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In Near-Unanimous Vote, Steelworkers Reject ArcelorMittal Contract Offer, Begin Strike

PORT-CARTIER and FERMONT, Que. – United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos members at ArcelorMittal operations in Quebec’s North Shore region have voted almost unanimously to reject the company’s latest contract offer and to take strike action.

In voting held Monday, more than 99% of members rejected the company’s offer. The official voting results, by union local, were as follows:

  • Local 5778 (Mount Wright and Fire Lake mines): 99.6% rejection
  • Local 6869 (port and railway): 99.4% rejection
  • Local 7401 and 7401-FP South (Port-Cartier office workers and security): 97% rejection
  • Local 7401 and 7401-FP North (Fermont office workers and security): 99% rejection
  • Local 8664 (Port-Cartier pellet plant): 99.4% rejection

“The employer failed to seize the opportunity and avoid a conflict,” said Nicolas Lapierre, the Steelworkers’ union co-ordinator for the North Shore region.

“The economic situation is excellent, and the price of iron ore is reaching record highs. A portion of this success must come back to the region, back to Quebec, to benefit the regional economy, rather than going into the pockets of shareholders in London,” Lapierre said.

The 2,500 members of five USW union locals at ArcelorMittal’s North Shore operations are seeking improvements in wages, pensions, and allowances based on working and living in remote northern communities. The union notes the company has not fulfilled promises made during previous negotiations in 2017, which has deepened the bitterness of union members, particularly with concerns on health, cleanliness and quality issues related to work camps and food services.

Entire communities have been organized around, and depend on, the mining activities in Fermont and Port-Cartier, noted Steelworkers Quebec Director Dominic Lemieux.

“Wages, working conditions and bonuses are at stake. But this also is a question of the respect that this multinational corporation should have for the workers who are responsible for its considerable profits. This company has really been squeezing these workers and it must start to show some renewed respect to those who generate the  profits,” Lemieux said.

Picket lines have been erected outside the company's facilities in Port-Cartier and Fermont.

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