United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Thu, 19 Jul 2018 16:31:00 -0400 AMPS en hourly 1 98% Strike Vote by Steelworkers at Shaw Cable https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/98-strike-vote-by-steelworkers-at-shaw-cable Thu, 19 Jul 2018 16:31:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/98-strike-vote-by-steelworkers-at-shaw-cable BURNABY – Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1944 at Shaw Cable in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, and Langley have strongly voted in favour of strike action. This week, 85% of the membership voted, giving a strike vote mandate over 98%.

Despite many days at the bargaining table, as well as assistance from a federal conciliator, Shaw continues to attack the working conditions of its employees. The members have been without a contract since March 23, 2018.

“Our members know that a strike can induce financial hardships for them and their families,” stated Lee Riggs, USW Local 1944 Chief Negotiator. “Yet, our members showed determination in defending their rights against an employer that is showing little respect to them. I am proud of this strong strike vote, which shows how united our members are and that they are ready to fight back.”

Demands from Shaw management include:

  • Elimination of job security
  • Massive erosion of members’ work
  • 0% annual wage increases
  • Forcing employees to pay for work devices

“Shaw says they want an organization that is agile and adaptable; we say this should not be at a cost to our members,” said Lee Riggs. “What Shaw really intends to do is to undermine union workers’ rights, and change the rules by making workers disposable while putting more financial pressure on their shoulders. We believe that it is possible for Shaw to be a strong player in the competitive market and also provide a fair and respectful collective agreement that shows our members that the work they do is valued and protected.”

Strike votes were held July 17, 18 and 19, 2018 with 357 members voting. Two certifications for Shaw Cablesystems G.P. are impacted by the strike vote. The Vancouver/Richmond certification received 99% support and the Surrey/Langley certification received 97% support for strike action.

“The main goal of the Local is to negotiate a new collective agreement, not to go on strike,” stated Lee Riggs. “There are many levers we can activate before going on strike. The bargaining committee has our members’ backs. More than 10,000 members from USW Local 1944 have our backs. There are a million members from the United Steelworkers that have our backs. There is enough power in our numbers to allow us to do whatever it takes to negotiate a collective agreement that ensures these workers get a fair contract while protecting their jobs for years to come.”

USW Local 1944 represents over 500 members at Shaw Cable in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Overall, the Local represents more than 10,000 workers in the telecommunications sector across Canada.

Everyone Loses from Alcoa’s Lockout at ABI Smelter https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/everyone-loses-from-alcoa-lockout-at-abi-smelter Wed, 18 Jul 2018 14:32:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/everyone-loses-from-alcoa-lockout-at-abi-smelter BÉCANCOUR, Que. – As aluminum giant Alcoa releases its second-quarter results today, the United Steelworkers (USW) is revealing the true extent of losses incurred by the company’s lockout of workers at its ABI smelter in Bécancour.

Each month of the lockout is depriving Alco and Rio Tinto – co-owners of the ABI smelter – CAN$85 million in revenues (US$66 million) and CAN$26 million (US$20 million) in profits, the USW says.

The union calculated lost revenues and profits based on data from the Commodities Research Unit (CRU), a U.K.-based business research organization specializing in global aluminum markets among other sectors.

The USW’s analysis reveals that, since the lockout at the ABI aluminum smelter began on Jan. 11 this year, Alcoa and Rio Tinto have lost CAN$468 million (US$367 million) on first and second quarter revenues.

“The lockout is costing Alcoa and Rio Tinto dearly,” said Clément Masse, President of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700, representing the 1,030 locked-out ABI employees.

“Aluminum prices are healthy right now, so each month that this dispute drags on represents lost revenues and profits,” Masse said. “But the lockout also is costing Quebecers dearly, since Hydro-Québec has been deprived of $114 million in electricity revenues to date – and counting.”

The data released today by the USW takes into account factors such as a two-thirds reduction in production at the ABI smelter during the lockout, as well as the price of aluminum and the Midwest premium. The union says its calculations are conservative, given that they don’t include losses from a complete cut in production of ABI’s value-added products such as aluminum billets and slabs.

“The effects of this lockout are disastrous. Alcoa and Rio Tinto are losing, the Quebec government and all Quebecers are losing, workers and their families are deprived of their livelihood and the entire community is affected,” Masse said.

“Everyone loses, so why let this continue? It is high time to abandon this approach and to get back to producing high-quality aluminum at an efficient and productive smelter that operates with green electricity.”

The ABI smelter is 74.9% owned by Alcoa, with Rio Tinto owning the remaining 25.1%

Prior to the lockout, the USW and the company were close to an agreement and were working to resolve two outstanding issues – pension plan changes and language related to seniority and employee turnover. However, after the Quebec government recently appointed a special mediator to assist in the negotiations, the company has brought new demands for concessions from the locked-out workers. Earlier this month, more than 90% of the workers voted to confirm their support for their leadership and bargaining committee.

Canada’s Uranium Industry No Threat to U.S.: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/canadas-uranium-industry-no-threat-to-u-s-steelworkers Wed, 18 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/canadas-uranium-industry-no-threat-to-u-s-steelworkers TORONTO, VANCOUVER – There is no justification for Canada to be included in an investigation by the United States into whether imports of uranium threaten U.S. national security, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

The Trump administration announced today that it has launched an investigation into uranium imports into the U.S., once again invoking the so-called Section 232 clause in American trade law that allows for imposition of tariffs or quotas on foreign imports deemed to threaten U.S. national security.

“It is abundantly clear that Canadian uranium exports do not present a national security threat to the United States,” said Ken Neumann, Canadian Director of the USW, which represents workers in the uranium mining and processing sectors in Western Canada and Ontario.

“There is simply no evidence to justify Canada’s inclusion in this investigation in the first place, let alone the prospect of imposing tariffs or quotas on Canadian uranium exports,” Neumann said.

“As a fair-trading nation with the U.S., Canada must be exempted from this investigation, or any potential tariffs or quotas on Canadian uranium. Targeting Canada’s uranium industry would be absurd and would suggest a deliberate escalation by the Trump administration – for its own political purposes – of a trade war with America’s closest ally,” he said.

“American uranium producers who petitioned the Trump administration to launch the Section 232 investigation have specified that their concern is unfair trade practices by overseas producers – not Canada,” noted Stephen Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada.

“The American uranium industry has indicated that the problem is with heavily subsidized and state-owned uranium producers, primarily from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, whose practices are undermining fair trade. Canada is not the problem,” Hunt said.

“As with Canada’s steel and aluminum industries, Canadian uranium producers engage in fair trade with the U.S. and have long been key allies in helping to supply the needs of the American market,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“In petitioning the Trump administration for the Section 232 investigation, U.S. uranium producers said they have no problem competing with foreign producers who operate on a level playing field, which describes Canada to a tee. They have basically made the case that Canada should be exempted,” Warren said.

“The Canadian government must forcefully demand an exemption for our uranium industry from the U.S. administration,” Neumann said. “Absent such an exemption, the federal government must be prepared to act quickly and decisively to take all measures at its disposal to defend Canadian producers, workers and communities.”

Steelworkers Win First Contract Victory at Power Precast Solutions https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-win-first-contract-victory-at-power-precast-solutions Mon, 09 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-win-first-contract-victory-at-power-precast-solutions OTTAWA - United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director Marty Warren has announced that new members of the union at an Ottawa-area manufacturing plant have approved their first-ever contract that guarantees significant wage increases, benefits, seniority and improved hours of work.

"This is a great step forward for workers in an industry that is vital to public and private infrastructure projects," said Warren. "We are proud to welcome these new members and happy to have negotiated a first agreement with so many advances in wages and working conditions."

Workers at Power Precast joined USW in February and now have a collective agreement with wage increases ranging from 3% to 18%, as of April 1, with the average being a 7.3% wage increase. Workers will receive another 3% increase in the second year of a two-year contract.

The agreement guarantees benefits, a retirement plan, seniority and other rights.

Power Precast Solutions' workers manufacture custom and standard drainage components, as well as components for bridges, underground electrical products, precast products for roads and highways and products for transit infrastructure.

USW represents 225,000 men and women working in every sector of Canada's economy.

Steelworkers Call on New Ontario Government to “Stop the Killing and Enforce the Law” – Now https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-call-on-new-ontario-government-to-stop-the-killing-and-enforce-the-law-now Wed, 04 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-call-on-new-ontario-government-to-stop-the-killing-and-enforce-the-law-now TORONTO, 4 July 2018 – The United Steelworkers’ (USW) Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren says the union has not changed its demand for the Province of Ontario to do more to enforce the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury.

“The Ontario Premier and his Attorney-General and Labour Minister must initiate protocols and training to prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law. That may require funding and resources but it must be done to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario,” Warren said.

“For far too long, companies have been able to get away with fines and an absolute minimum of accountability when they kill or maim workers,” he said. “It is 2018 in Ontario. If this new government is really ‘for the people,’ it must take this step and save lives in Ontario workplaces.”

The USW campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, calls for key measures to enforce the law that was passed unanimously in the House of Commons in 2003, including:

  • Educate, train and direct Crown attorneys to apply the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code;
  • Appoint dedicated prosecutors with the responsibility for workplace fatalities;
  • Educate, train and direct police to apply the Westray amendments in investigations and charges against employers;
  • Establish greater co-ordination among regulators, police and Crown attorneys so that health and safety regulators are trained to reach out to police when there is a possibility that Westray amendment charges are warranted.

“The law has not been properly enforced over the last 14 years, while 1,000 workers a year are killed in workplaces across Canada, with only a handful of criminal convictions against those responsible,” said Warren.

“It is far too late for excuses. We are calling on the Ontario government to step up and enforce the law – for the people.”

Employer’s New Demands Impede Settlement in ABI Lockout https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/employers-new-demands-impede-settlement-in-abi-lockout Wed, 04 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/employers-new-demands-impede-settlement-in-abi-lockout BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Locked out of their jobs since Jan. 11, unionized employees of the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour held a membership meeting yesterday during which they voted by a 90.14% majority, in a secret ballot, to endorse the direction taken by their representatives in the collective bargaining process.

The overwhelming demonstration of support from members of United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700 came after they learned that, since negotiations resumed nearly a month ago, the company has put forward new demands rather than seeking a settlement on the few outstanding issues.

At a press conference this morning, union representatives spoke out against the company’s bad faith.

“The employer has been piling on the demands. Not only are they proposing workforce reductions in the neighbourhood of 20%, they want our blessing as well,” said Clément Masse, Steelworkers Local 9700 President.

“The employer is now questioning a number of contract issues that were already settled. We were already close to an agreement on the pension plan issue prior to the lockout in January, and there some issues to resolve concerning employee turnover. We have since made some overtures to try to resolve the employee turnover issue, but the employer has responded by backtracking on several issues that were settled for all intents and purposes,” Masse said.

Dominic Lemieux, Assistant to the United Steelworkers' Quebec Director, questioned why the company would make new demands after former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard was appointed as a special mediator to try to bring the two sides to a settlement.

Lemieux, who regularly participates in the final stages of negotiations between Steelworkers members and various multinationals, joined the negotiations following Bouchard’s appointment as special mediator. He said he was taken aback by the new demands made by negotiators for ABI, which is 75% owned by aluminum giant Alcoa. Rio Tinto owns the remaining 25%.

“One of the basic principles of bargaining is to put all the cards on the table at the outset and not add new demands during negotiations. It looks as if Alcoa’s negotiators have forgotten this,” Lemieux said.

“You could say that the little stream that separated the parties in January is becoming a gaping chasm. Alcoa wants the workers to pay for its ill-advised decision to impose the lockout. A settlement is within reach, but Alcoa’s miscalculation is slowing down the process,” he said.

Union representatives question the company’s change of direction, which is hindering a settlement.

“We were close to a settlement prior to the lockout. The employer had made an offer that was supposed to ensure the company’s competitiveness, but now they’re backtracking on that offer and demanding many more concessions. After a six-month lockout, it almost seems like a joke. Let’s get back to meaningful negotiations and put an end to this dispute, which is hurting the company, the workers and the community alike,” Masse said.

“Sooner or later we will have to reach an agreement. The longer this drags on, the more money Alcoa and Rio Tinto will lose,” Lemieux said.

“They need to understand that the workers remain strong. We could sign an agreement today that would be no different than the agreement we might come to later. We’re left to wonder how much more of a sacrifice the management of these two corporations are prepared to make because they’ve misread the situation,” he added.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

Canadian Counter-Tariff Measures and Industry/Community Supports a Good First Step https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/canadian-counter-tariff-measures-and-industrycommunity-supports-a-good-first-step Fri, 29 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/canadian-counter-tariff-measures-and-industrycommunity-supports-a-good-first-step

TORONTO – "The counter-tariff and community support measures announced today by the federal government are a good first step that will need to be expanded if the trade dispute continues beyond the short-term," said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

"The unreasonable imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs by Donald Trump is harmful to communities and workers on both sides of the border. As we have continually said: Canada is not the problem. The balanced and integrated trade between Canada and the U.S. is the wrong target," said Neumann.

The problem lies with the bad actors on the international scene, such as China, that dump metals, manipulate currency and have dramatically unbalanced trade.

A dollar-for-dollar response to those tariffs is a necessary and prudent reaction to the unprovoked aggression.

The announced assistance to industry via loan guarantees ($1.7 billion) and innovation funds ($250 million) will be helpful to the steel and aluminum industries. The assistance to workers is much more modest.

The adjustment to Employment Insurance for affected workers (work share duration increased to 76 weeks) is welcome. However, more can be done, such as eliminating the different hours needed to qualify for EI and extending the total length a worker can receive EI.

We also need to be looking at additional measures such as an active monitoring mechanism to respond to the tariffs' effectiveness. If this dispute continues, we will need to consider more supports for training and mobility, such as grants to assist workers in relocation and new opportunities.

"It is important the community/workers' support measures are implemented immediately and extended as long as necessary," said Neumann.

An important aspect the USW has been emphasizing is the safeguard of our borders against the products being dumped into Canada. We would like to see immediate safeguards, rather than simply further consultation on the issue announced today.

Labour Rights Repression by Tenaris Leads to Hunger Strike https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/labour-rights-repression-by-tenaris-leads-to-hunger-strike Tue, 26 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/labour-rights-repression-by-tenaris-leads-to-hunger-strike TORONTO – As a Colombian labour activist began an indefinite hunger strike today, the United Steelworkers (USW) is intensifying international condemnation of trade union repression by multinational steel producer Tenaris.

“This is another stain on the reputation of Tenaris, which already faces a complaint before the United Nations’ International Labour Organization for its systematic attacks on the rights of workers in Colombia,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

Two activists with the Sintratucar union, representing workers at the TuboCaribe steel plant operated by Tenaris in Cartagena, Colombia, chained themselves to a fence at the plant today.

One of the activists, Sintratucar vice-president Jairo del Rio, also started a hunger strike to protest a crackdown on workers’ rights by Tenaris over the last several months.

In a complaint filed with the International Labour Organization (ILO) earlier this month, Colombian workers denounced Tenaris’s attacks on the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining.

The complaint cites Tenaris for refusing to engage in good-faith collective bargaining and for targeting dozens of labour activists with suspensions and other sanctions.

Sintratucar’s president was targeted after creating a WhatsApp group to allow young, part-time contract workers to report on their working conditions, which exposed a lack of training and numerous safety concerns.

The complaint to the ILO follows a similar complaint filed last year at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) against a Tenaris sister company – steel producer Ternium – for violations of union rights in Guatemala. Tenaris and Ternium are part of the Italian-Argentine multinational conglomerate Techint.

The USW, which represents Tenaris workers in Canada, has joined with global labour federation IndustriALL (representing more than 50 million workers worldwide) in calling on Tenaris, Ternium and Techint to respect labour rights and negotiate in good faith with workers in Colombia and Guatemala.

“Tenaris would never get away with violating the rights of our Canadian members, such as freedom of association and engaging in union activism, because it is against the law,” Neumann said.

“It is shameful that Tenaris workers in Colombia are compelled to go on hunger strikes and chain themselves to their workplaces to fight for these same, fundamental rights,” he said.

“We join our international allies in calling on Tenaris to immediately stop its anti-union behaviour and to negotiate in good faith with its workers in Colombia,” Neumann said.

Newfoundland Commitment to Criminally Investigate Workplace Deaths and Injuries Must Be Matched Across Canada https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/newfoundland-commitment-to-criminally-investigate-workplace-deaths-and-injuries-must-be-matched-across-canada Thu, 21 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/newfoundland-commitment-to-criminally-investigate-workplace-deaths-and-injuries-must-be-matched-across-canada TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) is applauding the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s (RNC) announcement that it will apply a criminal lens to serious injury and death that occur at workplaces throughout the province.

USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann welcomed news that the RNC is working with the Calgary Police Service to train officers to start criminal investigations at the site of every incident, rather than securing the scene and handing things over to Occupational Health and Safety officials.

“This is a significant development that sends a strong message to employers about their responsibility to provide safe workplaces,” Neumann says.

“Too many Canadian workers die every year in preventable tragedies. The announcement by the RNC should be a wake-up call to negligent employers that there will be consequences to their actions.”

Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, says the Steelworkers’ national campaign, Stop The Killing, Enforce The Law, is having an impact across the country.

“Since the disaster at the Westray mine in 1992, Steelworkers have been fighting to see bad employers who put the lives of their employees at risk be held criminally accountable. We won’t stop our efforts to call attention to the need for the Westray Law to be enforced. This step taken by the RNC adds more momentum to our campaign,” says Warren.

The move by the RNC builds upon similar steps taken in Nova Scotia and Alberta, as well as positive work by the Toronto Police Service, and should be a uniform standard across the country, says USW Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt.

“No matter which province they go to work in, workers deserve protection and family members of victims deserve justice. It is now incumbent on every provincial government and every police service in Canada to ensure that the Westray Law is being properly applied and enforced,” says Hunt.

The United Steelworkers’ Stop The Killing, Enforce The Law campaign has garnered the support of hundreds of local governments, community groups, First Nations and individuals. Visit www.stopthekillling.ca for more information.

Liberals’ Corporate-Friendly TPP Trade Deal Will Kill Canadian Jobs, Increase Inequality https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-corporate-friendly-tpp-trade-deal-will-kill-canadian-jobs-increase-inequality Thu, 14 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-corporate-friendly-tpp-trade-deal-will-kill-canadian-jobs-increase-inequality OTTAWA – The federal Liberal government appears ready to ram through legislation implementing the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another corporate-friendly trade deal that will kill tens of thousands of Canadian jobs, increase inequality and worsen global environmental challenges.

“The Liberal government is set to fast-track Canada’s inclusion in the TPP, while most Canadians know little about the impact of this secretly negotiated trade agreement,” said United Steelworkers (USW) National Director Ken Neumann.

“The TPP is first and foremost a corporate-rights deal for multinationals. It will worsen inequality, further erode Canada’s manufacturing and industrial base, It will eliminate more middle-class jobs, increase drug prices and drive down wages, working conditions and environmental standards,” Neumann said.

“Ramming through this trade deal is a betrayal of the trust of Canadians who believed the Liberals’ criticisms of the former Conservative government’s secret TPP negotiations and the profound implications,” Neumann added.

“Once they gained power, the Trudeau Liberals ran with the TPP ball. They signed a deal that enhances the rights and powers of global corporations, at the expense of Canadian jobs and labour, human rights and environmental standards,” he said.

“The Liberal government never even bothered to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the TPP’s potential impact on Canadian jobs – perhaps because this deal will deliver pink slips to thousands of Canadians. Independent analysis shows the agreement will kill more than 50,000 Canadian jobs,” Neumann noted.

“The TPP is a particular threat to our auto and steel sectors, skilled trades and dairy farmers. It will give more rights and power to multinational drug manufacturers to increase our medication costs that are already the second-highest in the world,” he said.

“The TPP gives multinational corporations the power to sue our government for millions of dollars by challenging Canadian laws and regulations that protect our environment, food safety and other public interests. And Canadians have no recourse to oppose such challenges, which are heard in unaccountable, secret tribunals headed by international trade lawyers,” he added.

“The TPP was a bad deal when it was negotiated by the Conservatives in 2015 and it’s a bad deal now, despite the Liberal government’s push for a cynical change to the agreement’s official name,” Neumann said. He was referring to the Trudeau government’s insistence that the TPP be renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“The CPTPP is a ‘progressive’ trade agreement in name only,” he said.

Ken Neumann’s statement on the occasion of June 21, National Aboriginal Day https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-national-aboriginal-day-2018 Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-national-aboriginal-day-2018 What a nice gift just in advance of National Aboriginal Day 2018: NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s bill to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples passed in the House of Commons!

By a vote of 206-79, Members of Parliament on May 30 voted in favour of Bill C-262, declaring that Indigenous rights are also human rights. (And now we hope that the Senate will also support the bill.)

National Aboriginal Day is a chance to celebrate Canada’s many, many Indigenous peoples. Communities organize cultural performances and meals to mark June 21, and I hope that Steelworkers attend these events wherever we can.

Let’s also remember that Canada’s Indigenous peoples have had to work hard to defend their cultures and communities. They still work hard today to survive and thrive. Romeo Saganash’s bill is part of that ongoing effort to ensure healthy, self-sufficient Indigenous communities across the country, and around the world.

Steelworkers are Indigenous people. Steelworkers work in and with Indigenous communities. Our union thrives when all peoples and communities thrive.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Bill to Guarantee Indigenous Rights in Canadian Laws Will Benefit Thousands of Union Members: Steelworkers

USW Submission on Bill C-262 and UNDRIP

USW supports Bill C-262 on United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

Marty Warren statement on the occasion of June 21, National Aboriginal Day https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-national-aboriginal-day-2018 Thu, 14 Jun 2018 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-national-aboriginal-day-2018 As we celebrate National Aboriginal Day this year, take a moment away from the festivities to email or phone your Member of Parliament. It’s 2018 and yet Canada’s auditor general says government attempts to improve the lives of Indigenous peoples are an “incomprehensible failure.”

Government data is incomplete or inaccurate when it comes to the education, health and economic-development programs that should be closing the gap between on-reserve Indigenous people and the rest of Canada.

And the data we do have, comparing government spending on Indigenous and non-Indigenous children’s education and health programs, shows that the federal government is treating Indigenous children on reserves like second- or third-class citizens.

So spend time this June 21 engaging with your Indigenous neighbours and learning more about their rich cultures. And then lend a hand with helping those neighbours and cultures survive and flourish, by demanding responsible action by governments. We still have promises to keep.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

Steelworkers Urge Swift Action on Canada’s Retaliatory Tariffs, Support for Workers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-urge-swift-action-on-canadas-retaliatory-tariffs-support-for-workers Tue, 12 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-urge-swift-action-on-canadas-retaliatory-tariffs-support-for-workers OTTAWA – The United Steelworkers (USW) today urged the Canadian government to act swiftly to impose retaliatory tariffs on steel, aluminum and other imports from the United States and to support Canadian workers and communities affected by U.S. tariffs.

“Our union joins with many of the country’s steel producers in expressing concern that the counter-measures should be implemented as soon as possible,” USW National Director Ken Neumann stated in a submission to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Department of Finance officials.

The USW submission is part of the Canadian government’s consultation process on its plan to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports, as of July 1. The Trudeau government announced its proposed counter-measures after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum on June 1.

Canada should not wait until July 1 to respond to the unjustified U.S. tariffs, says the USW, which represents thousands of steel and aluminum workers across the country.

“The one-month delay in the imposition of the counter-measures is already harming Canada’s economy, as certain customers may be making decisions during these weeks that will disadvantage Canada producers. We would urge the government to implement the counter-measures as soon as possible,” Neumann said.

The Canadian government must proceed with its full schedule of proposed tariffs on a wide range of U.S. imports, with no exemptions, the USW says.

“We are concerned that some producers may have proposed exemptions for certain products ... We would strongly encourage the government to reject any requests for exemptions,” Neumann said.

“In order for the counter-measures to be effective, they must be comprehensive. Granting exemptions will make the measures less effective and will not effectively send the message to the U.S. administration that the aluminum and steel tariffs imposed by the U.S. should be removed as soon as possible.”

The USW also is calling for further action from the federal government to strengthen its trade remedy systems and to support Canadian workers and communities affected by the U.S. tariffs and unfair and predatory trade practices of other countries.

“Canada’s steelworkers need support similar to what was afforded to Quebec’s aluminum workers and Canada’s forestry workers,” Neumann said. “The government of Quebec has offered $100 million in loan guarantees to support the aluminum industry based in that province. Canadian steel communities are already hurting, and they need an assistance package to assist steelworkers and their communities who are faced with temporary layoffs as a result of these tariffs.”

The USW supports recent measures announced by the federal government to combat unfair trade, “but we submit that more must be done,” Neumann said.

“Of great concern for Canadian workers is that U.S. tariffs will amplify Canada’s exposure to unfair imports originating offshore. If the world’s dumped and subsidized steel and aluminum cannot find a home in the United States, it will surely find its way into the Canadian market,” he said.

“Canada must immediately take steps to protect Canadian steel and aluminum imports from the diversion of cheap imports from the U.S. into Canada. The Canadian government must be prepared to utilize existing policy tools, including targeted government-initiated, WTO-compatible safeguard actions and government-initiated trade cases to preserve the stability of the Canadian market and prevent a surge of steel and aluminum imports into Canada.”

The USW leadership in Canada and the U.S. has unanimously condemned the Trump administration’s tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum and continues to lobby the American government for permanent exemptions for Canada.

“We strongly believe that Canada should be exempt from any steel and aluminum tariffs, and the new tariffs will hurt workers on both sides of the border,” Neumann said.

“The decision not to exempt Canada ignores the fact that Canada’s steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. are also fairly traded and that Canada has shown its willingness to strengthen its laws as well as its co-operation with the U.S. to fight unfair trade.”

USW Submission on Canadian Counter-Measures to U.S. Tariffs

Landmark Labour Law Reforms in Quebec Ban Two-Tier Pensions, Benefits https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/landmark-labour-law-reforms-in-quebec-ban-two-tier-pensions-benefits Tue, 12 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/landmark-labour-law-reforms-in-quebec-ban-two-tier-pensions-benefits MONTREAL – After years of activism to end discrimination against young workers, the United Steelworkers (USW) is hailing landmark labour law reforms that will prohibit employers from imposing two-tier pension and benefit plans in Quebec workplaces.

Through strikes, lockouts and years of relentless public advocacy and lobbying, thousands of members of the USW (Syndicat des Métallos) in Quebec led the campaign to ban two-tier pensions and benefit and insurance plans in workers’ collective agreements.

“We are very proud to see that the battles led by so many Steelworkers’ members have been successful, not only in terms of their individual collective bargaining agreements, but also in playing a key role in shaping labour law in Quebec,” said Quebec Steelworkers Director Alain Croteau.

Most private-sector labour disputes in recent years have been provoked by attempts of employers to introduce two-tier pension and benefit plans, in which new workers receive substandard benefits compared to existing employees.

“In 2007, USW members at Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in Havre-Saint-Pierre led the way in resisting two-tier pension demands, going on strike for four months rather than give up their defined-benefit pension plan,” Croteau said.

“In 2016, USW members at Ciment Lafarge in Saint-Constant also rejected a two-tier pension plan. They were followed a year later by their fellow USW members at Resco and at Samuel et Fils,” he added.

“In addition to these disputes, many, many other workers fought back at the bargaining table to reject employer demands for two-tier pension and benefit plans because such plans put new workers at a disadvantage.”

Croteau’s assistant, Dominic Lemieux, while previously serving as president of the Quebec Labour Federation’s youth wing, worked for a decade to build support for a ban on two-tier pensions and benefits.

“This is a tremendous victory that refutes critics who like to imply that the union movement is disconnected from young people,” Lemieux said. “Today, we are seeing the results of a union-led struggle that was fought for young people, for fairness and solidarity in our workplaces.”

USW leaders said they hoped the Quebec government’s labour law reforms would have included transitional measures to resolve two-tier discrepancies that already exist in collective agreements.

“That is an issue still to be addressed,” Croteau said. “We will be asking our bargaining committees to put this issue at the top of their list of demands in future negotiations.”

The USW praised the fact that the labour law reforms also prohibit discrimination against young workers who are hired through temporary recruitment agencies and who fall under other types of employment status.

The new legislative reforms prohibiting two-tier pension and benefit plans come 17 years after the Quebec government enacted labour law amendments in 2001 that banned two-tier wage schemes in collective agreements.

U.S. Tariffs on Canadian Steel, Aluminum 'Wrongheaded:' Ken Neumann https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/u-s-tariffs-on-canadian-steel-aluminum-wrongheaded-ken-neumann Tue, 05 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/u-s-tariffs-on-canadian-steel-aluminum-wrongheaded-ken-neumann "There is absolutely no justification for these tariffs. It’s got nothing to do with our steel and aluminum being a threat. This is President Trump’s way of retaliation because he didn’t get the NAFTA agreement that he wanted.”

USW National Director Ken Neumann appears on RadioLabour to discuss the Trump administration’s “wrongheaded” imposition of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products exported to the U.S.

Listen to the full interview on RadioLabour

Ken Neumann Pride 2018 Statement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-pride-2018-statement Mon, 04 Jun 2018 10:09:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-pride-2018-statement In June this year, Steelworkers from all across Canada join with LGBTQ2S+ communities to celebrate Pride Month. As a union dedicated to social justice, we have always supported equality-seeking groups in our union, our workplaces, and in society.

We applaud Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Since 2015, these provinces have extended their human rights laws to explicitly include gender expression and gender identity as protected grounds.

In addition, in June 2017, five years after gender identity and gender expression were added as prohibited grounds of discrimination in Ontario’s Human Rights Code, the federal government has added gender identity and gender expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The passage of Bill C65 later this year will further strengthen protections against harassment and violence against equality-seeking groups in workplaces under federal jurisdiction.

Since 2015, our union has supported four cases of members transitioning gender.

Improvement in protections for LGBTQ2S+ members is also reflected within our union itself. At the International Convention in August 2014, gender identity was added to the USW Constitution as a further ground of civil and human rights protection.

To continue the fight for equality for LGBTQ2S+ people, I urge you to:

  • Take part in Pride Month activities in your community
  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your local to ensure the employer’s compliance with human rights legislation
  • Support the NDP in continuing our fight for equality at the federal and provincial levels of government

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Marty Warren Pride 2018 Statement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-pride-2018-statement Mon, 04 Jun 2018 09:35:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-pride-2018-statement In June this year, Steelworkers from all across Canada join with LGBTQ2S+ communities to celebrate Pride Month.

In District 6, there are many opportunities in our communities to take part in LGBTQ2S+ activities. One of the largest Pride events in the country is Pride Month in Toronto, which includes the Trans March, the Dyke March and the Pride Parade.

For communities outside Ontario, social media and the internet are good platforms to direct you to events in your area.

For our workplaces in Ontario, Bill 132 provides LGBTQ2S+ members greater protections against harassment and violence on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.

While June is a month of celebration for the LGBTQ2S+ communities, activists and allies, let's remember that the fight for equality must take place throughout the year. In our workplaces, we must continue to fight for transition leaves, parental leaves, and anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies.

I urge our members to:

  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your local to ensure the employer’s compliance with human rights legislation
  • Promote our revised  “Preventing and Dealing with Harassment in the Workplace” workshop
  • Attend Pride Month events in your community
  • Negotiate strong collective agreement language, particularly for equality-seeking groups such as LGBTQ2S+ communities

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

List of Pride Events in Ontario

Ontario Steelworkers Endorse Andrea Horwath and the NDP https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ontario-steelworkers-endorse-andrea-horwath-and-the-ndp Fri, 01 Jun 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ontario-steelworkers-endorse-andrea-horwath-and-the-ndp TORONTO – Ontario Steelworkers are proud to endorse Andrea Horwath and the NDP as the best choice in the June 7 election.

“We have total confidence that Andrea Horwath and her team of NDP candidates are the best choice for workers in this June 7 election,” said Marty Warren, United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director.

“Steelworkers are proud New Democrats because the NDP is the only party on the side of workers and communities,” Warren said.

“Our steel and aluminum industries have just been slapped with steep tariffs by the U.S. Workers in these industries are under attack. We know Andrea Horwath and her NDP team will stand up not just for these industries, but specifically for workers in Ontario,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

“Only Andrea Horwath and the NDP have a plan for universal pharmacare and dental care that will benefit all workers,” said Warren.

“Only Andrea Horwath and the NDP will reduce hydro rates by 30% and restore Hydro One to a full public asset, where it belongs,” he said.

After 15 years of scandals and privatization from the Liberals, it’s clear that voters want change. But the cuts, chaos and failure to deliver a long-promised, costed platform by Doug Ford’s Conservatives make it obvious that there is a better choice on offer in this election.

We are proud to have six Steelworkers running as NDP candidates across Ontario:

Gilles Bisson (Timmins)

Guy Bourgouin (Mushkegowuk–James Bay)

Michael Mantha (Algoma–Manitoulin)

Paul Miller (Hamilton East–Stoney Creek)

Jana Papuckoski (Northumberland–Peterborough South)

Jamie West (Sudbury)

“For good jobs, investments in health care and for strong public services, Ontario Steelworkers choose Andrea and the NDP. Andrea will stand up for middle-class families. Andrea is the kind of leader we need and the NDP’s plan will make Ontario a stronger province,” said Warren.

Read the open letter from USW leaders

Unjustified U.S. Tariffs on Canadian Steel, Aluminum Will Harm Jobs, Economy in Both Countries https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/unjustified-u-s-tariffs-on-canadian-steel-aluminum-will-harm-jobs-economy-in-both-countries Thu, 31 May 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/unjustified-u-s-tariffs-on-canadian-steel-aluminum-will-harm-jobs-economy-in-both-countries TORONTO, MONTREAL – There is no justification, either on economic or national security grounds, for the imposition of U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, says the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents tens of thousands of steel and aluminum workers in both countries.

“Canada has been exempted from such tariffs in the past because all evidence demonstrates that there are no economic or security reasons whatsoever to warrant such measures,” USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann said today.

“The overwhelming evidence is that Canadian steel and aluminum exports are not part of the problem that the U.S. administration is trying to address. Imposing tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum risks harming the U.S. and Canadian economies and threatens thousands of jobs in both countries,” Neumann said.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced today that the Trump administration will impose tariffs of 25% on Canadian-made steel exports to the U.S. and 10% on Canadian aluminum exports, beginning tomorrow (June 1).

USW leaders in Canada and the U.S. had successfully lobbied against tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, leading the U.S. administration to grant temporary exemptions to Canadian producers.

“Canada is not the problem. The decision to remove Canada’s exemption is unacceptable and calls into serious question the design and direction of the U.S. Administration’s trade policy,” said Leo W. Gerard, the USW’s International President.

“The decision also ignores the fact that Canada’s steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. are fairly traded and that Canada has shown its willingness to strengthen its laws as well as its co-operation with the U.S. to fight unfair trade,” Gerard said.

“Imposing tariffs on Canadian producers is an untenable position for the U.S. economy,” said USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

“The American economy relies on our aluminum and steel production, as part of our heavily integrated manufacturing markets that benefit workers in both countries. Unjustified tariffs will cause economic harm in both countries,” Croteau said.

“Canada and the U.S. need to focus on countries whose predatory and destructive trade practices harm U.S. and Canadian industries and jobs, such as China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Vietnam,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“Canada is not one of these bad-actor countries. There was no justification to impose tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum imports in the past, and there is no justification today,” Warren said.

“The U.S. administration’s own evidence shows that Canada is a reliable, fair-trading partner – not a threat to American national security,” said Stephen Hunt, USW Western Canada Director.

“Our economies are so closely intertwined that unjustified tariffs will cause unnecessary upheaval and will hurt workers and industries on both sides of the border,” Hunt said.

The USW is calling on the Canadian government to respond decisively to the U.S. tariffs and to defend the Canadian aluminum and steel industries.

“The government of Canada must pursue every means at its disposal to defend fair trade and the tens of thousands of Canadian families whose livelihoods depend on the aluminum and steel sectors,” Neumann said.

Labrador Steelworkers Ratify 5-Year Contract with IOC https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/labrador-steelworkers-ratify-5-year-contract-with-ioc Mon, 28 May 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/labrador-steelworkers-ratify-5-year-contract-with-ioc LABRADOR CITY, N.L. – United Steelworkers (USW) members in Labrador City, N.L., have ratified a five-year collective agreement with the Iron Ore Company of Canada, ending a nine-week strike.

More than 1,300 members of USW Locals 5795 and 6731 will return to work over the next several days, following ratification votes in which approximately 80% of members approved new contracts.

USW Local 5795 members voted 79% in favour of their agreement, while Local 6731 approved their contract by an 89% majority. The workers at IOC’s Labrador West operations had been on strike since March 26.

More than 300 members of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9344, based in Sept-Îles, Que., will vote on a similar contract offer tomorrow. Local 9344 members work at IOC’s port and railway operations in Quebec.

The new collective agreements include increases in medical benefit coverage, wages and pensions, as well as other improvements, said Ron Thomas, President of the 1,300-member USW Local 5795.

“Our members can be proud that we stood together in solidarity for the last nine weeks to achieve a fair collective agreement that our families and our community deserve,” Thomas said.

“We are very grateful for the tremendous support we received throughout the strike from our friends, our neighbours, local businesses – the entire community,” he said.

“I am very proud of my membership and the solidarity they showed with our sisters and brothers in Locals 5795 and 9344,” said Tony Record, President of USW Local 6731.

“It is time to get IOC back up and producing so that our members and our communities can get some normalcy back into their lives,” Record said.

The collective agreements include an increase in the cap on medical benefits – the first such increase since the 1990s. As well, any union member or dependent who exhausts the cap will still be covered for the duration of the five-year collective agreement.

The contracts provide for significant increases in pension benefits under the hybrid pension plan which will further provide for retirement security for members.

Over the five-year term, wage increases will amount to an average of 2.4% annually, including cost-of-living allowances.

The new contracts include improvements to contract language, while the union also fought back management demands for concessions on pensions and the creation of a temporary workforce.

“Our members are the people who work hard every day and who make the greatest contribution to the success of the company,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario. “They have earned this collective agreement that will benefit their families, their community and the company.”