Quebec Steelworkers Win New Contract, Strike Ends at ArcelorMittal

United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos members at ArcelorMittal operations in Quebec’s North Shore region today ratified a four-year collective agreement, ending a month-long strike.

“I salute the determination of our members and their negotiating committee,” said Nicolas Lapierre, the Steelworkers’ union co-ordinator for the North Shore region. “Their unity and unwavering solidarity, in the midst of a pandemic, throughout the North Shore and Quebec, made the difference between the first offers received from the employer and this new contract that will benefit the entire region. I would like to thank all of the Steelworkers’ local unions in Quebec for their solidarity with the 2,500 steelworkers on the North Shore. Our members fought for respect and that message was heard by the employer. "

The 2,500 ArcelorMittal workers went on strike on May 10 following a near-unanimous vote to reject the company’s previous contract offer.

Today, the members of five union locals overwhelmingly ratified an improved agreement, by the following margins:

  • Local 5778 (Mount Wright and Fire Lake mines, Fermont): 96%
  • Local 6869 (port and railway, Port-Cartier): 88%
  • Local 7401 and 7401-FP South (Port-Cartier office workers and fire protection technicians): 98%
  • Local 7401 and 7401-FP North (Fermont office workers and security): 90%
  • Local 8664 (Port-Cartier pellet plant): 95%

Strengthening the local economy

Including cost-of-living bonuses, the new collective agreement provides for average salary increases of more than 3% per year, as well as average annual increases in pension benefits of 3.75%. Existing retirees will also see their pensions indexed between 1% and 3%.

“We estimate the contract will generate economic benefits to the region of $178 million over the next four years – an average annual increase of 14%,” Lapierre said. “Through this fight for better working conditions, our members also fought for economic benefits for the North Shore and for Quebec. Today we can be proud of their struggle!”

Throughout the strike, the rallying cry for the union and its allies called for a greater economic benefits to the region from the extraction of its natural resources.

Other highlights of the new agreement include:

  • The company abandoned its demand for a 14 days on, 14 days off schedule for railroad employees in Port-Cartier.
  • The northern premium for Fermont workers will increase by more than 90%, to $1,200 per month by 2024.
  • The night shift premium will increase by 50% for all employees.
  • All Port-Cartier and fly-in/fly-out workers obtain parity with their Fermont colleagues in the calculation of vacation time.
  • Two letters of agreement appended to the contract attest to the importance of the gains obtained by the union to benefit the regional and Quebec economy:
    • The first letter of agreement allows for the introduction of an annual bonus of $1,000 to $1,200 for all workers living in the North Shore communities located between Baie-Trinité and Sept-Îles.
    • The second letter will allow the creation of a task force at ArcelorMittal to find solutions to the many issues raised by workers and their union during the strike, including: the concentrator at the Mont-Wright facilities, occupational health and safety, the workforce and local employment, the renovation and maintenance of the company’s Fermont real estate, the economic spin-offs for local suppliers of goods and services, involvement and initiative in the community, the development of a sense of belonging, etc.

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