The city of Hamilton and Local 1005 steelworkers and retirees are opposing Stelco’s request to be sold to Bedrock Industries, set to be heard in court at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Both parties say they didn’t have enough notice of the proposed sale, which was announced late last Friday.
The province supports the deal. And Local 8782, which represents Lake Erie retirees and active workers, has signed a letter of support pending a deal satisfying its concerns about pensions and benefits.
The city says it objects to being excluded from “any meaningful consultation and negotiation” about the deal, especially considering the city is owed back taxes.
The city’s top concerns in the Stelco file are:
Pensions and benefits for Stelco retirees.
Property taxes, both $6.3 million in back taxes and going forward.
The future of the Hamilton Works brownfield lands, which are proposed to be sold in the potential deal.
“It is premature to declare a successful bidder” in the sales process when retired workers in Hamilton haven’t given their support, the city argues in a court filing.
“It is not unreasonable and unfair to assume that the city would want to have a role in regards the vision for the future of such a large area of land especially on its waterfront.”
Both the city and United Steelworkers Local 1005 say if Thursday’s request is granted, “significant matters outstanding among the parties will essentially be presented to key stakeholders on a ‘take it or leave it basis’.”
That includes a question of how much Bedrock will put into the Stelco pension funds, which currently carry about a $1 billion shortfall.
The battle over Stelco pension funds, explained
And it also includes a disparity in the treatment of the Hamilton retirees compared to the Lake Erie retirees. The former is proposed to take a 30 per cent cut in its retirement benefits, where Lake Erie doesn’t have a cut proposed.
The city says it is willing to work with Stelco and Bedrock and the province to work out a “fair and reasonable outcome.”
The hearing is set to begin at 10 a.m. Thursday in downtown Toronto.