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Quebec Steelworkers win strike at ArcelorMittal

LONGUEUIL and CONTRECOEUR, Que. – USW members working at ArcelorMittal steel plants in Longueuil and Contrecoeur, Que., ratified an excellent six-year contract today, ending a strike that began Feb. 2.

The new contract brings an end to a two-tier pension system, increases wages by a total of 26% over six years and improves the defined-benefit pension plan.

“This contract lives up to the expectations and, above all, the determination of our members. It's a great victory for solidarity,” stated representatives of three USW union locals – Local 6586 President Jason Braconnier, Local 8897 President François Lévesque and Local 8060 spokesperson Éric Imbeault.

Hourly wages will increased by $9 over six years, or approximately 26% over the life of the contract, and benefits also will be improved.

The end of a two-tier pension system for new workers is a milestone achievement in the negotiations. Going forward, new union members will automatically join the defined-benefit (DB) pension plan, whereas previously they had to choose between a DB plan and a defined-contribution (DC) plan.

“No new worker will be admitted to a less-advantageous plan; this is the end of that practice. Few members chose the DC plan in the past, but the very existence of two plans was a threat. This is a strong signal for the sustainability of the defined-benefit pension plan and for equality for all workers," the local union representatives said in a joint statement.

The defined-benefit pension plan will be gradually improved, with increase from $59 per month per year of service to $68 per month per year of service at the end of the six-year contract.

“Our members were prepared to strike to improve their conditions and they gave us clear mandates. They were strong on the picket lines and in the strength of the votes they gave us, both in strike mandates and in the face of inadequate offers made at the beginning of the dispute. This is a great collective success,” the local union representatives said in their joint statement.

The return to work at the two ArcelorMittal facilities in the Montérégie region will begin Monday, Feb. 28.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour/Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all economic sectors.

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