United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Fri, 19 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0400 AMPS en hourly 1 Feds Must Reject U.S. Quotas on Canadian Steel and Aluminum https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/feds-must-reject-u-s-quotas-on-canadian-steel-and-aluminum Fri, 19 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/feds-must-reject-u-s-quotas-on-canadian-steel-and-aluminum TORONTO – The United Steelworkers is calling on the federal government to take a decisive stand against U.S. quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum products.

“Canada’s government must emphatically stand up for the Canadian steel and aluminum industries and thousands of families whose livelihoods are at stake,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

News reports indicate U.S. quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum exports are on the table in current negotiations between the Liberal government and the Trump administration over U.S. ‘national security’ tariffs.

“There is no justification for Canada to accept U.S. quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum, just as there is no justification for the spurious national security tariffs the U.S. imposed on our steel and aluminum. Both quotas and tariffs must be rejected outright by the Canadian government,” Neumann said.

“Like tariffs, quotas on Canadian steel or aluminum will unfairly punish Canadian industry and workers. We have significant unused capacity in Canada and it’s not possible to implement a quota that will fairly take into account individual situations in Canadian steel and aluminum communities,” he said.

“The Canadian and American steel and aluminum industries are highly integrated and a quota on Canadian exports makes no more sense than the current tariffs and is just as unfair. The only way to protect and create Canadian jobs in these industries is to remove tariffs and quotas on steel and aluminum,” he added.

“The Liberal government must show that it is truly defending Canadian workers and communities. It should not ratify the renegotiated North American trade deal until U.S. tariffs and quotas are off the table,” Neumann said.

“This government has already betrayed Canadians by conceding to Donald Trump’s numerous demands for concessions in the new USMCA,” he said.

“Trump acknowledged he was using the baseless national security tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum as leverage to extract such concessions from Canada in the trade negotiations,” he noted.

“Canada’s government submitted to these concessions but did not demand that the U.S. reciprocate by lifting the unjustified tariffs. As a result, two of Canada’s key industrial sectors are hurting and thousands of jobs are at risk,” he said.

“The Liberal government has attempted to argue that the steel and aluminum tariffs were a separate issue from the USMCA negotiations,” Neumann said.

“However, the United Steelworkers and the news media have exposed this argument as patently false. The Liberals agreed to a trade deal that actually legitimizes the continued use of baseless U.S. national-security tariffs to punish key Canadian industries – now and into the future.

“The Canadian government must stop making concessions that harm Canadian workers and communities. It must oppose tariffs and quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum as a precondition of ratifying any trade deal.”

Rally to Protect Ontario Labour Rights https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/rally-to-protect-ontario-labour-rights Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:29:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/rally-to-protect-ontario-labour-rights TORONTO – Steelworkers will be joined by hundreds of members of unions across Toronto for a ‘Hands Off Decent Work Laws’ rally on Monday, Oct. 15 at the Ministry of Labour offices. The rally is designed to let the Ontario Minister of Labour know about the widespread support for a $15 minimum wage and strong worker rights.

Co-organized by United Steelworkers (USW) Toronto Area Council, the rally is a public demonstration by workers for workers – those facing precarious employment and in dire need of the $15 minimum wage increase scheduled for Jan. 1, 2018.

“A $15 minimum wage is only fair and just,” said Carol Landry, USW International Vice-President.

“No one in Ontario should have to work more than one job to feed, house and clothe their family. Raising the minimum wage is all about making sure that the little guy and gal gets to have a good life. To stop this raise, to undo decent work laws is all about putting corporate profits first. Who should the government work for?” said John Cartwright, President of Toronto & York Region Labour Council.

“Unionized workers across Toronto have a long history of defending the rights of all workers to safe workplaces, scheduling rights, time off for emergencies, equal pay for equal work and the right to collectively bargain and to organize their workplaces,” said Carolyn Egan, President of the USW Toronto Area Council.


WHEN: Monday, October 15, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Outside the Ministry of Labour (400 University Ave., Toronto)


  • Carol Landry, USW International Vice-President
  • John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council
  • Nigel Barriffe, Urban Alliance on Race Relations & Good Jobs for All Coalition
  • Deena Ladd, 15 and Fairness
  • MC Carolyn Egan, President, USW Toronto Area Council
Alcoa Wants More Concessions at ABI, Despite Lowest Labour Costs https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-wants-more-concessions-at-abi-despite-lowest-labour-costs Wed, 10 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-wants-more-concessions-at-abi-despite-lowest-labour-costs TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Que. – Aluminum giant Alcoa is indicating clearly that it is not interested in settling a nine-month lockout of 1,030 employees at its ABI smelter in Bécancour, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

Alcoa has demanded more concessions from the locked-out workers even though the ABI smelter has the lowest labour costs per unit production among all of Alcoa’s facilities in North America, the USW notes.

The situation prompted former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, appointed by the provincial government as a special mediator in the labour dispute, to suspend the mediation process last week.

The locked-out workers, members of USW/Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700, met Tuesday in Trois-Rivières to discuss the breakdown in negotiations as well as their plan to escalate a campaign to increase pressure on Alcoa for a fair settlement.

“Alcoa has demanded new concessions from workers several times during the negotiations. The company is trying to make workers bear the brunt of its bad decision to lock out its employees in the first place,” said Clément Masse, USW Local 9700 President.

“The fact is that labour costs per tonne are lower at ABI than at any other Alcoa smelter in North America, including the non-unionized smelter in Deschambault, Que., and the unionized smelter in Baie-Comeau, Que. If any budget item is too high, it’s electricity,” Masse said.

“Even if we were to slash labour costs in half, it still wouldn’t make up for the electricity costs, which are higher in Bécancour than at the other two Alcoa smelters in Quebec,” Masse said. “ABI is trying to blame its locked-out employees for the consequences of its own inability to negotiate better electrical rates with the Quebec government.

A costly dispute

Workers have been locked out since Jan. 11 at the ABI smelter, which is co-owned by Alcoa (74.9% stake) and Rio Tinto (25.1%).

Quebec Steelworkers Director Alain Croteau said he is surprised to see Alcoa refuse to engage in meaningful negotiations.

“We’re facing a party that is not acting rationally. Outsiders may think the lockout is an investment for Alcoa to make gains in the collective agreement over the medium and long terms. But there’s no way that concessions from workers could make up for the costs of the lockout,” said Croteau, who met this summer with Alcoa’s senior management in Pittsburgh in the hopes of resolving the lockout.

“If you want to reach an agreement, you need to listen to the other party, capitalize on openings and be open to compromise when the other party is willing to change its position. Alcoa hasn’t done any of that. It’s as if the real issues aren’t even at the negotiating table,” Croteau said.

In addition to energy costs, which are higher in the Centre-du-Québec region than at other smelters in Quebec, another possible issue at play is rising aluminum oxide costs related to problems at the Norsk Hydro aluminum oxide plant in Brazil that supplies Alcoa.

The union plans to step up its strategic campaign to pressure Alcoa and Rio Tinto to resume meaningful negotiations needed to settle the ABI dispute, Croteau said.

“Alcoa and Rio Tinto are taking workers and the entire region hostage. We are going to increase pressure. The shareholders, financial markets and board members all need to realize how irrational this labour dispute is,” he said.

Prior to the lockout, the union believed a settlement was achievable, with two key issues outstanding – pension plan funding and seniority rights related to personnel transfers. Since the lockout began, publicly owned Hydro-Québec has lost more than $164 million in wasted and unpaid electricity, as ABI was able to invoke a force majeure clause to avoid its obligations to the utility.

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

Negotiations Break Off Between ABI, Locked-Out Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/negotiations-break-off-between-abi-locked-out-steelworkers Fri, 05 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/negotiations-break-off-between-abi-locked-out-steelworkers BÉCANCOUR, Que. – The United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos is confirming a statement by special mediator Lucien Bouchard that negotiations in the labour dispute at the ABI aluminum smelter have broken off, with the parties still too far apart on key issues.

Steelworkers Local 9700, representing the 1,030 locked-out ABI workers, will be meeting with its members within the next few days to discuss the state of negotiations, during which time the union will not be communicating with the news media.

The 1,030 ABI employees were locked out by aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto – co-owners of the Bécancour smelter – last Jan. 11. The key issues in the labour dispute are pension plan changes and contract language related to seniority rights and employee turnover.

The lockout imposed by Alcoa and Rio Tinto also has cost Quebecers $161 million to date in lost revenues for Hydro-Québec, the publicly owned utility.

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

Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $10,000 to Aid Survivors of Indonesian Tsunami https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-10000-to-aid-survivors-of-indonesian-tsunami Thu, 04 Oct 2018 13:44:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-humanity-fund-contributes-10000-to-aid-survivors-of-indonesian-tsunami TORONTO, 4 October 2018 – The Steelworkers Humanity Fund is contributing $10,000 to survivors of the recent tsunami in Indonesia.

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake set off a devastating wave on Indonesia’s central island of Sulawesi on Sept. 28. The official death toll is over 1,300.

“This catastrophe left nearly 200,000 people in urgent need of assistance, about a quarter of them children. We felt compelled to demonstrate the Steelworkers' solidarity in the face of a catastrophe of such magnitude,” said Ken Neumann, President of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and National Director of the United Steelworkers.

This emergency relief will be channelled through Oxfam Canada, focusing on urgent needs in areas that are not the main focus of government recovery efforts.

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

NAFTA Deal a Sell-Out for Canadian Steel, Aluminum Workers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/nafta-deal-a-sell-out-for-canadian-steel-aluminum-workers Mon, 01 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/nafta-deal-a-sell-out-for-canadian-steel-aluminum-workers TORONTO – Tens of thousands of Canadian families have been left in the lurch from concessions made by the Liberal government to get a deal with the United States on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Time and time again during the NAFTA renegotiations, the Liberal government assured Canadians that it was defending our steel and aluminum sectors and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Canadian families,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) Canadian Director.

“Given the Liberal government’s rhetoric throughout the process, it was inconceivable that it would agree to any deal that harms Canada’s steel and aluminum sectors,” Neumann said.

“Instead, the Canadian government struck a deal with the U.S. that fails to remove the senseless and damaging tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium imposed by the Trump administration in June,” he said.

“Canadians expected that an agreement on NAFTA would result in the U.S. lifting the bogus national-security tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium. Instead, it appears Canadian steel and aluminum workers are among those being sacrificed in the concessions made by the Liberal government in this deal,” he said.

“Rather than give-and-take negotiations that would generate new provisions to improve Canada’s trading position with the U.S., the Liberal government engaged strictly in concession bargaining,” Neumann said.

“The Liberals made concession after concession, until the Trump administration got the deal it wanted. In the process, Canadian government sold out Canadian steel and aluminum workers. So much for the ‘win-win-win’ deal promised by this government,” he said.

“The United Steelworkers on both sides of the border continue to insist that Canada’s government must draw a line on this issue. U.S. quotas are unacceptable and the current steel and aluminum tariffs must be lifted immediately.”

Ken Neumann Statement for October 4, National Day to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-for-october-4-mmiw Wed, 26 Sep 2018 13:56:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-for-october-4-mmiw On October 4 we remember the many hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across this country. We especially remember the Steelworker sisters who have been taken from us, and we remember the Steelworker families who are grieving.

The National Inquiry is completing its final public hearings, focusing on key themes such as sexual exploitation, colonial violence, and the criminal justice system. Although there has been controversy about the inquiry’s processes, we await the release of the final report, due by April 30, 2019, and hope that it will play a role in increasing the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls.

In the meantime, we can take steps to show support. Please attend an October 4 event in your community. Look at the list below, prepared by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, or check with women’s shelters or Indigenous people’s organizations in your home community.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Check out the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Community Resource Guide to organize a successful October 4 event

Check out the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s list of vigils 

Marty Warren Statement for October 4, National Day to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-for-october-4-mmiw Wed, 26 Sep 2018 13:46:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-for-october-4-mmiw October 4 is the day Canadians attend vigils and other events honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Sadly, included in the missing and murdered are Steelworker sisters and the family members of Steelworkers.

In early September, Steelworkers from across District 6 joined together to help build a gathering place in Collingwood, Ontario. It’s a place that acknowledges Indigenous nations and that symbolizes the close connection between all of us who have lived, and now live, on this land. The beauty of this gathering place should inspire us to make sure that all peoples can live on and enjoy this land in safety and good health.

Please attend an October 4 vigil wherever you are, to show that Steelworkers care about creating a world free of gender- and race-based violence. The list below is one source of details about the many events being organized. You can also telephone your community’s Friendship Centre or Indigenous women’s centre to ask about local events.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

Check out the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s list of vigils

Liberals Must Step Back from Job-Killing CPTPP: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-must-step-back-from-job-killing-cptpp-steelworkers Tue, 18 Sep 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-must-step-back-from-job-killing-cptpp-steelworkers OTTAWA – Amidst the turmoil of a tariff war and trade negotiations with a hostile U.S. administration, it is unacceptable that the federal Liberal government is pushing ahead with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a flawed trade deal projected to kill 58,000 Canadian jobs.

“It is inconceivable that the Liberal government wants to ram through the CPTPP, a trade deal so badly flawed that it compromises the positions Canada must defend at this very moment in the highly sensitive NAFTA renegotiations with the U.S. and Mexico,” said Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

“If the CPTPP is implemented, Canadians will lose middle-class livelihoods in our auto, steel, skilled trades and supply-management sectors,” Neumann said.

“As with other unbalanced trade deals, the CPTPP will give multinational corporations the power to sue various levels of Canadian governments for enacting laws and regulations that protect our environment, food safety and other public interests. Canadians will have no recourse to oppose such challenges, which are heard in unaccountable, secret tribunals headed by international trade lawyers,” he said.

“The CPTPP is yet another corporate rights agreement that will eliminate good jobs, erode Canada’s manufacturing and industrial base, drive down wages and weaken labour standards, increase inequality and worsen global environmental challenges. The agreement does not even mention the words ‘climate change,’ ” Neumann said.

“The Liberal government must abandon its haste to adopt the CPTPP and listen to Canadians whose jobs are threatened and who oppose this destructive deal,” he said.

During the public consultation process on the CPTPP, more than 60,000 Canadians submitted written comments – 95% of whom were opposed to the agreement.

Neumann pointed to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which has led to a worsening trade imbalance for Canada since the deal came into effect last year.

“Since CETA came into effect, there has been a flood of imports from CETA countries into Canada, while Canadian exports to these same countries have decreased,” he said.

“The effects of the CPTPP will be much worse for Canada’s economy and Canadian jobs. The Liberal government must step back from this potentially devastating agreement,” he added.

“In light of the critical status of NAFTA renegotiations, the Canadian government must demonstrate its commitment to defending Canadian workers, our key domestic industries and our economic sovereignty.”

Key Facts

  • The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was secretly negotiated by Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
  • The agreement was negotiated with little transparency or accountability, with Canadians left in the dark about the government's agenda. Even as they currently debate legislation aimed at implementing the CPTPP, Canadian Members of Parliament have not been given the full text of the agreement to review.
  • Canada’s Liberal government never even bothered to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the agreement’s potential impact on Canadian jobs.
  • A study by researchers from Tufts University in the U.S. concluded the deal would cost Canada 58,000 jobs and increase income inequality.
Locked-Out ABI Employees to Demonstrate at Leaders’ Debate https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/locked-out-abi-employees-to-demonstrate-at-leaders-debate Thu, 13 Sep 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/locked-out-abi-employees-to-demonstrate-at-leaders-debate MONTREAL – Forced onto picket lines since Jan. 11 of this year, locked-out workers from the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour will rally today outside the Quebec leaders’ debate in Montreal, demanding commitments to help resolve an eight-month labour dispute.

    WHO: Locked-out workers from the ABI aluminum smelter

    WHAT: Demonstration outside the Quebec leaders’ debate

    WHEN: Thursday, Sept 13, 5:15 p.m.

    WHERE: Maison de Radio-Canada, 1400 René-Lévesque Blvd. East

The locked-out workers, members of Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, are urging Quebec party leaders to get more involved in resolving the bargaining deadlock with multinational giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto – co-owners of the ABI smelter.

The Steelworkers have condemned the hydro contract between the ABI smelter and publicly owned Hydro-Québec that allows Alcoa and Rio Tinto to pass along the bill for their lockout to the people of Quebec.

To date, the lockout has deprived Hydro-Québec – and by extension all Quebecers – of $148 million in revenues.

The ABI smelter has been allowed to avoid its hydro contract obligations by invoking a case of force majeure, due to its own decision to lock out its employees. The force majeure clause also allows the smelter to escape a $42-million fine that would normally be levied due to lower production.

“The dispute has been going on for more than eight months. The biased contracts with the Government of Quebec are creating an imbalance in the power relationship between the company and the locked-out workers,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, which represents 1,030 ABI employees.

“We have been taken hostage. The entire Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions are suffering, and all Quebecers have been left with the bill. The next premier needs to step in and restore a balance. This is an issue that concerns all future members of the National Assembly,” Masse said.

The lockout triggered by ABI on Jan. 11 centres on two key issues – respecting seniority rights in cases of employee turnover and pension plan funding.

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

Alcoa, Steelworkers Discuss ABI Lockout https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-steelworkers-discuss-abi-lockout Thu, 06 Sep 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alcoa-steelworkers-discuss-abi-lockout PITTSBURGH, MONTREAL – Quebec and international leaders of the United Steelworkers/Syndicat des Métallos union met today with Alcoa executives to discuss potential pathways to resolving an eight-month lockout of workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, Que.

The tone of the meeting, held at Alcoa’s corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, was “respectful,” said Steelworkers Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

“We discussed possible solutions that we could pursue to try to break the impasse. The United Steelworkers union remains ready and willing to negotiate in good faith whenever the special mediator summons the parties back to the bargaining table,” said Croteau, who led the union delegation at today’s meeting along with Steelworkers’ International Vice-President Tom Conway.

Former Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, appointed by the Quebec government as the special mediator in the labour dispute, also participated in today’s meeting at Alcoa headquarters.

The 1,030 unionized employees at the ABI smelter in Bécancour have been locked out of their jobs since Jan. 11 of this year. The labour dispute hinges on two key outstanding issues – pension plan changes and language related to seniority rights and employee turnover.

Union leaders, including the president of Steelworkers Local 9700 representing the locked-out ABI workers, are not commenting further on today’s meeting, given an anticipated resumption of bargaining.

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

Investors Cautioned on Alcoa-Related ‘Controversies’ https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/investors-cautioned-on-alcoa-related-controversies Wed, 05 Sep 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/investors-cautioned-on-alcoa-related-controversies BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Aluminum giant Alcoa, embroiled in labour disputes affecting thousands of employees at operations in Quebec and Australia, has received an unenviable mention in the Controversies Journal published by corporate rating and research agency Vigeo Eiris.

The Vigeo Eiris report, published in late August, advises international investors of human resources “controversies” at Alcoa operations in North America and Australia. The report rates each controversy as having a “high level of severity.”

Alcoa owns a majority stake – 74.9% – of the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, Que., where 1,030 workers have been locked out of their jobs for eight months, as the company attempts to extract concessions in collective bargaining. The locked-out workers are represented by the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos).

Alcoa also has provoked a labour dispute in Western Australia, where 1,600 members of the Australian Workers Union are on the picket line to resist the company’s attacks on their job security.

The Vigeo Eiris report to investors comes as United Steelworkers representatives prepare for a meeting tomorrow with Alcoa management at the company’s global headquarters in Pittsburgh.

“When a corporation is keeping thousands of workers on the street at opposite ends of the planet, that should trigger alarm bells about its commitment to corporate social responsibility,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, representing the locked-out ABI employees.

“We’re hoping that Alcoa’s executives are beginning to feel the heat and they are willing to seriously pursue avenues to settle this dispute,” Masse said.

The 1,030 employees at Alcoa’s ABI smelter were locked out on Jan. 11 of this year, even though the union believed a contract settlement was close at hand, with only two outstanding issues – pension plan changes and language related to seniority and employee turnover.

To date the ABI lockout has deprived Hydro-Québec – the province’s publicly owned utility – of $143 million in revenues.

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

Renegotiated NAFTA Must “Truly Advance the Interests of Workers in Canada and Across North America" https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/renegotiated-nafta-must-truly-advance-the-interests-of-workers-in-canada-and-across-north-america Fri, 31 Aug 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/renegotiated-nafta-must-truly-advance-the-interests-of-workers-in-canada-and-across-north-america TORONTO – Joint statement from Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director for Canada and Leo W. Gerard, USW International President, on the status of North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations:

 “Today's decision by the United States Trade Representative to proceed with a U.S.-Mexico bilateral revision to the North American Free Trade Agreement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the integration and operation of North America's markets. Rather than rushing to complete a bilateral deal and then seeking to pressure Canada into making unacceptable concessions, the negotiators should have engaged in a more thoughtful, consensus-driven trilateral process. 

“Negotiations are about compromise and understanding the fundamental interests of each nation and the need for governments to represent and protect the interests of their citizens. The renegotiation of NAFTA has begun to set the course for a new agreement that can reverse the damage and decimation of the original agreement by promoting labour rights in Mexico, enhancing rules of origin to promote manufacturing and jobs in North America and revising Investor State Dispute Settlement to reduce corporate power. Those positive steps must be buttressed by a trilateral deal that includes all three original parties and that is fully enforceable. 

“We urge the Canadian government to work creatively with the other parties to negotiate a new Free Trade Agreement that will truly protect and advance the interests of workers in Canada and across North America.”

USW Welcomes the Return of Napoleón Gómez to Mexico https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/usw-welcomes-return-of-napoleon-gomez Tue, 28 Aug 2018 13:47:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/usw-welcomes-return-of-napoleon-gomez PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes the return to Mexico of Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the President and General Secretary of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic (Los Mineros) after more than 12 years of exile.

In a letter of congratulations, USW International President Leo W. Gerard said:

“With your swearing-in to the Senate, a new world of possibilities begins for Los Mineros and the working class of Mexico. For the first time in decades, there is a real opportunity to transform the structures of worker representation, industrial justice and economic decision-making to make democratic representation, real collective bargaining, decent wages and pro-worker policies available to Mexican workers. This transformation would benefit not only workers in Mexico, but also their sisters and brothers in Canada and the United States who have suffered the unfair competition resulting from wage suppression in Mexico.”

Gómez and his family were forced to leave Mexico and seek refuge in Canada in 2006 after the government of Mexican President Vicente Fox stripped him of his legal certification as leader of the union and filed bogus criminal charges when he protested the deaths of 65 workers in an explosion at Grupo Mexico’s Pasta de Conchos mine.

The Mexican Supreme Court ordered the certification to be restored in 2012, and all of the criminal charges were dismissed in 2014. In 2011, Gómez received the AFL-CIO’s George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award.

Gómez, who was elected to the Mexican Senate on the Morena party ticket headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, received his Senate credentials Aug. 27 and will take the oath of office Aug. 29. A USW delegation headed by Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, will be in attendance.

Federal Steel Measures a Needed Step: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/federal-steel-measures-a-needed-step Tue, 14 Aug 2018 13:52:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/federal-steel-measures-a-needed-step TORONTO – “The United Steelworkers union (USW) welcomes today’s announcement by the federal government commencing consultations on the steel safeguards and protection measures our union has been requesting for months,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director.

“In addition to consultations, the USW continues to call for Canadian trade unions to have the right to initiate trade complaints,” emphasized Neumann.

The dumping of steel on the international market by countries including China, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam has been a problem for the North American steel industry and workers for a number of years.

Once U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum earlier this year, it was obvious the Canadian government would need to take strong action to avoid increased and specific dumping into Canada as a result.

In addition to fighting the imposition of U.S. tariffs onto Canada, the Steelworkers have consistently insisted that measures need to be taken by our federal government to protect Canada from further dumping as an indirect avenue into the American market.

“Today the federal government has taken a needed step towards aiding and safeguarding the Canadian steel industry. We welcome it and look forward to further measures to aid this essential Canadian industry,” added Neumann.

Steelworkers Welcome Criminal Charges in Sudbury Worker’s Death https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-welcome-criminal-charges-in-sudbury-workers-death Tue, 31 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-welcome-criminal-charges-in-sudbury-workers-death SUDBURY – The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes criminal charges against a Sudbury company and its owner in relation to a worker’s death in 2017.

“The criminal investigation and charges validate our union’s campaign for greater enforcement of the Westray amendments to the Criminal Code. We hope the charges will be prosecuted as soon as possible,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“We have lobbied for several years for stronger enforcement of the 2004 Westray Law that was intended to hold corporate directors, executives and managers criminally accountable for workplace death and injury,” Warren said.

Rheal Dionne, 39, an employee of Rainbow Concrete, was killed on Feb. 15, 2017, when a concrete slab fell on the dump truck he was operating, trapping him inside.

Rainbow Concrete owner Boris Naneff has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. The company also faces the same Criminal Code charge.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour has laid 12 charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act against Rainbow Concrete, its owners and two supervisors in relation to the fatality.

Rheal Dionne is survived by his wife and their son, as well as his parents. Rheal’s father Julien Dionne is a retired USW member in Sudbury who was a lifelong workplace health and safety activist.

USW Local 6500 in Sudbury has been supporting the Dionne family and has offered representation to the family for the criminal prosecution process. The union also has worked with Sudbury police on awareness and training issues related to the Westray Law.

“We commend the Greater Sudbury Police Service for conducting a criminal investigation into this tragedy and for proceeding with Criminal Code charges,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“There have been more than 10,000 workplace-related deaths in Canada since the Westray Act was enacted and there have been very few criminal convictions and even fewer jail sentences for employers responsible for these deaths,” Neumann noted.

“Unfortunately, police officers in Canada are still not trained and directed to properly enforce the Westray Law. Our union and many allies across the country will continue with our national campaign to demand that the Westray Law is enforced to the greatest extent possible,” he added.

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.

The USW also is calling on the new Government of Ontario to do more to hold companies and their directors accountable for workplace death and injury.

“The Premier and his Attorney General and Labour Minister must initiate protocols and training for prosecutors and law enforcement to ensure enforcement of the Westray Law. These are critical investments that are needed to ensure safe and healthy workplaces in Ontario,” Warren said.

“The Ontario government must step up and enforce the law – for the people.”

Steelworkers Make Significant Gains at Delta Airlines https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-make-significant-gains-at-delta-airlines Tue, 24 Jul 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-make-significant-gains-at-delta-airlines TORONTO, MONTREAL – The best pay rates in the industry are among significant improvements in a new collective agreement achieved by United Steelworkers (USW) members working at Delta Airlines operations in Canada.

USW Local 1976 members approved the new, five-year contract in ratification votes held across Canada this month. The contract covers more than 300 Delta employees at airports across the country, including ticket and gate agents, baggage handlers and ramp workers.

“This contract represents a great achievement for our members and for our bargaining committee,” said Steven Hadden, President of USW Local 1976.

“With the solidarity and support of our membership, the bargaining committee achieved meaningful contract improvements while also defending our members’ defined-benefit pension plan and contracting-out language that maintains job security.”

The new, five-year collective agreement provides a 4.5% wage increase this year, to be followed by increases of 3.5% in 2019 and 3% in each of the last three years of the contract, making Delta employees the highest-paid in Canada. 

Approximately 50% of the employees covered by the collective agreement also will receive additional wage increases in the contract’s first year, to address disparities in pay rates in some job classifications. These employees will receive wage increases ranging from 13% to 16% this year.

Other gains in the new collective agreement include increases in shift premiums and improved vision care and paramedical coverage.

“This is a solid collective agreement that recognizes the key contributions the members of Steelworkers Local 1976 make at Delta Airlines,” said USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann. “The hard work and excellent customer service that our members bring to their jobs each day are vital to the company’s success.”

USW Forestry Workers in Northern B.C. Preparing for Strike https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/usw-forestry-workers-in-northern-b-c-preparing-for-strike Tue, 24 Jul 2018 11:09:05 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/usw-forestry-workers-in-northern-b-c-preparing-for-strike PRINCE GEORGE, BC, July 24, 2018 - The United Steelworkers (USW) Wood Council met for a fifth round of bargaining with the Council on Northern Interior Forest Employment Relations (Conifer). Unfortunately, the employers came to the table unable to negotiate straightforward proposals. 

Given the strong lumber market, the union believes the employers should come to the bargaining table prepared to address workers' issues.

"We are looking for improvements to our working conditions," says Bob Matters, USW Wood Council Chair.

"The employer is unwilling to discuss the most basic proposals. Our workers are demanding changes and we will fight for them. We are bargaining for 23 different worksites and it's time to send them a message," Matters said.

The union has proposed changes to the collective agreement that include leave for members struggling with domestic violence, union representation and pension funding improvement.

"Our goal is to get a fair contract for our members," says Brian O'Rourke, President of USW Local 1-2017. "The employers are having one of the best economic years in decades and workers should share in this prosperity."

The union will be seeking a strong strike mandate from each worksite covered by Conifer. Over 1,500 workers will participate.

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

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

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

Demands from Shaw management include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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