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18 Dec
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Press Release – Coalition of Ontario Unions to Launch Charter Challenge, Vowing to Defend the Rights of All Ontarians

DEC 17, 2019 · MEDIA RELEASE

Coalition of Ontario Unions to Launch Charter Challenge,
Vowing to Defend the Rights of All Ontarians

Today, 10 Ontario unions representing more than 250,000 affected broader public sector employees,
announced their intention to launch a coordinated Charter challenge against Bill 124. As well, the
Ontario Labour movement, with the Power of Many, will be initiating an aggressive campaign to repeal
Bill 124.

The joint Charter challenge announced today is being brought by a coalition of public and private sector
unions that represent workers across the broader public sector. The coalition includes: the Canadian
Union of Public Employees (CUPE); Service Employees International Union (SEIU Healthcare); United
Steelworkers (USW); Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC); the Society of United Professionals (IFPTE)
Local 160; Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE Ontario); AMAPCEO – Ontario’s
Professional Employees; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 636; the
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), and the United Food and Commercial
Workers (UFCW) Local 175. Additional unions and organizations representing public sector workers in
Ontario are expected to join this coordinated challenge or pursue their own separate legal challenges to
Bill 124 in the coming weeks.

“The workers of this province, represented by their unions, will not allow Bill 124, which erodes the
Charter rights of every worker in Ontario, to stand uncontested,” said Ontario Federation of Labour
(OFL) President Patty Coates. “The OFL stands in solidarity with the education unions that have recently
launched their challenges to the application of Bill 124 in the education sector, as we escalate the
opposition to this government’s continued attack on the Charter rights of all Ontarians. Together, we
are launching an aggressive campaign to demand the Ford Conservatives repeal this unconstitutional
legislation.”

Ontario Labour is united in their call on the Conservatives to repeal Bill 124, euphemistically named the
Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which violates the Charter’s protected
right to free and fair collective bargaining.

“In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that the freedom of association guarantee in the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides constitutional protection for a meaningful right to collectively
bargain, and for the right to strike”, said Steven Barrett of Goldblatt Partners, counsel for the union
coalition.

“By failing to respect these fundamental constitutional rights, Bill 124 runs roughshod over free
collective bargaining, and fails to respect what every experienced negotiator understands: the collective
bargaining parties themselves are best able to negotiate agreements that reflect fiscal and workplace
priorities and realities”.

As Barrett added, “these restrictions on free collective bargaining cannot be justified by the
government’s manufactured fiscal crisis, or by its desire to cut taxes when Ontario already has the
lowest social spending per capita of any province.”

“This challenge is about defending workers’ rights protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,”
stated CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “When the Ford Conservatives demand that we must all do
our part, instead of targeting working people the government should be taxing profitable corporations
and the wealthiest in our communities. Charter Rights matter, Human Rights matter, Workers’ Rights
matter.”

Bill 124 allows the government to impose compensation caps, including for pension and health care
improvements, on a variety of unionized and non-unionized public sector workplaces.

“For workers in equity-seeking groups – racialized workers, workers with a disability, Indigenous, and
women workers, collective agreements are essential to ensuring fairness in the workplace,” said
Sharleen Stewart, President of SEIU Healthcare. “For the government to set limits on bargaining
undermines the rights of workers who already face systemic discrimination across the board.”

In recent years, unions have successfully coordinated together to challenge legislation that violates
workers’ rights, such as the Liberals’ Bill 115 which interfered with collective bargaining in the education
sector. The courts ruled that Bill 115 violated workers’ Charter rights. In the face of legal challenges, a
coordinated resistance campaign and public opposition, the Bill was repealed.

“Families in our province have relied on negotiations for decades to secure their working conditions.
This has resulted in the establishment of the middle class. Middle-class families are the backbone of our
province and country, and it is fundamentally wrong to strip them of their collective bargaining rights”,
said Marty Warren, Director of United Steelworkers District 6. “The USW and its engaged membership
are aggressively pushing back on this one-sided legislation. Justice must be upheld for Ontario’s working
families.”

Workers affected by Bill 124 include those employed by the provincial government, crown agencies,
school boards, universities and colleges, hospitals, non-profit long-term care homes, children’s aid
societies, social service agencies and the electricity and energy sectors.

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For further information:
Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, bgallagher@usw.ca

 

 

 

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04 Sep
0

Press Release – GM to manufacture new electric Cadillacs in St. Catharines? New Democrats think it’s a great idea.

Click image to view full PDF

Click here to view CHCH interview

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19 Jul
0

Trump’s ‘Buy America’ Rules Are Harmful to Canada, But Could Have Been Avoided

TORONTO – Yesterday the Trump administration announced new ‘Buy America’ provisions that will restrict access by Canadian producers to the U.S. procurement market.

Donald Trump signed the executive order requiring that 75% of the value of components must be sourced in the U.S., an increase from 50%.

“Worse than that, the order demanded that 95% of all steel and iron used in U.S. public procurement must exclude Canada and be sourced from the U.S.,” pointed out Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director.

“This is a significant blow for the Canadian steel industry and the whole Canadian economy, and a betrayal of the close alliance and integration of our two economies,” added Neumann.

This action is harmful and cannot be alleviated by a simple ‘Buy Canada’ response. The U.S. procurement market is more than 10 times the size of Canada’s procurement market. Key Canadian industries, including steel producers, have relied on this market for years and will be greatly harmed when shut out.

It did not have to be this way.

During NAFTA2 negotiations, Canada explicitly sought access to the U.S. government procurement market. It was a very important protection and a key part of the original Canadian positions and proposals.

However, when the U.S. resisted, Canada simply withdrew its demand. Prime Minister Trudeau agreed to NAFTA2 without any procurement agreement, just as he agreed without withdrawal of steel and aluminum tariffs.

“This was a sell-out. Such access needed to be insisted on by the Canadian government. At minimum, the previous Canadian exemption to ‘Buy America’ provisions should have been included,” Neumann said.

Under the currently tabled NAFTA2, Chapter 13 covers procurement but it applies only to the U.S. and Mexico. Under that chapter, Mexico and the U.S. continue to have procurement opportunities consistent with original NAFTA obligations, with some modifications.

In short, the tabled NAFTA2 does not protect Canadian workers or industries against ‘Buy America’ rules restricting Canada from U.S. public contracts.

“This is a major failure on the part of our federal government. It is yet another reason why Canada should not ratify NAFTA2,” Neumann said.

Contrary to what some may argue, the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) provides no real protection to Canadian industries and workers as many U.S. states do not participate.

Here at home, the Trudeau government also needs to do much more to ensure that Canadian procurement provides jobs to Canadian workers.

We have many examples of large federal procurement contracts that have harmed Canadian industry by using foreign steel. The recently completed Champlain Bridge in Montreal was built primarily using offshore steel. The Johnson Street Bridge in British Columbia, which opened last year, used steel and components that were sourced and manufactured in China.

“The federal government has let down Canadian workers in failing to negotiate protections to public markets. Trudeau should have built on the integrated markets and negotiated a ‘Buy North America’ provision. This is another reason the Steelworkers are calling on the Canadian government not to ratify NAFTA2,” said Neuman

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For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, bgallagher@usw.ca, 416-544-5966, 416-434-2221

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29 Apr
0

Day of Mourning: Workers who never came home to their families

Marvin Mulder’s life changed forever on Nov. 9, 2010.

The former mover went to work that day to “provide for (his) family” when he severely injured his back on the job.

“Unfortunately, people think if a worker is either killed or injured on the job, their lives or their family’s lives will be taken care of and able to eventually move forward,” he told a packed council chambers at Hamilton City Hall.

“The reality of this misconception is furthest from the truth.”

The subsequent years have been filled with fighting for basic compensation — “just to be able to put a roof over your head and bread on your table,” the Hamilton man said.

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29 Apr
0

Thousands of Canadian Steel Jobs at Risk as Trudeau Government Abandons Key Safeguards

OTTAWA – The failure of Justin Trudeau’s government to protect Canada’s steel sector against cheap, subsidized foreign imports threatens thousands of Canadian families and their communities, the United Steelworkers (USW) union says.

“This government must not abandon Canadian workers and communities in their hour of need,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

“Thousands of jobs across the country are now at risk due to the Trudeau government’s  failure to maintain safeguards protecting Canada’s steel sector from a surge in foreign imports,” Neumann said.

“Cargo ships are now undoubtedly bound for Canada to dump massive amounts of cheap, subsidized foreign steel into our market, threatening workers and producers across the country,” he said.

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12 Apr
0

NDP MOTION PASSES: FINANCE MINISTER MUST IMPLEMENT STEEL SAFEGUARD MEASURES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 12, 2019

NDP MOTION PASSES: FINANCE MINISTER MUST IMPLEMENT STEEL SAFEGUARD MEASURES BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

OTTAWA – Today, in the House of Commons, an NDP motion calling on the Minister of Finance to implement permanent safeguard measures to protect Canada’s steel industry passed unanimously.

“The passing of the NDP motion sends a strong message to the Liberal government that we can no longer sit still while thousands of jobs in our steel sector are in jeopardy,” said the NDP Critic for International Trade, Tracey Ramsey. “The illegal dumping of dirty steel by foreign countries in Canada is hurting workers, businesses and communities. The Finance Minister must act urgently before it’s too late and implement the safeguard measures.”

The NDP motion urges the Finance Minister to follow the lead of European Union in implementing the steel safeguard measures to protect workers. The deadline Canada is up against to put in place those measures is April 27, 2019. The Minister of Finance must act now to avoid putting at risk Canadian jobs in the steel sector.

The motion that was passed today reads as follows:

“That, given that many of the 23, 000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs of the Canadian steel industry are at risk and that many of our economic partners, like the European Union, protect workers with permanent safeguard measures, the House urge the Minister of Finance to implement permanent safeguards measures for our steel industry immediately to avoid a deadline of April 27, 2019.”

– 30 –

  For more information, please contact: NDP Media Centre: 613-222-2351 or media@ndp.ca

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11 Mar
0

USW Works to Safeguard Canadian Steel Jobs

USW is part of a coordinated industry effort to preserve good Canadian jobs in the steel sector, calling on the federal government to keep current steel industry safeguards in place.

“We need decisive action by this government to preserve 22,000 direct steel jobs and the 125,000 indirect jobs that come from the steel sector,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “The importance of these safeguards cannot be overstated – Canadian workers and their jobs must not be fodder in an international trade dispute.”

USW has been working alongside the Canadian Steel Producers Association to press the government to impose safeguards, similar to those introduced by the European Union, in response to the heavy U.S. tariffs.

The Canadian government imposed provisional safeguards back in October for a period of 200 days, after significant pressure from the union and industry. USW recently testified at the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) that Canadian workers and producers are facing job losses and considerable uncertainty as a result of foreign steel imported into the Canadian market and the imposition of 25% U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel.

The CITT will make a ruling on the safeguards on April 3 and a final government decision on whether to keep them in place is expected for early May.

USW has actively been calling on the government to maintain the safeguards for three years in order to stabilize the sector.

Do you work in the steel sector? Share your story on Twitter or Facebook and join our social media campaign by using the hashtag #safeguardCDNjobs.

Take action now – send a letter to federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau and urge him to make the steel safeguards final: www.usw.ca/act/campaigns/safeguard-steel-jobs

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19 Dec
0

Trudeau’s tariff failure threatens new year devastation for many Canadians

The following opinion column by Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers National Director for Canada, has been published in the Globe and Mail.

A gloomy holiday season awaits thousands of Canadians whose livelihoods depend on our domestic steel and aluminum industries, their family gatherings sure to be tinged by a sense of foreboding for what lies ahead in the new year.

For months, workers and manufacturers across the country have increasingly been feeling the threat stemming from U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum – levies that are widely recognized as illegal under international trade rules. These fears are exacerbated by recurring reports that the United States is making unacceptable demands for export quotas as alternatives to the illegal tariffs.

A chilling reality is setting in for more and more Canadians – our government has surrendered its leverage to fix the steel and aluminum crisis and avert devastation for so many families and communities.

Federal government data indicate that since the Trump administration’s “national security” tariffs came into effect in June, monthly Canadian steel exports to the United States have plummeted by up to 29 per cent and aluminum exports have dropped by as much as 25 per cent.

Canada’s steel and aluminum sectors directly and indirectly support 175,000 middle-class jobs across the country. With no positive resolution to the tariff dispute in sight, these Canadian families and businesses are bracing for the worst in 2019.

Business, community and labour leaders have been clear in warning Ottawa of the potential for massive, permanent damage from the crisis.

The chamber of commerce in southwestern Ontario’s Elgin County, for example, reports an imminent, direct threat to 5,000 manufacturing-related jobs – a staggering 25 per cent of all employment in the region – with thousands more jobs indirectly at risk.

Multiply such dire scenarios across the country and it becomes evident that fears of devastating impacts in the new year are not overblown.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. But the Liberal government has repeatedly failed in its promise to defend the interests of Canada’s steel and aluminum workers.

There was much sunny optimism at the outset of negotiations on a new North American free-trade agreement, with the Liberals promising Canadians a “win-win-win” deal for all parties.

The Prime Minister launched a photo-op tour of Canadian steel and aluminum plants and buoyantly assured workers that he “had your backs.” He apparently warned Donald Trump that any prospect of U.S. tariffs would result in “a negative impact” on trade negotiations.

Mr. Trudeau said he “accepted” Mr. Trump’s promise that “as long as there is a free-trade deal in North America, there won’t be tariffs.”

Of course, Mr. Trump did impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, freely acknowledging he did so to gain leverage in the trade talks.

Despite such objectionable behaviour, the Trudeau government bowed to Mr. Trump’s demands for significant concessions in the new trade agreement, while refusing to insist on the critical quid pro quo – repeal of the U.S. tariffs.

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13 Dec
0

‘We’re back!’ Stelco and Local 1005 team up to raise $10K for Food Share Hamilton

We’re Back! Posters hanging at Stelco’s headquarters proclaim.

Those two words are equal parts a declaration of defiance and shout of celebration for the rebounding steelmaker and on Wednesday the company put that message into action, meeting a milestone that’s symbolic of its comeback by matching a $5,000 donation for Hamilton Food Share gathered by USW Local 1005.

That $10,000 boost will make a big difference for the organization that supplies 12 major food banks across the city.

“The big change this year is Stelco is back with a corporate donation,” said resources development manager Celeste Taylor. “That’s huge.”

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05 Dec
0

Steelworkers Humanity Fund Contributes $188,330 to 112 Food Banks Across Canada

TORONTO, Dec. 4, 2018 /CNW/ – 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.

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