United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:00:00 -0400 AMPS en hourly 1 Vicwest Building Products Employees Join Steelworkers Union https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/vicwest-building-products-employees-join-steelworkers-union Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/vicwest-building-products-employees-join-steelworkers-union STRATFORD, Ont. – Manufacturing workers at Vicwest Building Products in Stratford, Ont., have joined the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

After organizing to form a union, the Vicwest employees held a secret-ballot vote supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and they voted in favour of joining the USW. The Vicwest workers manufacture steel roofing and cladding for commercial, residential and agricultural use.

Concerns raised by workers have included wage rates, pay inequity among employees, transparency in job postings, unjust discipline and dismissals, disrespect in the workplace and health and safety issues.

Next steps for the workers will include electing a bargaining committee that will negotiate their first collective agreement.

“We congratulate these workers for mobilizing to form a union and we’re honoured that they chose to join the USW,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“We will support these workers every step of the way as they enter collective bargaining to negotiate a fair contract that recognizes their hard work and their contributions to the company’s success,” Warren said.

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Steelworkers Union Calls for Resolution to Lobster Fisheries Dispute https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-union-calls-for-resolution-to-lobster-fisheries-dispute Mon, 19 Oct 2020 13:09:16 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-union-calls-for-resolution-to-lobster-fisheries-dispute TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) calls on the federal government to find a resolution to the Nova Scotia lobster fisheries dispute that respects Indigenous treaty rights and ensures community safety.

“The federal government cannot stand by as tensions and violence escalate. Our union condemns the violence and racist attacks instigated by commercial fishers over Indigenous fishing rights in Nova Scotia,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

The recent raids on Indigenous fishing facilities is a direct assault on the Mi'kmaq people that reflects the racist legacy of colonialism. Acts of violence including the burning of boats and vehicles the destruction of facilities, physical and verbal assaults, threats and intimidation must end before there is loss of life.

“As Steelworkers, we add our voices to the calls for immediate action by the federal government to resolve the dispute. Resolution must respect Indigenous treaty rights and the 1999 Supreme Court decision that protects Indigenous rights to a year-round food fishery,” said Marty Warren, USW Atlantic Director (District 6).

“Our union stands against racism in all its forms. Systemic racism exists in Canada and this dispute shows how harmful and divisive racism can be. We need education, understanding and clear laws. We need healing and respect so the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities can live harmoniously with dignity and respect, without fear for their safety,” said Neumann.

“Our union and the labour movement are grounded in the values of solidarity and social justice. We urge the government and those involved to find a way to come together peacefully and respectfully to resolve this dispute, end the violence and uphold Indigenous treaty rights,” said Warren.

The USW Statement of Principles on Aboriginal Issues, adopted at our union’s 2016 National Policy Conference, states “The United Steelworkers supports reconciliation and socio-economic justice based on Aboriginal rights, honouring treaties and meeting the principles and standards of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ‘Recognize, Accept, and Support’ are key concepts that will guide our union’s engagement on Aboriginal issues.

Read the USW Statement of Principles on Aboriginal Issues here: https://www.usw.ca/act/activism/human-rights/resources/statement-of-principles-aboriginal-issues

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Trade Tribunal Decision a Breakthrough for Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/trade-tribunal-decision-a-breakthrough-for-steelworkers Fri, 16 Oct 2020 17:01:34 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/trade-tribunal-decision-a-breakthrough-for-steelworkers TORONTO – A recent decision by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) to renew an existing order on dumped steel products from China, Turkey and South Korea is a significant breakthrough and proof that the union has a key role in determining injury to Canada’s domestic steel industry, say leaders of the United Steelworkers union (USW).

“The decision reflects evidence provided by our members in hearings before the CITT earlier this year,” says USW National Director Ken Neumann. “It reinforces our campaign for full standing in launching trade cases. Our union and its members play an essential role in determining the impact of unfair trade. The CITT has recognized that in this written decision.”

Neumann noted that trade unions in other countries, such as the U.S., have the right to initiate cases. In the meantime, in Canada, the union’s ability to participate in cases brought by companies, has meant USW members can give evidence through public witness statements.

Yves Rolland, president of Local 6951 at ArcelorMittal Long Products in Contrecoeur, Que., said workers have a unique and important vantage point from which to view the results of dumped offshore steel. “Workers on the ground are among the first to see the effects of a dumped product that has entered the market, threatening jobs and communities,” he said. “The need to maintain restrictions is important for the viability of steel production in Quebec and for hundreds of good jobs.”

John Catto, President of Local 6571 at Gerdau Steel in Whitby, Ont., added, “when prices are undercut by increased volumes distorting our markets, we know that injury to the domestic industry means our members are going to suffer. Collective bargaining becomes more difficult and the relationship with the company also suffers. These trade practices are about more than business. They are about communities and an economy that works for people.”

Paul Perreault, President of Local 5220 at AltaSteel in Edmonton, says steel dumping has reduced employment in Alberta, which has already lost all production at Calgary’s Tenaris Prudential pipe plant.

“Whether it’s rebar or other products, Canada needs a strong steel industry,” said Perreault, whose union local has existed at the Edmonton plant for more than 60 years. “We are proud of the products our members make. In the case of rebar, we know that material injury also means dumped products from low-wage producers going into construction projects. That is neither wise nor sustainable.”

Since the union has gained the right to participate in tribunal proceedings over the last four years, the majority of cases have meant positive rulings for workers against dumped steel and in turn have earned the USW credibility as an important party in trade remedy cases initiated by companies.

The USW is currently meeting with individual Members of Parliament to secure not only the right to initiate trade cases, but also to expand the definition of ‘material injury’ in such cases to include the impact of unfair trade on workers. The campaign also seeks to establish a carbon border adjustment on imported steel and to demand the use of Canadian-made steel in infrastructure projects.

“The most recent CITT ruling is an important step forward,” said Neumann. “It is legal recognition that the pressure on pensions and benefits by dumped goods constitutes injury to the industry as a whole.”

For more information on the union’s campaign to “Stand Up For Canadian Steel” click here.

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Treatment of Long-Term Care Workers a Disgrace, Says United Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/treatment-of-long-term-care-workers-a-disgrace-says-united-steelworkers Mon, 05 Oct 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/treatment-of-long-term-care-workers-a-disgrace-says-united-steelworkers BARRY’S BAY, Ont. – Nowhere in Ontario has the lack of a real strategy to confront deficiencies in long-term care been more clear than at a rural not-for-profit facility in Barry’s Bay, west of Ottawa, says United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“Valley Manor has a waiting list and is at capacity with disabled residents. Many are in varying stages of dementia, with some suffering behavioural problems and prone to violence. The facility has been understaffed for years,” said Warren.

“Along with an absence of minimum standards, provincial compensation restraints under the Ford government’s Bill 124 prevent the union from negotiating competitive wage and benefit packages, resulting in workers quitting and positions going unfilled,” he said.

Bill 124 applies only to not-for-profit long-term care homes. Facilities that are profit-based or municipally run do not face this restriction and are able to negotiate better wage and benefit increases. USW applied for an exemption to Bill 124 and has not received a response from the government. 

And then came Bill 195, which empowers homes like Valley Manor to cancel vacations, cancel leaves and arbitrarily change schedules regardless of negotiated collective agreements.

“Adding to all that is the fact that a temporary $3 increase for personal support workers (PSWs) simply doesn’t address the wage gap between Valley Manor and other facilities that compete for PSW labour,” said Warren. “This not a sign of generosity and appreciation from the Ford government. Nor is it a sign that any real strategy to improve long-term care is on the way. 

“It is an insult to our members and a complete disservice to long-term care residents, who deserve quality care from skilled workers, who should be properly compensated and respected.”

USW is part of a coalition of unions challenging Bills 124 and 195 as unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the local MPP, Conservative John Yakabuski, has refused to meet with long-term care workers from Valley Manor and their union.

Valley Manor usually employees about 100 PSWs, activity workers, housekeepers, dietary staff and laundry workers.

USW represents 225,000 women and men working in every sector of Canada’s economy, including 5,000 in health care.

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United Steelworkers Condemns PPWC Raid of USW Members at Bouygues-GTAP in Surrey https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/united-steelworkers-condemns-ppwc-raid-of-usw-members-at-bouygues-gtap-in-surrey Sat, 03 Oct 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/united-steelworkers-condemns-ppwc-raid-of-usw-members-at-bouygues-gtap-in-surrey Yesterday, the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2009 received noticed that the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) has applied to the Labour Board to raid nearly 70 USW members at Bouygues Building Canada–Green Timbers Accommodation Partners (GTAP) in Surrey.

“It is extremely distressing that PPWC, an independent union, is raiding our members at GTAP,” said Al Bieksa, President USW Local 2009. “I am very concerned that our members have been lied to and manipulated for the personal gain of a few members. You can be assured that legal action will be taken against those responsible. But, what worries me the most is the loss of rights that our members may be forfeiting through this raid that they’re not even aware of.”

The raid being conducted by the PPWC may be legal under the B.C. Labour Code, but it is forbidden under Article 4 of the Constitution of the Canadian Labour Congress that most unions abide by. The PPWC is not part of the Canadian Labour Congress, the BC Federation of Labour or any local labour councils and it has no respect or support from ‘real’ unions, Bieksa said.

“I encourage our members to get the all the facts from both sides before voting and not just the deceptive information being spewed from a ‘rat’ union trying to increase their membership in a cowardly fashion,” added Bieksa. “Raids just cause division and divert attention from the important work that we need to do for our members. There are plenty of non-unionized workers in the province that would benefit from being part of a union. Apparently, that takes too much work for PPWC."

The USW is the largest private-sector union in North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada and more than 850,000 members continent-wide. The USW is Canada's most diverse union, representing people working in every sector of the economy.

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Inaugural Leo Gerard Scholarship Awarded at Laurentian University https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/inaugural-leo-gerard-scholarship-awarded-at-laurentian-university Fri, 02 Oct 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/inaugural-leo-gerard-scholarship-awarded-at-laurentian-university SUDBURY – Laurentian University in Sudbury has awarded its inaugural Leo Gerard Scholarship to students Mikaela Cheslock and Caitlyn Cross.

The scholarship, established in honour of the legacy of Sudbury native and United Steelworkers (USW) International President Emeritus Leo W. Gerard, is awarded annually to students of Laurentian’s Workplace and Labour Studies program on the basis of academic merit and community engagement.

The first two recipients of the Leo Gerard Scholarship are fourth-year students in Laurentian’s Workplace and Labour Studies program. They are on the Dean’s Honour’s List and both will be pursuing further graduate education in labour issues next year.

Mikaela Cheslock is majoring in Workplace and Labour Studies with a minor in Law and Justice. Caitlyn Cross is in the Business Administration program majoring in Human Resources with a minor in Workplace and Labour Studies.

In early 2020, the USW’s Canadian National Office, District 6 Office (Ontario and Atlantic Canada), its two Sudbury-based local unions – Locals 6500 and 2020 – and the Sudbury and District Labour Council made contributions to create the Leo Gerard Legacy Fund. The fund supports the annual student scholarships as well as a lecture series featuring nationally and internationally renowned experts on issues affecting working people and organized labour.

“We are very proud to have such outstanding and committed students in our program. We thank USW Canada, USW District 6 and USW Locals 6500 and 2020 for their support of the next generation of labour activists and community leaders,” states a release from Laurentian’s Workplace and Labour Studies program.

Leo Gerard and USW Local 6500 President Nick Larochelle participated in the inaugural scholarship award ceremony, which was held via Zoom due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Gerard, who retired in July 2019 after serving 18 years as USW international president, studied economics and political science at Laurentian and received an honorary doctorate of laws degree from the university in 1994.

“I am honoured that the USW is supporting my hometown university in its mission to prepare graduates to address some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as workers’ rights, inequality and social justice,” Gerard said when the scholarship fund was unveiled earlier this year.

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Timmins Steelworkers Improve Contract in Negotiations with Goldcorp https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/timmins-steelworkers-improve-contract-in-negotiations-with-goldcorp Tue, 29 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/timmins-steelworkers-improve-contract-in-negotiations-with-goldcorp TIMMINS, Ont. – Wage and pension improvements are among gains made by United Steelworkers (USW) members in a new collective agreement with Goldcorp Canada Ltd. in Timmins.

Members of USW Local 7580 have voted to ratify a three-year collective agreement that includes total wage increases of 8% as well as improvements to pension bridging provisions and full coverage by the employer for workers’ safety boots and safety clothing.

Union members held their contract ratification vote over a two-day period, with COVID-19 protocols in place to ensure a safe and democratic process. Ratification of the new contract marks the 10th successive collective agreement reached without conflict between the USW and Goldcorp.

“Steelworkers Local 7580 members have built an impressive record of negotiating improvements to their working and living standards over many years,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“This successful bargaining history reflects our union’s achievements in negotiations with employers across the country, with 97% of USW collective agreements negotiated and ratified without labour disputes,” Warren noted.

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USW Local 9346 Sets Stage for a Fair Deal for Steelworker Families https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/usw-local-9346-sets-stage-for-a-fair-deal-for-steelworker-families Thu, 24 Sep 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/usw-local-9346-sets-stage-for-a-fair-deal-for-steelworker-families SPARWOOD, B.C., – This week the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9346 Bargaining Committee met to prepare for negotiations for a new collective agreement for members working at Teck Resources Elkview coal mine. 

The Committee is focused on securing an agreement that promotes and upholds a healthy lifestyle that protects our members, our families and our communities. The union has asked the company to begin negotiations this October. 

“As Steelworkers we set the standard for safety and wages that keep the Elk Valley going,” said Scott Liddle, President of USW Local 9346.

“Despite global uncertainty in the midst of COVID-19 our union worked to ensure this mine could operate safely, maintaining production and profitability,” Liddle added. “A fair agreement would allow us to build our communities and build shared prosperity from the public resource we mine.”

Steelworker priorities for this round of bargaining are focused on the needs of the membership.

“Our younger members are looking for training opportunities to secure their families’ future and our older members want to ensure they can retire with dignity,” Liddle said. “We made a number of improvements in our collective agreement by sticking together.  That solidarity will be needed to protect and build on those gains.”

Members who have questions about the bargaining process and how they can support the union are encouraged to contact their Bargaining Committee representative.

 

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New, Three-Year Agreements for Steelworkers at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/new-three-year-agreements-for-steelworkers-at-canadian-nuclear-laboratories Thu, 24 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/new-three-year-agreements-for-steelworkers-at-canadian-nuclear-laboratories CHALK RIVER, Ont. – Workers at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) have approved new, three-year collective agreements with CNL that provide annual two-per-cent wage increases retroactive to June 30, 2019, when their previous contracts expired.

“Our members do important work supporting and maintaining safety in Canada’s nuclear industry. They have been extremely patient in negotiations that experienced delays mainly due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marty Warren, Ontario-Atlantic Director of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents the CNL employees.

Two contracts, one for office and clerical workers and the other for utility and contamination monitors, will be in place until 2022, and include improvements to contract language.

The 300 members of USW Local 4096 reviewed the deal via video conference and cast their ballots electronically.

“Like everything else in these times, the union has to adapt while at the same time ensuring democracy in negotiations and ratification,” said Warren.

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Employment Insurance Changes Welcome, but Must Be Made Permanent – Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/employment-insurance-changes-welcome-but-must-be-made-permanent-steelworkers Mon, 21 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/employment-insurance-changes-welcome-but-must-be-made-permanent-steelworkers BURNABY, B.C. – The United Steelworkers (USW), representing more than 14,000 workers in the forestry sector, are welcoming recent changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that will make it easier for workers to access benefits – at least in the short term.

“Our members have literally been short-changed by rules that deny them access to EI even after many years of service and paying into the program,” says Jeff Bromley, chair of the USW Wood Council. The Wood Council represents workers employed mainly in logging and sawmilling across Canada.

Forestry workers have lobbied federal politicians for months during the COVID crisis, and welcome interim orders that ensure workers will not be held back from EI benefits if they receive negotiated severance packages or have outstanding vacation when they are laid off. An earlier interim order also reduces the number of eligible hours workers must have before making an EI claim. This is particularly problematic when workers are in a cycle of multiple rounds of layoffs.

“These are all one-time or temporary access changes to the Employment Insurance Act,” said Bromley. “We believe they must become permanent in order to respond to our industry and to the increasingly uncertain future of employment security in 21st century Canada.”

Bromley said enhanced negotiated severance packages were never meant to prevent access to EI benefits. As well, he said workers should not be penalized for not having used up their vacation allotment prior to being laid off.

“Collective agreements are intended to be better than minimum rights established in employment standards legislation,” Bromley said. “Workers and their communities must not be held hostage to laws that, instead of assisting them in tough times, punish them for doing an honest day’s work.”

Bromley said the announced access to EI under the current interim orders must be established as a permanent standard in EI legislation.

“Canadians need to know they are protected, pandemic or no pandemic. EI rules that do not do so on a permanent basis are not worth the paper they are written on.”

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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Provides $72,000 to Support Populations Affected by COVID-19 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-humanity-fund-provides-72000-to-support-populations-affected-by-covid-19 Tue, 15 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-humanity-fund-provides-72000-to-support-populations-affected-by-covid-19 TORONTO – In August and September, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund (SHF) contributed $72,000 to organizations supporting some of the most vulnerable people in Canada, Chile and Brazil who were already facing hardship and systematic inequalities at the onset of the pandemic.

In Canada, migrant, poor and racialized communities are among the worst affected by the economic downturn. The SHF’s response includes funding for Migrant Workers Alliance for Change (MWAC), the Migrant Rights Network and Canada Without Poverty (CWP).

Funds contributed by United Steelworkers members through the SHF will allow MWAC to offer direct support to migrant and undocumented people and advocate for full and permanent immigration status. SHF funding will assist CWP implement its Poverty Pandemic Watch project, ensuring that the voices and experiences of those living in poverty in Canada are heard in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has also partnered with the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America, a Quebec-based human rights organization, to support Brazilian organizations and social movements. These groups will respond to the emergency needs of Indigenous groups, quilombola (black rural communities) and impoverished urban neighborhoods which were already suffering from the government’s neoliberal policies.

SHF funds also were granted to a coalition of exiled Chileans living in Canada to support 10 grassroots women’s organizations across Chile in building a nationwide solidarity network that will provide basic assistance to affected communities.

“It is clear that everyone does not fare the same through COVID-19, from one country to another but also within Canada. The pandemic has amplified existing inequalities, which is why we are supporting initiatives seeking to address its longer-term effects on the most marginalized,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director and President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that promotes respect for human rights and contributes to development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, as well as supporting Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions.

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Steelworkers Call for Fair Union Election at Canadian Mine in Mexico https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-call-for-fair-union-election-at-canadian-mine-in-mexico Tue, 15 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-call-for-fair-union-election-at-canadian-mine-in-mexico TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) is calling on Mexican and Canadian authorities to guarantee the integrity of the union election scheduled for Sept. 17 at the San Rafael Mine in Cosalá, Sinaloa, Mexico, which is operated by the Canadian mining company Americas Gold and Silver.

“We demand a free and fair election with no threats or pressure from the company,” said USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann.

Workers at the mine halted operations on Jan. 26, demanding health and safety improvements and a vote to replace the company-supported union with the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers (Los Mineros) led by Napoleón Gómez Urrutia.

After multiple delays, the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Board in Mexico set the election for this Friday, Sept. 17. However, the Canadian company has accused the Los Mineros union of “extortion” and threatened to terminate its investment in the mine.

“Threatening to close the workplace if the workers choose a union you don’t like would clearly violate the labour provisions of CUSMA. We expect the Canadian government to act forcefully if any such violations occur,” Neumann said.

“We stand in solidarity with Mexican independent trade unionists,” he added.

“The CUSMA improves the prospects of free collective bargaining. As our union has stated repeatedly, the proof is in the enforcement. The union election on Friday is an opportunity to demonstrate that workers can now exercise their rights freely and fairly and without threats or intimidation from their employer.”

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USW Wood Council Locals in B.C. Received the "Old Growth Strategic Review" Report But Caution BC Jobs Must Not Only Be Protected, They Need to Be Grown https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/usw-wood-council-locals-in-b-c-received-the-old-growth-strategic-review-report-but-caution-bc-jobs-must-not-only-be-protected-they-need-to-be-grown Mon, 14 Sep 2020 15:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/usw-wood-council-locals-in-b-c-received-the-old-growth-strategic-review-report-but-caution-bc-jobs-must-not-only-be-protected-they-need-to-be-grown Socio-economic understanding and impacts in decision making is vital

BURNABY, BC – The United Steelworkers (USW) Wood Council of B.C. Locals 1-1937, 1-2017, 1-423, 1-417, 1-405 and 2009 received the Old Growth Strategic Review report released Friday.

The report presented, clearly has a panel tilted to the input of the Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGO’s) rather than the input it received from workers, industry and the communities that they work and operate in.

“It’s concerning that the old growth report is largely silent on the issues raised by workers, industry and communities and completely silent on possible socio-economic impacts,” offered Jeff Bromley, USW Wood Council Chair. “Any restriction on access to Old Growth forests must have the known and measurable impacts applied before any determination is made. Further restrictions on harvesting rights in the Working Forest will ultimately result in layoffs and hinder the growth and viability of the industry. It needs to be understood that the first and often only casualty of these type of initiatives are workers, families and the small, rural, resource-dependent communities in which they live.”

The USW knows that we are not alone in wanting to protect and grow jobs in the forest industry as getting more jobs per cubic meter from our renewable crown forests are an important part of the provincial government’s stated mandate. We continue to support that mandate.

The USW is also supportive of the reports recommendation of using a “science based” approach in decision making, which we believe is necessary to reduce the emotional decision making that has often guided previous government’s decisions. However, we caution that the report itself is reflective of the panel’s acceptance of ENGO’s perspective rather than utilizing “science based” facts. The USW was hopeful that a positive result of the report would lead to an end of the valley-by-valley approach, which historically only leads to confrontation and uncertainty, but we will reserve judgement on that until we see what parts of the report the government may implement.

The USW Wood Council is supportive of the extensive consultation (36-month timeline) suggested in the report. It is critical that government fully consults first nations, workers, industry and other stakeholders in the sector. That consultation needs to be in-depth, meaningful and definitely must have extensive knowledge and understanding of the socio-economic importance of our renewable resource as a guide to any decisions that are made.

“The report’s recommendations support inclusion and consultation of First Nations, the commitment to reconciliation and a science-based approach that will have all stakeholders at the table, which we support,” said Brian Butler, president of USW Local 1-1937, which represents over 5000 forest workers on Vancouver Island and BC’s Coast. “That approach will enable all stakeholders to have a strong voice in this process and have the ability to see the science and fully understand other viewpoints. Our Union will be at the table to ensure our members’ livelihoods and their communities are heard and protected.”

This report can be seen as a positive step in the process to ultimately provide certainty in the industry that can facilitate the investment and growth British Columbians deserve from their renewable public resource. Actions taken by the government following the report will ultimately determine if that indeed holds true.

The USW Wood Council represents over 12,000 forestry workers across BC in the province’s Northern and Southern Interior as well as the Coastal forest industry, where any restrictions on Old Growth and reductions in annual allowable cut (AAC) would hit the hardest.

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Hawkesbury Steelworkers Make Big Gains at Montebello Packaging https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/hawkesbury-steelworkers-make-big-gains-at-montebello-packaging Mon, 14 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/hawkesbury-steelworkers-make-big-gains-at-montebello-packaging HAWKESBURY, Ont. – Members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) employed at Montebello Packaging in Hawkesbury have made big gains in a new collective agreement with the company.

The Montebello workers, members of USW Local 6565, have voted to ratify a four-year collective agreement that reverses a two-tier wage system and calls for pay increases for many employees ranging from $3 to $7 per hour by the end of the contract. In addition to significant adjustments for lower-paid employees, all workers will receive 2% annual wage increases over the term of the agreement.

Montebello manufactures aluminum, laminate and plastic packaging for pharmaceutical, personal care, cosmetics, household, industrial and food products.

The USW and the company agreed to negotiate a new collective agreement well in advance of the January 2021 expiry of their existing contract. The new, four-year agreement will be in place from Feb. 1, 2021, to Jan. 31, 2025.

The company and union negotiated the reversal of the two-tier wage system, in which newer hires were on a lower pay scale, in order to improve the recruitment and retention of qualified new workers. The company has indicated it plans to hire new workers in the near future.

Other gains in the new collective agreement include benefit improvements, particularly the introduction of a prescription drug card with a significant increase in coverage for employees and dependents, as well as dental plan enhancements.

“I congratulate the parties for negotiating a fair collective agreement in a challenging time, which was achieved in a spirit of collaboration at the bargaining table,” said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director.

“This contract provides well-deserved improvements, recognizing the fact that the employees are, first and foremost, the people who contribute the most to the company’s success,” Warren said.

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Steelworkers Union Urges Federal Strategy for Stronger, Greener Canadian Aluminum Sector https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-union-urges-federal-strategy-for-stronger-greener-canadian-aluminum-sector Tue, 08 Sep 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/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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Operation BackPack 2020 to Help 1,272 Kids https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/operation-backpack-2020-to-help-1272-kids Thu, 27 Aug 2020 12:30:19 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/operation-backpack-2020-to-help-1272-kids HAMILTON, 27 August 2020 – Operation BackPack, which began eight years ago as a modest effort to support a few Hamilton families, has grown into a major initiative that will help 1,272 kids returning to school this year.

The success of Operation BackPack 2020 will be on display Friday morning at St. Matthew’s House, 414 Barton Street East, where volunteers will hand out 1,272 backpacks with school supplies for kids in need. Volunteers from the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, St. Matthew’s House and many partnering companies and union locals will be on hand to distribute the backpacks.

     WHAT:     Operation BackPack 2020

     WHEN:     Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, 9:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.

     WHERE:   St. Matthew’s House
                     414 Barton Street East, Hamilton

     WHO:       United Steelworkers Locals 5328, 16506, 4153, 1005, 8782
                     Steelworkers Humanity Fund
                     Golden Horseshoe Credit Union
                     Many other community sponsors

“In our first year we supplied backpacks to a few local schools and we have tried to increase the number each year,” said Darren Green, president of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council.

“The response from teachers told us the need was much greater, so we have been working very hard to grow the program to where we are today. Last year we provided 1,500. This year as a result of COVID-19, 1,272 backpacks will be distributed in Hamilton by St. Matthew’s House, while 200 will be distributed in Haldimand, Norfolk and Brantford, where we have affiliated Steelworkers union locals serving in those communities,” said Green.

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Forestry Workers Welcome WTO Decision on U.S. Softwood Tariffs, Time to Settle Long-Standing Dispute https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/forestry-workers-welcome-wto-decision-on-u-s-softwood-tariffs-time-to-settle-long-standing-dispute Tue, 25 Aug 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/forestry-workers-welcome-wto-decision-on-u-s-softwood-tariffs-time-to-settle-long-standing-dispute VANCOUVER – The United Steelworkers union (USW) welcomes the latest decision in Canada’s favour from the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the long-standing U.S. softwood lumber dispute.

“Now is the time to settle a dispute that has denied fair access to the U.S. market,” said Jeff Bromley, Chair of the USW Wood Council, representing 14,000 forest industry workers across Canada.

The WTO dispute-resolution panel found that the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) acted inconsistently by failing to provide a reasoned and adequate explanation for why the U.S. rejected Canada’s proposed regional benchmarks for stumpage rates.

The panel upholds Canada’s claim that USDOC made errors in determining the benchmark Canadian timber prices used to determine whether Canadian producers were paying adequate stumpage fees to the provinces.

“It is reassuring to see that the WTO agreed with almost all aspects of Canada’s appeal. We have always maintained that softwood lumber duties are based on erroneous logic and that the U.S. refuses to understand how the Canadian industry operates,” said Bromley.

“These duties must be removed immediately for the benefit of all forestry workers and for the future of our industry. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

Since the imposition of softwood duties in 2017, Canada is estimated to have paid approximately $4 billion in duties.

“As the WTO pointed out, the USDOC's use of an out-of-country benchmark, in this case the Washington logs benchmark, is erroneous when assessing remuneration for standing timber provided by British Columbia to Canadian producers,” added Bromley.

“Decisive action is needed from Canada’s Liberal government to work to end the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S. This persistent trade dispute is not justified in an integrated market such as forestry,” he said.

“Right now, the best solution for workers on both sides of the border is to reach a negotiated settlement on softwood lumber and bring an end to unfair duties.”

For months, USW members have lobbied Members of Parliament to resolve the dispute, which has impacted communities across Canada since the expiry of the last Softwood Lumber Agreement in 2017. The USW campaign also calls on parliamentarians to improve forestry workers’ access to Employment Insurance in an era of instability.

“Our goal is to return forestry to the sustaining, nation-building industry it has always been,” said Bromley. “Canada depends on it and both Canada and the U.S. benefit when barriers like the softwood lumber duties are lifted.” 

For more information on the USW campaign, go to www.forestryisforeveryone.ca.

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Governments Could Stop Layoffs at Evraz Steel https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/governments-could-stop-layoffs-at-evraz-steel Mon, 24 Aug 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/governments-could-stop-layoffs-at-evraz-steel REGINA, VANCOUVER, TORONTO – National and Western Canada leaders of the United Steelworkers union (USW) say news of pending layoffs at Evraz Steel in Regina is the result of the federal government’s failure to commit to use Canadian products in Canadian infrastructure projects.

Steelworkers’ jobs at the Regina pipe mill are in jeopardy after it was learned that an order to make 48-inch pipe for energy infrastructure company TC Energy in Northern Alberta has been given to an offshore company.

“It should not happen that one Canadian company can decide not to use Canadian steel products in its infrastructure projects,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “Our government has failed to protect Canadian jobs and does not even have a Canadian-made procurement strategy for public infrastructure projects, let alone private projects that impact our economic future.”

USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney must also step in to preserve jobs in Western Canada.

“Mr. Kenney says his support for the energy sector in Western Canada is all about jobs and the economic future of Canadians working in the sector,” said Hunt. “It’s time he proved it by talking to his friends at TC Energy and telling them that if pipelines are going to be built, they must be made in Canada.”

Stand Up for Steel is the USW’s national campaign to inject stability into the steel sector including a made-in-Canada policy and a reformed trade policy that would, among other things, allow unions to launch trade complaints.

“Demand for steel products has dropped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The only way to rebuild a strong, resilient economy will be to inject massive funding into physical infrastructure projects. Many projects are not using Canadian-made steel. Instead they are using cheaper steel obtained offshore,” said Neumann.

“Reform means it is necessary to ensure that the jobs of Canadians are a higher priority than getting the cheapest possible product.”

USW Local 5890 President Mike Day, representing workers at the Evraz mill in Regina, said news of layoffs due to pipe orders going offshore is an insult added to injury.

“My members are demanding that both Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe show some courage and demand that projects in Canada use Canadian products,” said Day. “Our members should not be made victims because of bad public policy and a lack of attention to the future of our domestic industry.”

For more information on USW’s campaign to Stand Up For Steel, go to www.usw.ca/standupforsteel.

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Taxpayer Funds Must Improve Long-Term Care, Not Subsidize Corporate Dividends: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/taxpayer-funds-must-improve-long-term-care-not-subsidize-corporate-dividends-steelworkers Fri, 21 Aug 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/taxpayer-funds-must-improve-long-term-care-not-subsidize-corporate-dividends-steelworkers TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is denouncing millions of taxpayers’ dollars being provided to private long-term care operators that are in turn paying millions in shareholder dividends, while vulnerable residents and front-line workers remain at risk from COVID-19.

“The death toll among seniors in Ontario’s long-term care homes has surpassed 1,800 and necessary investments still are not being made to better protect residents and workers from a second wave of COVID-19,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“At the same time, for-profit corporations in the long-term care sector are being given millions in public subsidies and then turning around and handing out millions to their shareholders. The federal and Ontario governments appear to be just fine with this perverse situation,” Warren said.

The USW, which represents workers at several long-term care residences in Ontario, is calling for greater federal and provincial investments to protect residents and staff, as well as a ban on shareholder dividend payments for corporations that are receiving public subsidies.

The USW and other long-term care advocates are calling for changes to government subsidy rules following reports that the largest operator of private nursing homes in Canada received millions in federal wage subsidies while also giving millions to its shareholders in dividends.

“While thousands have died and millions are suffering economically during this pandemic, taxpayers should not be subsidizing wealthy corporations that can afford to pay dividends to shareholders,” Warren said.

“Our tax dollars should be invested in improved care and protection of residents and better wages, working conditions and safety standards for the staff who provide these vital services,” he said.

As the province’s long-term care homes brace for a potential second wave of COVID-19, Ontario’s Conservative government has not developed a comprehensive plan with necessary investments to protect residents and staff from such a scenario, Warren said.

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Investing in Domestic Aluminum Industry Is Best Response to U.S. Tariffs https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/investing-in-domestic-aluminum-industry-is-best-response-to-u-s-tariffs Thu, 20 Aug 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/investing-in-domestic-aluminum-industry-is-best-response-to-u-s-tariffs MONTREAL – The best approach to countering U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum exports is to invest funds raised from retaliatory tariffs to better position the domestic aluminum industry for the future, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

The Canadian government intends to impose countermeasures targeting $3.6 billion in American exports to Canada. Those funds should be invested in modernizing Canadian aluminum plants and increasing production and processing capacity, the USW is urging the federal government. The government is consulting with stakeholders until September 6 regarding the approach it will take on countermeasures to the U.S. tariffs.

"By investing in the future and creating new, long-term jobs here, we can hope to emerge from the current crisis in a positive light,” said Alexandre Fréchette, representative for the USW’s aluminum smelting sector.

“The idea is not to give a blank cheque to the multinational aluminum producers. The idea is to invest in developing our aluminum industry here and to ensure there are real benefits for our regions,” Fréchette said.

“Quebec's aluminum sector is already performing well and is among the greenest in the world. But to maintain and create jobs, we need to invest now to stay on the cutting edge."

The USW, which represents thousands of aluminum workers in Quebec, welcomes yesterday’s announcement of a $5-million federal investment to help Canada’s aluminum industry better trace the origins of aluminum used in the country.

The USW characterizes the announcement as an “hors d'oeuvre” while aluminum producers, workers and their communities anxiously await the government’s comprehensive response to the U.S. tariffs.

"The real test will be in September. That’s when we will be able to measure the government’s commitment to invest in the future of the aluminum sector," said Fréchette.

Uncertainty in the aluminum sector has adversely affected investment proposals in Quebec, noted Sylvain Maltais, President of USW Local 9490 at the Alma smelter, and Éric Drolet, President of USW Local 9700 at the Bécancour smelter.

“In recent years, several investment projects have been put on hold by aluminum smelters, particularly due to the uncertainty of the trade dispute with the United States. Governments must help secure and create jobs in this sector. Ottawa must seize this opportunity to give the industry a boost,” Maltais and Drolet said in a joint statement.

The United Steelworkers, affiliated with the FTQ, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec. It represents more than 60,000 workers in all economic sectors.

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