United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Fri, 14 Feb 2020 12:00:00 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Justice Denied in Olivier Bruneau’s Death https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/justice-denied-in-olivier-bruneaus-death Fri, 14 Feb 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/justice-denied-in-olivier-bruneaus-death OTTAWA – The United Steelworkers (USW) union joins the family of Olivier Bruneau in condemning the decision by Ottawa police to close the investigation into the construction worker’s death and rule out criminal charges.

“We support Olivier Bruneau’s grieving parents who are in disbelief and feel betrayed by this decision. Justice has been denied to Olivier Bruneau and his family,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

Olivier Bruneau died on March 23, 2016, after he was crushed by a massive block of ice at a Claridge Homes construction site. He was employed by a contractor, Bellai Brothers Construction Ltd. The two companies were fined $325,000 each after admitting to violating Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Bruneau’s family, the USW and other supporters publicly called for a criminal investigation into the death. They cited Criminal Code provisions, known as the Westray Law, that allow for the prosecution of corporations, their directors and supervisors found to have placed workers’ safety at risk.

A criminal investigation was launched by Ottawa police. The Bruneau family and the USW were shocked to learn today that the Ottawa Police Service has closed its investigation and determined it has “no evidence” to pursue criminal charges.

Former Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau, who was in charge of the criminal investigation until his retirement in May 2019, cited difficulty for police in collecting evidence – including from witnesses and on-site physical evidence – as well as difficulty in co-ordinating their investigation with the Ministry of Labour.

Investigation of workplace fatalities is “a fairly new area for police services,” Bordeleau said in a media interview.

“This statement is a stunning example of the failure in the system and an acknowledgement of the critical need we have cited for many years for greater training of police officers and Crown prosecutors to ensure the Westray Law is properly enforced,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

The USW is leading an ongoing campaign – Stop The Killing, Enforce the Law – for enforcement of the Westray Law, which was passed unanimously by the House of Commons and became law in 2004. The USW and its allies lobbied relentlessly for the Criminal Code amendments following the 1992 explosion at the Westray Mine in Nova Scotia that killed 26 miners.

“It has been demonstrated, over and over, that simply imposing fines for health and safety violations does not hold corporations accountable for workers’ deaths,” Warren said.

“The failure to enforce the Westray Law continues to deny justice to too many families across Canada who have lost loved ones due to workplace deaths, including the family of Olivier Bruneau.”

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Workers Demand Severance, Benefits in Bankruptcy of Canadian Icon Barrymore https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/workers-demand-severance-benefits-in-bankruptcy-of-canadian-icon-barrymore Wed, 05 Feb 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/workers-demand-severance-benefits-in-bankruptcy-of-canadian-icon-barrymore TORONTO – Former employees of iconic Canadian manufacturer Barrymore Furniture, now in bankruptcy proceedings, will rally in Toronto’s financial district Thursday to demand severance and benefits payments they are owed.

     WHO:        Former employees of iconic Canadian brand Barrymore

     WHAT:      Demonstration to demand termination pay, severance and benefits

     WHERE:   150 York Street, Toronto

     WHEN:     Thursday, Feb. 6, 10 a.m.

“Once again, working people are victims of a rigged system that disregards their interests while giving priority to wealthy investors,” said Carolyn Egan, President of the Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, which represents the former Barrymore employees.

“It’s not bad enough that these workers lost their jobs overnight, they now have to fight a system that – by design – marginalizes them and leaves them at the bottom of the list when it comes to monies they are owed,” Egan said.

Barrymore, which produced custom, hand-made furniture in Toronto for more than a century, shut down its manufacturing operations on Jan. 17, 2020, after filing a Notice of Intention (NOI) last November. The company filed an assignment in bankruptcy on Jan. 17. The first meeting of creditors will be held on Thursday, Feb. 6, at 10 a.m. in the offices of an insolvency trustee in Toronto’s financial district.

Canada’s laws relegate workers to the back of the line as “unsecured creditors” in bankruptcy and insolvency cases, while “secured creditors” such as banks and wealthy investors get priority access to available assets. Such is the case in the Barrymore bankruptcy, with millions of dollars in claims from secured creditors, while workers are relegated to unsecured creditor status.

Barrymore employees were shocked when they received one day’s notice that their jobs would be disappearing and learned they would not receive termination, severance and benefits payments they were owed, said Roopchand Doon, chair of the United Steelworkers (USW) unit at the company.

The employees, many of whom had decades of service with Barrymore, had agreed last year to forego shifts and take pay cuts as part of a work-share program aimed at helping the company through a difficult period, Doon noted.

“It was very shocking and upsetting to us, to be treated like that. To have been loyal employees for so long and then to be told that your job will be gone tomorrow and you’re losing everything, it’s incredibly hurtful.”

Most of the workers are owed tens of thousands of dollars, some close to $50,000, he added.

The USW and the Canadian labour movement have been demanding reforms to Canada’s bankruptcy and insolvency laws for several years to give greater priority to workers and pensioners.

Two bills proposing such reforms were presented in the previous session of Parliament, but neither was supported by the Liberal government.

“Enough is enough. The time has come for the federal government and all MPs to finally pass new legislation that protects workers’ wages, pensions and benefits,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“Working families and retirees should not have to live with the constant insecurity of knowing they can lose so much, overnight,” Warren said.

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Ken Neumann Statement on Black History Month 2020 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/ken-neumann-statement-on-black-history-month-2020 Sat, 01 Feb 2020 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/ken-neumann-statement-on-black-history-month-2020 In our union’s proud history of promoting and supporting equality, Steelworkers celebrate Black History Month each February. Steelworkers of all races and backgrounds 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 better recognize that despite advances in equality, racism has played a historic part in our national experience. This experience has also led to discrimination against Black immigrants and Black Canadians in our workplaces.

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

  • Creating a Human Rights Committee in your local or unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12.
  • Working with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).
  • Standing up and speaking out on your own against racist comments and jokes in our communities and workplaces
  • Joining the New Democratic Party, whether federally or provincially, to contribute to the elimination of racial discrimination.

The principles of equality are essential to Steelworkers 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 solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren's Statement for Black History Month 2020 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/marty-warrens-statement-for-black-history-month-2020 Sat, 01 Feb 2020 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/marty-warrens-statement-for-black-history-month-2020 Every February, District 6 celebrates Black History Month and acknowledges the substantial contributions made by Black workers to shape our communities and the labour movement.

In District 6, our diversity is our strength; through activism and leadership, Black workers have been instrumental in our efforts to fight for social change and inclusion for all equity-seeking groups. Despite sustained efforts, racism and discrimination continue to generate disparities in employment opportunities and wages in our workplaces.

As Steelworkers, we continue to negotiate language that will address these disparities as well as lobbying political parties with our allies to remove systemic barriers that prevent full participation for historically marginalized groups in every aspect of society.

I invite you to join the Steelworkers District 6 Human Rights Committee on February 22, 2020, at our Peel Halton Office to celebrate Black History Month, where we will acknowledge the contributions made by Black workers in shaping our union.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

Download the flyer

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Criminal Charges Against Brazilian Multinational Should Send a Message to Canadian Government – Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/criminal-charges-against-brazilian-multinational-should-send-a-message-to-canadian-government-steelworkers Thu, 30 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/criminal-charges-against-brazilian-multinational-should-send-a-message-to-canadian-government-steelworkers TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) says criminal charges against the former CEO of a Brazil-based multinational mining company one year after a dam collapse that killed more than 250 people sends an important message to Canada about enforcing laws to protect workers.

“Workers need to know that disasters like this are going to be answered with the strongest punitive measures possible,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “The death of 250 villagers and workers in one incident is catastrophic. But no worker should be at risk when they go to work, and no community should be put in harm’s way by corporate negligence.

“Canada’s provinces and territories, who are responsible for law enforcement under the Constitution, are guilty of not responding to workplace deaths with investigations and prosecutions under Criminal Code amendments that the union fought to achieve,” he said.

“Workers across Canada have been killed at a rate of about 1,000 a year, and companies have mostly evaded criminal prosecution by agreeing to pay fines. Killing workers should never be part of the cost of doing business.”

USW is calling on provincial attorneys general and labour ministers in every jurisdiction to properly enforce the 2004 amendments to the Criminal Code, which are meant to hold corporate executives criminally accountable for workplace deaths and injury. The amendments, known collectively as the Westray Law, were unanimously endorsed by Parliament more than 10 years after the 1992 Westray Coal mine explosion in Nova Scotia, which killed 26 workers.

“Police and Crown attorneys must be educated, trained and directed to apply the Westray amendments,” Neumann said. “And there must be greater co-ordination and protocols among regulators, police and Crowns so that health and safety regulators are trained to reach out to police when there is a possibility that Westray amendment charges are warranted.”

Neumann said the Jan. 25, 2019, collapse of a tailings dam in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is a stain on the world’s mining industry and must be addressed globally. 

“Our federal government should ensure that multinational companies operating in Canada have records that do not include putting profit over safety and human life anywhere in the world.”

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Brockville Women’s Shelter Employees Join Steelworkers Union https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/brockville-womens-shelter-employees-join-steelworkers Tue, 28 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/brockville-womens-shelter-employees-join-steelworkers BROCKVILLE – Employees at a Brockville shelter providing services and support to abused women and children have decided to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union to improve their working standards.

The employees of Leeds & Grenville Interval House, all of whom are women, include social workers, child witness workers and outreach workers. They provide emergency and transitional services and support to women and children in distress, including accommodation, counselling and a 24-hour crisis and support line.

“These employees chose to join the union because they want a strong, collective voice to address genuine concerns regarding their working conditions which affect the important services they provide every day,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“Through collective bargaining, these new union members will be able to negotiate a contract that ensures fair compensation, good working standards and respect on the job, which will only improve their ability to effectively provide services to the community,” Warren said.

In coming days and weeks, the union will be supporting the shelter workers in electing a negotiating committee, developing bargaining proposals and entering into negotiations for a fair collective agreement with the employer, he added.

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500 Employees at KIK Toronto Operations Join Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/500-employees-at-kik-toronto-operations-join-steelworkers Mon, 27 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/500-employees-at-kik-toronto-operations-join-steelworkers TORONTO – Employees at the Toronto operations of manufacturing giant KIK Custom Products have voted to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

Workers at five facilities operated by KIK in Etobicoke, in Toronto’s west end, voted last week to join the USW. The USW, which has represented employees at a KIK facility in Vaughan, Ont., for several years, now represents 501 workers at the five Etobicoke plants.

KIK is one of North America’s largest independent manufacturers of consumer packaged goods, including personal care products, laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach and cleaning products.

“We welcome these new members to our union and we’re honoured that they chose the USW to obtain a collective voice and strong representation to address issues that are important to them,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Issues and concerns raised by workers have included pay packages, benefits, temporary employment and health and safety, Warren noted. Next steps for the workers will include electing a bargaining committee that will negotiate a first collective agreement, he added.

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

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Steelworkers Sign Good Deal with TMS International https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-sign-good-deal-with-tms-international Thu, 23 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-sign-good-deal-with-tms-international L’ORIGNAL, Ont. – United Steelworkers (USW) members working at TMS International Canada in L’Orignal have negotiated a new collective agreement with the company providing improvements in wages, benefits and pensions.

The workers, members of USW Local 8794-01, voted Wednesday to ratify a new, three-year collective agreement that will be in effect until Dec. 31, 2022. TMS International and its employees provide industrial services to the Ivaco Rolling Mills steelmaking operations also located in the eastern Ontario community of L’Orignal.

The new collective agreement for TMS employees provides hourly wage increases of $1.50 as well as cost-of-living increases, over the life of the contract. By the final year of the agreement in 2022, wage rates will range from $33 to $36 an hour.

The new contract also includes improvements to the workers’ defined-benefit pension plan and to health and welfare benefits such as vision care, dental care, paramedical services, life insurance and short-term and long-term disability coverage. Early-retirement provisions also are provided in the contract.

“Our members and the employer have built a mature relationship which fostered respectful and productive negotiations and produced a fair deal for both parties,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“It’s a collective agreement that reflects the hard work and skills of our members and their contributions to the company’s ongoing success.”

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Steelworkers Union Hails Victory in Aluminum Dumping Case https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-union-hails-victory-in-aluminum-dumping-case Thu, 16 Jan 2020 06:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/steelworkers-union-hails-victory-in-aluminum-dumping-case OTTAWA – The United Steelworkers (USW) union is hailing a ruling by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) to prevent the dumping of Chinese extruded aluminum products into the Canadian market.

In its ruling released this week, the CITT renewed a previous order that unfair dumping of subsidized Chinese exports of aluminum extrusion products threatens the viability of Canadian producers and the jobs of their workers.

The CITT ruling authorizes anti-dumping duties of 101% on the export price of extruded aluminum products dumped by China, as well as an additional three dollars per kilogram of extruded aluminum in countervailing duties.

As part of its review of the dumping case last fall, the CITT heard evidence presented by Canadian producers as well as United Steelworkers members whose jobs are put at risk by such unfair trade practices. The USW represents hundreds of workers at aluminum extrusion plants across Canada.

The CITT ruling means that Canadian workers in the industry can breathe a sigh of relief, said Florian Pellerin, President of USW Local 7046, which represents 115 workers at the Metra Aluminum plant in Laval, Que.

“If the anti-dumping measures had been lifted, it would have meant many layoffs at our plant and probably the closure of the operation,” said Pellerin, one of the USW members who presented evidence to the CITT.

“That’s what we went to explain to the tribunal last fall, and we're pleased to see that we were heard,” he said.

In 2007, the massive dumping of subsidized, low-priced Chinese products caused the layoff of about 100 workers at the Metra plant, several dozen of whom were never rehired, as well as the elimination of a night shift for about 10 years.

USW members from the Hydro Extrusion Canada plant in Mississauga, Ont., and the Apel Extrusions facility in Calgary also presented evidence to the CITT.

“This is a victory for our members working in the aluminum extrusion industry,” said USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

“It's also a great example of co-operation between the industry and union members. When we have common interests, there are ways to work together to preserve good jobs. The Steelworkers are standing up for good jobs in every way, in our workplaces, in collective bargaining and in our advocacy before trade tribunals and our governments,” Croteau said.

The USW and its members across the country will continue their campaign to defend Canadian jobs and industries from illegal dumping and other predatory trade practices, said Ken Neumann, the union’s Canadian Director.

“We have participated in several hearings before the trade tribunal since 2018, demanding that workers’ voices be heard,” Neumann said.

“This is a welcome victory for all Canadian aluminum workers. We need to continue to push for further protections for both the steel and aluminum sectors, as Canadian mills and workers continue to be affected by unfair foreign exports,” he said.

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New Agreements Benefit Steelworkers, Ivaco Rolling Mills https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/new-agreements-benefit-steelworkers-ivaco-rolling-mills Fri, 10 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/new-agreements-benefit-steelworkers-ivaco-rolling-mills L’ORIGNAL, Ont. – Employees at steelmaker Ivaco Rolling Mills in L’Orignal have ratified new collective agreements providing improved wages, benefits and other significant gains that will benefit hundreds of families and the entire community.

The employees, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Locals 7940 and 8794, voted this week to ratify five-year collective agreements with Ivaco, a leading producer of steel billets and hot-rolled wire rod. The new contracts cover about 400 USW members at the steel plant in this eastern Ontario community.

“These collective agreements recognize the skills, hard work and value that our members bring to Ivaco’s operations every day,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The negotiations were conducted in a spirit of collaboration and respect, which helped achieve a good deal for workers and the employer, which also will benefit the community for years to come,” Warren said.

The new contracts will provide annual wage increases of 2% in each of the next five years. By the final year of the collective agreements, hourly wage rates will range from $29.09 to $35.98 for production workers and from $34.59 to $40.83 for trades people.

The agreements include increased Sunday work premiums, improvements in provisions affecting working conditions and improved benefits including long-term disability, vision care, dental, paramedical and prescription drug coverage.

“The union’s two different bargaining units in this process were very well-prepared and were committed to working closely together in negotiating with the employer,” said Richard Leblanc, the USW’s Eastern Ontario Co-ordinator.

“More than 90% of our proposals were common to both units and there was a very good synergy, which made for effective negotiating and a successful outcome,” Leblanc said.

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Leo Gerard Awarded 2019 Ellen Meiksins Wood Prize by Broadbent Institute https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/leo-gerard-awarded-2019-ellen-meiksins-wood-prize-by-broadbent-institute Wed, 08 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/leo-gerard-awarded-2019-ellen-meiksins-wood-prize-by-broadbent-institute TORONTO – The Broadbent Institute has announced that United Steelworkers International President Emeritus Leo W. Gerard is the recipient of the 2019 Ellen Meiksins Wood Prize.

The Wood Prize, awarded annually in honour of the late, internationally renowned scholar Ellen Meiksins Wood, recognizes the outstanding contributions of an academic, labour activist or writer.

Leo Gerard's decades-long service to the trade union movement and contributions to social and economic justice in Canada and around the world are just some of the reasons why he is the newest recipient of the Wood Prize. Gerard will deliver the annual Ellen Meiksins Wood lecture in Toronto in early 2020.

“It’s an honour to receive this prize from the Broadbent Institute and to deliver this lecture in memory of Ellen Meiksins Wood,” Gerard says. “Ellen’s focus on the power of working people is what progressive politics needs at the moment. At a time when more people – particularly young people – are disenchanted with the current economic and political system, we need to rebuild our movement muscles. We need to re-connect working people with their democracies.”

Read the complete Broadbent Institute announcement

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January 7 Is Corporate Income Tax Freedom Day https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/january-7-is-corporate-income-tax-freedom-day Wed, 08 Jan 2020 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2020/january-7-is-corporate-income-tax-freedom-day By 9 a.m. on January 7, 2020, Canadian corporations could have paid all their corporate income taxes out of their revenues for the year, according to a report from Canadians for Tax Fairness.

Corporate taxes have been cut so much in Canada, they now amount to less than a week’s worth of annual operating revenues, the report finds.

While corporations and CEOs celebrate, Canadians are paying a hefty price from the consequences of these deep corporate tax cuts – reduced services and greater inequality.

“Corporate tax cut benefits have trickled up, not down, while Canadians have paid the price through cuts to public spending. They’ve been a multi-hundred-billion-dollar failure,” said Toby Sanger, Director of Canadians for Tax Fairness.

Read the full report from Canadians for Tax Fairness

Canadians for Tax Fairness media release

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Coalition of Ontario Unions to Launch Charter Challenge, Vowing to Defend the Rights of All Ontarians https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/coalition-of-ontario-unions-to-launch-charter-challenge Tue, 17 Dec 2019 14:27:18 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/coalition-of-ontario-unions-to-launch-charter-challenge Today, 10 Ontario unions representing more than 250,000 affected broader public sector employees, announced their intention to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against Bill 124. As well, the Ontario Labour movement, with the Power of Many, will be initiating an aggressive campaign to repeal Bill 124.

The joint Charter challenge announced today is being brought by a coalition of public and private sector unions that represent workers across the broader public sector. The coalition includes: the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare); United Steelworkers (USW); Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC); the Society of United Professionals (IFPTE) Local 160; Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE Ontario); AMAPCEO – Ontario’s Professional Employees; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 636; the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 175. Additional unions and organizations representing public sector workers in Ontario are expected to join this coordinated challenge or pursue their own separate legal challenges to Bill 124 in the coming weeks.

“The workers of this province, represented by their unions, will not allow Bill 124, which erodes the Charter rights of every worker in Ontario, to stand uncontested,” said Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Patty Coates. “The OFL stands in solidarity with the education unions that have recently launched their challenges to the application of Bill 124 in the education sector, as we escalate the opposition to this government’s continued attack on the Charter rights of all Ontarians. Together, we are launching an aggressive campaign to demand the Ford Conservatives repeal this unconstitutional legislation.”

Ontario Labour is united in their call on the Conservatives to repeal Bill 124, euphemistically named the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which violates the Charter’s protected right to free and fair collective bargaining. 

“In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that the freedom of association guarantee in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides constitutional protection for a meaningful right to collectively bargain, and for the right to strike”, said Steven Barrett of Goldblatt Partners, counsel for the union coalition. 

“By failing to respect these fundamental constitutional rights, Bill 124 runs roughshod over free collective bargaining, and fails to respect what every experienced negotiator understands: the collective bargaining parties themselves are best able to negotiate agreements that reflect fiscal and workplace priorities and realities”.  

As Barrett added, “these restrictions on free collective bargaining cannot be justified by the government’s manufactured fiscal crisis, or by its desire to cut taxes when Ontario already has the lowest social spending per capita of any province.”

“This challenge is about defending workers’ rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” stated CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “When the Ford Conservatives demand that we must all do our part, instead of targeting working people the government should be taxing profitable corporations and the wealthiest in our communities.  Charter Rights matter, Human Rights matter, Workers’ Rights matter.”

Bill 124 allows the government to impose compensation caps, including for pension and health care improvements, on a variety of unionized and non-unionized public sector workplaces.

“For workers in equity-seeking groups – racialized workers, workers with a disability, Indigenous, and women workers, collective agreements are essential to ensuring fairness in the workplace,” said Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare. “For the government to set limits on bargaining undermines the rights of workers who already face systemic discrimination across the board.”

In recent years, unions have successfully coordinated together to challenge legislation that violates workers’ rights, such as the Liberals’ Bill 115 which interfered with collective bargaining in the education sector. The courts ruled that Bill 115 violated workers’ Charter rights. In the face of legal challenges, a coordinated resistance campaign and public opposition, the Bill was repealed. 

“Families in our province have relied on negotiations for decades to secure their working conditions. This has resulted in the establishment of the middle class. Middle-class families are the backbone of our province and country, and it is fundamentally wrong to strip them of their collective bargaining rights”, said Marty Warren, Director of United Steelworkers District 6. “The USW and its engaged membership are aggressively pushing back on this one-sided legislation.  Justice must be upheld for Ontario’s working families.”  

Workers affected by Bill 124 include those employed by the provincial government, crown agencies, school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, non-profit long-term care homes, children’s aid societies, social service agencies and the electricity and energy sectors.

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Steelworkers Recognize NAFTA Improvements, Cite Aluminum/Steel Concerns https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-recognize-nafta-improvements-cite-aluminumsteel-concerns Tue, 10 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-recognize-nafta-improvements-cite-aluminumsteel-concerns TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes improvements in the revised Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) announced today, but raises concern over the impact on Canadian aluminum and steel workers.

“We’re encouraged that the revised CUSMA appears to include some improvements to the previous version of the trade deal, including provisions on labour rights, environmental protections and pharmaceutical costs,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada.

“No group has fought harder than our union, on both sides of the border, to achieve improvements to this trade deal. We will be particularly interested in determining the scope and effectiveness of the reported changes, particularly those aimed at enhancing and enforcing workers’ rights,” Neumann said.

While full details on CUSMA revisions have yet to be disclosed, the USW is disappointed that the new deal apparently does not include stronger North American automotive rules of origin requirements related to steel and aluminum.

The USW advocated for requirements that 70% of steel and aluminum components in automobiles be melted/smelted and poured in North America in order for a vehicle to enjoy CUSMA benefits.

“It appears that the Canadian government did not insist on a fix to the CUSMA auto rules of origin that would require aluminum automobile parts to use aluminum smelted in North America. This is profoundly disappointing, given that Canada is by far the largest producer of aluminum on the continent. This will allow countries like China, Russia and others to continue to flood the North American market, threatening aluminum jobs in Canada,” Neumann said.

“The USW also is concerned that the revised CUSMA reportedly allows for a seven-year implementation of rules-of-origin protections for steel used in the auto sector. The delayed implementation is a setback for Canadian steelworkers and producers,” he added.

“USW leaders and rank-and-file members in Canada and the U.S. lobbied for months for changes to the initial CUSMA deal that was previously signed by the Canadian Liberal government,” Neumann said.

“The improved agreement announced today, while still flawed, reflects the relentless efforts of our union and the collaboration with our key labour allies and the U.S. Democratic Working Group to insist on key changes to the deal,” he said.

“Our members have been ravaged by the effects of unfair trade. This agreement will not solve that. There is still much work to be done to make trade fair. But at least this agreement contains some key improvements over the agreement signed by the federal government last November,” he added.

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Third Death of a Traffic Control Worker in Two Months https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/third-death-of-a-traffic-control-worker-in-two-months Fri, 06 Dec 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/third-death-of-a-traffic-control-worker-in-two-months MONTREAL – A woman working as a traffic control person on a road construction project was killed on the job yesterday in Montérégie, marking the third such workplace death in Quebec in the last two months.

Last week, a member of Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers (USW) Local 8922 was killed on the job in the Beauce area while working as a traffic control person, while another traffic control worker was killed in the Montérégie area in early October.

The death toll on road construction sites in Quebec comes at a time when the government has postponed the tabling of its reforms of occupational health and safety legislation and the implementation of prevention measures in all work sectors.

“The safety concerns for traffic control workers are high. Drivers are so used to orange cones on the roadway that they no longer adapt their driving accordingly. Employers and clients who use companies that provide traffic control workers must assume their responsibility and ensure the safety of these workers on construction sites. It is a shared responsibility,” says Patrick Pellerin, President of USW Local 8922, also known as the Syndicat de la sécurité privée au Québec, which represents nearly 1,000 traffic control workers.

The USW notes that only 11.6% of Quebec workers are covered by prevention-related provisions of provincial health and safety legislation, such as joint (labour-management) workplace health and safety committees, dedicated prevention representatives and prevention programs specific to individual workplaces. The labour movement has long advocated that such provisions should apply to all workplaces.

Quebec’s Labour Minister previously suggested reforms to workplace health and safety legislation would be tabled before the holidays, but that timeline has obviously been postponed, the USW says.

"How many more deaths will it take before prevention is taken seriously in Quebec?” asks USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

“One preventable death is one too many. The government must make prevention a real priority in all workplaces. This requires preventive mechanisms in which workers are involved. They know the work, they know the risks and they are in the best position to propose solutions,” Croteau says.

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Marty Warren's Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/marty-warren-statement-december-6-2019 Tue, 03 Dec 2019 13:48:49 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/marty-warren-statement-december-6-2019 Each year, we mark the anniversary of December 6 to remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique and all women lost to violence. We remember that the women killed at the École Polytechnique were killed while they were simply trying to learn at school or put in a day of work. We recognize the unconscionable impact and harm that violence against women has on women and the impact it also has on children, communities and the greater society.     

We commit all hands-on deck in the fight to eradicate violence against women and girls. We recognize that violence may be perpetrated against different communities more frequently, acknowledging our Indigenous sisters and the fight for justice for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. 

We recognize that well paid, secure union jobs are critical to increasing women’s safety. We recognize that unions play a key role in supporting and advocating for women in the workplace who are facing domestic violence or other forms of gender-based violence.  

We commit to developing education and training geared to women and to those who will step up to support them in being more than a bystander against violence against women.

We commit on the 30th anniversary of the Montreal massacre, to never forget and never stop fighting to eradicate violence against women. 

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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Ken Neumann’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/ken-neumann-statement-december-6-2019 Tue, 03 Dec 2019 09:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/ken-neumann-statement-december-6-2019 On December 6, we remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, and all women lost to gender-based violence.

I am proud that our union continues to take action to end this violence. Through the USW National Women’s Committee, we encourage local unions to create systems of women’s advocates or equity advocates. These trained members provide support to any co-workers experiencing domestic violence or workplace sexual harassment.

As 2019 draws to a close, five local unions have stepped up to create advocate systems, and more than two dozen Women of Steel have taken the USW training.

And our union is participating in a national project for workplaces covered by the Canada Labour Code. We are helping to create tools and policies so that workplaces can support employees experiencing domestic violence. When workers are supported, not disciplined or stigmatized, they maintain economic security and greater physical safety.

As well, through the USW National Aboriginal Committee, we are identifying ways to support Indigenous women’s organizations and end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirited persons.

We mourn and we organize.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director 

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Steelworkers Urge Government To Implement Recommendations From Sawmill Explosions Review https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/implement-recommendations-sawmill-explosions Mon, 02 Dec 2019 17:15:35 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/implement-recommendations-sawmill-explosions BURNABY, BC, Dec. 2, 2019 - Nearly eight years after two sawmill explosions in northern British Columbia claimed the lives of four people and injured dozens more, the United Steelworkers (USW) is responding to the release of a review of actions by WorkSafeBC and government in relation to worker safety.

The report, undertaken by lawyer Lisa Helps, makes 11 recommendations to strengthen worker safety, ensure that a criminal lens is applied to situations of workplace death and most importantly, put workers back at the centre of WorkSafeBC. Four of the recommendations require amending provincial legislation.

"The most important thing to do is acknowledge the workers who lost their lives, the survivors whose lives have been forever changed and the family members and larger communities of Burns Lake and Prince George that have been impacted by tragedies that should have never happened," says Stephen Hunt, United Steelworkers District 3 Director.

"The days of these two explosions will be indelibly etched on the entire province," Hunt says. "The recommendations are long overdue and must be urgently implemented by the provincial government. Taken together, this is an important step in ensuring that WorkSafeBC's first mandate is to protect workers."

Hunt says that the previous B.C. Liberal government's deregulation and dismantling of rules that were intended to keep workers safe have come at a heavy cost.

"Too many workers in British Columbia have died on the job and too many employers have treated those deaths as the cost of doing business. Every incident of workplace death or injury causing serious bodily harm must be investigated with a criminal lens until criminality can be ruled out."

Key recommendations of the report include:

  • Create a Worker Ombudsperson position.
  • Amend the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation to strengthen the right to refuse unsafe work.
  • Ongoing training for police officers and Crown counsel for workplace criminal investigations.
  • Designated police contacts for criminal code offences involving workplace death. 

"The sawmill explosions are a heartbreaking, but familiar story of incompetence, mismanagement, deceit, apathy and cover up from the agencies that are responsible for keeping workers safe. The review sadly confirms this and makes important recommendations that previous government-commissioned reports failed to do. It should never require the tragic loss of life to do the right thing," says Hunt.

"When implemented, these recommendations will increase B.C. workers' confidence that WorkSafeBC and other government agencies are fulfilling their responsibility to protect, promote and enhance the safety of all workers," Hunt says.

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Steelworkers Local 2724 Gifts Hospital with $45,000 Donation https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-local-2724-gifts-hospital-with-45000-donation Thu, 28 Nov 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/steelworkers-local-2724-gifts-hospital-with-45000-donation SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – United Steelworkers Local 2724 believes that as a community we should be taking care of each other. That’s why their motto is “Steelworkers make great neighbours.”

Local 2724 has presented Sault Area Hospital Foundation with a generous gift of $45,851 to purchase a new piece of medical equipment for the hospital’s laboratory and help take care of the patients of our community.

“Sault Area Hospital’s lab is one of the key areas responsible for helping physicians diagnose patients, as well as check on the progress of their treatments,” said Dr. Christa Cassalman, Cyto-Pathologist at Sault Area Hospital. “The equipment we use provides key information to local physicians. Each upgrade helps reduce wait times and provide more accurate information.”

The Sault Area Hospital lab processes over two million samples each and every year. In cytology, all tissue samples are prepared and analyzed to help diagnose patients’ conditions. The new unit being purchased with this donation will allow the lab to analyze samples using the most current techniques, producing more reliable results.

This method is what new graduates in the field are being taught, and having this technology onsite will allow Sault Area Hospital to recruit the next generation of professionals.

“We wanted our gift to have the broadest impact on our community that it could. When we heard how the team in the lab is involved in the care of almost every patient at our hospital, we wanted to give them the tools they need,” said Rebecca McCracken, President of USW Local 2724.

“When we think of the people that need our hospital, we are thinking about our loved ones. Making a gift like this and knowing we are giving our hospital what is needed to provide the best possible care right here in our community; this is a significant moment for Local 2724.”

United Steelworkers Local 2724 has given over $100,000 to Sault Area Hospital Foundation since 2005.

“This gift is a clear message that Local 2724 are great neighbours. This donation is supporting the hospital that our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and all our friends will visit when they need care. That’s just what great neighbours do. Thank you United Steelworkers Local 2724 and all your members for being leaders in our community and for joining us in supporting our hospital,” says Teresa Martone, Executive Director, Sault Area Hospital Foundation.

“On behalf of the Sault Area Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, Executive Director and staff, we would like to thank United Steelworkers Local 2724 and their members for helping to make outstanding care possible at Sault Area Hospital.”

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Transcare Logistics Employees Join Steelworkers Union https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/transcare-logistics-employees-join-steelworkers-union Fri, 22 Nov 2019 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2019/transcare-logistics-employees-join-steelworkers-union HAMILTON – Employees of Transcare Logistics, a Hamilton subsidiary of CP Rail, have joined the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

Transcare employees voted Thursday to join the Steelworkers, in a secret-ballot vote supervised by the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

Transcare Logistics bills itself as “Canada’s first automated distribution hub” and “the largest and the fastest steel transload facility” in the country. The Hamilton facility transfers steel products such as coil, pipe and plate from rail cars to trucks and into storage.

The Hamilton facility was purchased by CP in 2015.

“We’re proud to welcome Transcare Logistics employees as the newest members of the United Steelworkers in Ontario,” said Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director.

“We will support these workers as they move forward and negotiate a collective agreement that recognizes their vital contributions to the success of their employer,” Warren said.

Transcare Logistics employees mobilized to join the USW to address a variety of issues including workplace health and safety concerns. Next steps for the new union members will include electing a negotiating committee and preparing proposals for collective bargaining.

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