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 Concession Bargaining https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/concession-bargaining Thu, 15 Nov 2018 10:24:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/concession-bargaining Thousands of Canadian families were shocked in October to learn they were left in the lurch by Liberal government concessions to the United States on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

The Liberals agreed to a new NAFTA deal even though the Trump administration maintained illegal tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum that have threatened thousands of Canadian jobs.

Trump acknowledged he was using the tariffs as leverage to get a NAFTA deal with Canada. But even when Trump got the deal he wanted, the Liberals did not insist that the tariffs be lifted.

“Time and time again during the NAFTA renegotiations, the Liberal government assured Canadians that it was defending our steel and aluminum sectors and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Canadian families,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said when the NAFTA deal was disclosed.

“Given the Liberal government’s rhetoric, Canadians expected an agreement on NAFTA would result in the U.S. lifting the bogus ‘national-security’ tariffs. Instead, Canadian workers are being sacrificed along with all the other concessions made by the Liberal government in this deal,” Neumann said.

Once the renegotiated NAFTA details emerged in October, USW leaders, members and our allies demanded that the Liberal government take a hard line against U.S. tariffs or potential quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum.

“The United Steelworkers on both sides of the border continue to insist that U.S. quotas are unacceptable and the current steel and aluminum tariffs must be lifted immediately,” Neumann said.

As of the time of this writing, the Liberal government had not made any such commitment.

NAFTA to USMCA – A Bad Deal Gets Worse

At the outset of the NAFTA renegotiations, the Liberals boasted their ‘progressive trade agenda’ would bring a better deal for Canadians, including new ‘priorities’ ranging from women’s rights to Indigenous rights to stronger environmental standards.

However, the Liberals quickly abandoned their ‘progressive’ vision.

“Rather than give-and-take negotiations to improve Canada’s trading position with the U.S., the Liberals made concession after concession, until the Trump administration got the deal it wanted. In the end, the new deal is worse for Canada than the old NAFTA,” Neumann said.

“So much for the ‘win-win-win’ deal promised by this government.”

The Liberals’ concessions in the new NAFTA, now renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), include:

Supply management: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Canadian farmers he would defend them in the NAFTA talks. Instead, Liberal concessions will harm Canadian producers and workers in five agricultural sectors.

Canada’s dairy market will be opened to more American products, while Canadian exports will be restricted.

The Liberals’ concessions will also affect Canadian farmers in four other sectors that will be subjected to more American imports – chicken, turkey, egg, and broiler hatching eggs and chicks.

The Liberals plan to spend billions of taxpayers’ dollars to compensate affected farmers, though the harm to Canadians will endure long after short-term compensation expires.

Higher drug costs: Prescription drug costs in Canada will increase by hundreds of millions of dollars due to the Liberals’ concession on U.S. demands on drug patents benefiting pharmaceutical companies. This concession also will make it more expensive to implement a universal pharmacare program in Canada.

Buy America: While American producers gain greater access to Canadian markets, the Liberals abandoned their key objective to undo ‘Buy America’ rules on government procurement. The Liberals’ failure means Canadian companies – particularly small- and medium-sized businesses – will be blocked from selling their goods and services to the U.S.

Surrendering sovereignty: The Liberals conceded to U.S. demands for new provisions that compromise Canadian sovereignty on trade negotiations with “non-market” countries, such as China. Canada will be forced to inform the U.S. about any intent to pursue such negotiations and divulge the text of any agreement to the U.S. – in advance. If the U.S. objects to such an agreement, it can eject Canada from the USMCA, which would then become a bilateral U.S.-Mexico deal.

The Liberals’ concession bargaining in the new USMCA adds to a failed record on international trade agreements.

In September, the Liberals introduced legislation to ram through the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a trade deal projected to kill 58,000 middle-class Canadian jobs in the steel, auto, skilled trades and supply-management sectors.

Last year the Liberals implemented the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which has resulted in a flood of imports from CETA countries into Canada, while Canadian exports to these countries have decreased.

The Liberals’ bluster on “progressive trade” is betrayed by its continual support for corporate trade agreements that erode Canada’s manufacturing base, kill good jobs, drive down wages, increase inequality and worsen environmental challenges.

This article appears in the November 2018 edition of USW@Work.

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USW Cares: USW Local 1998 Women of Steel Holiday Drive https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-cares-usw-local-1998-women-of-steel-holiday-drive Wed, 14 Nov 2018 13:42:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-cares-usw-local-1998-women-of-steel-holiday-drive 1998wos Last year, USW Local 1998’s Women of Steel conducted a successful toiletries drive. The committee decided to take it on once again this year with a goal to amp it up even further! 

Last year’s donations went to Sistering, a multi-service agency in Toronto for at-risk, socially isolated women who are homeless or precariously housed. This year, the local’s goal is to distribute all goods received to multiple organizations.

USW Local 1998 members span the three University of Toronto campuses in the Greater Toronto Area – downtown Toronto, Scarborough and Mississauga. Donations are being accepted in boxes at all three campuses, as well as at general membership meetings from October to December and anytime at the local union office at 25 Cecil Street, 3rd floor, in Toronto.

There are currently over 25 donation boxes at all University of Toronto campuses.

Items we collected last year included:  shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body lotion, body wash, cosmetics, brushes and combs, tampons and pads, and other non-perishable items. If you feel inspired to also collect socks, hats, scarves, toys for all ages, etc. please feel free to include those items as well.  

For those interested in participating – it’s not too late! If you are willing to collect donation items until mid-December, contact USW Local 1998, info@usw1998.ca, who will also provide the collection boxes!

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USW Cares: Baskets of Solidarity https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-cares-baskets-of-solidarity Tue, 13 Nov 2018 10:59:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-cares-baskets-of-solidarity During the planning stages of the 2018 District 6 Conference, the District 6 Women’s Committee received a request for locals and area councils to ask women’s shelters what items they need donated to help the women and children at the shelters get started again on their own. The plan was to build baskets of these supplies at the conference, as our community outreach.

I called my local shelter (women’s services) and found out that in all of Haldimand and Norfolk we have one shelter, and that is normally full. If they do not have the room then women are shipped to Niagara, Brant or Hamilton.

I also found what kind of stuff was needed.

Because of this, our women’s committee decided to have a social to incorporate solidarity between women, families, wives and retirees from our local, and at the same time raise funds to fill baskets.

The local membership also voted to donate all monies spent on supplies and food to the shelter.

We had enough donations to put together seven stuffed baskets for our local shelter. We raised just under $1,000.

I am very proud of the work of our Women of Steel Committee and participate where I can to show my support for the great causes that they undertake.

 
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Support Bécancour Steelworkers Locked Out by ABI https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/9700-donations Tue, 30 Oct 2018 13:01:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/9700-donations Members of Steelworkers Local 9700 locked out by ABI.

The 1,030 unionized employees at the ABI smelter in Bécancour have been locked out of their jobs since Jan. 11 by Alcoa and Rio Tinto.

The labour dispute hinges on two key outstanding issues – pension plan changes and language related to seniority rights and employee turnover.

Since the lockout began, however, the company has made additional demands. The company has shown no willingness to negotiate, even as the union made repeated overtures.

These workers are strong and standing tall with the solidarity of Steelworkers and the labour movement.

Take solidarity a step further by supporting the locked-out workers of Local 9700 with a donation.

Support the locked-out ABI workers by sending donations to:

MÉTALLOS SL 9700 F.D.P.
Syndicat des Métallos
8310, rue Desormeaux
Bécancour, Québec
G9H 2X2
Attention: Éric Moore, Financial Secretary

Online donations by credit card can be made here.

Thank you for your support!

*Don’t forget to write to Alcoa’s board of directors to voice your support for the locked-out workers. Send your email here.

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Remove Steel Tariffs Before Signing New Trade Deal: Mark Rowlinson on Power & Politics https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/remove-steel-tariffs-before-signing-trade-deal Tue, 30 Oct 2018 11:38:04 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/remove-steel-tariffs-before-signing-trade-deal

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B.C. Labour Code Recommendations a Good First Step: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/b-c-labour-code-recommendations-a-good-first-step-steelworkers Fri, 26 Oct 2018 14:37:44 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/b-c-labour-code-recommendations-a-good-first-step-steelworkers The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes recommendations for changes to B.C.'s Labour Relations Code, but cautions much more must be done to bring the Code into the 21st century. 

The modest changes proposed to successorship must be expanded to include all sectors, including forestry where loggers face constant contract flipping, the USW says.

"Every B.C. worker deserves to have their successorship rights fully protected, no matter where they work," says USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

With employers promoting a gig economy – creating temporary, precarious work and pushing to treat more workers as contractors – workers need a code that recognizes that inherent power imbalance.

"We are grateful that Premier Horgan's working life has given him knowledge and understanding about the value of card-check certification.  We need other B.C. legislators to remember working people and the barriers they face when trying to form unions."

Other steps recommended today around timelines, penalties, mediation and arbitration are welcome changes that bring B.C.'s code into line with most other Canadian jurisdictions. 

However, clear language is required to ensure access to things like remedial certifications and a clear and meaningful penalty for employers who interfere in organizing drives. Small monetary penalties simply become the cost of business for too many employers who face substantive penalties. 

Finally, Hunt noted any recommendations for change are only valuable if the operation of the Labour Relations Board is fully funded.

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I Am With You, Sisters! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/i-am-with-you-sisters Thu, 18 Oct 2018 09:03:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/i-am-with-you-sisters Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada addressed delegates on the last day of the International/National Women’s Conference in Toronto, Ontario.

“I have had the privilege to be here over the last several days and hear the women of our great union – on both sides of the border – set out your plans and your ideas for how you will continue the struggle for women’s equality,” said Neumann.

“I want to say that I hear you. I support you and I am with you, sisters!”

Neumann credited the women of the United Steelworkers for the gains and progress USW has made on behalf of women workers.

“I am proud of all we have done and will do. I also recognize that men have a role – as supporters and as allies,” said Neumann.

Neumann highlighted the need to do more to end violence and harassment against women. Delegates applauded Neumann when he said that one of the ways the USW is answering the call to action is by joining the call for a National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

Neumann recognized the success of Women of Steel negotiating domestic violence leave into USW collective agreements.

Today, governments in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario have passed laws providing all workers with domestic violence leave.

“But it began at the bargaining table,” Neumann noted. “This is a victory of women in the labour movement.”

Neumann cited the USW’s Be More Than a Bystander program that is training male Steelworkers to speak out against harassment.

“Ending violence and harassment is key, but it is not the full solution. Women’s equality is about the presence of respect and opportunity, not just the absence of violence and harassment,” he said. “That is part of what unions deliver and why the work of our union is so important.”

Neumann recounted his personal experiences visiting Bangladesh on the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse that killed more than 1,138 garment workers, mainly women, injuring 2,500 others.

Visibly moved, with his voice breaking, Neumann told of how he was with the families who had lost loved ones at their first opportunity to visit the rubble of Rana Plaza.

“The families were standing in front, clutching photos of their loved ones. And what they were looking for was closure. Because after the collapse, the building was imploded. They were looking for DNA so they could have some kind of closure, but they didn’t get that,” said Neumann.

“Sisters, you are part of our union’s solidarity,” Neumann told the delegates. “We are stronger together.”

“For three days, this stage and this room has been full of smart, capable Women of Steel who are making our union and the world a better place. We need to see more women in union leadership. Our union will not be a success if we don’t,” said Neumann.

Neumann thanked the sisters for bringing dedication and energy to the conference and thanked delegates for all they will do in answering the call to action.

“Sisters, you have proven again that there is nothing stronger than a Woman of Steel!"

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Answering the Call to Action Through Global Solidarity https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/answering-the-call-to-action-through-global-solidarity Wed, 17 Oct 2018 21:01:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/answering-the-call-to-action-through-global-solidarity Tuesday morning, delegates to the International Women of Steel Conference were inspired by the experiences of women activists and union leaders from around the world. USW’s international partners play an important role in the union’s work.

Women are answering the call to action in different ways, responding to unique challenges.

The delegates heard from international guests from Brazil, Mexico, Bangladesh and the U.K.

In Brazil, women are 51% of the population; Black people are 54%. Christiane Aparecida dos Santos of the CUT (National Confederation of Metal Workers), noted that women make up 18.7% of metalworkers. Black women in Brazil face a staggering gender wage gap of 50% compared to white men. Women end up working two to three jobs.

“That influences their ability to dedicate themselves to the struggle on the job,” said dos Santos.

“In our collective bargaining, we try to include clauses that allow women to participate in the labour market: child care, maternity leave,” said dos Santos.

As a result, the CUT has been able to achieve some negotiated agreements with 180 paid days of maternity leave.

Raising Consciousness

“Our fight is to raise the women’s level of consciousness – to draw them into union struggles. We offer training. And we also try to raise the consciousness of the men; we are together in the struggle.”

For Unite the Union in the U.K., women are rising. “We’ve got good structures and we’re proud of those, but we have more to do,” said Louisa Bull a Unite representative from the paper and packaging sector, an area where women make up 17% of the workforce.

In addition to the formal structures that help make gains for women, Unite women are saying to the men in leadership, “Stand aside, brother.”

Unite the Union Vice President Jayne Taylor got started by attending a women’s leadership school. After completing the school, she didn’t just stand for a position as equalities officer; she went back to her local union and ran for branch secretary.

One struggle in paper and packaging is outsourcing to countries with lower wages. So now Unite finances organizing where the workers are, leading organizing in Poland and Hungary to bring up the wages and working conditions of those workers – to improve their lives and to level the playing field.

In Bangladesh, Kalpona Akter fights on behalf of garment workers, 85% of whom are women.

Minimum wage is $68 per month – not enough for one person to live; and many of these women have families and children to support.

“The garment industry is the backbone of our economy, but they’ve been left out,” said Akter.

We Are Fighting Every Day

“Are we sitting down? No! We are fighting every day!”

Answering the call to action means speaking up.

In Mexico, women face exploitation and assault at work. Changing this culture happens through unions like Los Mineros, but also by electing pro-worker representatives.

Los Mineros’ Josefina Martinez shared how women in Mexico wanted a new government and organized “house by house” in her district.

“We needed 42,000 votes,” said Martinez. “We didn’t get 42,000, we got 90,000!”

Now Los Mineros’ General Secretary Napoleon Gomez Urrutia is a senator in the Mexican congress.

“Thanks to the work that was done by women, we brought down barriers,” said Martinez.

Keynote speaker Ritu Bhasin, an author, motivational speaker, and expert in diversity, inclusion and women’s leadership, inspired delegates with her personal story. She told of growing up bullied from the age of five because of her brown skin and Sikh religion.

As a young adult, Bhasin sought to fit in and carried a spirit of sameness, seeking social acceptance. Then she realized how unhappy she was trying to be someone she wasn’t.

Embrace Authenticity

Bhasin’s answer to the call to action is authenticity: to embrace differences as strengths.

“Authenticity is the consistent practise of choosing to know who I am; to embrace who I am; to be who I am.”

Through authenticity and by embracing differences, people can come together and support each other.

Bhasin encouraged delegates to do the work to embrace authenticity.

“When we do this for ourselves, we thrive. But then, it’s incumbent on us to lift others while we climb.”

“Globally, we are in a desperate need to course-correct on how we are living so that everyone can experience belonging,” said Bhasin.

“My hope for today is that you will join me!”

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The Women Speak https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/the-women-speak Wed, 17 Oct 2018 21:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/the-women-speak Women took their seats on the final day of the International/National Women’s Conference in Toronto, Ontario, exhausted, yet grateful and ready for action following from three full days of plenaries, workshops and networking.

Women lined up at microphones to speak – many of them first-time delegates and first-time speakers – sharing their inspiration, their action plans and their challenges to our union.

International Vice-President Carol Landry chaired the session Hearing From the Women.

Delee from District 3 began with a moving and emotional plea to take action on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in Canada.

“I’m hopeful we will find a way to mitigate and eventually eradicate the violence against Indigenous women.”

Julie, from Local 1944 shared her Call to Action, motivated by losing a union sister to the disease of addiction. “The call to action for me will be for Local 1944 bargaining in 2021. I’ll be putting forward a proposal to have domestic violence leave in our next agreement.”

Many sisters thanked the United Steelworkers union for hosting women’s conferences and providing the opportunity for women to connect, inspire one another and build a network of ideas and support beyond their Women’s Committees and local unions.

A sister from District 8 spoke of encouraging the women in her local: “I’m going to set a plan. Start the actions. Invite the women and encourage those within my local to get moving.”

A number of delegates spoke of their struggles during strikes or lockouts.

Chantelle from District 7, Gary Works, said, “We stood together for a fair contract and it looks like we got something going. When you stand together and pull together, it helps unite us.”

Multiple women challenged the USW to move forward on increasing the representation of women and people of colour on the International Executive Board. A sister called for USW to pick up on Unite the Union’s “Step Aside, Brother.” Another suggestion was to adopt quotas on the executive board to reflect our own union’s diversity and proportion of women.

Diane from District 6, along with two other sisters, reported that their local, after 60 years, now has a women’s committee.

There was widespread support for Women of Steel and political action. From going out and supporting local candidates, sisters are also stepping up to put their names on the ballot.

“If you don’t like the lack of diversity on your executive board, RUN! If you don’t like the makeup of your government, RUN!” said Tanya, from District 2.

Christa and Sharmin from District 6 committed to take action on mental health.

Bonnie from UBCP ACTRA called for programs of education and awareness for men.

“I know the difference between flirting and harassment. The people that don’t are mostly our brothers. Education has to be towards the men and they need to change their culture,” she said.

Lisanne and Jennie from Local 9700 in District 5 have been locked out by Alcoa and Rio Tinto for 36 weeks. Their passionate call for solidarity brought delegates to their feet.

“Our call to action is solidarity. We need you to help us continue. Go back to your union and tell those men you need to support our local. It’s been so hard on our families,” said Lisanne.

A sister from Local 6787 in District 7 thanked the conference organizers for providing child care during the conference, so she could attend with her child.

Kayla, from Local 7913 in District 3 called for better personal protective equipment for women.

“One size does not fit all. Many of the women talked about ill-fitting gear and having to modify procedures to make up for work gear that doesn’t fit,” she said.

She went on to call for better education through our locals and districts for our brothers on women’s issues.

Josefina Martinez-Hernandez from Los Mineros in Mexico told a story of success.

“Our company has more than 6,000 employees, many of them suspended from their work. This led us to protest, day after day, asking to be reinstated. At the same time, many sisters telling us about sexual harassment they have suffered from some of the leaders or supervisors,” she said.

“We have been standing outside the main entrance of the company and denounced this with megaphones and flyers, saying the name of the perpetrator. This has had results, because the perpetrator is being shamed, and has stopped harassing,” said Martinez-Hernandez.

A sister asked the delegates to change the channel on hatred.

“Check your privilege at the door. We have to realize that racism is here, in our union.”

Joelle from District 3 reported that she and her sisters were going to work for language on getting a safe place to pump for breast-feeding mothers.

“I personally had to go back to work early and had to stop breastfeeding my daughter so this is personal to me,” she said.

Cheryl, from District 8 called for an end to female-to-female bullying.

“My call to action is if you see this going on, put an end to it – in your women’s committees, in your workplaces. We need to work together, not fight amongst ourselves.”

A sister from District 9 said, “I’m retired but I’m not finished. It is time for us to be the change that we wish to see.”

Women were on their feet with a standing ovation for Sister Christiane Aparecida dos Santos of the CNM/CUT (National Confederation of Metal Workers) in Brazil when she called for women to occupy space in their unions.

In closing, Landry emphasised, “Have your voice. Use your voice. Make your presence known. In your locals, in politics. We need to fill those seats with more women. The things we’re seeing in the U.S. and in Canada – I always remember the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, ‘We put them in there – and they should be speaking on our behalf.’ Thank you sisters!”

Taking Action at IKEA and Canadian Tire

Sister Kalpona Akter of the Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity began her keynote address with action by asking delegates to sign letters to IKEA and Canadian Tire calling for these companies to sign the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

IKEA sources their curtains, bedsheets, pillow covers and towels from Bangladesh. But those workers are still in unsafe working conditions.

“We are asking IKEA to sign the accord – a legally binding agreement. We are asking brands and retailers to sign the accord, to save these workers’ lives,” she said, noting that if the accord had been in place before the Tazreen factory fire and the Rana Plaza collapse, we could have saved these workers.

“In Canada, Canadian Tire is one of the companies that is sourcing from Bangladesh but hasn’t signed the accord. Workers are working in unsafe conditions and that factory could be another Rana Plaza,” said Akter.

Delegates signed letters to Canadian Tire calling on the company to sign the accord and ensure the workers get a living wage in Bangladesh.

“Everyone knows we live in a global village. It is our responsibility to level up the workers who are making our clothes. We are fighting for a package of jobs with dignity. That doesn’t come without a living wage, a voice at work, a safe workplace and a workplace that is gender-based violence free,” said Akter.

Akter called to the crowd, “Do you have our backs?” “YES!” the sisters answered in unison.

To conclude the conference, sisters sang “Solidarity Forever” including a new verse for women.

We’re the women of the union in the forefront of the fight,
We fight for women’s issues; we fight for women’s rights.
We’re prepared to fight for freedom; we’re prepared to stand our ground,
Women make the union strong!

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USW President Gerard Calls for Movement, Not Musing at WOS Conference https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-president-gerard-calls-for-movement-not-musing-at-wos-conference Tue, 16 Oct 2018 16:17:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/usw-president-gerard-calls-for-movement-not-musing-at-wos-conference USW International President Leo Gerard took the mic for the keynote speech on the second morning of the International Women of Steel Conference and said the shameful confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court of Brett Kavanaugh illustrates how vital it is for women to be heard – in the workplace and particularly this November at the polls.

“This election is not only going to set the direction for the country but for human rights and women’s rights,” Gerard said. “If Republicans win in November, they’re going to feel like they have a blank check to do whatever they want.” Republicans rammed Kavanaugh onto the highest court in the United States despite the fact that the judge stands accused of molesting several women.

Republicans in the United States continue to wage wars against voting rights, against workers right to organize, and against immigrant children, many of whom remain in cages along the southern border. Women also are one of the right-wing party’s primary targets, and the solution, Gerard said, lies in organizing.

“Women still make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes in the United States,” Gerard said. And it’s less than that in Canada. “Want to change that? Get a union.”

For Gerard, though, organizing isn’t merely a necessity for pay equity—it’s the fight of a lifetime.

“We need to organize politically, organize for our rights, organize to build the union, organize so we have a better life for those who come after us.”

At the convention in Toronto, attended by both American and Canadian USW members, Gerard acknowledged the tension President Trump created by failing to exempt Canada from the tariffs he imposed for national security reasons on steel and aluminum.

“The USW executive board voted unanimously that Canada should be excluded from the tariffs,” Gerard pointed out. Imposing them on Canada, an ally, he said, was offensive. “It was offensive for America to put a tariff on Canada and say it was because of national security. Workers on both sides of the border know whose side they should be on.”

Touching on the conference’s theme ­– A Call to Action – Gerard reminded the more than 1,200 attendees that musing means nothing without movement.

“There’s so much to talk about, but there’s so much more than talk that has to take place,” he said. “If we’re going to make the difference that we need to make, we’re only going to make it through activism.

“There is huge talent here and in this audience. If you go home and do nothing, you have been here under false pretenses. The future is in our hands this time.”

Finally, Gerard urged the delegates, “Take the solidarity and relationships you have gained here and go back to your region, you district, your country and fight like hell for the future.”

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Women of Steel Take to the Streets for Ontario’s $15 Minimum Wage https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/women-of-steel-take-to-the-streets-for-ontarios-15-minimum-wage Tue, 16 Oct 2018 11:09:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/women-of-steel-take-to-the-streets-for-ontarios-15-minimum-wage More than 1,000 Women of Steel converged on University Avenue in downtown Toronto for the Ontario Day of Action for Workers’ Rights.

Delegates marched over from the National/International Women’s Conference waving USW and Women of Steel flags while chanting “Hands Off!” and “Fight Back!”

The women joined hundreds of others calling for fairness for workers at the energetic rally outside the offices of Minister of Labour Laurie Scott. Once the Women of Steel delegates arrived, the rally spilled over into the street.

The action was one of more than 50 across Ontario on Oct. 15 showing widespread support across the province for the $15 minimum wage and decent work laws.

The minimum wage is $14/hour in Ontario, slated by law to rise to $15 on Jan. 1, 2019, joining Alberta as the second province in Canada to have a $15 minimum wage.

Conservative Premier Doug Ford has announced his intention to roll back that increase along with other basic labour rights, a major policy shift that was never mentioned during last June’s provincial election.

“We are here to say to Minister Laurie Scott: Hands off our basic labour rights,” said Deena Ladd from the $15 and Fairness campaign. “It’s not frills. Not luxuries. These are basic necessities! Let’s take it to the streets. We are the people!”

“The minimum wage increase meant we could make plans to pay down debt, get insurance and a winter coat,” said Christine, who works four minimum-wage part-time jobs.

“It’s hard to feel you are human when you can’t pay your bills and are living in poverty,” she said.

USW International Vice-President Carol Landry called for Ontario Premier Doug Ford to “Do the right thing.”

“Sixty per cent of minimum wage workers are women. They should not have to make a choice between feeding their family and taking a day off work when they’re sick,” said Landry.

“The theme of our conference is A Call to Action,” said Landry. “This is our first action – saying to Premier Ford: ‘Hands Off!’”

Steelworker and recently elected Member of Provincial Parliament Jamie West is the Labour Critic for the Official Opposition New Democratic Party.

“Any time labour is in the streets is a good thing. It’s time for power of the people,” said West.

“This law is already in place. The Premier and the Conservatives are telling you that you deserve less – that workers have it too good,” said West. “I’m here to tell you that Andrea Horwath and the NDP will fight Ford every step of the way. We are with you shoulder-to-shoulder.”

“The union movement is standing with the community, those who have led this fight,” said Carolyn Egan, President of USW Local 8300 and the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, co-host of the rally along with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council.

“We can win. Do not give up!” Egan said.

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2018 International Women's Conference Delegate Bios - Districts 1 to 6 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/2018-international-womens-conference-delegate-bios Mon, 15 Oct 2018 18:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/2018-international-womens-conference-delegate-bios We asked some of our most stellar sisters who are attending the 2018 International Women's Conference in Toronto, Ontario, some questions about being an activist and more. Check out some of their bios below.

DISTRICT 1

nicolepName: Nicole Perry

Local #: 979

HometownCleveland, Ohio

EmployerArcelorMittel

Job title: Service Tech in quality department

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, this is my second. I was at the one in Pittsburgh three years ago.

What are you most looking forward to? The last conference led me to step up and take on a position as WOS chair, and it led me to run for office as treasurer, even though I didn’t win. This time I want to gain information so I can get more of the women in my local involved and get the committees to work together like our Next Gen and Rapid Response and Veterans’ committees.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It’s empowering. It means I have a support system. I know each local is different, but for me it’s a real sisterhood because I had some good mentoring coming out of Women of Steel.  In this industry, it’s not always welcoming to women, but having that support system lets us go forward and make the changes that need to be made.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think we need to get away from some of our past ideas and add more inclusion of women. I think if we need to educate some of our male members. Lots of times when they go and look for people to do certain jobs in the local, they automatically go to men. We have “committeemen.” We need more “committee persons.” I believe in respecting our past, but we need some new traditions that include everyone and make them feel comfortable.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Generous

kathyhName: Kathy Hardesty

Local #: 731

HometownChillicothe, Ohio

Employer: Glatfelter Paper

Job title: Maintenance safety advocate

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, it’s been a while since my first one.

What are you most looking forward to? Right at the moment, I want to look at the SOAR program, because I’m at the end of my career, but I’m not ready to give up the union and the union activity.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Leader, activist, compassion

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think they do a good job now. I’ve been around it for a good while, and it continues: they keep trying to get more and more people involved. They are giving women the opportunity to learn by promoting what women can do and how they can raise their voices.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Pro union, strong opinions

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

DISTRICT 2

jackieaName: Jackie Anklam

Local #: 9899

Hometown: Saginaw, Mich.

Employer: St. Mary’s of Michigan/Touchpoint

Job title: Environmental tech

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. I first went to the one 2009 in Toronto.

What were/are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to getting information to take back into my local especially so we can start working to get more women to get active. It’ll be good to re-energize our Women of Steel committee, given than the primary membership at my local is about 85 percent female.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I’ve listened to a lot of the other Sisters talk about the hurdles they struggled to overcome to be active in their locals. It makes me feel good that my local doesn’t have some of the same struggles, like male dominance, because I work with primarily women. And when you work as a big group of women, as Women of Steel, on a project like volunteering or on an action like phone banking, it makes you feel like you belong there, that you are actually doing something to make the world better. Women of Steel gives the union a more female structure.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think, first and foremost, there needs to be a lot more education when it comes to defining what exactly our roles are. I think that along with that comes the need for more opportunity for women. They ask us to step up when they need us for political action or at rallies. We’re there when they call, and I think they depend on us so much. But they need to realize that given the chance, we could mobilize this union even more.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Diversified

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

karensName: Karen Sweere

Local #: 247

Hometown: Green Bay, Wis.

Employer: Procter and Gamble

Job title: Technician operator in Charmin department

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, it is my second.

What are you most looking forward to? Meeting the sisters that I’ve seen at the last conference and seeing new ones. I’ve met a few new people already who are just amazing.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I am so proud to be a Woman of Steel because I support everything the union stands for, and I want to empower women to be all they can be.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? It can help by just supporting us in everything we bring up, supporting our needs. It can help us address issues that we’re fighting for. Right now, for me, it’s the issue of homeless women. I have one in particular that I’m coaching, earning her trust, trying to help her as much as I can and hopefully get her out the situation she’s in. Our WOS committee does blessing bags, and that’s how I first approached this.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Building strength

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix. I don’t watch Netflix.

DISTRICT 3

aleciamName: Alecia McLeod

Local #: 7913

Hometown: Brandon, Manitoba, Canada

Employer: Behlen Industries

Job title: Welder

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes – for International conferences. I attended a Canadian Women’s Conference 10 years ago in Saskatoon.

What are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to the courses – dealing with female subjects: health and safety, gloves not fitting, having proper changerooms, not just the washroom.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I’m quite proud of it. It means having a sense of belonging. I was on vacation in South Dakota this summer and saw a woman wearing a Woman of Steel shirt. I didn’t speak to her, but I knew I could have – it gives me a sense of connection.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? It’s having a voice behind you. In our workplace, there are only two of us. It’s having support, ideas and learning from others who have overcome the same type of roadblocks.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family

If you had to live without one of your phone, Netflix, cheese or men, which it would be? Cheese

Name: Michelle Strickland

Local #: 1-405

Hometown: Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada

Employer: East Kootenay Community Credit Union

Job title: Commercial Sales Representative

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes!

What are you most looking forward to? The whole experience is huge for me. Networking. Any opportunity to see other sisters is big. I’m here with two sisters from my local and one of them is new to the union.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I find any Women of Steel activity such as meetings empowering. It’s important for women to stand together. I’m a woman of recovery and it’s very much intertwined. I had to learn to look after myself and Women of Steel is about that, too – strengthening and supporting each other.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? There has been a lot of focus on mental health issues. And women are going to help get rid of the stigma because women are open and accepting and stepping up to help people who are suffering. We need to head in that direction because so many are affected by mental illness and addiction.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family             

If you had to live without one of your phone, Netflix, cheese or men, which it would be? Men


DISTRICT 4

cindymName: Cindy Marlow

Local #: 8823-09

Hometown: Lancaster, N.Y.

Employer: Hale Northeastern

Job title: Department head of wardrobe

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. My first was over 20 years ago.

What were/are you most looking forward to? The networking, the camaraderie, the gathering of any knowledge I can take back, the new friendships and the ability to mentor.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It is in my blood. It’s extremely fulfilling. It’s actually a passion now. I’m happiest when I’m doing this above all other things besides being with my son. I survived at my job because of the knowledge I received from the union at large and the Women of Steel.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? They have to make sure there’s always an open door to let women voice their opinions. I’d like to see a different type of chain of command. If a woman has a problem, she goes to her local union president and chances are, he’s a man and chances are he’s not going to want to work to deal with it. I’d like to see a different channel so a woman can get the help she needs—one that helps women.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Never a dull moment

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix—I don’t have it anyway.

jessicarvName: Jessica Rios Viner

Local #: 6135

Hometown: Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Employer: GFR media

Job title: Reporter

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes.

What are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to just learning and connecting with all the sisters from all over, learning about each other and what we can implement in our locals and teach them about the troubles we’re facing.  It’s about building power together.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?" It means power. It means strength. It means unity. It means being able to build and rely on a sisterhood so we can not only help and fix problems not only in our local but also in our communities.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? First of all, they already help with the wage gap with a contract and visibility and giving light to the problems women are facing. It helps us overcome them together—in many places around the world at the same time, not just in one area.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Together. All in.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Men. We don’t really need them. We kind of do, but not really.

DISTRICT 5

nancylName: Nancy Lapointe

Local #: 1976

Hometown: Montreal, Canada

Employer: Canadian Pacific Rail

Job title: Inspector of containers and other equipment, but currently on leave working full time for my local

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes! As the vice president of my local for District 5, I usually try to get other women involved.

What are you most looking forward to? Because this is an international conference, I was looking forward to seeing people from my leadership course and to meet new Women of Steel.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” We are a visible minority in the union. Even though there are more and more of us, we are still a minority, and we need to take our place!

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Sometimes when we want to take our place in the union, we are put in our place. In my local, there is lots of space for women to lead, but I’d like to see the same thing within our larger union.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Inclusive

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese

nancytName: Nancy Thibault

Local #: 9291

Hometown: Rouyn-Noranda, Canada

Employer: Au Jardin Pierrot Childcare Centre

Job title: Early childhood educator, but I’ve been released full-time for most of the past seven years to do Organizing in District 5.

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No, my first WOS conference was a national conference held in Toronto at the Holiday Inn about six years ago.

What are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to getting a good dose of energy from my sisters!

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” To me it means we add diversity to the union. We are one hell of an asset!

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think the USW could start by having true equality within our union. At the Steelworkers, we are good secretaries, good staff reps, but not yet area coordinators or directors. Even though we only represent 20% of the membership, we don’t see that level of representation in the union’s leadership. We ask governments to improve women’s representation, we should be doing the same within our own organization. I don’t think there’s a lack of good will. I just think we are a bit stuck in the very masculine tradition of the union (mines, steel, etc.)

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Egalitarian – within our local men and women are in equal numbers around the table (as elected representatives)

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese

DISTRICT 6

donnamName: Donna Wingrove

Local #: 8782

Hometown: Simcoe, Ontario, Canada

Employer: Stelco

Job title: Boiler Operator

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my fourth international conference. The first may have been in Vancouver.

What are you most looking forward to? Networking. Hearing sisters’ stories, fights and struggles. Times have changed. The basis of our union has changed with more women in predominantly male jobs; our union is growing into different sectors.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Power and pride.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? The union offers huge support. Everybody’s equality is different – pay, education, jobs. You ask for what you need and Women of Steel will give it to you.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Strong

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? My phone

meggrName: Meg Grimes

Local #: 4120

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Employer: The Univeristy of Guelph

Job title: Awards and Agreements Officer

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? My first was the District 6 Women’s Conference last July.

What are you most looking forward to? I'm looking forward to meeting women organizing in female-dominated workplaces, and I’m interested in meeting women from the U.S. who are working on internal organizing.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It makes me feel very proud and powerful. I feel that when I give my opinion, that I’m listened to within the organization. It gives me a voice.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equality? It’s the fact that our union is growing in female-dominated workplaces – universities, education, health care. It’s giving credence to the fact that women’s labour should be valued and women should be paid appropriately for what they do.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Caring

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? My phone


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2018 International Women's Conference Delegate Bios - Districts 7 to 13 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/2018-international-womens-conference-delegate-bios-districts-7-to-13 Mon, 15 Oct 2018 18:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/2018-international-womens-conference-delegate-bios-districts-7-to-13 We asked some of our most stellar sisters who are attending the 2018 International Women's Conference in Toronto, Ontario, some questions about being an activist and more. Check out some of their bios below.


DISTRICT 7

phyllisdName: Phyllis Davis

Local #: 166M

Employer/Job Title: Lead shop steward, Local166M at Ardagh

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes, and I’m extremely excited to be here. Thank you, Madam President Turner!

What are you most looking forward to? The workshops, getting the tools by which to develop and spearhead activities within our local.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Knowledge—how to get things done!

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? Through organized legislation that addresses any attacks that would roll back our gains made this far or limit our efforts in the future.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Enduring.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix.

megansName: Megan Seller

 

Local #: 12775

Hometown: Porter, Ind.

Employer: Schahfer Generating Station

Job title: Station Mechanic

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my second.

What are you most looking forward to? I just started rebuilding our local’s WOS committee, so I wanted to find out how to get more women involved and also to better help pregnant women to prepare for life with children. I also want to get contract language that provides assistance with childcare.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” For me, it’s empowering other women and being positive. We are so often our own worst enemies.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? In our local, we have a sliding pay scale, so I get pay raises every six months and annually, and when I become a journeyman, I will get paid the same as the men. Pay equity alone is huge.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Strong.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese.

DISTRICT 8

cherylhName: Cheryl Husk

Local #: 9423

Hometown: Lewisport, Ky.

Employer: Century Aluminum

Job title: Recording secretary at Local 9423; Hawesville aluminum smelter

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes, this is my first. I’m the WOS facilitator for Kentucky, and I’m here helping them facilitate.

What are you most looking forward to? I’m looking forward to meeting people and hearing about the different sectors in our union. I’m also looking forward to the workshops. I really like to absorb things.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Empowerment. I was a Steelworker for several years before I got involved with WOS. I went to our District 8 summer institute, and they showed me how this isn’t just a men’s union. There’s a place for us both in our plant, in our local union, and even at the International. That’s really empowering.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? Training is key, which my district does really well. It gives you a voice to speak up on things, like equity in the workplace. For example, when I first started working 23 years ago, there was one restroom in the entire plant. We also have dealt with things such as all of the uniforms being men’s uniforms, so they didn’t fit the women right. It sounds silly, but little things like that matter.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family. Sometimes we bicker, but everyone comes together.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix, because I never have any time to watch it anyway!

DISTRICT 9

margaretmName: Margaret Mullins

Local #: 7739

Hometown: Johnson City, Tenn.

 

Employer: American Water Heater

Job title: Cycle counter

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes. I’ve been in the union for almost 11 years, but have just recently gotten really involved.

What are you most looking forward to? Learning.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I think we’re awesome. I love what we do and what we stand for, and I like being a part of that. We’re here to help and to reach out.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think we just need to try to get more women in there (in the union), and to keep doing these conferences.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Let’s just say we’re awesome.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Men.

margiedName: Margie Darwin

Local #: 12

Hometown: Gadsden, Ala.

Employer: Goodyear

Job: Maintenance

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is probably my fourth conference.

What are you most looking forward to? You’re always meeting new people and learning their opinions and struggles. It’s always something different.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It means everything. I’ve been the WOS chair at my local for about ten years. Being able to relate to people, being there for both the women and the men—I love it. It’s really rewarding.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? We’re already doing things—the education conferences, and the union just backing us up. I think every year it gets a little better and we’re really advancing.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Great. It’s just great.

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix.

DISTRICT 10

evelyncrName: Evelyn Cruz Redd

Local #: 1165-06

Hometown: Coatesville, Pa.

Employer: AGC Chemical

Job title: Quality Control Technician

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. This is the second.

What are you most looking forward to? Education and growth.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It means a lot. I am the only female at my job. I am the only Woman of Steel at my job, so just to know I have rights as a woman means a lot. I am the Woman of Steel there.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? Because of the union, the women have the same rights as men. The only difference is gender. There no longer is this, “You can’t do this because you are a women.” That has helped a lot of women, especially women who can do stuff better than men.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Improving

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

staceyjName: Stacey Jones

Local #: 1165

Hometown: Coatesville, Pa.

Employer: ArcelorMittal

Job title: Senior Operator Technician, Number One Screw Operator

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? No. I have probably been to four or five.

What are you most looking forward to? I am looking forward to meeting new people and getting educated and taking information back to my local. The best part is meeting all the women and then seeing them at another conference later. I give the new people from Next Gen a hug to let them know they are welcome. That is just me. I am Miss Hospitality. It is in my blood.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” Women of Steel means a lot, especially when people come up and ask me what I do in the local. I say I am the chair for the Women of Steel. Our WOS got active in the community.  We go out, for example, to people who are bereaved and take them food and flowers and fruit to comfort them a little bit. We have an opportunity to get together and discuss issues that we cannot discuss with the men.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think by giving women a greater opportunity and encouraging women to get on the executive board, not just sit back, but step forward. The union encourages us. Leave it to Beaver days are over. It is time for us to step up and show our faces.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Great

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? I have never watched Netflix, so I have to go with Netflix.

carolynsNameCarolyn Scott

Local #: 1165

Hometown: Coatesville, Pa.

Employer: ArcelorMittal (steel plate mill)

Job title: Test processor

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my second.

What are you most looking forward to? I am learning. It is a learning process. I will learn things to take back to the women, first of all in my company, and second of all in my community because I feel women as a whole should be supportive of each other.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” What it has done for me is provide for my family, as a single parent. I feel like I am as strong as the plate I make. To be a union member is the one thing I am most proud of. I have fair wages because I work for a union shop. The union brothers before me have made a path for me to make a decent wage to take care of my family. I could not have done for my family on a minimum wage job. I would have to work two jobs at minimum wage, and then who would raise my children? Thank God I found a union job that could provide for my family. My company, by court decree, was forced to hire people of color and women, and I know that is how I got my job. They got two credits for one with me.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? For one, we have to support each other. If one woman is fighting a battle, it belongs to us all. It starts with us supporting each other. You can network as women within Women of Steel, and if you are being discriminated against, then you call your other women and let them know this is happening. Then we as a group say, “No, you can’t do that!” If you don’t demand respect as a woman, you will never get it.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Loyal

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? All of them can go. They can all go. I could drop all four of them and not look back. That is the truth.

DISTRICT 11

marketaaNameMarketa Anderson

Local #: 9349

Hometown: Chisholm, Minn.

EmployerRange Center Inc., a residential and vocational center for people with mental and physical challenges

Job title: Support Service Manager

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my second one in Canada. I have been to every one since 2002.

What are you most looking forward to? The classes: Healthy Minds and Better Care of Women’s Health and Safety.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It is important because it gives women an outlet in their unions to be active. My executive board is all women except for one man. I have an advantage because there are mostly women in the unit. My unit is one of bigger ones with 150 people, maybe 10 men. The men have to work to be active.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? Since I have been active, I have heard how we have gotten more women in top positions, but I have not seen it. I don’t see anyone up there with Carol (Landry, USW Vice President).

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Family

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

christinegName: Christine Gardiner

Local #: 11-0001 trustee and chief steward on workers’ committee

Hometown: Joliet, Mont.

Employer: Sibanye Stillwater (platinum and palladium mine, refinery and smelter)

Job title: Operator 1 in the smelter, operating the furnace, converters or in other areas

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? This is my first International Women’s Conference but I attended a District WOS Conference.

What are you most looking forward to? Talking with other women from the mining industry and comparing notes on their process at work and working conditions and safety.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It means fighting that fight every day for future women.

How do you feel like unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? That is a tough one. We are going to have to get creative because I don’t feel it is obvious as it used to be. It is obvious when it is equal pay. Right now, there is more inequality under the surface that we need to hash out.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Voice

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Netflix

DISTRICT 13

venessasName: Venessa Smith

Local #: 1226

Hometown: Leesville, La.

Employer: Packaging Corporation of America

Job title: Electrical and Instrumentation Mechanic

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? Yes!

What were/are you most looking forward to? One of the things I really want to do is to learn how to handle issues of racism and to be a speaker for women’s rights.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” I didn’t get involved when my union president first asked me, but then I thought I would give it a try. It has brought me out of my shell and I’ve had a lot of support from all the women at the mill.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? I think the union is doing a lot – promoting the committees. A lot of companies didn’t know the Women’s Committee was mandated. Now we can get the word out. When we do projects, people see it.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Supportive

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? My phone

suewName: Sue Walton

Local #: 985 L

Hometown: Ada, Okla.

Employer: Flex-N-Gate

Job title: Press Attendant

Is this your first WOS conference? If not, when was your first? I have been to two trainings. This is my second International Women’s Conference. I attended my first in Pittsburgh two or three years ago.

What were/are you most looking forward to? The speakers are always so excellent. And the workshops are really beneficial.

What does it mean to you to be a “Woman of Steel?” It means unification of the women. I enjoy the projects that we do, such as Relay for Life that raises money for the Cancer Society and the funds are directed locally. We have done eight projects in the last two years. It’s brought recognition to our union and now the community comes to us.

How do you feel unions/the USW could help in the fight for true women’s equity? We wouldn’t have equity without the union. I know it would be totally different for women without the union.

If you could describe your local union in one word, what would it be? Necessary

If you had to live without either your phone, Netflix, cheese, or men, which it would be? Cheese


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More than 1,200 Women of Steel Answer the Call https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/more-than-1200-women-of-steel-answer-the-call Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:34:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/more-than-1200-women-of-steel-answer-the-call The 2018 USW Women of Steel (WOS) Conference in Toronto, Ontario, was called to order on Monday, Oct. 15, with a short ceremony conducted by Valarie King honoring the traditional territories of Canada’s local Indigenous tribes. After a Sister carried sage throughout the ballroom to cleanse the space of mental and spiritual impurities, King performed a traditional song and dedication for the approximately 1,200 attendees.

The WOS coordinators for each of the 13 USW Districts, represented by a massive showing, introduced their delegations with a brief history of their leadership, sector statistics, and passionate chants that nearly shook the chandeliers. By the time USW International Vice President-at-Large Carol Landry took to the stage, the room was fired up and ready to act.

“We are all being called to action here,” Landry said. “This is not a sit-down conference.” 

Landry spoke on how the International had to do some soul searching throughout its history, rework its image and its foundation, and find ways to welcome women into the union as they stepped into the workplace. She reminded the conference that this work is far from over.

“We have to re-energize, and we have to recommit,” Landry said. “Today, we are being called to action, and WOS have once again found their voice.”

Landry noted how many women, in both the United States and Canada, are still trapped in low-paying jobs, and most women are still the primary caregivers in the home.  When you add in domestic violence and harassment in the workplace, as well as the lack of voice women have in positions of power, that call to action, she said, is needed just as much today as it was thirty years ago, especially in the realm of domestic and workplace violence.

On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women seek refuge in a women’s shelter along with some 2,500 children. That number does not include the women who can’t get into a shelter because there isn’t enough room. 

“Unions have fought for respect, for civil rights, and freedom from violence,” Landry said, “so there should be no need to ask why we as a union are committed to ending violence against women.” 

Landry reminded the delegation that although the political and social climate seems anything but positive, one phenomenon that sparks hope is that as women are being called to action, they’re answering in record-breaking numbers.

As of September, 256 women in the U.S. had won their primary in either a House or a Senate race. There are also 13 women running for governorship, with Stacey Abrams of Georgia on tap to possibly become America’s first Black woman governor. Landry noted the importance of women participating in these races as voters. 

“Your first call to action is to urge every woman in your family, in your workplace, and every woman you see in your community to get out and vote,” Landry said. “You can change the direction your country is heading with your vote.”

Following Landry’s rousing speech, the delegates saw a video highlighting the many ways Women of Steel have stepped up throughout their careers and throughout crises to take action, from a Sister who worked on the ground during the devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico to another who refused to allow a male-dominated workplace to hold her down.

Ann Flener Gittlen, director of the USW Women of Steel program, then took to the podium to introduce delegates who highlighted moments when their own locals answered calls to action for their communities. The attendees heard about mentorship programs, Habitat for Humanity projects, Black labour education workshops, start-up kit collections for domestic violence survivors, and more.

A panel of diverse participants ended the morning plenary with an intense discussion on gender-based violence, which disproportionately affects women. Panelists spoke on the importance of including anti-violence contract language in collective bargaining agreements as well as the implementation of programs like Be More than a Bystander in Western Canada, which aims to give male allies the tools they need to be allies with women.

As the session closed, delegates took the conference’s theme to the streets in a massive call to action by departing the hotel for a Fight for 15 rally.

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United Steelworkers Endorse Mike Hurley for Burnaby Mayor https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/united-steelworkers-endorse-mike-hurley-for-burnaby-mayor Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/united-steelworkers-endorse-mike-hurley-for-burnaby-mayor Burnaby, BC – The United Steelworkers is proud to announce its support for Mike Hurley and is encouraging all working people in Burnaby to support him as the next Mayor of the city in October 20th election.

 “People who get up every morning and go to work need a Mayor on their side. They need a Mayor who understands their issues and will go to bat for them. Mike Hurley will be that Mayor,” says Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers Director. 

 “Mike is a proven community leader. He has the experience, skills and ability to get the job done as Mayor at a time when the city needs it. Working families are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet as they watch affordable housing options literally come down with a wrecking ball. It’s time for a Mayor who will put people first again,” Hunt says.

The United Steelworkers represents over 50,000 workers in western Canada and is the largest private sector union in North America. The union’s western Canada office is located in Burnaby, where hundreds of Steelworkers reside.

 

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The USMCA’s Fatal Flaw: ‘National-Security’ Tariffs https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/the-usmcas-fatal-flaw-national-security-tariffs Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/the-usmcas-fatal-flaw-national-security-tariffs The following opinion column by Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada, has been published in the Globe and Mail.

Lost in the debate on the Canadian government’s many concessions in the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – “Canada gave very graciously,” as U.S. President Donald Trump’s economics adviser gloated – are disturbing provisions allowing Mr. Trump and future U.S. presidents to continue to impose baseless “national-security” tariffs on key Canadian exports.

When the USMCA was announced last week, it was both shocking and profoundly disappointing to see Canadian officials toasting this new trade deal while the United States maintained devastating tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports.

The Trump administration imposed the tariffs – 25 per cent on Canadian steel and 10 per cent on Canadian aluminum – on June 1, on the spurious basis that these imports pose a threat to U.S. national security under Section 232 of American trade law.

For the 175,000 Canadian workers whose jobs are directly or indirectly tied to the steel and aluminum industries, these tariffs represent a serious threat to their jobs and communities. From the outset, the United Steelworkers, the union representing steel and aluminum workers on both sides of the border, condemned these tariffs and questioned the direction of American trade policy.

While imposing the tariffs, Mr. Trump explicitly noted they could be lifted if Canada and the United States could agree on a new trade deal to replace the North American free-trade agreement, hence the shock in Canada when the Trudeau government agreed to the USMCA even though the unjustified U.S. tariffs are still in effect.

Of course, the Canadian government expressed dismay that the tariffs remain in place. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has attempted to justify the situation by arguing steel and aluminum tariffs remain a separate discussion from the USMCA negotiations. However, even a cursory examination of the agreement reveals this is clearly not true.

In fact, the USMCA validates and makes several accommodations on U.S. national-security tariffs.

First, while the USMCA leaves room for significant growth of Canadian auto exports, it does not close the door to future Section 232 tariffs. Second, there is a new protocol for the imposition of future U.S. national-security tariffs against Canada, without eliminating the current Section 232 tariffs on our steel and aluminum exports.

What is most disconcerting is that these provisions essentially legitimize the right of the U.S. president (the U.S. Congress has little say on the matter) to impose more “national-security” tariffs against Canada in the future.

For example, the United States has initiated a Section 232 investigation into uranium imports. Canada is a significant exporter of uranium to the United States. Workers in Canada who mine and process uranium should be very concerned, because our government has essentially agreed to a process for the United States to impose Section 232 tariffs on Canadian uranium exports.

The notion that Canadian exports of steel, aluminum or uranium pose a threat to U.S. national security has no basis in fact. Canada and the United States have a long-standing relationship that ensures economic co-operation in the event of threats to national security. So why, then, is Canada agreeing that such tariffs can be imposed?

While trade negotiations with the Trump administration were no doubt challenging, in the end it seems the Trudeau government and certain stakeholders were relieved they had preserved protections for some parts of the Canadian economy.

Most notably, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ms. Freeland have cited the preservation of the Chapter 19 dispute-resolution mechanism as a key achievement. But Chapter 19 provides no protection against U.S. national-security tariffs.

The new USMCA will be a key determinant of the entire economic relationship between Canada and the United States for decades to come. For hundreds of thousands of Canadian workers in industries now vulnerable to U.S. tariffs, a key question must be answered by their government: Why does this new trade agreement allow protectionists south of the border to impose punishing tariffs on Canadian industries without any basis whatsoever?

Canadians also can rightfully ask parliamentarians to think twice about ratifying a trade agreement that contains such a fatal flaw, on top of all the other concessions made by their government.

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Petition calls for national ban on 'conversion therapy' for LGBT youth https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/petition-calls-for-national-ban-on-conversion-therapy-for-lgbt-youth Wed, 10 Oct 2018 11:15:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/petition-calls-for-national-ban-on-conversion-therapy-for-lgbt-youth Thousands of Canadians are pressing the federal government to ban "conversion therapy," the controversial practice of counselling LGBT youth to become straight.

An online petition that will be presented in the House of Commons, signed by more than 2,500 people so far, urges the Liberals to outlaw the act of coercing or counselling minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to prohibit taking minors outside the country for that purpose.

'Conversion therapy' is the widely-discredited practice of trying to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity through counselling, behaviour modification or medication, based on the premise that being gay or trans is abnormal and can be 'cured'.
 

CBC News article

Sign the petition

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Introducing USW District 6's Trans Liaison https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/introducing-usw-d6-trans-liaison Thu, 27 Sep 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/introducing-usw-d6-trans-liaison maysonMayson became a Steelworker seven years ago when he was hired at Leggett and Platt Automotive in London, Ontario. He serves as a trustee with Local 2699 and also serves on the Southwest Area Council Human Rights Committee, as well as the District 6 Human Rights Committee.

Three and a half years ago, he began his workplace gender transition. Having gone through his own workplace transition, he understands the unique issues and some of the specific complications that can arise in the workplace during a transition. It's not an easy task, but when everyone is on board and educated, it can certainly be smoother for all involved.

Many folks have shared these same struggles while transitioning on the job, so his aim is to make sure that with each and every transition, it becomes a little easier. That is why the USW and Mayson have developed a USW Workplace Transition Guide. The guide, along with education for staff and members, will go a long way to help. 

Additionally, as the D6 Trans Liaison, he is available to anyone who needs information, assistance or support. Whether you are staff or a unit chair looking for the best way to support your member in transition, or you are a member looking for guidance or support, or perhaps a member with a transitioning loved one, if you want more information from someone who understands, this outreach is for you.

Anyone may contact Mayson confidentially at any time at mfulk@usw.ca.

 

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Battle to Defend Steel and Aluminum Continues https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/battle-to-defend-steel-and-aluminum-continues Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/battle-to-defend-steel-and-aluminum-continues In mid-August, the Canadian government announced consultations on the possible imposition of steel ‘safeguards’ on a number of products coming into Canada. A welcome but minor step in the battle to protect the Canadian steel industry, communities and jobs.

For years, Steelworkers on both sides of the U.S. border have decried and battled the harmful and unfair dumping of steel and aluminum by countries, including China, South Korea and Turkey. We have insisted that this massive unfair practice is killing jobs and communities in the integrated markets of Canada and the U.S.

However, when Donald Trump announced tariffs aimed at this dumping, he included Canada in his retaliation. On June 1st, the tariffs came into effect and Canada imposed counter-tariffs of equal value on a variety of U.S. goods.

Beyond the direct harm of the U.S. tariffs, the Steelworkers sounded the alarm of increased dumping from countries taking advantage of the tariffs and attempting to use Canada as a backdoor to America. From the start, USW called on the Canadian government to take strong and immediate action to protect our borders, while at the same time denouncing Canada as a target of the U.S. tariffs.

We are currently participating in seven cases before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, all of which are targeted at the dumping of various steel products into the Canadian market. These action by USW is a key part of the effort to protect the Canadian market from the effects of the US tariffs on steel.

There are real-world impacts of these senseless tariffs and counter-tariffs now affecting steel, aluminum and many other products crossing the Canada-U.S. border in both directions.

For example, manufacturers in New York State and elsewhere in the U.S. rely heavily on raw aluminum that is produced by Quebec Steelworkers at some of the most efficient and environmentally friendly smelters in the world.

This aluminum is traded between the U.S. and Canada by companies that follow trade rules. Workers are paid middle-class wages and have decent working conditions and safe workplaces.

Much of Quebec’s aluminum is shipped to American manufacturing plants for processing and some of these American products are shipped back across the border to facilities in Canada to be manufactured into auto components.

Many of these components are then shipped to U.S. auto plants, where they are used to build new cars and trucks. Many of these vehicles are exported to Canada to be purchased by Canadian consumers.

These are the good jobs and strong communities we are now fighting to protect.

This trade war insanity means major increases in production costs for businesses on both sides of the border, threatening their viability and the jobs of American and Canadian workers.

The tariffs and counter-tariffs between the U.S. and Canada does nothing to address the real issue of cracking down on the ‘bad-actor’ countries that break the rules and dump their products into the Canadian and American markets.

These countries don’t allow their workers to join real trade unions or negotiate meaningful collective agreements. Their workers are exploited, forced into terrible working conditions with extremely low pay. Safety standards and environmental protections are lacking, or non-existent.

These bad-actor countries massively subsidize their industries, and then dump their steel, aluminum, paper, tires, and other products into our markets, either directly or indirectly.

This is why the USW supports tariffs and other sanctions against these ‘bad-actor’ countries. And it’s why Steelworkers will continue to lead the fight for fair trade and against Trump’s war on our jobs.


This article appears in the September 2018 edition of the National Director's Update.

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Historic Labour Victory https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/historic-labour-victory Tue, 18 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2018/historic-labour-victory After years of relentless activism led by Steelworkers, landmark labour law reforms have been passed to prohibit employers from imposing two-tier pension and benefit plans in Quebec workplaces.

The new legislation, passed in June, bans two-tier plans intended to impose substandard pensions and benefits on new hires and young workers, compared to existing employees. Legislation banning two-tier wage schemes has been in place in Quebec since 2001.

“We are tremendously proud that the battles led by so many Steelworkers’ members have been successful, not only in terms of their individual collective agreements, but also in playing a key role in shaping labour law in Quebec,” said Steelworkers District 5 Director Alain Croteau.

Along with the Quebec Federation of Labour, Steelworkers led the campaign to ban two-tier pensions and benefits through strikes, lockouts and years of public advocacy and lobbying.

Many private-sector labour disputes in recent years have been provoked by employers’ attempts to impose two-tier pension and benefit plans, Croteau noted.

“In 2007, our members at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in Havre-Saint-Pierre led the way in resisting two-tier pension demands, going on strike for months rather than give up their defined-benefit plan,” he said.

“In 2016, our members at Ciment Lafarge in Saint-Constant also rejected a two-tier pension plan. They were followed a year later by their fellow members at Resco and at Samuel et Fils,” he added.

“In addition to these disputes, many, many other Steelworkers successfully fought back at the bargaining table to reject two-tier demands and to secure agreements that maintain the same pensions and benefits for all.”

Dominic Lemieux, Assistant to the USW District 5 Director, worked for a decade to build support for a legislative ban on two-tier pensions and benefits, in his previous role as president of the Quebec Labour Federation’s youth wing.

“This is a tremendous victory that refutes critics who like to imply that the union movement is disconnected from young people,” Lemieux said. “We are now seeing the results of a union-led struggle that was fought for young people and with young people, for fairness and solidarity in our workplaces.”


This article appears in the September 2018 edition of the National Director's Update.

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