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Steelworkers Union Urges Federal Strategy for Stronger, Greener Canadian Aluminum Sector

MONTREAL, TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) is calling for a federal investment strategy to build a stronger and greener Canadian aluminum industry.

In a submission to the Department of Finance as part of the federal government’s consultation on countermeasures to U.S.-imposed tariffs, the USW is calling for creation of a dedicated fund to support the long-term sustainability of Canada’s aluminum sector.

Such investments would help modernize Canadian aluminum smelters, improve their carbon footprint, develop their primary processing capacity and ensure they can meet North American market demands under the new Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), the USW says.

“U.S. tariffs and the climate of tension in the trading relationship have led aluminum smelters to put all their investments in Canada on hold,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“The best response for the Canadian government is to support the domestic industry in becoming even greener and modernizing its facilities to keep pace with changing demand,” Neumann said.

The Canadian government intends to impose retaliatory tariffs of 10% on $3.6 billion worth of American exports to Canada, in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in August to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports.

The USW also is urging the Canadian government not to limit its retaliatory tariffs to U.S. exports of aluminum products, warning such an approach would threaten aluminum-processing jobs in Canada.

“We shouldn't be shooting ourselves in the foot, or risking Canadian jobs,” said Neumann.

“By imposing its tariffs, the U.S. administration is violating the CUSMA and the terms of the joint statement on aluminum. So Canada need not be bound by the joint statement in implementing retaliatory measures,” he said.

The USW also is reiterating its opposition to any imposition of U.S. quotas on Canadian aluminum products, which would be unjustified and counterproductive to the CUSMA. The union also is calling on the Canadian government to consider carbon border adjustments to prevent dumping in Canada of carbon-intensive aluminum and other products from countries with weak environmental standards.

“In the short term, there is a need to strengthen the domestic industry and to support workers, particularly in the processing sector, who could be affected by U.S. tariffs,” Neumann said.

USW Quebec Director Dominic Lemieux said the federal government must seize the opportunity to ensure the long-term prosperity of the domestic aluminum industry and the communities it supports. The USW represents thousands of aluminum workers in Quebec, where the majority of Canada’s aluminum smelters are located.

“Canada can and must transform an unfair situation into a tremendous opportunity to make the domestic aluminum industry even stronger and greener,” Lemieux said. “Investing in the future will protect jobs today and for decades to come and will strengthen the Canadian economy.”

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For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Clairandrée Cauchy, USW Communications (Montreal), 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications (Toronto), 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

Press Inquiries

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Thank you for contacting us. We will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

Media Contacts

Communications Director:
Bob Gallagher
bgallagher@usw.ca
416-544-5966 or
416-434-2221

Communications Department:
Nicole Desnoyers
ndesnoyers@usw.ca
416-544-5991 

Communications Department - Québec
Clairandrée Cauchy
ccauchy@metallos.ca
514-774-4001 

Mailing Address

United Steelworkers
234 Eglinton Ave. E., 8th Floor
Toronto, ON M4P 1K7