United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0400 AMPS en hourly 1 ABI Lockout Costing Quebecers $604,464 Daily http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/abi-lockout-costing-quebecers-604464-daily Tue, 20 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/abi-lockout-costing-quebecers-604464-daily MONTREAL – Publicly owned Hydro-Québec is losing $604,464 a day due to the unilateral decision by multinationals Alcoa and Rio Tinto to lock out workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour.

Since the lockout was imposed on Jan. 11, Hydro-Québec has lost $41.7 million in earnings, according to an independent analysis of the terms of the hydro contract between the public utility, the Quebec government and the ABI smelter. The contract analysis was commissioned by the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos), which represents the 1,030 locked-out workers at ABI.

The contract stipulates that ABI must pay for the entire energy block that Hydro-Québec has set aside for the smelter, whether the power is used or not.

After ABI workers were locked out in January, the smelter’s co-owners – Alcoa and Rio Tinto – cut aluminum production by two-thirds, with a comparable reduction in the facility’s electricity consumption.

However, the analysis of the terms of the contract reveals that the company’s obligation to Hydro-Québec can be suspended when it locks out its workers. Even though the lockout is a unilateral decision by the company, the contract is structured to allow the company to declare “force majeure” and avoid paying for the hydro it is not using.

The loss in revenues to Hydro-Québec during the lockout amounts to $604,464 per day during the winter and $600,352 daily in summer months, according to the independent analysis of the contract. Over the course of one year, revenue losses would reach $220 million.

By declaring force majeure, ABI also avoids an annual $41.9-million penalty it would normally have to pay due to decreased production, under terms of the contract. The contract calls for such penalties when production falls under a threshold of 380,000 tons of aluminum per year.

“A lockout is not an earthquake; it is an informed business decision,” said Dominic Lemieux, Assistant to the United Steelworkers Quebec Director.

“It makes no sense for the lockout to be considered a case of force majeure and for the cost burden to fall in part on the shoulders of all Quebecers. You can’t simply say this is a private dispute when the situation can ultimately have such a significant impact on all Quebecers,” Lemieux said.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto rejected the union’s offer to continue negotiations in January and decided instead to lock out the 1,030 ABI workers.

“The company benefits from favourable electricity rates from the Quebec state because it is supposed to create good jobs in the province in return,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700 at the ABI smelter.

“Instead, the company is unilaterally breaking this pact, even though a negotiated resolution is within reach. This is placing a heavy burden on 1,030 families and the economy of an entire region. And now we understand that Quebecers as a whole will also be paying the price,” Masse said.

The ABI lockout has rekindled memories of Rio Tinto Alcan’s controversial lockout of aluminum workers in Alma, Que., in 2012, when Hydro-Québec was forced to buy surplus hydro from the company’s smelter as it cut production during the lockout. Hydro-Québec paid Rio Tinto $148 million over six months to buy electricity that the public utility didn’t even need.

“In this scenario in Bécancour, Hydro-Québec is losing revenues rather than paying out money. But the logic is the same: Quebecers as a whole have to foot the bill for the cavalier actions of these aluminum multinationals. It gives us a sense of déjà vu,” said Lemieux.

In all, four terawatt hours are being added annually to Hydro-Quebec’s surpluses, while the utility is already struggling to sell excess electricity.

A summary of the independent analysis of the hydro contract commissioned by the United Steelworkers is available at: https://www.metallos.org.

U.S.-based Alcoa owns 74.9% of the ABI smelter and the Australian-British multinational Rio Tinto owns 25.1%. The smelter’s production reached 439,999 tonnes in 2017.

ABI workers were locked out as negotiations stalled on pension and seniority issues. Late last fall, the union’s bargaining committee agreed to consider the creation of a new pension plan for all workers – in direct response to the employer’s concerns.

Despite the significant compromise offered by the union, rather than pursue a negotiated settlement the company broke off talks and forced a vote on a final, comprehensive offer that was rejected by workers.

Steelworkers Host Community Celebration of Hamilton’s Diversity http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-host-community-celebration-of-hamiltons-diversity Thu, 15 Mar 2018 10:28:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-host-community-celebration-of-hamiltons-diversity HAMILTON – The Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council invites all residents to a celebration of our city’s diversity on Sunday, March 18, in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“We are very fortunate to live in a city as diverse as ours,” said Darren Green, President of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council. “We celebrate our community and the progress we’ve made in promoting inclusion, human rights and respect for diversity. We must also recognize there is more work to do to eliminate racial discrimination in our society.”

The celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the United Steelworkers Centre, 1031 Barton St. E. in Hamilton. All are welcome.

The event will feature entertainment, food from around the world and discussions on diversity and discrimination issues. Admission, food and refreshments are free.

“We have had great participation and sponsorships from community organizations and individuals who recognize the importance of this day,” Green said.

The theme this year is Communities Coming Together.

“We have witnessed the constructive actions in response to events happening in our country and elsewhere over the last year and we want to have a conversation in an open and welcoming forum where everyone feels comfortable discussing what needs to be done going forward as a community.”

Bid to Save Hamilton Specialty Bar Faces March 26 Deadline http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/bid-to-save-hamilton-specialty-bar-faces-march-26-deadline Wed, 14 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/bid-to-save-hamilton-specialty-bar-faces-march-26-deadline HAMILTON – The United Steelworkers (USW) is working with a prospective buyer for Hamilton Specialty Bar (HSB) to save the Hamilton steel plant from possible liquidation.

A Superior Court judge today approved a liquidation bid for HSB, which is in receivership. However, the judge also informed stakeholders that he will entertain a “going-concern bid” to purchase the plant if such a proposal is presented to the court by March 26.

“This isn’t over,” said Tony DePaulo, Assistant to the Ontario Director of the USW, which represents more than 200 HSB employees.

“If a viable bid is presented to the court by March 26 and approved, Hamilton Specialty Bar will be spared liquidation and will continue to operate,” DePaulo said.

“We know that HSB has the facilities, the products and the skilled workforce needed to be a productive and successful business. And we know that KAL Advisory Partners LLC – the prospective purchaser for HSB – is working hard to secure the commitments it needs to finalize its bid by March 26,” he said.

“We continue to work with our legal and financial advisors to do everything we can to support our members and find a way to keep HSB operating.”

The HSB facility is an electric-arc mill that melts its own steel and manufactures products such as ingots and round bars, mostly for the automotive industry.

Permanent Tariff Exemption Needed for Canadian Steel, Aluminum: Steelworkers http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/permanent-tariff-exemption-needed-for-canadian-steel-aluminum-steelworkers Thu, 08 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/permanent-tariff-exemption-needed-for-canadian-steel-aluminum-steelworkers TORONTO, MONTREAL – Canada’s steel and aluminum producers must be permanently exempted from U.S. tariffs, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“The evidence is clear and overwhelming. Canadian steel and aluminum exports are not part of the problem that the U.S. administration is trying to address through its tariff measures,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said today.

“There is no justification to deny a permanent exemption from tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum imports,” Neumann said.

“The United Steelworkers has successfully lobbied against the imposition of tariffs on our steel and aluminum exports to date. Our union has led the labour movement in taking the message to the White House that Canada is not the problem,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump today announced that Canadian steel and aluminum producers will be granted a temporary exemption from tariffs and that the exemption could be extended based on progress in renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We are relieved by the temporary exemption, to the extent that it recognizes Canada is not the problem. But a temporary exemption creates considerable economic uncertainty for Canadian producers and will be counter-productive to making progress in the NAFTA renegotiations. That’s why the exemption must be permament,” Neumann said.

“The U.S. government launched an investigation into steel and aluminum imports to respond to countries whose trade practices represent a threat to American national security,” Neumann noted.

“The evidence confirms there are many countries that engage in unfair, illegal and predatory trading practices that have created a global steel glut and depressed prices affecting all steel and aluminum markets,” said Marty Warren, USW Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

“These ‘bad actor’ countries, including China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam, have harmed the entire North American market. Canada is not one of these bad actors,” Warren said.

“The U.S. and Canada enjoy fair trade and have integrated manufacturing markets. Unjustified tariffs would cause economic harm and job losses in both countries,” said USW Quebec Director Alain Croteau.

“There is no justification – related to trading practices or national security – for U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. We are calling on the U.S. administration to recognize this reality,” Croteau said.

“Clearly, a permanent exemption for Canadian producers is warranted,” he said.

“The USW and our allies in both countries will continue to aggressively lobby the U.S. government to secure a permanent exemption from U.S. tariffs for Canadian steel and aluminum producers,” said Stephen Hunt, USW Director for Western Canada.

“Canadian workers and families need our federal government to stand up for them and demand that the American administration grant an immediate, permanent exemption from tariffs,” Hunt said.

The Canadian government must take action to prevent a surge of offshore steel and aluminum imports into Canada as a result of U.S. tariffs imposed on other countries, the USW says.

“The Canadian government must demonstrate a commitment to address the very real problem of cheap imports directly or indirectly entering the North American market,” Neumann said.

“The federal government must be prepared to use all measures at its disposal, including targeted safeguard actions, government-initiated trade cases and increasing resources to the Canada Border Services Agency to investigate and respond to increased dumping of product into the Canadian market,” he said.

“The Canadian government must follow through on its promise to allow trade unions the full right to participate in all aspects of trade cases, as well as the right to file trade complaints under the Special Import Measures Act. Full participation of unions in trade remedy proceedings is a critical component of an effective trade remedy system.”

Employer Takes Vindictive, Unproductive Approach to Mediation in ABI Lockout http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/employer-takes-vindictive-unproductive-approach-to-mediation-in-abi-lockout Thu, 08 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/employer-takes-vindictive-unproductive-approach-to-mediation-in-abi-lockout BÉCANCOUR, Que. – Locked-out Quebec Steelworkers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour are denouncing a “vindictive and unproductive” approach adopted by the company as negotiators were called back to the bargaining table by a government mediator.

Company negotiators admitted they did not have a mandate to reach a settlement, going so far as to rescind their previous contract offer made on Jan. 10, said Clément Masse, President of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 9700, representing the 1,030 locked-out ABI employees.

“This is a slap in the face to each and every worker. After forcing us onto the street for two months, they are now telling us that what they previously offered will not even be used as a basis to seek as settlement,” Masse said.

“They claim to want to hear suggestions from us, but we’re operating in a vacuum. It’s unfortunate that representatives of this employer don’t have the decency to commit to a reasonable, basic standard expected in collective bargaining.”

Union negotiators entered today’s mediated bargaining session by confirming their willingness to engage in meaningful discussions over the key stumbling blocks – pensions and seniority issues, Masse said.

“Today we felt there was no desire from the employer to negotiate in any meaningful way. They indicated vindictiveness for the workers’ rejection of their previous contract offer. It’s the same reaction we’ve had from them since they locked us out. They’re losing money due to their decision and they’re trying to shift the blame on us,” he said.

“When the time comes that they are prepared to meaningfully discuss resolutions to the outstanding issues, we’ll be pleased to work with them in a productive way. Until then, the workers are standing together, moral is good,” he added.

The ABI smelter in Bécancour, the second-largest of its kind in North America, is co-owned by Alcoa (75%) and Rio Tinto (25%). The two multinationals locked out employees on Jan. 11.

“From the union’s standpoint, we are making it clear to shareholders of these two companies that their management have been making bad financial decisions,” Masse said.

“We also want shareholders to know that this is our plant, too. We take pride in our work and we take pride in our plant. It’s heartbreaking to see what management has been doing. We continue to hope that they will soon come to their senses and commit to a settlement of this dispute so we can get back to doing what we do best – making high-quality aluminum.”

Ken Neumann’s statement for International Women’s Day 2018 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-womens-day-2018 Mon, 05 Mar 2018 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-womens-day-2018 Unions Say “NO” to Violence Against Women

Unions Say No to Violence logoAccording to the latest Global Gender Gap Report, it's going to take 217 years to achieve economic equality for the world’s women, at the current rate of change.

That’s bad. But full equality will never be achieved as long as women continue to face violence and harassment.

Thousands of women in many countries are breaking the silence with campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp. Violence and harassment are being perpetrated against women in every industry, not only in industries which are in the public eye.

USW knows that women need equality now! As part of the global union federation, IndustriALL, we have taken a global union pledge to achieve gender equality. In December, USW’s International Executive Board unanimously passed a resolution to sign the pledge and take concerted action against workplace sexual harassment. Our IndustriALL work includes a commitment to push our federal government to support a new international standard on “Violence and Harassment Against Women and Men in the World of Work,” which will include gender-based violence.

Here in Canada, USW is committed to increasing the resources available for members and staff to take on workplace sexual harassment. In the coming months, and with the input of the USW National Women’s and National Health, Safety and Environment committees, we will provide local unions with more options to “Say ‘NO’ to Violence Against Women.”

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

IndustriALL video: Unions Say No to Violence Against Women 
(Violence against women at work - a trade union issue)

USW International Executive Board Resolution: Standing Up to Violence and Harassment Against Women

Take the IndustriALL Pledge: Say No to Violence Against Women

Marty Warren’s statement for International Women’s Day 2018 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-international-womens-day-2018 Mon, 05 Mar 2018 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-international-womens-day-2018 This year, we can’t talk about International Women’s Day without talking about how to end workplace sexual harassment.

Women workers in the entertainment industry have helped take the lid off of this nasty problem. We know that sexual harassment is widespread in all industries, not just entertainment. And we know that there’s no equality without safety and respect.

USW has lots of great resources to fight harassment, including courses and publications. I want to focus on another, very important resource: our local health and safety committee activists.

Health and safety reps work hard to keep our workplaces safe and our members secure. Just like other risks and hazards, sexual harassment threatens mental and physical health. And when workers aren’t healthy, it’s hard to meet performance standards, putting their economic security in danger. Let me say that again: harassment in the workplace threatens women’s economic security.

Let’s support our health and safety reps and activists to continue taking on the battle against workplace sexual harassment. For International Women’s Day and for every day of the week: Unions Say “NO” to Sexual Harassment and Violence against Women!

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

Sign the IndustriALL Pledge: Say No to Violence Against Women

Ken Neumann statement on the Stanley verdict http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-on-the-stanley-verdict Mon, 12 Feb 2018 16:27:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-on-the-stanley-verdict Like many Canadians, I am troubled by the recent verdict in the Gerald Stanley trial. It sends the wrong message about the value our society places on Indigenous lives. And it undermines efforts at reconciliation being taken by individual Canadians and by organizations such as the United Steelworkers.

The USW has endorsed the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have created a National Aboriginal Committee which has initiated important work aimed at reconciling Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. We will continue that work, knowing that so much still needs to be done to heal past wrongs and establish relationships of respect and trust.

Our hearts go out to the family of Colten Boushie. Like them, we turn to our elected politicians for action to ensure a fair and unbiased legal system. It is up to politicians and citizens together to make Canada a place free of race-based hatred and violence.

In solidarity

Ken Neumann
National Director

Ken Neumann Statement on Black History Month (2018) http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-black-history-month-2018 Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:05:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-black-history-month-2018 In our union’s proud history of promoting and supporting equality, Steelworkers celebrate Black History Month annually. We celebrate the accomplishments of black Canadian people in society, acknowledge the achievements of activists in our union and encourage Steelworkers to continue the struggle for equality. We are beginning to recognize that despite advances in equality, racism has played a historic part in our national experience. This experience has also led to discrimination against black immigrants and Canadians in our workplaces.

Internationally, Steelworkers support the UN General Assembly’s implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015–2024), and accordingly, the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 

Nationally, I would like to draw your attention to the newly formed Federation of Black Canadians (FBC), a national, non-profit organization, driven by Black organizations across the country. The federation advances the social, economic, political and cultural interests of Canadians of African descent. We see the FBC as a valuable support for the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU).   

Within our own union, I am proud that our member activism for equality-seeking groups is mandated by our constitution, requiring each local to establish a human rights committee.  

Beyond celebrating Black History Month in February, we as Steelworkers must continue to support racial equality each day in our workplaces and communities. 

I know that activism is driven by our membership in our workplaces and communities. During Black History Month, I urge all of our racialized activists and allies to: 

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

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Marty Warren Statement on Black History Month (2018) http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-black-history-month-2018 Tue, 30 Jan 2018 10:51:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-black-history-month-2018 As District 6 represents one of the most diverse Districts in Canada, it is important that we celebrate Black History Month each February. Steelworkers of all colours are also part of a larger community of equality-seeking groups.

In our communities and workplaces, the contribution of black workers has been significant in the industries and economies of Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. While we work hard for economic justice through our collective agreements and community activism, it is important to note that discrimination exists for black people throughout District 6.

A story in the Toronto Star shows that Black applicants may have a harder time finding an entry-level service or retail job in Toronto than white applicants with a criminal record. And El Jones, the former poet laureate of the city, and currently the Chair of the Women’s Studies Program at Mount Saint Vincent University, speaks of her experience of anti-black racism in Halifax.  

It is very important to me that equality remains a core part of Steelworkers solidarity. I encourage everyone to celebrate Black History Month with me in February. Beyond that, let us work together to continue fighting for equality in our workplaces and communities. 

I call on Steelworkers to: 

  • Create a Human Rights Committee in your local or unit by using the mandate in the USW Constitution’s Article VII, Section 12
  • Introduce and strengthen anti-racism language in collective bargaining
  • Work with organizations such as the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU)
  • Stand up and speak out on your own against racist comments and jokes in our communities and workplaces
  • Join the New Democratic Party to support legislation to create and amend human rights and workplace safety laws

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

ABI Submits Final and Comprehensive Offer http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/abi-submits-final-and-comprehensive-offer Sat, 23 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/abi-submits-final-and-comprehensive-offer BÉCANCOUR, Que. - The Bécancour Smelter (ABI) put an end to negotiations late Thursday night by submitting a final and comprehensive offer. The United Steelworkers Union deplores the employer's decision to suspend negotiations with a unilateral offer rather than pursue joint efforts to reach a negotiated agreement. 

"The employer has told us that it has no mandate to continue negotiating," says Local 9700 President, Clément Masse. "This is unfortunate. If the employer changes its mind, we are prepared to resume negotiations at any time. We have the mandate to do so."

The employer's unilateral offer will be studied in the coming weeks by the union’s negotiating committee and authorities. 

No interviews are being given for the time being. 

Ken Neumann Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:42:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Each year on December 10, the United Steelworkers observe Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworkers' values and activism.

This year, along with recognizing the routine good work of our local equality activists, I would like to highlight three areas of national and international interest. These are the effectiveness of international solidarity, the income gap for racialized and Indigenous workers and hate crimes against equality seeking groups.

The Steelworkers is an international union. It is notable that recently the successful settlement of our nine-month strike at Glencore demonstrated the power of international solidarity. On December 10 this year, our global partners, including IndustriALL, will take global action on International Human Rights Day to highlight Glencore’s violations of workers’ rights around the world. This action relates to Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, maintaining the right to join a union and to take part in union activities.

As a union promoting the wages of our members and economic fairness in Canada, it is important to note that the 2016 census from Statistics Canada shows significant income inequality for three equality-seeking groups – Indigenous people, racialized Canadians and immigrants.

For Indigenous people, the income gap is 25% when compared to the rest of Canadians. Further broken down, there is a 45% income gap between Indigenous women and non-Indigenous men.

There is also significant disparity between racialized and non-racialized Canadians. The income gap for racialized Canadians is 26% compared to the non-racialized population. Holding true to the trend of gender disparity, there is a 47% gap between racialized women and non-racialized men. For recent immigrants, the income gap was 63% when compared to non-immigrants. And for women who are recent immigrants, there is a 59% difference to non-immigrant men. 

Based on the 2016 census from Statistics Canada, we see that hate crimes against equality-seeking groups continue to rise in this country. It is important to note that one-fifth of Canadians in 2016 were foreign born, with diverse religious practices.

2017 began with a violent mass shooting at the Grande Mosquée de Québec. This violence left six men dead. Actions such as these are recognized in the Criminal Code of Canada as crimes recognized to be hate propaganda or hate crimes. These types of crimes include advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property.

Yet hate crime extends beyond Islamophobia. According to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crime in 2016 showed increases against South Asians, Middle Eastern people and the LGBT2S population. Notably, the 2016 census shows that more hate crimes were violent. Seventy-one per cent of hate crimes motivated by the victims' sexual orientation were violent crimes, and 27% of hate crimes targeting religion and 45% targeting ethnicity were violent.

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

  • Continue to lobby for equality legislation both in Canada and internationally.
  • Continue our strong presence in the labour movement in Canada and internationally.
  • Negotiate strong equality language in our collective bargaining agreements, particularly with global companies.
  • Support global solidarity through negotiated contributions to the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.
  • Close the income gap for workers from equality-seeking groups in our workplaces.
  • Extend our support for associations and social justice partners in the fight against hate crimes.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Marty Warren Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2017 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Wed, 06 Dec 2017 13:29:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-intl-human-rights-day-2017 Each year on December 10, the United Steelworkers observe International Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations.

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

In Ontario, it is significant that new labour laws came into effect in November. Some of these laws have direct consequences for equality-seeking groups, specifically women, people with physical and mental disabilities and parents.

Victims of domestic or sexual violence, or parents who have experienced or are threatened with it, will get five days of paid leave and 17 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave. Employers will not be allowed to request a sick note from employees taking personal emergency leave. Parents whose children die will get unpaid leave of up to 104 weeks.

We know that most workers in home care and community services are women and racialized people. It is important that new legislation makes unionization easier for workers in these sectors.

In major urban areas, carding and racial profiling of equality-seeking groups continues to be a problem. It is notable that the Human Rights Commission in Ontario is launching an inquiry into police practices in Toronto. The inquiry will insist that data be used to determine the impact of police practices on Black and other racialized communities. The use of data is important as it moves police bias away from public stereotypes of racialized people. 

In the Maritime provinces, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (the Working Group) visited Halifax in 2016. In the 1960s, the city of Halifax forcibly evicted Africville’s Black residents, demolished their houses and church, and relocated them to a housing project in the north end of Halifax. Few residents saw any compensation for the loss of their homes and livelihoods. The Working Group’s report recommended that Canada apologize for slavery, pay reparations and build a national department of African Canadian Affairs. 

To advance human rights in our District, I urge members to:

  • Join with like-minded labour and community allies to stop racial profiling by police.
  • Continue our organizing efforts in sectors of employment and workplaces with large numbers of equality-seeking workers.
  • Create and maintain Human Rights Committees in our locals and units.
  • Promote and attend Steelworkers education workshops in human rights and anti-harassment in the workplace.
  • Lobby federal, provincial and municipal politicians to implement the UN’s Working Group recommendations.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

Steelworkers To Rally Outside Saskatoon City Hall In Defence of Taxi Jobs http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-rally-in-defence-of-taxi-jobs Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:33:23 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/steelworkers-rally-in-defence-of-taxi-jobs SASKATOON – Members of the United Steelworkers Local 2014 and the Steelworkers Taxi Council will hold a rally outside Saskatoon City Hall to protest the introduction of ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft to the city.

The rally will take place during the Transportation Network Companies Committee meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 2:00 p.m. CST.

“Our drivers work every day of the year providing our community safe, comfortable and reliable service,” says Malik Draz, President of USW Local 2014. “Ride-hailing apps offer no guarantees about accepting fares around the clock, and the notion that they will help with transportation needs during peak times, such as holidays or peak events is completely unfounded.”

The Steelworkers want to see a modernized taxi industry that will be beneficial to both the public and taxi workers.


What: United Steelworkers Taxi Council Rally

When: Dec. 5, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: Saskatoon City Hall (222 3rd Ave North)

Marty Warren’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-dec-6-2017 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/marty-warren-statement-dec-6-2017 Violence against women continues to be a significant problem in Canadian society. For all of our modern technology, we haven’t yet put an end to sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual assault, mainly perpetrated by men against women.

As we solemnly mark December 6, the national day to remember and act on violence against women, I am pleased to say that our district is taking some important steps to acknowledge and address the problem.

Beginning in December 2017, it will be district policy that all USW bargaining committees go to the table seeking language to support survivors of domestic violence in our workplaces. That support includes leaves of absence as well as other measures. And work will begin soon in our district to pilot the creation of a system of domestic-violence first responders in a local union.

December 6 is a reminder for us to take action to end violence against women. Acting to end the problem is one of the best ways to honour and remember those whose lives have been taken. 

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
USW District 6 Director

Ken Neumann’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-dec-6-2017 Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ken-neumann-statement-dec-6-2017 Harvey Weinstein was the first revelation. Now the news and social media are full of reports of powerful men sexually harassing women who just want to work. It’s shocking to see what has passed for “normal”, because of fear on the one hand, and apathy or self-interest on the other.

Sexual harassment grows from a poisoned root: the undervaluing and oppression of women, just because they are women. It’s the same root that produces all forms of violence against women.

On December 6, we remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, and all women whose lives have been taken by husbands, fathers, boyfriends, or others who put no value on their lives.

On December 6, let’s recommit ourselves to valuing women’s abilities, potentials, and lives. As individuals or as members of organizations and of society, our actions have an impact and do make a difference.

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

Ontario Labour Reforms a Start Toward Fairness in a Changing Economy, says USW http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ontario-labour-reforms-a-start-toward-fairness-in-a-changing-economy-says-usw Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:00:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/ontario-labour-reforms-a-start-toward-fairness-in-a-changing-economy-says-usw TORONTO - Yesterday's passage of Bill 148 (the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act) by the Ontario Legislature makes changes to Ontario's labour and employment laws that should be seen as the first in a series of necessary steps toward fairer employee rights, says the United Steelworkers (USW).

"Bill 148 is not the comprehensive overhaul that is needed for Ontario's labour laws, but it will help many employees and our union is proud of the role our members played in its development," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

The new laws provide a fairer path for some employees to choose union membership as well as strengthened employment standards in areas including minimum wages and scheduling. Other measures include better rights for union members during lockouts and strikes and greater powers for the provincial labour board to remedy illegal actions by employers.

"Our union works hard for improved labour and employment laws," said Warren. "We gave the government's advisory process our best input and ideas, but just as importantly, our members were front and centre at the hearings and in the streets making their views heard."

Absent from Bill 148 is an innovative shift in bargaining structures that could have efficiently and fairly addressed the needs of tens of thousands of workers in the franchise sector. Broader-based bargaining, recommended to the Minister of Labour by his own expert advisors, was absent from Bill 148.

"We'll keep on pushing for more effective and durable solutions like broader-based bargaining," said Warren. "We hope that this government will soon set up plans to consider this and we expect the opposition parties to take a stand as well."

The USW was a strong supporter of the Ontario Federation of Labour's "Make It Fair" campaign and supported amendments proposed by the Ontario NDP such as three weeks of paid vacation after the first year of employment and extending card-check certification rights to all employees.

"We are disappointed that those amendments did not find support from the government. We'll keep employee rights on the front burner in next spring's provincial election campaign," said Warren.

View the full list of the labour law reform priorities identified by the USW

Open Letter to Community and Social Services Minister Jaczek http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/open-letter-to-community-and-social-services-minister-jaczek Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:09:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/open-letter-to-community-and-social-services-minister-jaczek Dear Hon. Minister Jaczek,

I am writing to you on behalf of the 12 women who are staff at the Sudbury Counselling Centre to bring to your attention a situation at the centre and ask for your assistance.

Members of the Sudbury community, particularly the francophone community, are experiencing hardship and a loss of services they need due to the intransigence of management in a labour dispute at the Sudbury Counselling Centre.

The Sudbury Counselling Centre is supposed to be there to help, but its clients are suffering as the centre’s management prolongs a strike with staff.

Twelve members of USW Local 2020, all women, have been on strike at the Sudbury Counselling Centre since Oct. 16. While the union has compromised in negotiations, the employer maintains a hard line demanding unnecessary language changes in the contract.

Clients have been without their counselling and programs for over five weeks and it’s time for the Sudbury Counselling Centre’s partners to get involved. Partners include the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Partners such as your ministry rely on the centre to be offering needed services to the community.         

The staff at the centre provide counseling and psychotherapy, Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

Staff are passionate about their work, invested in their jobs and their clients. Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

There has never been a problem with the collective agreement at the centre, until now, under the centre’s new management.

Negotiations have been difficult with the employer demanding concessions around working conditions and a significant re-write of an employment contract that has been effective for over 30 years. The employer is attacking its loyal and dedicated staff for no reason, and as a result, the community is without services it needs, compounding hardship on people who are already vulnerable and in traumatic situations.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services is a partner of the Sudbury Counselling Centre.

As a partner of the centre, you can help by asking management to respect staff and return to the bargaining table with an honest commitment to reaching a fair agreement.

You can reach Sudbury Counselling Centre Executive Director Carole Lamoureux at 705-524-9629 ext. 203 or CLamoureux@counsellingccs.com.

The staff and the union have demonstrated goodwill and an interest in progress towards a fair contract. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the community, centre management continues to hold to hard-line positions, prolonging the strike.

Please ask management at the Sudbury Counselling Centre to return to the negotiating table with a commitment to respect staff and reach a fair contract.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours truly,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6 (Ontario & Atlantic Canada)
United Steelworkers

c.c. Hon., Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General, Hon. Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, Katharine Bambrick, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Trillium Foundation

Community Suffers As Counselling Centre Management Hardens Line Against Staff http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/community-suffers-as-counselling-centre-hardens-line Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:01:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/community-suffers-as-counselling-centre-hardens-line SUDBURY – The Sudbury Counselling Centre is supposed to be there to help, but its clients are suffering as the centre’s management prolongs a strike with staff.

Talks broke down yesterday as management refused to move off hard-line positions in the dispute.

The 12 staff, all women, members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2020, have been on strike for a fair deal since Oct. 16. The Sudbury community has shown support for staff at a number of rallies and picket-line events.

“If it was the employer’s intent to divide the staff, the opposite has happened. Staff are stronger, more united than ever,” said USW Staff Representative Lynne Descary.

While the union has compromised in negotiations, the employer maintains a hard line on unnecessary language changes. Talks have broken down and the employer has left the table, leaving clients without the services and programs they need.

“By refusing to negotiate fairly, the centre’s management is compounding hardship on people who are already vulnerable and in traumatic situations,” said Descary.

The staff offer counselling and psychotherapy, deliver Employee Assistance Programs, partner assault response for women and men, counselling for women experiencing domestic violence, assistance for male survivors of sexual violence, mental health counselling and more.

“The union has made significant movement on contract language at the employer’s request, even though the employer can demonstrate no history of problems with the language,” said Descary, noting the counselling centre has operated since 1971.

“These women are passionate about the work they do. They’re invested in their jobs and their clients. They come to work because they care about the clients. Unfortunately, the new management suddenly doesn’t feel the same way,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“The employer is demanding concessions around working conditions and a significant re-write of an employment contract that’s been effective for over 30 years. There’s been no history of grievances with the employment contract. The employer is attacking these workers for no reason,” said Descary.

Management continues to demand concessionary language changes; demands the staff find unacceptable and that will lead to a degradation of the counselling centre’s services.

Staff want to continue helping the people of Sudbury, as they have done since 1971, including providing programs for the francophone community that are not available anywhere else in the community.

Staff are asking supporters to contact management and request that the employer respect staff by returning to the table with an honest commitment to reach a fair agreement. Contact Executive Director Carole Lamoureux at 705-524-9629 ext. 203 (CLamoureux@counsellingccs.com) and Program Manager Sika Eliev at ext. 212.

End Pension Theft http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/end-pension-theft Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:47:00 -0500 http://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2017/end-pension-theft Protect pensions from corporate theft.

Canadians rely on their pensions to retire with dignity. But when big companies fail, they take the money meant for pensions and pay off wealthy CEOs, banks and investors instead.

Steelworker and NDP MP Scott Duvall is calling on the Liberals to fix the bankruptcy laws that put their wealthy insider friends ahead of hardworking Canadians.

About 150 Steelworkers and supporters, including USW National Director Ken Neumann and District 6 Director Marty Warren, joined Duvall (NDP Hamilton Mountain) at the Hamilton Steelworkers Hall in September when he announced the NDP’s End Pension Theft campaign.

On Nov. 6, Duvall introduced his private member’s bill in Parliament, Bill C-384. Busloads of Steelworkers joined Duvall and new federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the announcement.

Under the bill, pensioners would become secured creditors in bankruptcy cases and their pension plans would have to be fully funded before other creditors could be paid.

The legislation would prevent companies and courts from suspending retirees’ health benefits during restructuring proceedings – an insidious practice that recently victimized thousands of USW pensioners at U.S. Steel (Stelco) in Ontario and at Cliffs Natural Resources in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Sears Canada bankruptcy case – just the latest such scandal to devastate thousands of workers and pensioners – adds to the mountain of evidence that federal laws must be reformed.

“Far too many Canadians have suffered due to decades of inaction by successive Liberal and Conservative governments,” said Neumann. “It is time for the Trudeau Liberals – who campaigned on improving retirement security – to support meaningful change that will protect workers and pensioners.”

Steelworkers stand with Duvall and Canada’s NDP in this effort to End Pension Theft.

Add your name to the NDP’s End Pension Theft campaign

View the e-petition to the House of Commons (E-1261) (closed for signing)