United Steelworkers Canada News Feed http://www.uswca.org/news/media-centre/releases/rss United Steelworkers Canada Releases Feed Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:45:00 -0500 AMPS en hourly 1 Ken Neumann Statement for International Human Rights Day, December 10th, 2018. https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Wed, 05 Dec 2018 11:45:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-international-human-rights-day-2018 Each year on December 10th, the United Steelworkers observe Human Rights Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations. The recognition of human rights is at the core of Steelworker values and activism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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

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

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

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

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

View the list of food banks and community food centres receiving 2018 contributions from the Steelworkers Humanity Fund.
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Parliamentarians Must Defend Canadians in Wake of Trudeau’s USMCA Sellout https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/parliamentarians-must-defend-canadians-in-wake-of-trudeaus-usmca-sellout Fri, 30 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/parliamentarians-must-defend-canadians-in-wake-of-trudeaus-usmca-sellout TORONTO – With thousands of Canadian jobs being eliminated and tens of thousands more at risk from devastating U.S. tariffs on Canada’s steel and aluminum industries, it is unconscionable for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to sign a new North American trade deal, the United Steelworkers (USW) union says.

“The Trudeau government has abandoned any pretense of standing up for tens of thousands of middle-class Canadian families who see their livelihoods disappearing before their eyes,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said today, after Trudeau signed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Not only have layoffs already begun, but businesses, labour and community leaders across the country have been clear that tens of thousands of additional jobs will disappear due to the absurd U.S. tariffs and the badly flawed USMCA. Still, the Trudeau government refuses to stand up for Canadian families,” Neumann said.

“While the prime minister signs Donald Trump’s USMCA, scores of families in Sault Ste. Marie face layoffs at steelmaker Tenaris, community leaders in Elgin Country warn of 5,000 jobs losses in their region alone, dairy and poultry farmers across the country are bracing for devastation in their sectors, millions of Canadians will be hit by higher costs for prescription medications, and the list goes on,” he said.

“Canadians are right to question how much worse things have to get before this government takes decisive action to defend their interests. What will it take?” Neumann asked.

“On top of the devastation from the USMCA and the U.S. tariffs, General Motors – after receiving billions of Canadian taxpayers’ dollars – will shut down one of its two remaining auto assembly plants in Canada, which will further devastate our manufacturing sector and our entire economy,” he added. “Still, the Trudeau government refuses to stand up for Canadian jobs.”

The USW is calling on Canadian parliamentarians to refuse to ratify the USMCA unless Trump’s ‘national security’ tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are permanently repealed.

“If the prime minister will not stand up for Canadian families, it is up to parliamentarians to show leadership,” Neumann said. “MPs from all parties must take a stand and insist that the USMCA will not be ratified without a guarantee that there will be no tariffs or quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum.”

During the USMCA negotiations, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged he was using the baseless tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum as leverage to extract concessions from Canada. The Trudeau government has been widely criticized for capitulating to Trump’s demands for concessions in the USMCA without insisting that the unjustified U.S. tariffs be lifted.

 “Unless the Trudeau government changes course, the ripple effects of its lack of leadership and its record of signing bad trade deals will be devastating to Canada’s middle class,” Neumann said.

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A Lockout Is Not an ‘Act of God:’ Rally Supports ABI Workers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/a-lockout-is-not-an-act-of-god-rally-supports-abi-workers Wed, 28 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/a-lockout-is-not-an-act-of-god-rally-supports-abi-workers MONTREAL – Hundreds of aluminum workers and their supporters demonstrated outside Hydro-Québec’s head office today, denouncing the 11-month lockout at the ABI smelter which has cost Quebecers nearly $200 million because it is categorized as an ‘Act of God.’

“The government of Quebec must put an end to these hydro contracts that equate lockouts of working people to ‘Acts of God.’ A lockout is a deliberate decision by an employer to force workers to accept lower working and living standards,” said Daniel Boyer, President of the Quebec Federation of Labour (Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec - FTQ).

Today’s demonstration was organized by the FTQ and the United Steelworkers (Syndicat des Métallos), which represents the 1,030 workers who have been locked out of their jobs at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour since January. The ABI smelter is co-owned by global aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto.

The FTQ and Steelworkers have called on Quebec Premier François Legault and his government to end the practice of allowing corporations that lock out workers to suspend their contractual obligations to publicly owned Hydro-Québec. To date, the lockout of ABI workers has deprived Hydro-Québec – and by extension all Quebecers – of more than $188 million in revenues.

“The Legault government must use its power to confront these multinationals and prevent them from forcing Quebecers to pay for attacks on the living and working standards of Quebec workers,” Boyer said.

Today’s rally began outside Alcoa’s corporate offices in Montreal before demonstrators marched to Hydro-Québec headquarters.

“This disgraceful lockout is an affront not only to the 1,030 locked-out ABI workers and their families, but to union members across Quebec,” Steelworkers Quebec Director Alain Croteau told the demonstrators.

“Alcoa, an American corporation, is trying to impose its own rules here. It is trampling on the principle of seniority and reneging on issues that were previously agreed to during negotiations,” Croteau said. “But Quebec workers are standing together. They’re sending a clear message to Alcoa and Rio Tinto executives: the Steelworkers at ABI are not kneeling before them.”

Today’s demonstration was held as negotiations between the Steelworkers and ABI are scheduled to continue until Friday with the assistance of special mediator Lucien Bouchard. If a tentative agreement is not reached, the Quebec government has indicated it will present a proposed settlement to the parties by Dec. 7.

“Current Hydro-Québec contracts with their ‘force majeure’ clauses are clearly creating a power imbalance in labour-management relations,” said Clément Masse, President of Steelworkers Local 9700, representing the locked-out ABI employees.

“There certainly would be more pressure on the company to resume production if it had to abide by its contractual obligations for electricity purchases with Hydro-Québec. That being said, we are still at the bargaining table showing our commitment to negotiate in good faith. We are still hoping that we can achieve a negotiated settlement,” Masse said.

The ABI employees were locked out on Jan. 11, even though the union believed a settlement was achievable, with only two key issues outstanding – pension plan funding and seniority rights related to personnel transfers.

The lockout is costing Hydro-Québec nearly $600,000 a day, as ABI has been allowed to invoke a ‘force majeure’ or ‘Act of God’ clause to suspend its contractual obligations.

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Ken Neumann’s Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-december-6-2018 Tue, 27 Nov 2018 15:30:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/ken-neumann-statement-december-6-2018 On December 6, we remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, and all women whose lives have been taken by those who put no value on them.

Canada still sees unacceptably high rates of violence against women, and especially against Indigenous, racialized, and disabled women and gender non-binary people. It’s right that we keep pressure on all levels of government to change the policies and systems that keep women in harm’s way.

But don’t forget the power that each one of us has to change attitudes within our families, social networks, and workplaces.

Hear a buddy tell a joke that degrades women? Refuse to laugh and say, “That’s not cool.” See a Facebook post that degrades women? Refuse to share or like it, and post a reply, “I don’t agree with that.”  Small actions can have a huge impact. Many small actions together can change our culture, and save lives.

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,

Ken Neumann
National Director

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Marty Warren's Statement for December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-december-6-2018 Tue, 27 Nov 2018 15:26:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-december-6-2018 In the labour movement, we have a saying: “Mourn, then organize.”

This saying is very relevant as we mark December 6, the day to remember the women murdered at Montreal’s École Polytechnique and all women lost to violence. We need to express our grief and sadness at the needless deaths. And then we need to act, to stop the death toll from growing.

I want to put the spotlight on one new initiative in District 6 that aims to end violence against women. USW Local 4120 at the University of Guelph, Ontario, is the first local anywhere in our union to create a system of women’s advocates. These are members who have been trained to offer support to other members who are experiencing domestic violence or workplace harassment. I want to salute the eleven members who have taken on this important volunteer role, and I congratulate Local 4120 for leading the way.

We organize to end violence through concrete actions, like creating systems of women’s advocates inside our locals. And we keep organizing and acting until the problem is resolved.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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GM Workers Need Real Action to Defend Their Jobs https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/gm-workers-need-real-action-to-defend-their-jobs Mon, 26 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/gm-workers-need-real-action-to-defend-their-jobs TORONTO – The United Steelworkers (USW) is calling on the Canadian and Ontario governments to act decisively to defend thousands of families and their communities affected by the General Motors shutdown of its Oshawa operations.

“GM’s unexpected announcement is a devastating blow to thousands of working families whose lives have been turned upside down,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“These families need decisive, meaningful action from their governments to defend their livelihoods and their communities,” Neumann said.

The General Motors shutdown in Oshawa directly affects over 2,500 jobs and threatens thousands of additional jobs in the region and in the auto sector supply chains in Ontario and beyond, he added.

“Everything about this callous decision is unacceptable. It requires a powerful response from the federal and provincial governments to support these families and to strengthen our manufacturing sector that is so crucial to our economy,” Neumann said.

GM’s devastating decision to shut down its Oshawa operations comes on the heels of the corporation’s report of a $2.5-billion, third-quarter profit, noted Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada Director.

The company, which benefited from massive subsidies from Canadian taxpayers following the 2009 economic crisis, said last fall it did not expect job losses from its strategy of expansion in the electric vehicle market, Warren said.

“GM workers in Oshawa have more than fulfilled their end of the bargain. They have made numerous sacrifices and compromises over the years. They have increased productivity and produced the highest-quality vehicles,” he said.

“Liberal and Conservative governments have spent billions of taxpayers’ dollars – with no meaningful job guarantees – to subsidize multinationals such as General Motors, yet these corporations continue to eliminate Canadian jobs and shift production out of the country,” Warren added.

“Where does it end? When will our governments say, ‘enough is enough?’ ”

In addition to injecting $13.7-billion of Canadian taxpayers’ money into the auto sector, the federal and Ontario governments became General Motors shareholders as part of the bailout package.

However, “Liberal and Conservative governments decided to sell off their shares and give up leverage they could have used to protect Canadian jobs. Instead, they helped clear the way to GM’s devastating decision to shut down the Oshawa operations,” Neumann said.

The GM announcement comes in the midst of a crisis in Canadian manufacturing due to the federal Liberal government’s failed trade policies, Neumann added.

“The Liberal government has been all-too-willing to negotiate bad trade deals that will harm Canadian industries and eliminate thousands of middle-class jobs. The government’s failure to stand up to the Trump administration to end ludicrous U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum has complicated the challenges in the auto industry and exacerbated the overall crisis facing the manufacturing sector,” he said.

“General Motors workers and thousands of other Canadians in the manufacturing sector need more than sympathy and good wishes from a government that has a hand in this crisis. They don’t need a government that will throw up its hands in resignation. They need decisive action and policies that will defend their jobs and strengthen the manufacturing sector and the middle class.”

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Liberals’ Trampling of Workers’ Rights Is the Cause, Not the Solution to Canada Post Dispute https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-trampling-of-workers-rights-is-the-cause-not-the-solution-to-canada-post-dispute Fri, 23 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/liberals-trampling-of-workers-rights-is-the-cause-not-the-solution-to-canada-post-dispute TORONTO – The federal government’s willingness to trample the constitutional rights of Canada Post workers is reprehensible and contradicts the Trudeau Liberals’ oft-stated “values,” but it should come as no surprise to Canadians, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“The Liberal government’s willingness to legislate away workers’ Charter rights to strike and to free collective bargaining certainly is no surprise to Canada Post executives,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“For over a year, Canada Post has failed to negotiate fair resolutions to crucial issues such as equality for women, disturbing injury rates and disparities between urban and rural workers,” Neumann said.

“As the process dragged on, Canada Post has been secure in the knowledge the Liberal government would crack down on workers if they decided to exert pressure for a fair settlement by exercising their right to strike,” he said.

“The Liberal government’s willingness to enact back-to-work legislation is not a solution to a problem, it is the cause of the problem. Trampling on the Charter rights of Canadian workers is a subversion of free and fair collective bargaining. It fosters impasses. It inhibits fair settlements,” Neumann said.

“The message from this government to Canada Post and other corporations that choose to subvert collective bargaining is clear: ‘We’ve got your back.’ It’s another betrayal of this government’s commitment to so-called ‘values’ of fairness and equality, of defending working people and growing the middle class,” he said.

“The Liberals’ back-to-work legislation was tabled one day after the government unveiled its plan to provide $16 billion in tax breaks to corporations and businesses – tax breaks that will be subsidized by middle-class and working families across the country,” Neumann noted.

“These are the same working families who hoped to benefit from the Liberals’ ‘middle-class’ tax cuts,” he said.

“In reality, the Trudeau tax cuts benefit the well-off. Canadian workers earning $50,000 a year receive a measly $71 annual tax reduction, while those with incomes of $200,000 enjoy a $680 yearly tax cut.”

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Marty Warren Statement for November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-transgender-day-of-remembrance Tue, 20 Nov 2018 11:57:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/marty-warren-statement-transgender-day-of-remembrance November 20 is the day the world recognizes as Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is also a day we challenge hate and remember those who have been killed as a result of hate crimes.

Steelworkers care about creating an environment of respect and inclusiveness and one without violence. We must work together to end transphobia and violence. We will achieve that only through education and tolerance.

Please attend one of the vigils in your area to help raise awareness and memorialize those who have been killed.

In solidarity,

Marty Warren
Director, District 6

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Stephen Hunt Statement on USW Member's Death at Elkview Mine https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/stephen-hunt-statement-on-usw-members-death-at-elkview-mine Mon, 19 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/stephen-hunt-statement-on-usw-members-death-at-elkview-mine BURNABY, B.C. – Statement from United Steelworkers (USW) District 3 Director Stephen Hunt, following the death of a USW member at Teck’s Elkview Mine:

“It is with great sadness that I report that our union has lost a member in a workplace fatality at Teck’s Elkview Mine in Sparwood, B.C., represented by United Steelworkers Local 9346.

“On behalf of the USW, I send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of this Steelworker.

“The USW Emergency Response Team has been dispatched to the area, along with the District’s Health and Safety Co-ordinator. We will be making every effort to support the family and local members during this difficult time.”

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Make ‘Retirees First’ an Election Issue: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/make-retirees-first-an-election-issue-steelworkers Thu, 08 Nov 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/make-retirees-first-an-election-issue-steelworkers OTTAWA – After meeting with more than 150 Members of Parliament, rank-and-file members of the United Steelworkers union (USW) from across Canada left Ottawa this week hoping that protection for retired workers will be on the agenda of every political party in the 2019 election.

“After experiencing the effects of current bankruptcy and bankruptcy protection laws that do not protect retirees’ pensions and benefits, our members are committed to campaigning for a more secure future,” says USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“Besides high-profile cases such as Nortel in Ottawa, Stelco in Hamilton and Sears in most communities across Canada, workers are increasingly afraid to retire. They know how unsecure their pensions and benefits may be if a company enters restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) or go bankrupt. 

“Pensions are deferred wages and, by the time banks and other creditors are paid, there is nothing left for workers. It amounts to theft.”

Neumann said all Canadians should be outraged by the treatment of older Canadians by laws that protect companies, but force workers to assume all the risk in insolvency.

The meetings with MPs focused on a series of recent bills currently before the House of Commons and the Senate. Two of them, one sponsored by the New Democratic Party, another by the Bloc Québecois, are aimed at reforming the CCAA and the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) to give priority to claims by workers arising out of an underfunded pension plan and the elimination of benefits.

Another bill, introduced in the Senate by now-retired Art Eggleton, also aims to grant priority status for pension claims.

The fourth bill, introduced by a Conservative MP, proposes only amending CCAA to allow ‘agreement’ before a company implements so-called “key employment retention plans” (KERPs), in other words senior management. It does not address retiree pensions and benefits owed.

“The legislative principles that should be supported by all MPs are ones that protect workers,” says Neumann. “These are exactly the people the government refers to as ‘the middle class and those who want to join it.’ Many millions of dollars were paid out to Nortel, Sears and Stelco executives. Meanwhile, workers and retirees had their benefits cut off, and lost vacation, severance and termination pay.

“It is time to correct this terrible imbalance.”
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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to Speak to Steelworkers at Conference in Kamloops https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alberta-premier-rachel-notley-to-speak-to-steelworkers-at-conference-in-kamloops Mon, 29 Oct 2018 18:17:28 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/alberta-premier-rachel-notley-to-speak-to-steelworkers-at-conference-in-kamloops The USW District 3 Conference brings together hundreds of Steelworkers from British Columbia to Manitoba to discuss issues that affect USW members and prioritize the union's work over the next three years.

Premier Notley will speak to Steelworkers as her party gears up for the Alberta provincial election. The Premier has a strong record of standing up for working families, and particularly, Steelworkers.

WHAT: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speech to United Steelworkers

WHEN: Wednesday, October 31, 9:20 a.m.

WHERE: Coast Kamloops Hotel & Conference Centre, 1250 Rogers Way, Kamloops

Premier Notley will be available to answer media questions at the conclusion of her speech.

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No USMCA Before Tariffs Lifted: Steelworkers https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/no-usmca-before-tariffs-lifted-steelworkers Mon, 29 Oct 2018 12:00:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/no-usmca-before-tariffs-lifted-steelworkers OTTAWA – The federal government must acknowledge the crisis facing Canada’s steel and aluminum industries and refuse to sign the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) unless American ‘national security’ tariffs are permanently repealed, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“The Canadian government already lost one opportunity to cancel these absurd tariffs when it failed to do so in the USMCA negotiations. We cannot afford to sell out our steel and aluminum workers again,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“Canada must stand up for tens of thousands of Canadian families whose livelihoods are at stake,” Neumann said. “Our government must take a hard line against the ludicrous U.S. decision to label Canada a national security threat.”

The USW welcomed today’s announcement by federal New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, calling on the Liberal government to refuse to sign the USMCA unless the U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are lifted. The NDP also called on the government to ensure there will be no U.S. quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum before the USMCA is signed.

“Our members across the country have already felt the impact of these baseless U.S. tariffs,” said Marty Warren, USW Ontario and Atlantic Canada Director, who joined Singh on Parliament Hill for today’s announcement.

“Producers have been trying to manage the situation, but with the constant uncertainty everyone is facing, our members have been told it is only a matter of time before the tariffs will lead to more layoffs,” Warren said.

“These are well-paying jobs that are vital for our families and our communities. Once these jobs disappear, they may never come back and that’s a risk Canadians can’t take,” he said.

The Canadian steel industry suffers from substantial unused capacity, and with the uncertainty created by the tariffs, there is almost no likelihood that Canadian steel makers will expand their current facilities, Warren added.

Canada’s steel and aluminum industries directly employ 35,000 Canadians and indirectly support another 140,000 Canadian jobs. Canadian manufacturers also are being hurt by the U.S. tariffs, with some layoffs already reported and more severe impacts expected if the situation is not resolved, the USW says.

During the USMCA negotiations, U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged he was using the baseless national security tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum as leverage to extract concessions from Canada.

While the Canadian government submitted to Trump’s concession demands, it did not insist that the U.S. reciprocate by lifting the unjustified tariffs.

“It is a huge failure that the tariffs remain after the conclusion of the USMCA negotiations,” Neumann said. “Canada must use its remaining leverage and refuse to sign the deal until these absurd tariffs are repealed and quotas are off the table.”

Neumann will appear Thursday before the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade to deliver a USW submission on the impact on Canadian workers of the U.S. tariffs.

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Civic Strike Leaders From Colombia to Visit Canada https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/civic-strike-leaders-from-colombia-to-visit-canada Thu, 25 Oct 2018 15:03:00 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/civic-strike-leaders-from-colombia-to-visit-canada OTTAWA – A high-level delegation of three Colombian social leaders will be in Canada from Oct. 25 to Nov. 9, 2018. These leaders represent the Buenaventura Civic Strike Committee in Colombia’s principal Pacific port city.

In 2017, social organizations launched a remarkable three-week civic strike that forced the Colombian government to negotiate solutions to the city’s social and human rights crisis. Residents literally shut down Colombia’s most important trade route.

The strike won important concessions from the three levels government to improve community infrastructure and the collective rights and safety of the inhabitants. Yet threats against the community leaders continue to grow exponentially as plans to expand and modernize the port continue. While the Colombian government signed peace agreements in the autumn of 2017, violence against Indigenous and AfroColombian peoples continues throughout the country.

Canada signed the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2008.

Members of the delegation include:

  • Maria Miyela Riascos: spokesperson for the Buenaventura Civic Strike Committee. In February 2018, she became one of several strike leaders to receive death threats.
  • Victor Hugo Vidal: spokesperson for the Buenaventura Civic Strike Committee, former municipal councillor and an organizer of the Black Communities Process (PCN).
  • Olga Araujo: human rights defender and popular educator for the Association for Social Research and Action (Nomadesc).

The delegation will be in the following cities:

Regina – Oct. 25-26, 2018
Vancouver – Oct. 27-30, 2018
Ottawa – Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2018
Montreal – Nov. 4-6, 2018
Toronto – Nov. 7-9, 2018

The delegation is sponsored by the Americas Policy Group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC), Amnesty International (Canada), CoDevelopment Canada, Comité des droits humains en Amérique Latine (CDHAL), Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Common Frontiers, InterPares, Kairos, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Steelworkers Humanity Fund.

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Steelworkers Join Emergency Actions To Defend Workers’ Rights https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-join-emergency-actions-to-defend-workers-rights Wed, 24 Oct 2018 15:29:16 -0500 https://www.usw.ca/news/media-centre/releases/2018/steelworkers-join-emergency-actions-to-defend-workers-rights TORONTO – United Steelworkers across Ontario are joining community and labour actions condemning the Doug Ford government’s legislation cancelling the $15 minimum wage increase and rolling back basic labour rights.

“It hasn’t taken long for the Ford government to show which side it’s on, and it’s clear this government is not ‘For The People’,” said Marty Warren, United Steelworkers (USW) Ontario Director.

“Steelworkers stand up for basic protections and decent work. We fought hard for these changes and must fight these anti-worker attacks,” said Warren.

Ford’s plan cuts wages, makes it easier to fire workers in precarious work, eliminates paid sick days, makes it more difficult to join and keep a union and cancels fairer scheduling laws.

“The $15 minimum wage is only fair and just,” said Warren. “This regressive law will take away basic protections from those who need them the most: low-income workers, women, people of colour and newcomers – those who are already struggling in low-wage jobs and in precarious employment.”

Steelworkers are joining the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the $15 and Fairness campaign at community actions across the province to call on the government to reverse course.

“Hands off workers’ rights! There is widespread support across Ontario for a $15 minimum wage and for stronger worker rights,” said Warren.

“Labour and community will stand up to Ford. We will fight these rollbacks,” said Warren. “We won’t give up.”

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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.”

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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.

WHAT: RALLY IN SUPPORT OF $15 MINIMUM WAGE AND LABOUR RIGHTS

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

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

SPEAKERS:

  • 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
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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.

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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.

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