May 7

Severn, Canada

#1 May 7, 2013
By Jennifer Vo
“Not a single employee would have made one cent less than they are making today as a result of our company’s offer,” stated Trevor Harris, director of government and public affairs for U.S. Steel Canada.
The company sent out a press release just days after the lockout refuting what United Steelworkers described to be a “stand pat deal.”
U.S. Steel Canada presented its final offer to the union on April 15. Harris stated the deal did not cut wages or benefits. He also said most employees would receive a raise while none would end up with fewer vacation days.
“The represented employees at Lake Erie Works enjoy some of the highest, if not the highest, wage rates among steel manufacturing workers in North America.”
Harris said U.S. Steel employees “should be concerned about the accuracy of the information they are receiving… U.S. Steel Canada seeks nothing more than a competitive agreement.”
Shortly after, Bill Ferguson, president of the United Steelworkers Local 8782, shot back  and said while the contract would give workers an additional $1 an hour, that was something that was promised to workers in the previous contract.
He said the revised wage structure was “conspicuously missing” from the final offer, and the seniority clause was “contradictory and unclear.”
He said the problems from the last contract are spilling over to the current agreement.
“We have a 1,000 people on the street, and time for idle banter has passed,” said Ferguson.“The local leadership has and still is prepared to negotiate a fair and ‘honest’ agreement.”
Nearly 1,000 workers at Lake Erie Works were locked out on April 28. This is the second lockout at the Nanticoke plant and the third U.S. Steel lockout in Canada.
While the battle between U.S. Steel Canada and the United Steelworkers carries on, residents of Nanticoke and Haldimand County are left in the dark.
“We’re going through tough times – not only the steelworkers, but so many people in the area,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett, advising residents not to hold back from spending money in local stores because the area is in need of some economic help.
Being a Member of Provincial Parliament, Barrett said he is keeping in contact with the Ontario Minister of Labour as well as the mediator to make sure there is communication between the parties.
Judging by the previous lockouts, he said he’s worried about those who have no control in the decisions.
“This is a very deep concern for people across the community. Our area has been hard hit on a number of fronts. At the end of this year, the Ontario government is closing the coal plant right next door to U.S. Steel. This U.S. Steel lockout is the last thing that [residents] need now.”
Barrett said he would be visiting the picket lines. U.S. Steel employees were advised not to communicate with anyone on the picket line during working hours.
“This isn’t just a management-union issues. They’re not the only ones getting hit. It’s the broader community as far as the companies and small businesses that provide goods and services.”
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