safety measures ordered by the agency.

But Ian Lavoie knows the hazards he and his co-workers were confronted with on the job.
Looking back, he recognizes the traumatic events of February 2016 could have been avoided if greater safety and prevention measures were in place the steel plant.

“I saw things that should never have been sitting in the warehouses. Piles of stuff that did not comply (with safe practices). Maybe we had gotten used to seeing these things. Maybe we closed our eyes and simply ignored them (because) this is a steel mill, there are risks everywhere,” he said.

“It was like the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. And on February 19, at 4:45 p.m., the sword fell.”

Ian was warmly welcomed by his USW brothers and sisters at the Steelworkers District 5 Conference last November, where he paid tribute to his co-workers, family and friends for their support. He also praised the health and safety work being done by his colleagues at Local 8897 and by all workplace health and safety representatives.

“Sometimes, you would hear people say ‘they’re so tiresome, always going on about health and safety.’ I said it myself too, in the past. But it’s their job, it’s what they do. And now I realize that this vigilance, this focus on health and safety processes is super important, it’s there to protect us.”

The right to refuse is a duty!

Quebec Steelworkers Director Alain Croteau reminded conference delegates that workers must not be afraid of enforcing their rights to a healthy and safe workplace.

“Yes, sometimes the employer will try to make us pay the price. But we have to fight all the way and never back down. The right to refuse is more than a right, it’s a duty!” Croteau said.

Today, Ian Lavoie is walking again, with his “robocop” prosthesis, and he hopes to eventually return to work.

In the meantime, he continues to celebrate life.

This article appears in the June 2017 edition of USW@Work magazine.

B.C. Steelworker Nancy McCurrach Wins Top Jefferson Award for Community Service http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/b-c-steelworker-nancy-mccurrach-wins-top-jefferson-award-for-community-service Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/b-c-steelworker-nancy-mccurrach-wins-top-jefferson-award-for-community-service TORONTO – United Steelworkers (USW) member Nancy McCurrach of Port Coquitlam, B.C., has won a major North American community service award for her outstanding work in helping refugees.

McCurrach, a member of Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944, was recognized Thursday, June 22, in Washington D.C., with a top honour for public service from the Jefferson Awards Foundation. The foundation, created in 1972, honours grassroots heroes who make meaningful contributions to their communities through their volunteer and charitable efforts.

McCurrach founded Tri-Cities Refugee Welcome Wagon, a group of friends and co-workers who felt compelled to help Syrian and Turkish refugees who are making Port Coquitlam their new home. The group raised $4,500 to pay for refugees’ urgent medical needs and to buy strollers, transit passes, food, and more. The group befriends and supports their new neighbours by eating meals with them, driving them to school and teaching them English.

“Nancy and her project represent what our union is all about: welcoming all with open arms and working for better lives for all people, regardless of where they come from,” said Leo W. Gerard, USW International President.

“We are humbled that a USW member has taken the Jefferson Award’s top award for the second-straight year, but the recognition isn’t why we’re so active in our communities. It’s because it’s the right thing to do,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

McCurrach is a four-time cornea transplant recipient due to a rare disease called Keratoconus. Despite her own adversity, she volunteers tirelessly for many community organizations, including a group that uplifts women and girls who struggle with poverty and addiction. She also prepares meals to feed more than 60 women and children and plays games, mingles and shares compassion with those who are suffering in her community. 

“I’m so grateful that my union supports members like me who want to make a difference through community service,” McCurrach said.

“I’m so honored to be a national Jefferson Award winner, but even more honored to be a member of an organization that shares my values and works tirelessly to make the world a better place – at work and in the places where we live and work.”

The USW is a Champion with the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which is dedicated to building a culture of service through a variety of programs and awards. As a Champion, the union was able to create a formal structure to allow members and retirees to be nominated for Jefferson Awards and put a spotlight on USW Cares efforts in communities across North America. The program includes training to help build leadership and other skills through effective community service.

McCurrach was selected as the USW’s overall Jefferson Awards Foundation Champion volunteer for 2017. The union had over 150 nominations from each of its districts in the United States and Canada and from among its Steelworker Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR).

Other 2017 Jefferson Awards winners include:

Marien Landry, a member of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 6951 in Contrecoeur, Que. Landry collected $165,000 in donations for humanitarian projects and helped build 10 schools and renovate several others in Guatemala.

Darren Green, a member of USW Local 5328 in Hamilton, Ont., leads efforts to feed the homeless and volunteers at local shelters. He raised over $400,000 for food banks and organized a backpack event for underprivileged children in the community. Green also instructed anti-harassment courses at over 50 workplaces in Ontario and Alberta and leads anti-racism efforts.

Lena Sutton, Chapter 10, SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees), Hamilton. Sutton leads several volunteer projects, including raising $30,000 through motorcycle poker runs, assisting USW retirees with tax filings and helping retirees live in their own homes.

United Steelworkers Hosts Toronto NDP Leadership Debate June 22 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/united-steelworkers-hosts-toronto-ndp-leadership-debate-june-22 Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/united-steelworkers-hosts-toronto-ndp-leadership-debate-june-22 TORONTO - The United Steelworkers (USW) will host a labour and economy-focused debate in Toronto between all the NDP leadership candidates on Thursday, June 22.

Labour - Justice - Our Future

Hosted by United Steelworkers

Thursday, June 22,  7-9 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W. (east of Museum subway stop at Avenue Road)

"The United Steelworkers wants to make sure Canadians hear what the next leader of the NDP has to say about the issues that will affect their jobs, their families and their communities," said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

Conciliation at Freedom Mobile as First Contract Talks Heat Up http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/conciliation-at-freedom-mobile-as-first-contract-talks-heat-up Tue, 20 Jun 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/conciliation-at-freedom-mobile-as-first-contract-talks-heat-up WINDSOR – Negotiations for a first collective agreement between the United Steelworkers (USW) and Freedom Mobile in Windsor have entered the conciliation phase. A federal labour conciliation officer has convened meetings between the company and the union starting this week in an effort to help reach a settlement.

Freedom Mobile, previously known as Wind Mobile, was purchased in 2015 by Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion. The 185 customer care employees at Freedom Mobile's Windsor call centre joined the USW in January and bargaining began in late March.

“Shaw recently had its best quarterly subscriber performance in five years. And its $1.3-billion revenue for the second quarter was up by over 13% from the previous year. Windsor call centre workers helped deliver that success – they work hard and deserve a fair deal,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

“The folks in this call centre are great people working hard in jobs that can be pretty stressful. Freedom and Shaw can afford fair treatment that reflects our contributions,” said Jasen Gannon, Tanya Travis Dunn and Christian Poisson, Freedom employees and members of the union’s elected bargaining committee.

"We anticipate good-faith bargaining this week from Freedom Mobile and Shaw. Our members across Canada are behind these workers 100%,” said Lee Riggs, President of the Telecommunications Workers Union, USW National Local 1944, which represents more than 11,000 telecommunications sector workers across Canada.

Ministerial Statement on the National Day of Mourning http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/alberta-ministerial-statement-on-the-national-day-of-mourning Tue, 02 May 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2017/alberta-ministerial-statement-on-the-national-day-of-mourning
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Every year on April 28 we honour and remember those who died from workplace- related illness and injury. It is known as the Day of Mourning. While I’m glad that we set aside a day each year to honour and remember those who died from workplace-related illness and injury, it’s heartbreaking that this day is necessary and that every year some Albertans do not make it home at the end of the workday. Every worker has the right to come home safely at the end of the day, from the very first shift through to retirement. My hope is that the Day of Mourning motivates employers, workers, and government to continue working together to improve occupational health and safety in all industries across this province.

In 2016 there were 144 deaths related to workplace illnesses and injuries. These 144 people died because they went to work, but they were more than just workers. They were someone’s grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses, children, and friends. They were children’s sports coaches and community volunteers. They touched lives and made their communities better places. Their contributions made our lives richer, and their absence makes our lives poorer. It’s tragic to see families ripped apart, friends left heartbroken, co- workers traumatized, and our communities suffering. We can and we must do better. I believe employers, workers, and government all have a responsibility to create healthier, safer workplaces and a better world.

Mr. Speaker, this year’s Day of Mourning also marks the 25th anniversary of the Westray mine disaster in Nova Scotia. On May 9, 1992, a large explosion in the Westray mine, in Plymouth, killed 26 underground miners, that day’s entire shift of workers who were underground. A subsequent public inquiry blamed mine management and government regulators for what was deemed a preventable disaster. In response to the Westray mine disaster the federal government amended the Criminal Code to allow criminal charges in serious cases of workplace fatalities or injuries. That law applies to anyone on a work site who directs the work of others.

Mr. Speaker, I was proud last Friday when our government signed the Westray memorandum of understanding with 10 police services across the province. This memorandum will define protocols between occupational health and safety officers and police officers when investigating serious workplace incidents to help determine if criminal charges are warranted. By defining roles and protocols, police can focus on any criminal activity that may have occurred and investigators can ensure that their time is spent on the incident investigation, to the benefit of all Albertans. This was an important action for our government to take because it will help OH and S and police better serve and protect Albertans and help ensure that every worker comes home safe at the end of the day.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all members of this Legislature and all Albertans to take a moment and remember those who lost their lives due to workplace illness or injury. And as we go forward, I encourage all Albertans to commit to working together to create healthier, safer workspaces. Thank you.