United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Tue, 19 Feb 2019 15:49:15 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 University Staff Approve New Innovative, Secure Pension Plan – Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/university-staff-approve-new-pension-plan Tue, 19 Feb 2019 15:49:15 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/university-staff-approve-new-pension-plan TORONTO – Staff at the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and Queen’s University, members of United Steelworkers (USW) local unions, have taken a step closer to improved retirement security by voting in favour of a multi-university pension plan (UPP).

“With the faculty associations and the staff unions working closely together, we are bringing in an innovative pension plan that achieves our goals: a sustainable and resilient defined benefit plan that will provide strong, dependable retirement income for members, both in the near term and for future generations,” said Alex McKinnon, Research Department Leader with the USW and UPP Founding Co-Chair.

The proposed UPP is a jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) that includes six labour groups – three staff unions and three faculty associations at the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and Queen’s University. The USW staff unions are the largest union at each of the three universities, accounting for approximately one third of the 18,000 people covered by the proposed plan.

The JSPP model provides employee groups with joint governance over the new plan – one of the goals of the participating employee groups.

“This approval vote by our members is a vote of confidence in our process as well as the outcome. Not only do our university staff keep a defined benefit pension, they gain a say in the governance, which was missing in the previous structure,” said Liz Cherry, President of USW Local 4120, representing staff at the University of Guelph.

“At a time when defined benefit pension plans are disappearing, particularly in the private sector, our members have shown with their votes that they understand the value of the retirement security of this new plan,” said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director.

The University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA), the University of Guelph Faculty Association (UGFA), Queen's University Faculty Association (QUFA), United Steelworkers Local 1998, United Steelworkers Local 4120, and United Steelworkers Local 2010 worked collaboratively and represent the major labour groups in the proposed University Pension Plan (UPP).

The new plan is the product of many years of vigorous negotiations between the faculty associations and staff unions and the university administrations.

"It shows what can be achieved when bargaining agents representing different groups of employees work together and innovate for the common good of our members’ retirement security," said McKinnon. 

McKinnon worked closely over the last few years with his Co-Chairs: Cynthia Messenger of the UTFA and Angela Hildyard, Special Advisor to the President of the University of Toronto.

Each of the six labour groups launched robust multi-media education campaigns, focused on helping members understand the impetus for change and the underlying resolve to protect their financial retirement future. Transparent communication and ongoing dialogue with members were key to ensuring that members understood the differences between single-university plans and the new multi-university joint sponsorship model.

Other employee groups at the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and Queen's University have yet to vote on the UPP, and retired members will also participate in the provincially mandated consent/objection process this spring.

More information on the proposed plan is available on the University Pension Plan website, www.universitypension.ca.

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Restart of Pointe-Noire Pellet Plant Proposed https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/restart-of-pointe-noire-pellet-plant-proposed Mon, 18 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/restart-of-pointe-noire-pellet-plant-proposed SEPT-ÎLES, Que. – The United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) and Bedrock Industries have agreed to begin discussions in coming weeks and months to reach a new collective agreement for workers at the Pointe-Noire, Que., iron ore pellet plant, with a view to restarting the idled facility.

"Bedrock Industries has informed us of its intention to relaunch the plant and its desire to negotiate a collective agreement. This is great news for the community. We will make every effort to ensure that the conditions are right for the plant’s reopening," said Nicolas Lapierre, Steelworkers’ Co-ordinator for Quebec’s North Shore region.

The Pointe-Noire pellet plant, which previously employed members of the Steelworkers union, was closed in June 2013. A few months later, in 2014, Cliffs Natural Resources filed for bankruptcy protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

Discussions on the proposed buyout and reopening of the pellet plant are now underway between Bedrock Industries and the Société ferroviaire et portuaires de Pointe-Noire, which currently owns the facility.

"Bedrock's interest in negotiating a collective agreement indicates a willingness to proceed with this project in the appropriate way. It indicates to us that this is a serious proposal, where workers are seen as partners. We are ready to be part of such a project," said Robert Roy, President of Steelworkers Local 6254, which represented employees at the Pointe-Noire plant prior to its shutdown.

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

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ABI Backs Out of Anticipated Negotiations in 13-Month Lockout https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/abi-backs-out-of-anticipated-negotiations-in-13-month-lockout Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/abi-backs-out-of-anticipated-negotiations-in-13-month-lockout BÉCANCOUR, Que. – The United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) is disappointed by ABI's decision to withdraw from a return to negotiations that was anticipated in coming days.

“We proposed to the employer to continue negotiations on areas where it is possible to move forward. The employer announced its intention to consider it, but is not agreeing to a timeline for a decision on returning to the bargaining date. ABI seems to be looking for a pretext to break off the anticipated negotiations. This raises questions about its genuine willingness to negotiate in good faith," said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, representing ABI's 1,030 locked-out employees

ABI, co-owned by aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto, locked out its workers on Jan. 11, 2018. At the time negotiations had stalled over pension plan financing and seniority rights in personnel transfers.

The United Steelworkers will not be granting media interviews on this issue, at this time.

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

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Sural Canada Under Creditor Protection – Steelworkers Union Will Fight for Monies Owed to Workers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/sural-canada-under-creditor-protection-steelworkers-union-will-fight-for-monies-owed-to-workers Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/sural-canada-under-creditor-protection-steelworkers-union-will-fight-for-monies-owed-to-workers BÉCANCOUR and VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – Sural Canada and Sural Québec Inc. have announced that production at the Bécancour and Victoriaville plants will cease.

The United Steelworkers (USW) and Sural employees were told Feb. 12 that there has been a filing for bankruptcy protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). The workers produce aluminum rod for electrical and mechanical applications.

USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau says the union will be closely monitoring the process of bankruptcy protection and possible restructuring. The union will do everything in its power to ensure workers receive all payments and benefits they are owed, including accumulated vacation pay, outstanding wages and any other amounts due.

“We will accompany our members through this ordeal so that they can claim what the company owes them,” said Croteau.

The Steelworkers will also work with Emploi-Québec to set up an adjustment committee to support workers who could lose their jobs, which is required by government rules for a company with more than 50 workers.

Audits will be conducted in the coming days on the funded status of the pension plan.

The USW is campaigning for legislative reforms to better protect workers and retirees affected by corporate bankruptcies and restructuring. Under current laws, claims by workers and retirees in connection with pensions and benefits are not considered to be a priority in bankruptcy and insolvency cases.

“So, if we discover there is a shortage of money in the pension plan, workers and retirees will once again find themselves behind the claims of banks, other financial institutions and even municipalities that have outstanding tax bills,” said Croteau.

“The Liberal government has opened the door to legislative reforms in recent months and it is high time it delivered, before the federal election,” he added.

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

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Steelworkers Denounce Plea Agreement in Worker’s Death https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-denounce-plea-agreement-in-workers-death Wed, 13 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-denounce-plea-agreement-in-workers-death SUDBURY – The United Steelworkers (USW) is denouncing a plea agreement in an Ontario court that imposes a fine against a concrete manufacturer for a worker’s death, while dismissing a criminal charge against the company’s owner.

“Abandoning the criminal prosecution of a company’s owner in exchange for a $1,000 fine against the company and a gradual, $200,000 payment to the grieving family, does not provide justice for the family,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“It is a consequence that will not serve as a deterrent to employers who view such penalties for workplace deaths and injuries as a cost of doing business,” Neumann said.

On Tuesday, a judge in the Ontario Court of Justice in Sudbury accepted a plea agreement in which Rainbow Concrete pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of one of the company’s employees, Rheal Dionne. Dionne, 39, was killed on Feb. 15, 2017, when a concrete slab fell on the truck he was operating, trapping him inside.

As part of the plea agreement accepted Tuesday, the Crown dropped a charge of criminal negligence causing death against the owner of Rainbow Concrete, Boris Naneff.

The agreement calls for a $1,000 fine against the company and a payment of $200,000 to Dionne’s family, to be paid gradually over several months with completion in mid-2020.

“The Westray Law was enacted in 2004 to hold employers criminally responsible for workplace deaths and injuries,” said Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada Director.

“Since the law was enacted, there have been more than 15,000 workplace-related deaths in Canada, but there have been very few criminal convictions and even fewer jail sentences for employers responsible for these deaths,” Warren noted. “The consequences of workplace deaths and injuries must be more than a cost of doing business.”

Rheal Dionne is survived by his wife and their nine-year-old son, as well as his parents Suzanne and Julien Dionne, the latter a retired USW Local 6500 member in Sudbury who was a lifelong workplace health and safety activist. USW Local 6500 representatives provided support to the family throughout the criminal prosecution process.

“The system has not provided justice to Rheal Dionne’s young family. Placing a monetary value on a worker’s life was not the intent of the Westray Law. The law was not intended to continue to simply impose fines on companies, while families are left to suffer emotionally and financially for the rest of their lives,” said USW Local 6500 President Nick Larochelle.

The USW campaign, Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, calls on provincial and territorial governments to implement specific measures to ensure greater enforcement of the Westray Law. For details on the campaign, visit www.stopthekilling.ca.

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United Steelworkers Ratify New CN Agreement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/united-steelworkers-ratify-new-cn-agreement Tue, 05 Feb 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/united-steelworkers-ratify-new-cn-agreement TORONTO – CN and United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that following a tentative agreement reached between CN and USW Local 2004 negotiators in December, union members in communities across the country reviewed the agreement and approved the contract in a national ratification vote held over the last several weeks.

Wage increases in each year and improved medical, dental and health-care benefits and travel allowances are provided for in the new collective agreement for the 3,000 USW members who inspect, maintain and repair CN’s Canada-wide system of track, bridges and infrastructure. This five-year collective agreement will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2023.

“This is a solid, fair agreement that recognizes the hard work of our members and the key contributions they make every day to CN’s success,” said Jean-Francois Migneault, President of USW Local 2004.

“This five-year agreement provides CN with long-term stability,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN. “We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish for our railroaders. CN and the USW will continue working together to keep the network safe and secure as we undertake record investments in our track and bridge infrastructure.”

“I congratulate the leadership and members of USW Local 2004 for the solidarity they have demonstrated in achieving a good collective agreement that will benefit CN as well as workers and their families,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “This agreement reflects the fact that these maintenance-of-way employees work in extremely challenging conditions every day, performing services that are vital to CN’s operations,” Neumann said.

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Ken Neumann Statement on Black History Month https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/ken-neumann-statement-on-black-history-month-2019 Wed, 30 Jan 2019 11:18:43 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/ken-neumann-statement-on-black-history-month-2019 In our union’s proud history of promoting and supporting equality, Steelworkers celebrate Black History Month each February. Steelworkers of all races are also part of a larger community of equality-seeking groups. 

During Black History Month, Steelworkers celebrate the accomplishments of black Canadian people in society, acknowledge the achievements of activists in our union and encourage Steelworkers to continue the struggle for equality. We are beginning to recognize that despite advances in equality, racism has played an historic part in our national experience. This experience has also led to discrimination against black immigrants and Canadians in our workplaces. 

The principles of equality are essential in Steelworker solidarity in our workplaces, and, social justice in our communities. I ask all Steelworkers to join me in celebrating Black History Month this February. Beyond that, I urge you to always continue the fight for equality. 

In support and celebration of Black History Month, Steelworkers can become activists and allies by:  

  • Joining the New Democratic Party to support legislation for creating and amending human rights and workplace safety laws.
  • Creating a Human Rights Committee in your local or unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12.
  • Introducing and strengthening anti-racism language in collective bargaining.
  • Working with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police.
  • Promote and attend Steelworker education workshops on human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.
  • Lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to bring in equality legislation increasing protections against religious and race hatred.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren Statement on Black History Month https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/marty-warren-statement-on-black-history-month-2019 Wed, 30 Jan 2019 11:11:04 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/marty-warren-statement-on-black-history-month-2019 As District 6 represents one of the most diverse districts in Canada, it is important that we celebrate Black History Month each February. Steelworkers of all races are also part of a larger community of equality seeking groups. 

In our communities and workplaces, the contribution of black workers has been significant in the industries and economies of Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.

In addition to celebration, it is also important to note that racism plays a significant role in hiring, job opportunities and promotion. Day to day, black workers and other racialized people face harassment through racist jokes and stereotypical treatment. In more extreme cases, verbal and physical violence are included. 

Statistics Canada reported that in 2017, Ontario was Canada’s leading province in religious and race crimes. Compared to 2016, these types of crimes grew by 67 per cent last year alone. 

When they are broken down, I am even more shocked by figures in Ontario. In November 2018, CBC reported that there was a 207 per cent increase in hate crimes against Muslims, an 84 per cent increase in crimes against black people and a 41 per cent increase in incidents against Jewish people. 

In addition to celebrating Black History Month, I urge all Steelworkers to become equality activists. Make a difference by: 

  • Joining the New Democratic Party to support legislation for creating and amending human rights and workplace safety laws.
  • Creating a Human Rights Committee in your local or unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12.
  • Introducing and strengthening anti-racism language in collective bargaining.
  • Working with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police.
  • Promote and attend Steelworkers education workshops in human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.
  • Lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to bring in equality legislation increasing protections against religious and race hatred.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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Tom Harding's Dismissal Ruled Illegal, Company Ordered to Provide Compensation https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/tom-hardings-dismissal-ruled-illegal-company-ordered-to-provide-compensation Tue, 22 Jan 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/tom-hardings-dismissal-ruled-illegal-company-ordered-to-provide-compensation MONTREAL – A federal arbitrator has ruled that the dismissal of engineer Tom Harding by the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQR) was illegal, in violation of the collective agreement between the company and its employees.

The ruling by an arbitrator with the Canadian Railway Arbitration Board states that, given the circumstances of the case, CMQR must provide compensation to Mr. Harding in lieu of reinstatement. The parties involved have been directed to negotiate the amount of compensation and, in the absence of an agreement, the arbitrator may intervene to determine a fair settlement.

In January 2018, a court acquitted Mr. Harding of charges of criminal negligence causing death, in relation to the Lac-Mégantic train derailment. Upon his return to work, following a medical leave, Mr. Harding was informed in a letter that he was being dismissed. The United Steelworkers (USW) union filed a grievance, characterizing the company’s actions as “cruel and excessive” and in violation of the collective agreement.

The federal arbitrator agreed that the company’s actions were illegal, describing the dismissal as a “fundamental” violation of the collective agreement.

The USW is not commenting further on the case, given that negotiations will be held with the company and the arbitrator may still be called upon to rule on an appropriate settlement.

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Keep Safeguards in Place to Protect Canada’s Steel Industry https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/keep-safeguards-in-place-to-protect-canadas-steel-industry Tue, 15 Jan 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/keep-safeguards-in-place-to-protect-canadas-steel-industry OTTAWA – Ken Neumann, National Director of the United Steelworkers union (USW) said today that, with no sign of U.S. steel tariffs ending anytime soon, the federal government must continue safeguard measures on several categories of foreign steel imports, which surged throughout much of 2018.

“Our members themselves are appearing this month before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) to make the case for extending safeguard measures beyond the original 200-day period that began in October,” Neumann said, adding that the union’s participation in CITT proceedings is critical for making a decision that takes into consideration impacts on workers and communities as well as companies.

“The need to extend the safeguards is compounded by the continuing unfair, U.S.-imposed, 25-per-cent tariffs on Canadian steel,” he said. “The Liberal government has so far failed in its efforts to end this attack on Canadian jobs in a critical industry.”

Abnormal increases of foreign steel imports into Canada are the result of initial tariffs imposed by the U.S. on much of the world last March, and prior to the start of tariffs on Canadian steel to the U.S. in June.

The CITT’s mandate in the current inquiry is to determine whether imports of certain products are causing injury or threat of injury to domestic producers and warrant safeguard measures to stabilize the Canadian steel market in seven steel products. 

“Of course we must rigorously defend our steel industry from a glut of foreign steel made cheap because of labour, human rights and environmental exploitation,” said Neumann. “We need safeguards to ensure the stability of the steel market and to dampen the effects of Trump’s tariffs.

“Beyond that, a more permanent and rational approach to steel trade is what is needed most, starting with the integrated North American market and the removal of tariffs based on a bogus charge of Canada being a threat to U.S. national security.” 

USW members from Algoma Steel Inc., Stelco, Ivaco, Tenaris, ArcelorMittal, Nova Tube, Evraz and AltaSteel are attending the CITT Ottawa hearings, which are scheduled to end on Jan. 24.

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ABI Lockout Hits One-Year Mark https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/abi-lockout-hits-one-year-mark Fri, 11 Jan 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/abi-lockout-hits-one-year-mark TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. – More than 1,000 employees of the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, Que., are marking a sombre anniversary today – the one-year mark of being locked out of their jobs.

While union representatives were expecting to meet with management on Jan. 11, 2018, to discuss next steps in the collective bargaining process, the company suddenly locked out workers at 3 a.m. Employees working the graveyard shift at the time were abruptly forced out of the smelter by security, prevented even from showering to cleanse themselves of their exposure to toxic contaminants in the plant.

One year later, negotiations remain at an impasse, with the company now demanding new concessions after reneging on previously agreed issues in contract talks.

Quebec Premier François Legault, who during last fall’s election campaign promised that a resolution of the ABI dispute would be one of his “priorities,” is now proving to be incapable or unwilling to help as the lockout drags on.

"François Legault promised to make it a real priority once in power. He talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. It’s time for the Premier to take meaningful action,” Quebec Federation of Labour President Daniel Boyer said today while attending a rally in support of the locked-out workers. The rally was held outside the constituency office of Donald Martel, the local Member of the National Assembly and a member of François Legault’s government.

The lockout has not only had a devastating impact on ABI workers and the region’s entire economy, it has also cost the Quebec government and its public utility, Hydro-Québec, nearly $220 million in lost revenues.

By letting ABI off the hook for its hydro commitments during the lockout, the government has made it easier for the company to drag out the labour dispute and try to force concessions on workers, Boyer said.

“The electricity contracts between the government, Hydro-Québec and the aluminum multinationals create an imbalance of power in negotiations,” he said, referring to ABI’s ownership group which consists of global giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto.

Hundreds of locked-out workers and their supporters attended today’s rally.

"If ABI had to pay for its hydro commitments, it would probably have to adopt a different attitude,” said Alain Croteau, Quebec Director of the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos), which represents the 1,030 locked out-ABI employees.

“The government must review these unfair contracts that allow these companies to take workers hostage while passing the bill on to taxpayers," Croteau said.

Several attempts at mediation to resolve the dispute have failed, with the company rejecting compromise proposals while making new demands for concessions.

“There was little separation between the parties last January when the dispute broke out,” noted Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700 at the ABI smelter.

“The gap has widened since then and more than 1,000 families have suffered for an entire year due to the greed of multinational corporations,” Masse said.

“We need the government to get out of its pseudo-neutrality and restore some balance to this process. ABI is abusing the process and keeping hundreds of families in a state of insecurity, with the complicit silence of the Quebec government.”

Workers were shocked by ABI’s decision to lock them out last January, given that a negotiated settlement appeared within reach, with only two key issues to be resolved – pension plan financing and seniority rights in personnel transfers.

The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers from all economic sectors. It is a member of the Quebec Federation of Labour, the largest labour organization in Quebec, representing more than 600,000 workers.

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Steelworkers Accuse Alcoa of Bad Faith Bargaining https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-accuse-alcoa-of-bad-faith-bargaining Fri, 21 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-accuse-alcoa-of-bad-faith-bargaining TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. – The United Steelworkers has filed a formal complaint with Quebec’s Administrative Labour Tribunal alleging bad faith bargaining against aluminum giant Alcoa and management of its ABI smelter in Bécancour.

Quebec’s Labour Code requires that parties must engage in negotiations “diligently and in good faith,” noted Clément Masse, President of United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos) Local 9700, representing 1,030 employees at the ABI smelter who have been locked out of their jobs since January.

However, “Alcoa is not behaving in a way that seeks a negotiated settlement,” Masse said. He cited the company for reneging on previous commitments at the bargaining table and making demands for new concessions, as well as announcing on Wednesday that it was shutting down half of the remaining pot line operating at the ABI smelter.

The decision to further cut back production at ABI shows outright contempt for a mediation process initiated by the Quebec government to try to resolve the lockout, he added. In early November, the government appointed a special mediation council, chaired by former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, to help the parties reach a negotiated settlement, with a deadline set for today.

“By cutting the remaining production in half, 48 hours before the deadline for negotiations set by the Labour Minister, the company has sent a signal that it is not taking the negotiation process seriously,” Masse said.

“Indeed, the shutdown of half of the remaining pot line increases the cost of the lockout and the time required to restart the plant," he noted.

“A company that reneges on clauses that are already signed off and that makes demands for more concessions is not acting in good faith,” said Dominic Lemieux, Assistant to the Steelworkers’ Quebec Director.

“The government appointed a special mediator last spring, then a mediation council on Nov. 7, giving an ultimatum to reach a negotiated settlement. Alcoa decided not to take this opportunity to engage in a constructive process,” Lemieux said.

The Steelworkers union has denounced a fundamental imbalance in the negotiations, with ABI allowed to use its lockout of workers to invoke a ‘force majeure’ or Act of God clause to avoid paying for $200 million in electricity commitments to the publicly owned utility Hydro-Québec.

“The company's losses are being covered by Quebecers. That is $200 million less in royalties for Hydro-Québec's coffers, which could require an increase in hydro rates for all Quebecers. This $200-million gift allows ABI to reduce its losses. The government has created the conditions that encourage ABI to negotiate in bad faith," said Steelworkers Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

Alcoa owns a 75% stake in the ABI smelter, with Rio Tinto owning the remaining 25%.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto opted to lock out the 1,030 ABI employees on Jan. 11 even though the union believed a negotiated settlement was within reach over the outstanding issues of pension plan financing and seniority rights in personnel transfers.

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United Steelworkers and CN Reach Tentative Agreement https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/united-steelworkers-and-cn-reach-tentative-agreement-joint-statement-with-cn Thu, 20 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/united-steelworkers-and-cn-reach-tentative-agreement-joint-statement-with-cn TORONTO – CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) and United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that a new tentative collective agreement has been reached between USW Local 2004 and CN. USW represents approximately 3,000 track and bridge personnel who work at CN across Canada.

“We are pleased to conclude yet another negotiation,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer of CN. “CN is committed to working together with our railroaders and their representatives to address workplace issues in a mutually beneficial manner.”

“We are pleased that we were able to reach an agreement with the CN that recognizes the hard work and commitment of our members," said Jean-Francois Migneault, President, USW Local 2004.

No details of the tentative agreement will be released publicly until the agreement is ratified. The collective agreement expires at the end of the month.

“The USW members in Local 2004 gave their bargaining committee a clear mandate and they worked tirelessly to address our members concerns,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director. “I am very proud of them and extremely glad they reached an agreement they are willing to support.”   

CN is a true backbone of the economy, transporting more than C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and mid-America. CN – Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries – serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America.

For more information on United Steelworkers, visit our website at www.usw.ca.

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United Steelworkers Establishes a Community Fund for Former Members https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/united-steelworkers-establishes-a-community-fund-for-former-members Wed, 19 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/united-steelworkers-establishes-a-community-fund-for-former-members WABUSH, NL, 19 December 2018 – The United Steelworkers union (USW) has established a Community Fund (Fund) that will provide OPEBS (Other Post Employment Benefit’s) for the current retirees of the union at the Scully Mine.   The USW will administer the Fund and the use of its assets in their sole discretion.                                                      

“This Community Fund is an important and valuable breakthrough for the former workers at Scully Mine. These workers deserve the respect and security that these benefits provide. I am very glad we could make arrangements to provide these benefits. They will make a big difference in the lives of many families,” said Tony De Paulo, Assistant to the USW Director for Atlantic Canada and Ontario. 

“We are pleased that plans are proceeding to reopen Scully Mine and to provide community benefits and good jobs to Labrador West,” added Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director.

The benefit payments will begin on July 1, 2019.

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Alcoa Shows Contempt for Government-Initiated Negotiation Process https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-shows-contempt-for-government-initiated-negotiation-process Wed, 19 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-shows-contempt-for-government-initiated-negotiation-process TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. – Alcoa's decision to shut down half of the pot lines currently operating at its ABI smelter in Bécancour shows outright contempt for a mediation process initiated by the Quebec government to try to resolve an 11-month lockout at the facility.

Quebec’s Minister of Labour created a special mediation council, chaired by former Premier Lucien Bouchard, to assist in negotiations between the ABI smelter and the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos), which represents the 1,030 workers who were locked out of their jobs last January.

The Minister of Labour had given the parties until December 21 to reach a negotiated settlement. However, two days before the deadline, Alcoa has announced it will shut down half of the pot line that it has been operating during the lockout (two other pot lines in the smelter have been idle).

Alcoa’s announcement makes a mockery of the negotiation process and has negative implications for the community and the entire province, the Steelworkers say.

"Shutting down half of the pot line increases the costs and time required to restart production. This is a flagrant lack of respect for the negotiation process, two days before the deadline set by the Quebec government,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, representing the ABI workers.

“Alcoa's management is mocking the government and the negotiation process it has initiated. Management’s bad faith in this process is becoming more evident by the day," Masse said.

In recent months, the company has reneged on previous commitments at the bargaining table and made demands for new concessions, the Steelworkers say.

“Alcoa wants to make the workers, their families and the entire region pay for the cost of their misguided lockout. Alcoa keeps widening the gap, rather than working towards a resolution,” Masse said.

Alcoa owns a 75% stake in the ABI smelter, with Rio Tinto owning the remaining 25%.

In addition to the damage they have caused in the region by locking out more than 1,000 ABI employees, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are inflicting economic losses on the publicly owned utility Hydro-Québec as well as the Quebec government and all Quebecers.

Hydro-Québec has been deprived of more than $200 million in revenue since the lockout began on Jan. 11, as ABI invoked an ‘Act of God’ or force majeure clause in its contract in order to stop paying for the electricity dedicated to the smelter.

“By closing half of the remaining pot line, ABI increases the revenue losses for the Quebec government. All Quebecers will pay for these losses, when hydro rates for the public will have to be increased to compensate for the lost revenue. It’s just another way Alcoa is mocking Quebeckers,” Masse said.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto opted to lock out the 1,030 ABI employees in January even though the union believed a negotiated settlement was within reach over the outstanding issues of pension plan financing and seniority rights in personnel transfers.

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IMP Aerostructures Workers Vote to Strongly Reject Inadequate Company Offer https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/imp-aerostructure-workers-vote-to-reject-inadequate-offer Mon, 17 Dec 2018 13:31:57 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/imp-aerostructure-workers-vote-to-reject-inadequate-offer AMHERST, N.S. – The workers at IMP Aerostructures represented by the United Steelworkers union overwhelmingly rejected the latest inadequate offer from the employer which called for dramatic cuts for senior workers.

“This offer, which the employer called their ‘final offer,’ was simply more of the unacceptable and, frankly, insulting demands from the company,” said Richard Allen, President of USW Local 4883.

The 204 workers at IMP Aerostructures in Amherst have for years been making high-quality parts for the aerospace industry. Unfortunately, this company is insisting that members who are 65 or older will have their life insurance coverage reduced by 50% and have their long-term-disability benefits eliminated in addition to in essence stand-pat wages.

“This is cruel and unusual punishment for years of hard work by loyal and skilled workers,” added Allen.

The workers feel strongly that they will stick together and support the senior workers and their families.

The USW calls on the company to come back to the bargaining table and make a reasonable offer that respects the dignity of the workers and the loyalty they have shown over the years.

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Joint Statement Calling on Canada to End Sterilization without Consent https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/joint-statement-end-sterilization-without-consent Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:30:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/joint-statement-end-sterilization-without-consent The United Steelworkers is one of 72 organizations to endorse the joint statement from Amnesty International Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, calling for government action to #DefendConsent and end #ForcedSterilization of Indigenous women in Canada.

Pressure is mounting for all levels of government and health bodies, with strong federal government leadership, to address the issue of sterilization without consent with great urgency. On Friday, the UN Committee Against Torture released a report calling on Canada to take immediate action to end this grave violation of human rights. Also on Friday, four questions were asked in the House of Commons on this issue. Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women is holding a briefing on the issue.

Urgent Action Needed to Ensure Indigenous Women Are Not Sterilized Without Their Consent

Across Canada and as recently as 2017, Indigenous women report being forcibly or coercively sterilized. Some women were incorrectly told the procedure is reversible. Others were separated from their babies until they consented to a tubal ligation.
 
Forced and coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women are a result of systemic violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in the provision of public services in Canada, a pattern well known and acknowledged by government. They are an assault on Indigenous women, their families, their communities, and their Nations that have already been subjected to forced assimilation through colonialism, including eugenic practices.
 
Sterilizing women without their free, full, and informed consent is a form of violence and torture. Measures to prevent births within ethnic or racial groups is explicitly prohibited by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
 
All women have the human right to make decisions around if, when, and how to create a family. All women have a right to live free from violence and discrimination. All women have a right to health.
 
We, the undersigned organizations call on the Government of Canada to take immediate action to address the issue of coerced and forced sterilizations of Indigenous women in Canada and:
  • Investigate allegations of forced or coerced sterilizations in Canada, with particular attention to cases involving Indigenous women and girls, ensuring justice and reparations to survivors and their families.
  • Appoint a special representative to meet with survivors and their families to hear their requests for justice and reparations.
  • Apply existing criminal legislation on aggravated assault and disciplinary measures for breach of professional standards for cases of forced or coerced sterilization.
  • Change government policies and practices to explicitly prohibit sterilization without free, full, and informed consent.
  • Implement Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action 23 and 24 on increasing the number of Indigenous healthcare professionals and providing cultural competency training to all healthcare professionals.
  • Develop a comprehensive National Action Plan to prevent and address gender-based violence involving the federal government, provinces, territories, municipalities, and First Nations.
Endorsed by:
  1. Aboriginal Front Door Society
  2. Aboriginal Legal Services
  3. Aboriginal Women’s Action Network
  4. Action Canada on Sexual Health and Rights
  5. Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health
  6. Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada Montérégie – comité des femmes
  7. Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists – National
  8. Amnesty International Canada
  9. Amnistie internationale Canada Francophone
  10. Atira Women’s Resource Society
  11. The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
  12. BC Native Women's Association
  13. British Columbia Civil Liberties Association - Association des libertés civiles de la Colombie-Britannique
  14. Canadian Association for Community Living
  15. Canadian Association of Midwives
  16. Canadian Association of University Teachers
  17. Canadian Civil Liberties Association
  18. Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions
  19. Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action
  20. Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
  21. Canadian Health Coalition
  22. Canadian Labour Congress
  23. Canadian Union of Postal Workers STTP
  24. Canadian Union of Public Employees
  25. Canadian Union of Public Employees – Ontario
  26. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
  27. Canada Without Poverty
  28. Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
  29. Centro de Desarrollo Andino Sisay (Peru)
  30. Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres (Peru)
  31. Comité des femmes Laval, Laurentides et Lanaudière et Abitibi-Témiscamingue
  32. Canadian Women’s Foundation
  33. DEMUS – Estudio para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Peru)
  34. Fédération des femmes du Québec
  35. Federation of Medical Women of Canada
  36. Femmes Autochtones du Québec
  37. Femmes de l’Alliance de la fonction publique (Québec)
  38. First United Church Community Ministry Society, Vancouver
  39. Greenpeace
  40. Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
  41. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
  42. International Women’s Rights – Manitoba
  43. Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women
  44. Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
  45. Inter Pares
  46. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  47. La Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec
  48. MATCH International Women’s Fund
  49. National Association of Women and the Law
  50. Native Women’s Association of Canada
  51. Nobel Women’s Initiative
  52. Ontario Federation of Labour
  53. Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation
  54. Oxfam Canada
  55. Pacific Association of First Nations Women
  56. Public Service Alliance of Canada
  57. Save the Children Canada
  58. Sexual Health Nova Scotia
  59. Planned Parenthood Regina
  60. SHORE Centre
  61. Syndicat Québécois des Employées Et Employés de Service Section Local 298-FTQ
  62. UFCW Canada
  63. Union of BC Indian Chiefs
  64. United Steelworkers
  65. WAVAW Rape Crisis
  66. West Coast LEAF
  67. Women’s Legal Education & Action Fund (LEAF)
  68. Women’s Shelter Canada
  69. Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
  70. YWCA Canada
  71. Dr. Pamela Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University
  72. Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Canada Research Chair in Global Indigenous Rights and Politics
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Ken Neumann Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2018. https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:45:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Each year on December 10th, the United Steelworkers observe Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworker values and activism.

This year, along with recognizing the good work of our equality activists, both locally and nationally, I would like to highlight a concern for our work in human rights in the next year, and for years to come. In my message last year, I mentioned a 2016 census from Statistics Canada (StatsCan) addressing human rights offences against equality seeking groups. It is important to revisit this issue.

It is shocking this year that the 2017 StatsCan report shows a large increase of hate and religious crimes in this country. Nation-wide in 2017, the number of police-reported crimes was 47 per cent higher than the previous year. Significantly, most of these hate crimes were committed against Muslim, Jewish and Black populations.

It is equally upsetting that these crimes are increasing in major urban areas where the greatest diversity is found. The provinces with the most and the largest major urban areas in Canada are Ontario and Quebec. In Quebec, these crimes grew by 50 per cent, for a reported total of 489. In Ontario, the crimes grew by 67 per cent for a reported total of 1,023. While these are officially reported crimes, I cannot imagine the numbers should unreported crimes be included.

These crimes extend beyond race hatred and religious discrimination. 2017 saw crimes on the basis of sexual orientation increase by 16 per cent.

As a union committed to human rights, I call on Steelworkers to:

  • continue to lobby for equality legislation both in Canada and internationally
  • continue our strong presence in the labour movement in Canada and internationally
  • negotiate strong equality language in our collective bargaining agreements, particularly with global companies
  • extend our support for associations and social justice partners in the fight against hate crime

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2018. https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:38:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Each year on December 10th, the United Steelworkers observe International Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations.

The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworker values and activism. As the Director of District 6, I strongly support human rights internationally, and specifically, for the regions of Canada that District 6 covers. 

This year I would like to highlight the issues of religious hatred and race crimes. Across Canada, and specifically for our members in District 6, it is important that in the next year, our fight for equality must address hatred against Muslim, Jewish and Black populations. Statistics Canada reported that in 2017, Ontario was Canada’s leading province in religious and race crimes. Compared to 2016, these types of crimes grew by 67% last year alone.

When the figures are broken down, I am even more shocked by figures in Ontario. In November, CBC reported that there was a 207 per cent increase of hate crimes against Muslims, an 84 per cent increase in crimes against black people and a 41 percent increase on incidents against Jewish people.

It is not only in large cities that religious and race crimes are being committed. In Hamilton Ontario, there was an increase of 18.3% of incidents ranging from physical attacks, to graffiti, to uttering threats. In London Ontario, these sorts of crimes rose by almost 30 per cent last year.

Clearly, there is much work to do to advance human rights in our district. I urge members to:

  • join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police
  • create and maintain Human Rights Committees in our locals and units
  • promote and attend Steelworker education workshops in human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace
  • lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to bring in equality legislation increasing protections against religious and race hatred

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $188,330 to 112 Food Banks Across Canada https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-188330-to-112-food-banks-across-canada Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-188330-to-112-food-banks-across-canada TORONTO – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $188,330 to 112 food banks and community food centres across Canada.

“The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is our union’s tool to combat poverty at the global level, but also within our own communities. This is why we are very proud to contribute to food banks and community food centres where members of the United Steelworkers live and work. Year after year, these organizations play a crucial role in assisting vulnerable individuals and families that rely on these services to make ends meet,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and National Director of the United Steelworkers (USW).

“Members of our union make good neighbours. They are involved in their communities through volunteer work and they fundraise for different types of events and organizations for which our help is required. And with the resources pooled with the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, our support reaches food banks across the country,” said Neumann.

“Unfortunately, food insecurity is still a reality in Canada today, a situation that is far from improving as poverty and inequalities gain more ground. For this reason, Steelworkers also know the importance of advocating for structural changes by engaging with our elected officials, such as by calling for a national anti-poverty strategy that sees the elimination of poverty as a human rights issue, as well as by supporting federal and provincial campaigns for fair minimum wages.”

Founded in 1985, the Steelworkers Humanity Fund is a registered charitable organization that focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities. USW members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements. In some cases employers make matching contributions to the fund.

View the list of food banks and community food centres receiving 2018 contributions from the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.
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