Stelco Labour Struggles

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KenS
Stelco Labour Struggles

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KenS

I don't beleive we've had a thread on the strike(s), lockout, history of the sell out of Stelco, etc.

Here is a current article.

Ottawa set to take on U.S. steel giant. Laid-off and locked-out Ontario workers watch court battle with company that bought Stelco.

It would be great if someone could post or link to some background.

My Cat Knows Better My Cat Knows Better's picture

This issue extends beyond the issues at Stelco. The bigger issue is the hollowing out of Canada's resource and manufacturing sectors under Harper's watch. (i.e. Stelco, Inco, Falconbridge, etc.).

KenS

Sure. But we could have a specific exchange of information about the struggles at Stelco. Not to mention that this is the labour forum, this has direct and indirect impacts, etc.

While hollowing out is a general economic and nationalist discussion. Quite related, yes. But I disagree that hollowing out is the 'bigger issue'.

autoworker autoworker's picture

I'd like to hear what Steelworker's international president Leo Gerard has to say about this situation, vis-a-vis current U.S. protectionist measures.  Is there a conflict here?

madmax

4 FEBRUARY 2009 - Steelworkers Tell US Lawmakers Coordinated North American Approach Needed to Create and Preserve Jobs
print this page

TORONTO - United Steelworkers (USW) Canadian Director Ken Neumann said Wednesday he is in full agreement with the testimony by USW International Steelworker President Leo W Gerard about the need to get Canadian and US lawmakers to strengthen manufacturing and jobs in both countries.

"North American workers would benefit from expanded "Buy Canadian" and "Buy American" procurement policies in the both our countries," Neumann said.

"Leo Gerard, in his many years of work in Canada and now as International President, has always called for fair trade that benefits workers in Canada and the United States."

In his statement to the United States House Steel Caucus in Washington, Gerard stated: "Because we are an International union, and because Canadian and US manufacturing is so integrated, we encourage you and other members of the Steel Caucus to approach your counterparts in Canada to discuss a coordinated approach for the North American industry to strengthen its ability to create and preserve these good jobs in both countries.

"I represent workers in the steel industry in the US and Canada and would not be here today if I thought this was simply a protectionist measure that would harm our members.

"We understand that some are claiming this is a protectionist measure and could ignite a trade war; but this is just plain wrong and simply more of the worn-out rhetoric and thinking that has driven us off the cliff. We (the US) are the largest importer in the world - we soaked up $819-billion in imported goods in 2007 -- and are in deficit with every major trading partner in the world. No one is advocating that we close our borders to trade."

Ken Neumann added: "The US has had laws requiring the use of domestically-produced goods for government contracts since the 1933 Buy American Act. These laws are consistent with international trade obligations.

"In fact, Canada carved out even broader exemptions than the US from WTO agreements for government procurement. Unfortunately, the Canadian government has chosen not to use these exemptions to institute a Buy Canadian policy.

"We believe that the last federal budget should have included Buy Canadian requirements. Such provisions - like Buy America - would not violate international trade agreements," said Neumann.

-30-

CONTACT: Ken Neumann 416.487.1571; or 416.558.2510;

Peter D. Birt, USW Communications: 416.544.5966

madmax

Sorry couldn't edit that without frustration so you got the whole page.

madmax

Back to Ken S.

Not certain what kind of background info you are interested in.

Economic, Labour, Hamilton or Nanticoke and Layoffs or Lockouts or do you want everything or perhaps a short general summary?

KenS

Just the recent stuff. Strikes, lockouts, whatever, since the sale of Stelco.

welder welder's picture

I'm fairly close to the situation as my father is a pensioner from Hilton Works.The lock out is still in effect at The Lake.I understand that Arcelor/Mittal(DOFASCO) is restarting a 3rd Blast Furnace in Hamilton becuase of demand and is recalling workers and WILL BE HIRING at least 100 new emlpoyee's by June.Across the street,the word is that US Steel has little or no intention of following through with any of the necessary CAPEX stuff that Hilton Works desperately needs and has no intention of dealing with the USW Local at Lake Erie Works.I hace'nt heared any more about the owner of Lakeside Steel in Thorold buying the former Stelco assets from US Steel and repatriating the company.

 

In essence,anyone involved with the former Stelco has been sold out...

madmax

Ken S.  I am no expert, but I will go off the top of my head from news articles etc.

1) US Steel in Hamilton laid off virtually the entire plant and Nanticoke was going full tilt. The operations were ringing in hundreds of millions in profit in the quarters finishing with Dec 2008.  Many employees got huge bonuses.

2) Early January 2009, US STEEL announces that things are tough and they will be scaling down operations.

3) Layoffs start happening at US STEEL in Nanticoke.

4) US STEEL doesn't want to pay severance and termination after those from Hiltonworks near their 35 week period of EI. Its shit or get off the pot.  US STEEL calls back workers with 30 to 35 years of experience.

5) US STeel in Nanticoke workforce reduce to either 100 or 400 (can't recall), 

6) Naniticoke contract coming up.

7) USW tries to continue dialogue on contract, but after a few days, US STEEL locks out the few employees left at Nanticoke.

8) Federal Government is challenged by USW and NDP to release the documents on US STEEL purchase.

9) Federal government begins to pay a little attention.

10) US Steel doesn't want to pay severance on various laid off workers from Nanticoke, so it transfers those workers to Hamilton.

11) US Steel operates the Canadian Operations like a facuet. On and off. Its not about money or productivity. Its about power, decision making and it appears, Union Busting.

I believe the USW local has a webpage that covers alot of the happenings.

I will locate the link and post it below if I find it.

 

madmax

http://www.uswa8782.com/

 

Here's the link, I don't know if there is information of value to you, I am not about to go researching at this time. If you find anything on this page that is of interests, please post it in the thread

 

thanks

Unionist

Ten thousand workers and retirees demonstrated in Hamilton today against the lockout of 900 members of USW Local 1005 in November. The locked-out workers are fighting back against the unilateral de-indexation of existing pensions and the denial of a defined-benefit plan to new hires.

If anyone has reliable news reports, photos, etc., please post them here - otherwise I'm sure tomorrow will bring more details.

Victory to the struggle of Local 1005!

 

Robo

Unionist wrote:

If anyone has reliable news reports, photos, etc., please post them here - otherwise I'm sure tomorrow will bring more details.

 

The best photos will be found at http://www.hamiltonlabour.ca/ , but I am sure everyone involved in the Hamilton Labour Council is still recovering from yesterday's great event. 

The Hamilton Spectator does not have a Sunday edition, but does have an early story and photos on its web site at http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/479377--thousands-protest-u-s-steel .

 

Unionist

Thanks, Robo. Here's some decent coverage and video from [url=http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20110129/hamilton-labour-rally-110229/]..., of all places.

 

Robo

There are now 22 photos of the march on the Hamilton Spectator web site, at http://www.thespec.com/photozone/479402--steelworkers-protest

Unionist
WilderMore

Steel plants are terrible for the environment. They produce huge amounts of CO2 that cause global warming. If the choice is the environment or destructive jobs, which do you choose?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I knew US Steel had everyone's best interests at heart! Thanks for the timely tonic, WilderMore.

Unionist

WilderMore wrote:

Steel plants are terrible for the environment. They produce huge amounts of CO2 that cause global warming. If the choice is the environment or destructive jobs, which do you choose?

Fuck the environment. I prefer human beings.

Since you're forcing me to choose, that is.

 

George Victor

WilderMore wrote:

Steel plants are terrible for the environment. They produce huge amounts of CO2 that cause global warming. If the choice is the environment or destructive jobs, which do you choose?

Your type give environmentalists a bad name.

I choose to use Canadian steel produced by Canadian workers.

jrose

Thanks, Unionist! :) It was a very inspiring rally. Amazing to see so many people out supporting the cause.

Robo
djn81 djn81's picture

Here's my take on the Jan.29 protest. Not as rosy:

http://trentarthur.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2362:...

Unionist

Very important perspective - thanks, djn81!

P.S. What's the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly?

 

djn81 djn81's picture

A group of socialists, anarchists and trade unionists doing some interesting stuff. I'm involved in a similar attempt at forming an assembly in Kingston and there's also a workers assembly getting off the ground in Ottawa.

The Toronto assembly website is pretty spartan but it's got some interesting stuff on it: workersassembly.ca

George Victor

The Federal Court of Appeal has dismissed U.S.Steel's  Charter-based challenge and cleared the way for the federal case, which states that the company broke promises to maintain employment and production levels after buying up the former Stelco operations in Ontario.

The court battles could last for several years yet.

Gaian

From today's Globe and Mail business section:
"United States Steel Corp. has issued a stern warning to locked-out workers at its Hamilton facility that its operations there have lost 'massive' amounts of mone since 2007 and will not be kept open by subsidies from profitable mills...Hamilton works will survive only on its merits. It won't be protected or subsidized...

"Analysts raised the question Wednesday of why U.S.Steel bought Stelco in 2007 amid a global steel industry consolidation.
"The most plausible answer, the analysts said, is that the Pittsburgh-based giant wanted to keep the company out of the hands of Russian steel maker OAO Severstal, which had bought Rouge Steel Inc. in Dearborn, Mich., and was looking to expand its operations in the Great Lakes basin."

One could also speculate that the loonie's rise to par value with the greenback was not foreseen by any of them.

Perhaps someone can provide a link to the story: "U.S.Steel warns employees at embattled Hamilton mill"

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture
Gaian

United Steelworkers local 1005 announced a tentative agreement with U.S.Steel (formerly STelco Hamilton operations)... the 900 locked out workers were to receive the details on Wednesday night.

It's not clear yet how soon the workers would be back on the job if they vote in agreement, and as the agreement comes at the 11 month point, just as employment insurance was about to run out,some question what might be expected in the company offer. The dispute centered on the company's demand for concessions on pensions, a cost of living formula and benefits.

The federal government's suit against U.S.Steel for breaking its promise to maintain CAnadian operations after the takeover - the Nanticoke operation - is somewhere in the courts.

Tommy_Paine

Thank you for that update, Gaian.

 

Unionist

The tentative agreement has been ratified by a vote of 61%. Details of the agreement, as well as return-to-work plans, are at the Local 1005 site: http://www.uswa1005.ca/.

 

Fotheringay-Phipps

Gosh, here's good news: the Harper government has dropped its lawsuit against US Steel for breaking employment promises in return for investment promises from the same company.

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/638148--ottawa-settles-lawsuit-with-u-s-steel

Good to see a softening of the tough-on-crime agenda, at least for corporate malefactors.

Unionist

Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:

Good to see a softening of the tough-on-crime agenda, at least for corporate malefactors.

Don't know if I should smile or weep.