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 Honouring One of Our Own this Remembrance Day https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/honouring-one-of-our-own-this-remembrance-day Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/honouring-one-of-our-own-this-remembrance-day This Remembrance Day, we would like to honour one of our own that has done outstanding work for our veterans in Canada: Scott Casey, from USW Local 7619, at Teck Resources, in Logan Lake, British Columbia, has used his own struggle to help others. Working with our Veterans of Steel program and Military Minds, Brother Casey has experienced first-hand the connection between being Steelworker and a veteran. He describes this connection in his own words:

SCasey“When we got back, we were shunned, a lot of our guys just crashed. Thirty days from the day I left the army, I was on the streets. You didn’t understand how to fit back into society so you create your own environment to fit into, one filled with good guys and bad guys. Living on the streets, the people there were my sheep, I tried to protect them because I was connected to that whole feeling of hopelessness because I understood it.  I was soul searching, I was drinking, I was trying to find my place. 

For 18 years I drove truck, so I didn’t have to deal with people, I didn’t want to be anybody at that time and on the road I could escape that or so I thought. In hindsight, it wasn’t good, in fact, I took myself away from society. Then I found Military Minds. They showed me there was good out there still. I got involved pretty early on, just as a way to give veterans job opportunities.  Then it morphed into a PTSD peer support organization.  Since then, we now provide support to about 135,000 veterans around the world.  There is online peer support for a multitude of issues from losing your job, to helping with veterans affairs paperwork, to I’m just not doing well right now.  We are on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, someone is there in every time zone for you. 

When it comes to activism and being a part of the Steelworkers, I started in 2010 and it was there that I found a brotherhood/sisterhood within the Steelworkers that gave me the connection again, with people who look out for each other, people who want to do good and make a difference and I fell in love with it right away. Two things stood out for me, the strength already here in the union and then being a soldier, we are forced multiples and are good at strengthening from within.

Soldiers have a different set of issues that come with them after service and when we enter the work force, we find that it’s difficult to transition, but if we have a network of our own within, like the union, then we have somebody to fall back on who gets us and understands us.  Working with our Veterans of Steel program, I want to see veterans looked after as the government isn’t doing its job.  I want our veterans to know they have the full support of the USW in creating this network in the United States and Canada to support each other from war to work, as soldiers to brothers and sisters.”

If you’re interested in learning more about Veterans of Steel, click here: usw.ca/vetsofsteel.

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Carol Landry: Trailblazing Woman of Steel https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/carol-landry-trailblazing-woman-of-steel Thu, 24 Oct 2019 08:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/carol-landry-trailblazing-woman-of-steel In 2008, Canadian Steelworker Carol Landry made history when she became the first woman to serve on the USW International Executive Board.

In the ensuing 11 years, Landry’s leadership skills and history of achievement inspired Steelworkers at all levels of the union, particularly women and Next Generation members.

Landry joined USW 7619 at Highland Valley Copper in British Columbia in 1987. It didn’t take long for her to show her mettle in the male-dominated workplace. The only female member of her local’s bargaining committee during a 107-day strike, she helped lead a struggle that achieved a settlement providing equality for women on wages and job opportunities.

Landry rose through the ranks to become the local’s president before she was hired as a staff representative in 1999. She also worked as District 3 Education Co-ordinator and Women of Steel leader. She served as Assistant to District 3 Director Stephen Hunt prior to joining the USW International Executive Board.

As International Vice-President, Landry was responsible for the USW’s nuclear and chemical sectors and served as Co-Chair of the union’s Next Generation program as well as Vice-President of IndustriALL Global Union.

Throughout her career, Landry spearheaded programs encouraging women to take leadership roles in the union. With her retirement on July 15, the USW International Executive Board added two Women of Steel as new Vice-Presidents – Roxanne Brown and Leeann Foster.

 

This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

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Leo Gerard: An Extraordinary Legacy https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/leo-gerard-an-extraordinary-legacy Wed, 23 Oct 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/leo-gerard-an-extraordinary-legacy Leo W. Gerard’s introduction to the value – and necessity – of unions came at an early age.

As a boy growing up in the 1950s in the hardrock mining town of Sudbury – dominated by global nickel giant Inco Ltd. – Gerard spent hours perched on a stairway in the family home, listening in fascination as his father Wilfred and fellow union “rabble rousers” held meetings in an adjacent room.

The young Gerard was struck by the fact that workers had to risk their livelihoods to achieve the most basic improvements to horrible working conditions, such as plotting a work stoppage to pressure the company to provide safety glasses.

“I was amazed that they would have to take action like that to get essential work equipment. The company, I thought, should voluntarily take this simple step to ensure workers were not unnecessarily injured on the job,” Gerard recalls.

“I learned two important lessons from sitting on the steps and listening to those meetings. One was that the company would do nothing for the workers unless forced by collective action. The other was that labour unions were instruments of both economic and social justice.”

The lessons of those formative years led Gerard into an extraordinary, five-decade career of labour activism, including 18 years as United Steelworkers International President.

Gerard’s retirement this summer cemented an undeniable legacy as one of his era’s most accomplished and influential labour leaders on the international stage.

“There are few labour leaders who can match Leo Gerard’s record and commitment in leading the fight for good jobs, for workers’ rights and for social justice in Canada, the U.S. and throughout the world,” says USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann.

Gerard began his career at age 18 at Inco’s mining operations in Sudbury. His blunt advocacy for fellow workers led to his first elected union position, as a shop steward within Steelworkers Local 6500.

In 1977, Gerard was hired as a Steelworkers staff representative and several years later he  began his ascent through the union’s elected leadership positions – District 6 Director, National Director for Canada, International Secretary-Treasurer and finally in 2001 as the seventh USW International President.

Gerard became the second Canadian Steelworker to lead the international union, following in the footsteps of his mentor Lynn Williams, who served as International President from 1983 to 1994.

Gerard was a constant, strong and credible voice for the USW in both Washington, D.C., and Ottawa, advocating on behalf of the union’s membership and their jobs, families and communities.

Under Gerard’s leadership, the USW formed the first global union, Workers Uniting, and built several other labour alliances around the world.

Gerard retired as International President on July 15 and has been succeeded by Thomas M. Conway, who served as a USW International Vice-President for 14 years.

Under Conway’s leadership, the USW is well-positioned to build on its unmatched legacy of standing up for our members, our communities and for economic and social justice for workers around the world, Gerard says.

“If we fight together, we can’t guarantee we will win every battle. But if we don’t fight for justice, I can guarantee we will lose,” he says. “For labour to secure gains, we have to mobilize. We have to bring everyone together.”

 

This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

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Elections Matter – Thank You for Engaging https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/elections-matter-federal-election-2019 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 15:14:13 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/elections-matter-federal-election-2019 Steelworkers, thank you for engaging in the recent federal election.

While the results are not what many of us had hoped for, we can still be proud of our hard work and of our party, the NDP.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh led a positive and hopeful campaign that resonated with voters, giving the party momentum in the polls, particularly after his strong performance in both the English and French-language nationally televised debates.

As the first national political party leader to be a person of colour, Jagmeet provides hope, promise and a point of connection for many Canadians who have not seen themselves reflected in our party leaders until this election.

The USW engaged our members around the issues that matter to workers – Pharmacare, good jobs, putting retirees first in corporate bankruptcies, advocating for fair trade deals, investing in housing affordability and action on reconciliation – issues that remind us we can do better.

Members took part in our Steelworkers Vote schools to deepen their learning about the connections between our workplaces, our union and politics, and how workers need representatives in our parliaments and legislatures who understand and give voice to the perspective and experience of everyday people.

Steelworkers union members put in long hours as volunteers in NDP campaigns, supporting candidates that share our values of social and economic justice, equality and fairness.

Two steelworkers ran as candidates in this election. Scott Duvall was re-elected as the NDP Member of Parliament in Hamilton Mountain. Congratulations, Scott! And although he did not get elected, Dennis Van Meer from Local 1005 ran a strong campaign as the NDP candidate in St. Catharines, Ont.

While we know that not all Steelworkers members agree with our union’s political stance, our support for the NDP has been affirmed by our members repeatedly at our union’s national policy conferences.

Following four years of Liberal broken promises, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals have a minority government – not a blank-cheque majority. This outcome puts Jagmeet Singh and the NDP in a bargaining position.

We are so proud of our Steelworkers union members who were actively involved in this election and will continue to encourage political engagement to bring working people’s viewpoints to the discussion.

Thank you for engaging in the federal election.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

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Steelworkers Vote Fuels NDP Momentum https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-vote-fuels-ndp-momentum Fri, 18 Oct 2019 11:07:05 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-vote-fuels-ndp-momentum Wow, what a campaign this election has been!

With just a few days left in the federal election, the NDP is surging and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is riding an upswing of support in all provinces.

The rising polls and positive momentum in the election’s final days put the NDP and Jagmeet in a good position no matter the outcome on Monday. There is no doubt that the NDP will be playing a strong role in the next Parliament.

USW members have been volunteering in ridings across the country, knocking on doors and talking to our members about the NDP policies that will make a difference for workers and the candidates who are on our side.

Jagmeet has had an incredible campaign. He performed well in both the English and French television debates, showing how both the Liberals and the Conservatives are letting people down.

The NDP has the best platform and policies for working people. And Jagmeet has been consistent throughout the campaign on who this election is about: it’s about people – not corporations and the wealthy.

From Pharmacare, dental care and good jobs, to tackling housing affordability and putting retirees first, the NDP is the party that is on our side.

Justin Trudeau has shown he’s not who he appears to be. For four years, Trudeau and the Liberals have not been on our side. The Liberals have broken their promises to us.

Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives will revive harmful Stephen Harper policies and corporate-friendly trade deals that hurt workers and unions. He’ll make cuts to important public services to balance the budget.

No matter who wins the election on Monday, Jagmeet Singh and the NDP can be proud of their positive, hopeful campaign that’s put people first.

Our Steelworkers Vote schools gave our members a chance to learn more about the connection between politics and our workplaces, and why it’s important to be involved as working people.

“The Steelworkers Vote school taught me a lot about how the political structure works, also that we as Steelworkers need to support the party that has our interest. It opens your eyes to the political world to get involved in,” said one of our vote school participants.

“I truly believe our Steelworker activism and involvement makes a difference. Elections matter and Steelworkers vote. No matter the outcome on Monday, we can be proud of our engagement and hard work on behalf of our members to elect NDP candidates who will be a strong voice for workers and the working-class in the next Parliament,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

Thanks to all our members who have been volunteering, putting in long hours and working hard in campaigns to help contribute to the positive momentum for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP team.

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Election 2019 Voting Guide https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/election-2019-voting-guide Wed, 09 Oct 2019 08:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/election-2019-voting-guide Election 2019 Voting Guide

Online Election Tools

Steelworkers make a difference when we vote! Visit the Steelworkers Vote Election 2019 website for Steelworkers Vote election materials to share with members, links to connect to your local NDP campaign, Elections Canada information and more. www.usw.ca/steelworkersvote

Advance Voting

If you can, avoid the rush and vote early. Advance polls are not as busy and some of the advance polls are held over a weekend. Find dates and locations for advance voting on the Elections Canada website www.elections.ca. 

Bring Identification

You can use the Elections Canada website to register to vote or confirm that you are registered to vote: www.elections.ca.

Bring identification when you go to vote. Bring one piece of identification with your photo, name and address, for example, your driver’s licence. Or bring two pieces, one with your name, and one with your name and address, for example, your voter information card and a utility bill. Visit the Elections Canada website to see a list of acceptable identification: www.elections.ca.

You do not have to be on the voters’ list to vote. You can take identification with you to the polling station, register and vote on election day.

Election Day: Monday, October 21

Polls are open for 12 hours on Election Day, Monday, October 21.

By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.

Remember to bring identification with you when you go to vote.

Help Your NDP Campaign

Steelworkers are known for our activism for the NDP. While unions can’t donate directly to political parties at the federal level, we encourage our members to volunteer and make individual donations. Bring a friend or co-worker with you and help out in your local NDP campaign.

  • Distribute and post Steelworkers Vote election posters in your workplace.
  • Organize Steelworker plant gates to distribute Steelworkers Vote election materials.
  • Invite your NDP candidate to a union meeting, event or plant gate.
  • Include information on your local NDP candidate and USW election issues in your newsletters, emails, website and Facebook page.
  • Talk to your friends and family about voting pro-labour.

This article appears in the October 2019 edition of USW@Work.

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District 6 Council Partners with Ontario Agency on Worker Training and Recruitment https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/d6-council-partners-with-ontario-agency Mon, 23 Sep 2019 09:28:39 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/d6-council-partners-with-ontario-agency Richard Leblanc’s work on the District 6 Health Care Council has shown him many things, including the dire need for more health care workers in Ontario—specifically, more personal support workers (PSWs).

PSWs provide care to patients at hospitals as well as long-term care homes, private residences, and additional employment settings. Just like in the United States, short-staffing and increased workloads are common in Canada for health care workers, and PSWs are no exception.

“Long-term care facilities are usually funded by residents and the government,” Leblanc said. “And the government funding often falls short to hire enough staff to take care of their residents, so it just becomes a vicious cycle.”

adultcare

Figure 1: Courtesy Pexels.com

Even though the PSW trade is regulated by the government and requires a certificate, Leblanc realized last year that even if the industry was successful in obtaining more funds, the training itself has not been up to par.

So, he reached out to the Employment Services Centre (ESCPR), a local employment agency in Ontario that works with the government, in order to start a conversation about increasing funds for PSW training, and improving the training itself, along with recruitment.

Earlier this month, the connection paid off, and the agency brought together a working group of local labor unions, health care providers, workers, and members of the Ministry to talk about these issues. It was the first of many conversations the working group will have as they seek to improve the industry.

“One of our goals is to make the trade more accessible financially and to promote it better,” Leblanc said. “This will be good for everyone because we need bodies, we need workers.”

The problem is an old one unfortunately, according to a February 2019 CDC article featuring a former PSW, Ashley Hopkins, who believes funding is a major factor of the chronic shortage, along with fatigue.

“There's a lot of high turnover in those types of jobs cause the job is just so stressful and workers get burnt out at alarming rates," she said.

This affects overall patient care as workers are overloaded and often handling up to thirty residents alone, leaving patients in vulnerable, sometimes inhumane, conditions.

All of these things need to be considered when updating training and curriculum, and improving working conditions for caregivers.

Dave Lipton, a USW staff representative in Ontario, was glad the council was able to bring a labor perspective to the meeting and remind the stakeholders to keep workers’ rights at the forefront of their minds.

“We pointed out that a community effort to tackle the problem is laudable, but part of the problem that can’t be ignored is poor working conditions, including work overload, and low pay,” said Lipton.

To watch a video of a long-term home resident speaking on how the worker shortage affects patients and why things must change, click here.


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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Supports the Rebuilding of the Casual Workers Advice Office, Destroyed During Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-humanity-fund-supports-the-rebuilding-of-the-casual-workers-advice-office-destroyed-during-xenophobic-attacks-in-south-africa Thu, 19 Sep 2019 16:20:58 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-humanity-fund-supports-the-rebuilding-of-the-casual-workers-advice-office-destroyed-during-xenophobic-attacks-in-south-africa TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has contributed $3,000 to rebuild the Casual Workers Advice Office in Johannesburg, which was ransacked and looted during the most recent wave of xenophobic violence that has taken place in the country.

Earlier this month, South Africa’s migrant population has been the target of a series of attacks targeting mainly foreign-owned shops, in what has become an increasingly common occurrence, linked with the country’s high unemployment rate.

In the midst of those deadly attacks, the destruction of the office of the Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) appears to be no coincidence. Founded in 2011, CWAO is a non-profit, independent organization that has been providing free advice and support to workers, privileging casual, contract, labour broker and other precarious workers – many of them undocumented.

In a statement issued the day after the attack, the CWAO reiterated its steadfast commitment to the human rights of workers, whatever their race, religion or place of origin: “Our strength is not in the things we lost in the fire. Our strength comes from the solidarity, organizing and struggles of the thousands of workers […]”

“Scapegoating migrants for economic problems blinds people to the real issues. Xenophobia has no place in South Africa, in Canada, or anywhere else,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and Canadian National Director of the United Steelworkers. “Steelworkers stand strongly against any attempt to pit workers against each other. This is why we are proud to do our small part to help an organization that has been targeted for doing the right thing.”

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities. USW members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases, employers make matching contributions to the fund.

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Health Care Worker Spotlight: Misty Lafond Finds Voice in Union as an Organizer https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/health-care-worker-spotlight-misty-lafond Mon, 16 Sep 2019 15:59:14 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/health-care-worker-spotlight-misty-lafond HCWC-MistyL2Although Misty Lafond has only worked in health care for five years, she has taken advantage of that time as a Steelworker to become an activist, on top of being a licensed practical nurse (LPN). As unit chair for Youville Home, a long-term care facility part of Covenant Health located in St. Albert, Alberta, and as a budding organizer, she is taking her passion for helping others outside of health care to fight for workers’ rights.

Lafond first became involved with the union four years ago, in 2015, when the previous unit chair asked her to attend her first shop steward training.

“From then on, I’ve been active in trying to help employees have better workplaces free from abuse,” Lafond said.

Her experience with external activism began when she had the opportunity to work on a campaign to organize workers at a Walmart in December 2018. As a result of the multibillion-dollar corporation’s anti-union tactics, the effort was unsuccessful as the workers were scared to lose their jobs. But the moment was far from a wash for Lafond, who walked away with more knowledge than she could have hoped for.

“It made me realize that the majority of employees in their workplaces don’t know their rights,” Lafond said. “I learned how to engage with what workers really want and that it doesn't matter what industry you are in—everyone wants decent wages and benefits, and to be treated fairly.”

Lafond took her new skill set and ran with it, eventually helping to organize two assisted living facilities into her local union. For her, organizing this industry is something that comes naturally.

“I understand firsthand the challenges workers face in health care—short-staffing, injuries, and abuse from within the workplace and from families because the employer has made promises that cannot be met when people are working short,” Lafond said.

Workplace violence, unfortunately, is an all-too-common reality now for health care workers thanks to staff rollbacks by employers who like to say the hazard is merely part of the job.

“Health care teams working on the floor then can’t properly deal with aggressive patients as we can no longer restrain them chemically or physically,” she said. “This leads to aggressive residents who verbally and physically abuse staff on a daily basis.”

Despite the challenges, being a member of Local 1-207 has offered Lafond the chance to grow and have a voice when it comes to righting these wrongs.

“I am grateful that the Steelworkers recognize activists and provide education so that they, too, have opportunities within the union,” she said.

When she isn’t organizing or working, Lafond enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

HCWC-MistyL1

Left to right: Misty Lafond, LPN, Unit Chair, Youville Home with Ruby Sab-it, HCA, Unit Chair, Chartwell St. Alberta; Maria Stantos, LPN, Unit Chair, Chartwell Sherwood Park; Shirley Clark, LPN, Bargaining Committee, Chartwell Sherwood Park.

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Steelworkers Union Takes Aim at Federal Liberals Ahead of Fall Vote https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-takes-aim-at-federal-liberals-ahead-of-fall-vote Thu, 05 Sep 2019 10:14:10 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/steelworkers-takes-aim-at-federal-liberals-ahead-of-fall-vote OTTAWA—One of the country’s largest private-sector unions has come out swinging against the federal Liberals, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of failing to make good on his pledges to improve life for working families.

The United Steelworkers, which represents 225,000 workers in Canada, plans to focus its campaign against the Liberals in key Ontario ridings, using television and radio ads to paint Trudeau as betraying campaign vows from 2015. The federal election is set for Oct. 21.

“Why would we choose Justin Trudeau when he doesn’t choose us. There’s only one party that puts working-class people first — Jagmeet Singh and the NDP,” says the union’s radio ad.

Union executive Mark Rowlinson said the steelworkers union takes issue with the government’s record on several fronts, notably on its trade deals, saying the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was a “mistake,” the European Union pact “leaves a lot to be desired” and that the prime minister has “bungled” Canada’s trade relationship with the United States.

The union is also unhappy with the lack of progress on measures to ensure workers’ pensions are protected in the event of a corporate bankruptcy, said Rowlinson, the administrative assistant to the union’s national director.

Read the full article in The Toronto Star: Steelworkers union takes aim at federal Liberals ahead of fall vote

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Building Trade Union Solidarity in Madagascar https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/building-trade-union-solidarity-in-madagascar Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:09:20 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/building-trade-union-solidarity-in-madagascar Participants to the exchange organized by the Steelworkers Humanity Fund in Fort-Dauphin, Madagascar. (Photo: Guillaume Charbonneau)Eugene and Anthony are two union activists in Fort-Dauphin, a small town located at the southern tip of Madagascar. Both have been elected to the head of their respective unions, SVS and SEKRIMA. In this island country south-east of Africa, labour laws allow for the presence of two different unions in the same workplace. At the QMM mine, a subsidiary of the multinational Rio Tinto, SVS and SEKRIMA both represent workers. In Fort Dauphin, Anthony and Eugene encourage their members to work together rather than compete in order to face the many challenges they face as unionists. Indeed, SEKRIMA mainly represents the direct employees of the company, while SVS focuses on the employees hired by the many subcontractors.

QMM is the main employer in Fort Dauphin, and its impact is felt strongly on the city’s, and to some extent the country’s economy. Faced with such a giant, unions cannot take anything for granted, hence the importance of solidarity among them. In order to help build a more equitable balance of power, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) recently implemented a pilot project that contributed, among other things, to the opening of a single office for both unions – a first in the region. This will allow Anthony and Eugene, as well as many other local union representatives, to access important resources to do their jobs better.

Anthony and Eugene (Photo: Doug Olthuis)In this context, a first delegation of the SHF took place earlier this month with the aim of consolidating the relationship with its local partners, learning more about the impact of the mine, as well as organizing an exchange of experiences with close to thirty activists affiliated to SVS and SEKRIMA. During this two-day workshop led by District 5 staff Denis Trottier and Guy Gaudette, participants recognized the critical importance of communication, consensus, and member engagement to better represent workers and their needs in front of their employer. As for the members of the Canadian delegation, they found that they had much in common with Malagasy workers, and learned from the resilience of their brothers and sisters in a context that makes union organizing difficult.

All in all, the delegation observed that trade union solidarity definitely has a future in Madagascar, and the Steelworkers Humanity Fund will respond vonona! (present! In the Malagasy language) to continue supporting the building of this movement.

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Changing the World One Heart at a Time: STAND! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changing-the-world-one-heart-at-a-time-stand Wed, 28 Aug 2019 10:58:21 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changing-the-world-one-heart-at-a-time-stand This year is the 100th anniversary of the largest and most influential strike in Canadian history. The Winnipeg General Strike started on May 15 and lasted six weeks, with approximately 30,000 workers walking off the job, bringing economic activity to a standstill in what was then Canada’s third largest city.

Winnipeg 1919 is the setting for a movie about the lives of people caught up in the struggles of massive unemployment, poor working conditions, poverty wages, immigration and discrimination. This full-length motion picture is both a love story and a musical.

The United Steelworkers Union is proud to be one of the sponsors of this unique project.

STAND! premieres during the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 9 at the historic Royal Cinema.

Treat yourself to an inspiring and moving story, a great musical score and a post-screening conversation with the stars, writer and director.

Tickets are $12 at the door. September 9, 10 and 11 at 7 p.m. Royal Cinema, 608 College St. in Toronto. For more information or to watch the trailer, visit: http://stand-movie.com/

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Changes Announced to SOAR Executive Board https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changes-announced-to-soar-executive-board Tue, 27 Aug 2019 14:44:35 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/changes-announced-to-soar-executive-board Harry-HyndHarry Hynd Appointed SOAR Vice President, Emeritus

In April, Int’l President Leo W. Gerard honoured SOAR Vice President Harry Hynd for his considerable contribution to the growth of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, and to the many years of service to our union, by appointing him to the position of SOAR Vice President, Emeritus.

Harry’s union career began in 1951, in the Scottish coal mines with his early membership in the National Union of Mineworkers where he was a steward.  He immigrated to Canada in 1957.  In 1958 he was hired on at Stelco in Hamilton where he became an active member of Local 1005 as plant grievance chairperson.

Harry has a wide range of experience in the labor movement.  He joined the Steelworker staff in 1971 where he served members in Hamilton, Vancouver, the Niagara Peninsula and Toronto.  

Throughout his career in the labor movement, education was always a priority for Harry. He was an instructor in the Steelworkers’ education program for many years, served on the Mohawk College Board of Governors, and was a member of the Ontario Federation of Labour's (OFL) Education Committee. He was the Education Coordinator for the Steelworkers’ District 6 for six years prior to his appointment to Director. As a retiree, Harry was often called on to teach, passing his skills on to another generation of Steelworkers. 

Harry served as the Assistant to then-District 6 Director, Leo Gerard, and became the District 6 Director in 1991 when Leo became Canadian National Director. 

Harry’s reputation was always as a skilled negotiator and troubleshooter, skills that added to his leadership throughout his years as director. Following his 1991 appointment, he was elected to a full term in 1993 and again in 1997. He retired at the end of that term in March 2002.

In 2005, USW International President Leo W. Gerard appointed him SOAR Vice President, to fill the vacancy created when Ken O’Neal stepped down due to health concerns. Harry was then elected SOAR Vice President at the following International SOAR Conference and subsequent elections thereafter.

Harry and his wife, Margaret, are both active in the New Democratic Party. They reside in Hamilton, Ontario and have two daughters and three granddaughters.

Doug-MPDoug MacPherson Appointed SOAR Vice President

In June, Doug MacPherson was appointed by International President Leo W. Gerard to fill the vacancy of SOAR Vice President created by the appointment of Harry Hynd to SOAR Vice President, Emeritus.

Doug was born in Perth, Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1965. Doug began his union career in Scotland as a member of the Plumbers Union, and attended his first union education, when he was 18 years old, at a Trades Union Congress (TUC) school, held at the ancestral home of Sydney and Beatrice Webb, founding members of the Fabian society, fore runner of the British Labour Party. 

Doug joined the Steelworkers in 1968 when he hired on at Stelco, Parkdale Works, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, USW Local 5328, where he quickly became active in the union’s affairs. Elected as steward, mechanical department chief steward, trustee, negotiation committee member, and ultimately president of the local.  Doug was the first president to be elected from the mechanical department in the local’s history. He also served as secretary of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council for a number of years.

Graduating from the Labour Studies Program of Hamilton’s McMaster University in 1982, Doug was appointed to the USW staff in 1985 and assigned to the Peel-Halton office of the union. In 1989 he was appointed by then-District Director Leo Gerard, as Area Coordinator for the same area. In 1991 Doug was transferred to the District 6 office to be the assistant to District Director Harry Hynd where he served until December 2000.

In January 2001 Doug moved to the Canadian National office as assistant to then-National Director Lawrence McBrearty, and in September of that year was seconded by the Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress, (CSTEC) to be Executive Director. CSTEC is a joint labour management sector council, monitoring steel trade and providing education, training to the Canadian steel industry.

Returning to the National office, and upon the retirement of Rod Bezo, Canadian SOAR Coordinator, Doug was appointed to fill that position to work on increasing the membership of SOAR. Doug was elected to fill the position of District 6 SOAR Board member on the resignation of Dan McNeil, emeritus member, and had been re-elected at subsequent SOAR conventions.

Doug and his wife, Una, reside in Burlington, Ontario and have two surviving children and five grandchildren.

Doug will continue to serve the Canadian National office in his role as the Canadian National SOAR Coordinator. 

Lena-SLena Sutton Appointed to SOAR Executive Board

In June, International President Leo W. Gerard appointed Lena Sutton District 6 SOAR Executive Board Member to fulfill the remaining term of office vacated by Doug MacPherson.

Lena began her union career in 1974 when she hired into the office of a phosphorus plant, ERCO Industries, in her hometown of Long Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador; and became an active member of USW Local 7711, which represented the office and technical workers. 

Lena became a shop steward for the office workers, and it is also where she first witnessed the injustice of worker rights in the workplace. Lena was elected recording secretary and also served as chair of the health and safety committee while continuing her role as steward. In 1988, she was elected to the local’s bargaining committee in contract negotiations. 

Lena’s workplace closed in 1989, a casualty of the NAFTA Free Trade agreement, and she found employment with Newfoundland Telephone.  After her probationary period, Lena got involved with Communications Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada – CEP Local 410, serving on the balloting committee and a delegate to the local Labor Council of which she became Recording Secretary. 

Lena then moved to Ontario in 1993 and became actively involved with the unions in her various workplaces, such as RWSteel.  Through her union involvement, she spent a lot of time working in the New Democratic Party election campaigns, including the Obama election in 2008.

Lena then became a member of SOAR Chapter 10 in 2003, serving as Recording Secretary, Vice President and currently as President, since 2006.   

She is a member of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, a member of Women of Steel, special events committee and a USW delegate to the Hamilton Labour Council. Lena is also a member of the District 6 PAC.

Lena received the Lynn Williams Award in 2016 and the USW Jefferson Award in 2017. In 2018, she was elected to the National Executive of the Canadian Congress of Union Retirees.

Lena and her husband Bob reside in Hamilton, Ontario, with their dog Kasey. They enjoy spending time with Bob’s three adult children, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.  

On behalf of SOAR, we congratulate each of them on their newly appointed positions; and, we welcome Lena to the SOAR Executive Board and look forward to working with them as we continue our mission to protect and enhance the quality of life for retirees and working families.

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Think Carefully About Your Vote! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/think-carefully-about-your-vote Tue, 27 Aug 2019 09:00:01 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/think-carefully-about-your-vote As we move closer to the federal election in October, it is increasingly important that we, as union retirees think critically about how we use our vote.

Over the course of the last year or so we have seen a trend in provincial elections away from centre left governments toward decidedly right wing governments, Quebec, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. By far the majority of Canadians today are governed provincially by conservative leaning governments. In some instances these changes in governments were motivated by an attitude that change was necessary because the sitting government had been in power too long or their policies were unpopular. However, change for changes sake alone, is not always good, and certainly not a good way to use your vote!

That’s particularly true in Ontario where the liberals, after 12 years in government had become complacent, only to be replaced by the Ford Tories. The Ford government, only in power for a little over a year has caused great upheaval and uncertainty in almost every aspect of our daily lives. From health care to children’s services, funding for the arts, tree planting, transportation, municipal transfer funds, stem cell research, the size of local governments, the proposed amalgamations of cities, and boards of health, ambulance services, class size and sexual education curriculum and more. The list is endless and growing bigger each day.

All in the name of supposed fiscal efficiencies, Ford daily tells us he inherited a financial mess from the liberals and the province is a failed bankrupt state. But even his friends in the conservative business press are calling him out, the Globe and Mail on May 22 had an editorial titled “The Doug Ford government is peddling a fiscal fantasy”, calling him out on the unnecessary austerity. Each and every cut has a negative effect on services that people need and require.

None of the changes work to the advantage of working people, it does mean longer wait times for services, in some cases increased costs to you and I through downloading of costs from the provincial government to municipal government. Remember Ford’s first act as premier was to freeze and delay increases to the minimum wage, which were already adopted.

Premier Kenny in Alberta mimics Ford with reductions to student wage rates and proposed changes to labour law to make organizing unions more difficult. These changes in legislation are in fact attacks on you and I as retired union members. I’m simply making the case that the Tories are all cut from the same cloth whether they are provincial or federal.  Andrew Scheer, the conservative leader is simply a Harperite with a smile. Do not be fooled as the voters in Ontario were.

We cannot allow complacency or a desire for change to simply determine our vote. We need to think critically about the issues which are important to us as working folks, what policies are going to make our daily lives better, and our country better, for us, our families and grandkids. For me the choice is easy I believe the New Democrats have the best policies to make my daily life better, to make Canada a fairer and more equitable society and that’s what I will be voting for. Only you will really know how you voted.

Use your vote wisely; it’s the only one you get!

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Help for Local Families Thanks to USW Sault Ste. Marie Charity Golf https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/help-for-local-families-thanks-to-usw-sault-ste-marie-charity-golf Tue, 20 Aug 2019 14:36:13 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/help-for-local-families-thanks-to-usw-sault-ste-marie-charity-golf The Twinkie Foundation was the big winner at the second Annual Steelworkers Charity Golf Open on August 18. Hosted by the United Steelworkers local unions of Sault Ste. Marie and area, this year’s tournament raised $10,000 for the local charity.   

The Twinkie Foundation is a registered charity that helps local families of sick children by providing financial assistance for food, accommodations, travel and other incidentals that are incurred on medical trips so that families can focus on their children and not stress over financial obligations.  

In addition to the $10,000 raised at the tournament, USW Local 2724 and USW Local 2251 made additional donations totaling $7,000; bringing this year’s total to $17,000. 

The United Steelworkers local unions and the Twinkie Foundation would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the sponsors, and all the golfers and volunteers that helped us have such a successful event. This year’s sponsors were Algoma Steel, All Star Auto Glass, Grand Gardens, Greenwoods’ Locksmith, Highland Ford, Holiday Inn Express, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades, Krown Rust Control, Metro (2nd Line), the USW Northeastern Ontario Area Council (NEOAC), Novex Group Insurance, Paliare Roland, Rivet Insurance, Sault Airport Development Corporation, Soo Foundry, Station Mall, Superior Chrysler, Universal Promotions, USW District 6 Director Marty Warren, USW Locals 2251, 2724, 7129, 8748 & 9548 and USW National Director Ken Neumann.

 

Steelworkers Charity Golf Open cheque presentation 

(left to right) Dan Cooper (USW Local 2251 Union Coordinator, Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director), Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member) and Marc Ayotte (USW District 6 Area Coordinator, Northwestern Region)

 

 

USW Local 2724 cheque presentation: $2,000 

(left to right) Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member), Lisa Dale (USW Local 2724 President) and Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director)

 

USW Local 2251 cheque presentation: $5,000 

USW Local 2251’s golf team presented the cheque to the Twinkie Foundation. 

(left to right) Chris Izydorczyk, Karen Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Executive Director), Greg Lefave (Twinkie Foundation Board Member), Kevin Kainula, Brent Woods and Don Court.

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Twitter Blitz for Locked-out Local 2020 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/twitter-blitz-for-locked-out-local-2020 Mon, 19 Aug 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/twitter-blitz-for-locked-out-local-2020  

Please join USW Local 2020 Unit 79 in a Twitter blitz on August 20 in order to encourage the Ontario Health Minister to pressure CarePartners to end their lockout and get back to the bargaining table! You can participate from anywhere as long as you have internet access.

The approximately 30 USW members of Local 2020 have been locked out by the for-profit service provider CarePartners since May 31 in Sudbury, Ontario.

See the belows sample tweets and hashtags for the Twitter blitz:

@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to end the lockout and get back to the table. Our members at Local 2020 deserve a fair deal now! #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to put people over profits – it’s time to reach a fair deal for workers now! #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork 
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to end workplace violence. No-one should be abused on the job. #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork 
@CElliotAbility tell @CarePartnersCA to start caring and end the lockout now. #onpoli  #peopleoverprofits #faircontractnow #USWlocal2020unit79 #canlab #decentwork

Hashtags to use: 

#onpoli  
#peopleoverprofits
#letsgetbacktothetable
#faircontractnow 
#USWlocal2020unit79
#canlab
#decentwork 

 

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Health Care Workers Council Spotlight: Ray White, District 3 Coordinator https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/ray-white-d3-hcwc Wed, 10 Jul 2019 09:54:54 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/ray-white-d3-hcwc Ray White, president of Local 1-207 in Alberta, Canada, took his first union course in 1992. He knew right away he wanted to play a role in the fight for workers’ rights and has been an activist ever since.

“I enjoyed helping people and educating myself so I could be a more effective advocate,” said White. 

raywhite

In the early 1990s, he was inspired to fully commit to the labor movement when he noticed his co-workers being treated with disrespect by his employer, Russel Metals. He now uses the knowledge and strength he’s gained throughout the years to continue standing up for fellow workers as president of a healthcare-heavy local union that includes more than 3,000 members and 38 collective bargaining agreements.

For White, who serves on the USW Health Care Workers Council as District 3 coordinator, the experience fighting on their behalf is rewarding because of the workers themselves, many of whom work for long-term care facilities that are ripe with problems like workplace violence and short staffing.

“The people that work in the healthcare industry are there because they care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” he said. “The emotion that these people deal with on a day-to-day basis is unbelievable.”

The one issue that White believes to be the most dire for healthcare workers is violence. To combat the epidemic, he and his fellow union members lobby the Canadian government and take to the streets to fight for health and safety laws such as the right to refuse unsafe work. He believes employers need to be held accountable and should provide all workers with the tools and support necessary to deal with incidents of violence.

“More staff and training would be a good start,” said White, “but they should also create the right setting to care for violence patients when they have those behaviors.” 

One moment in White’s career that made him particularly proud of the union was when his local distributed “Working Short Forms” to their healthcare members to fill out every time they worked short-staffed. It wasn’t long before they had collected more than 600 forms, which they presented at a news conference in the Alberta Legislature in 2009.

“We spread them out on the floor and reporters from every news station in the Province took pictures of them,” he said. “Our members could see how working together brought their issue to the public like never before.”

When not fighting on behalf of healthcare workers, White enjoys taking it easy out in the wild with a camping trip or kicking into high gear on an ATV ride.

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USW Local 7619 Celebrates 50th Anniversary https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-local-7619-celebrates-50th-anniversary Tue, 02 Jul 2019 07:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/usw-local-7619-celebrates-50th-anniversary 7619-50USW Local 7619 celebrated their 50th Anniversary over three eventful days – a Weekend of Steel in Logan Lake, British Columbia.

The three-day celebration was a great showing of solidarity for all members and retirees. The weekend kicked off with the annual Retirees’ BBQ and live music. USW leaders, International Vice-President Carol Landry (former USW Local 7619 member and president) and USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt (former servicing staff representative for USW Local 7619), joined in on the celebrations. Both Vice-President Landry and Director Hunt have been instrumental over the years in helping build up the local union’s collective agreement.

The rest of the weekend consisted of camping fun, a pig roast feast, golf and horseshoe tournaments. Steelworker kids weren’t left out either – there were fishing lessons, bouncy castles, face painting, drumming lessons, gold panning and paint-ball. There was also live entertainment from local bands, outdoor movies at the campground and a special performance by the Sage Hills Drumming and Performance Group.

Overall, the Weekend of Steel was very successful. Steelworkers and their families not only celebrated the local union’s proud history of strong collective agreements, but also the ways they have made a mark in their communities over the years.

Congratulations to USW Local 7619 – we look forward to seeing you celebrate many more years of solidarity, friendship and unity!

 

Click here to view the photo album from USW Local 7619's Weekend of Steel celebrating their 50th Anniversary:

7619-50banner

 

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The Struggle for an Ombudsperson “With Teeth” Continues in Streets of Toronto https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/the-struggle-for-an-ombudsperson-with-teeth-continues-in-streets-of-toronto Wed, 08 May 2019 11:36:37 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/the-struggle-for-an-ombudsperson-with-teeth-continues-in-streets-of-toronto The drizzle and cold weather did not discourage human rights activists from attending an urgent event in Christie Pits Park in Toronto, on May 4. Along with other prominent Canadian human rights organizations, the United Steelworkers union was present to call on the federal government to appoint an ombudsperson with real power to investigate corporate abuses abroad.

Government officials claim that this was achieved last month – more than 15 months after an initial announcement. The proposed powers of the new Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) have been stripped; it currently does not have any real independence or power to compel evidence from Canadian companies operating abroad who have been accused of human rights abuses.

In the announcement, Minister of International Trade Jim Carr said that a study is underway to assess the extent of those powers, but nothing indicates that the upcoming results will be sufficient. Trade unionists know for a fact that companies will not respect labour rights unless there is a strong framework in place to regulate their actions. Relying on the good will of corporations does not work. And stripping the office of all powers sends a clear message to people who have had their labour rights violated by Canadian mining companies: Don’t expect your concerns to be taken seriously.

As the colourful contingent of protesters marched through made it loud and clear, we will continue to push the federal government to be on the side of communities and not cave under the pressure of corporate lobbyists.

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Grand Solidarity March for ABI workers! https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/grand-solidarity-march-for-abi-workers Fri, 03 May 2019 11:08:50 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/articles/2019/grand-solidarity-march-for-abi-workers On May 25, D6 Steelworkers are making the trip to Trois-Rivières, Québec to bring solidarity from our district to the locked-out members at ABI. These 1,030 workers have been locked-out of their jobs at the smelter for 15-months!

For anyone at the National Policy Conference in April, a real highlight was hearing from USW Local 9700 President Clément Masse who spoke passionately about members’ determination to stand strong against concessionary demands by the employer and a right-wing provincial government. Many of us have been there and can relate to this fight.

Steelworkers locals and conference delegates generously donated more than $100,000 for locked-out workers. The outpouring of solidarity is part of what makes our union great!

Now let’s express our solidarity in the streets and show Alcoa and Rio Tinto (who own ABI) that this fight is with the whole union!

That’s why we are headed to Trois-Rivières on May 25 for the Grand Solidarity March. Thousands and thousands of us will take to the streets in support of ABI workers and their families. The march starts at 10:30 a.m. and the exact location is still being determined.

Interested in arranging a bus to Trois-Rivières? Please get in touch with Tony DePaulo at the district office – 416-243-8792 or d6@usw.ca

We hope to see you in Trois-Rivières on May 25!

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