June 8, 2017
Stelco Workers Accept New Contract
The Power to Deprive of the Financial
Oligarchy and Its State Must Be
Challenged and Overcome
• The Power to Deprive of the Financial
Oligarchy and Its State Must Be Challenged and Overcome
• Will Stelco Be American Enough?
Quebec Mining and
Metallurgical Workers Fight for Rights
• Workers at Niobec Mine Strike Against Demands
for Concessions by Magris Resources
• CEZinc Strikers and Allies Demonstrate at
Glencore Shareholders' Meeting in Switzerland
June 1 -- 34th Ontario
Injured Workers' Day
• Compensation Is a Right! -- We Will Not Give
Up Our Fight!
Stelco Workers Accept New Contract
The Power to Deprive of the Financial Oligarchy and
Its State Must Be Challenged and Overcome
Local 1005 USW holds information meeting for its retirees to review the
new tentative agreement,
at the Hamilton Convention Centre, June 1, 2017.
Workers' Forum sends militant greetings to
1005 USW, its executive, members and retirees. Local 1005 conducted
in an honourable fashion regarding the
difficult situation confronting its members, retirees and steel
communities. The Canadian state, especially the Ontario and federal
governments and Superior Court succumbed to the demands
of the U.S. imperialists. The state has handed over Stelco steelworks
to another gang of U.S. oligarchs while severing new production of
value from the social responsibilities that come
with such a position of economic power.
The oligarchs in control of U.S. Steel and their fellow
the financial oligarchy through a company called Bedrock concocted a
plan to sever Stelco steelworks in Hamilton
and Nanticoke from responsibility for pensions, retiree benefits,
environmental remediation and various obligations regarding outstanding
payments to suppliers, contractors and unsecured
creditors. This anti-Canadian plan was accomplished through the Ontario
Superior Court and the anti-social dictate of the Companies'
Creditors Arrangement Act
the power to deprive of the Canadian state, the U.S. financial
oligarchy has succeeded in transferring value from Canadian
steelworkers, salaried employees and others through what is now
widely regarded as legalized theft of the CCAA.
The executive, members and retirees of Local 1005 and
throughout the country made an enormous effort to stop this legalized
theft and power to deprive of the oligarchs
and their state. Steelworkers held countless meetings and rallies, gave
speeches, distributed their newsletter Information Update, and
visited fellow workers throughout Ontario and
Quebec and into the United States to mobilize public opinion to defeat
the nefarious plans of the financial oligarchs through a militant
campaign of No Means No! Even if this stage of the
battle is over, the Local 1005 executive has vowed to continue the
struggle to defend the rights of steelworkers, retirees and other
working people no matter what the hardships and
The state power of the financial oligarchy through its
political representatives of the cartel parties in the Ontario
Legislature and federal Parliament waged a campaign to
wreck public opinion and declare the only alternative to legalized
theft of what belongs to workers by right is liquidation of the Stelco
steelworks. The financial oligarchy and its state
machine presented a done deal of legalized theft or liquidation. They
mobilized their mass media, university experts and economists to show
with previous examples that liquidation was not
an idle threat but a reality the workers would face if they refused to
accept legalized theft of what belongs to Stelco workers and retirees
by right and a steelworks that belongs to the people
The Stelco experience once again proves that a new
the economy and country is necessary; a direction that overcomes its
difficulties through renewal of the productive
forces and not wrecking them; through meeting its social
responsibilities not abandoning them; and through using the social
product from industrial mass production for the well-being of all
in a pro-social nation-building project.
The obstacle standing in the way of the Canadian
working people is
the power to deprive of the financial oligarchy and its state machine.
The working class has strengthened its
understanding of the necessity to organize its independent forces and
institutions to become strong enough to deprive the financial oligarchy
and its state of the power to deprive the working
people of their nation-building project and what is theirs by right.
Contract Passed by 63.8 Per Cent in Favour
- Local 1005 USW -
Local 1005 USW held a contract ratification vote on
June 6, 2017.
The membership was informed of the details of the
agreement on May 31, 2017.
After one week of discussing whether it was in their
accept the tentative agreement, the membership voted to accept the
contract by 63.8 per cent.
467 members voted in total of a possible 518.
90 per cent of the membership turned out to vote.
We would like to thank the members for such a great
turn out. There will be no further comment tonight.
Any questions should be directed to President Gary
Howe. 905-547-1417 EXT. 1
Will Stelco Be American Enough?
Sycophantic discussion amongst the
Members of the ruling elite recently engaged in a
discussion in the pages of the Hamilton
Spectator over how "American" Stelco will become once taken over
by Bedrock Industries, LP, a New York-based venture capital firm
specializing in buying up metals, mining and natural resource assets.
The discussion ranged from debating how American Stelco has been in the
past and what degree is necessary to pass muster under the Trump
administration. The goal apparently is to be recognized as American
enough so as not to be punished with America First trade rules.
Reading the comments of university experts and the
Stelco, one begins to wonder if they have all lost their minds. The
discussion, if one can call it that, is so irrational
that the only way someone can join in is to become equally irrational.
The Spectator writes in an article titled "The
with Bedrock-owned Stelco, Will having U.S. owner be American enough?":
"McMaster University business
professor Marvin Ryder says a key question over the months ahead will
be the extent to which the newly restructured Stelco will be viewed
under changing trade rules. Would it be seen as
American or Canadian when it comes to selling steel in the U.S.? 'It's
the whole question of providence -- what it takes to declare a company
American or Canadian could become quite
interesting,' he says."
In other words, deeper
annexation of Canada into the
U.S. Empire is
the way forward in the face of the "changing trade rules." With U.S.
ownership and control, the U.S.
administration will view Canada as an extension of the U.S. and willing
participant in Making America Great Again.
The article continues, "When the steelmaker was a
U.S. Steel, Ryder says, the company was in the best position to argue
it should be categorized as American and subject
to the same or similar rights as steel companies in the U.S."
Most steelworkers and their allies would argue that
Stelco being a
subsidiary of U.S. Steel did not put it in the "best position" at all.
Perhaps the opposite of best, which is worst, would
be a more appropriate characterization of how things have gone. Even
the Harper government became so incensed with the antics of U.S. Steel
it launched a lawsuit alleging USS broke its
promises under the Investment Canada Act. However, with an
irrational discussion, it's best not to let facts get in the way.
The item continues, "But more recently, the company cut
ties to its
American parent and set out as an independent Canadian company, which
was a step in the opposite direction. 'When they renamed themselves
Stelco, they were clearly Canadian,' says
So, Stelco went from the "best position" as a U.S.
"categorized as American," (even though almost everyone would say the
experience was a disaster), to becoming
Stelco once again, "an independent Canadian company, which was a step
in the opposite direction."
Now perhaps, the discussion continues, the Bedrock
reverse Stelco's opposite direction and move it back towards the "best
position" as an American subsidiary. But
apparently, the degree of Americanization is debatable, as Stelco under
Bedrock ownership and control may not be a U.S. subsidiary in the eyes
of the Trump administration.
Ryder says, "Now, with an American owner (Bedrock),
they can make a
better connection to being American. It's not as good as being U.S.
Steel Canada. But it's better than being
Whew, that's a load off our
minds. We Canadians
certainly do not
want to own and control anything if it upsets the U.S. imperialists.
With Bedrock in command, the situation may not
be "as good as being U.S. Steel Canada," which everyone knows worked
out really well for workers, retirees, local suppliers, contractors and
the steel communities. But what the heck,
when having an irrational discussion it's best to ignore the concrete
conditions and just forget what really happened at Stelco both as a
subsidiary and when independent. Don't listen to
those contrarians at Stelco Local 1005 USW who say quite bitterly that
Canadians have suffered "legalized theft" while under the boot of U.S.
Steel. Ah, but at least, Ryder assures
Canadians, with the Bedrock takeover, "it's better than being Canadian
owned" because Canadians are incapable of nation-building and are
better off as subjects within the U.S. Empire with
the Trumps, Obamas, Clintons et al doing all the thinking for
us and making all the decisions.
Michael McQuade, general manager and president of
subsidiary, and also Stelco the independent during its change to the
"opposite direction," was asked what was better,
subsidiary or independent. "That's a great question," he replied, "I do
not know the answer to that."
McQuade is probably evasive because the irrationality
question put him on the spot. He knows full well, because he was in the
middle of the entire mess, that Stelco or any other
company cannot be independent within a dependent economy captured
within U.S.-controlled Fortress North America.
The working class declares its resolute opposition to
of the ruling elite. They do not speak for Canadian workers, the youth
and their allies. The Canadian working class
has a completely different outlook, aim and view of the situation both
at Stelco and generally. A new independent pro-social direction for
Canada is necessary and possible. Control of
Canadians over their economic and political affairs is the only way
forward, not subservience and absence of control within U.S.-controlled
Fortress North America.
Join in to organize a modern nation-building project
sovereignty in the people and control over all those affairs that
affect our work and lives.
Quebec Mining and Metallurgical Workers
Fight for Rights
Workers at Niobec Mine Strike Against Demands for
Concessions by Magris Resources
On Tuesday, June 6, the
280 workers at the Niobec mine in Saint-Honoré-de-Chicoutimi in
Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec went on strike against
concessionary demands by
their employer Magris Resources. The workers' collective agreement
expired May 1 and the
negotiations for a new one began in January, with no results. The
workers, members of Unifor's Local 666, held a general membership
meeting and vote on the afternoon of June 6 with 247 workers in
attendance where 97 per cent rejected Magris' final offer. The workers
then set up their picket lines and installed their trailer near the
entrance to the mine.
In a statement issued just after the strike began,
Unifor pointed out that the main issues that
pushed the workers to go on strike are Magris' demands to freeze the
bonuses to which
workers are currently entitled under the collective agreement, to
freeze the employer's
contributions to the pension fund for the duration of the agreement, to
reduce union leaves
and to get the union to withdraw all outstanding grievances. Talking to
referred to "drastic demands" for concessions that would lower the
health and safety and other
standards they have achieved and they denounced the company's offer as
a provocation. They
said that they are fighting for the preservation and improvement of
mining and living
standards in the region.
In a letter posted on the website of the Local, a worker
writes that the conditions at the mine
have greatly deteriorated since Magris bought the Niobec mine in 2015.
denounces the carelessness by the company in regard to equipment
maintenance, and the fact
that production is constantly increased regardless of the capacity of
the equipment to sustain
such a level of production. He describes this state of affairs as "run
to fail," which means
running the machines to the point of failure and only then conducting
maintenance. He also
denounces the company for systematically challenging and ignoring
that conditions at the mine are unsafe.
The Niobec mine was purchased in early 2015 by
Toronto-based mining company Magris
Resources from mining giant Iamgold which is also Toronto-based. Magris
joined forces with
CEF Holdings of Hong Kong and investment company Temasek of Singapore
to make the
The Niobec mine is one of the largest niobium producers
in the world and the only one in
North America. Niobium is an alloying agent that lightens and
strengthens materials to which
it is added. It is used in particular in the automotive, aerospace and
petrochemical sectors and
in the construction of pipelines and bridges.
CEZinc Strikers and Their Allies Demonstrate at
Glencore Shareholders' Meeting in Switzerland
On May 24, the members
of USW Local 6486 on strike at CEZinc in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield,
Quebec and their allies
from other unions made their voice heard outside and inside the general
shareholders of the global mining consortium Glencore in Cham,
workers have been on strike since February 12 against attacks on their
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield operations are managed by Glencore which
together with Noranda
Income Fund (NIF) owns CEZinc. Glencore controls NIF through ownership
of 25 per cent of
its shares. The consortium is the exclusive supplier of zinc
concentrate to the plant and the
exclusive buyer of the zinc produced by the CEZinc workers. The Quebec
(Métallos) have decided to organize a world-wide campaign to put
pressure on Glencore to
withdraw its demands for concessions in the pension plan and the
intervention at the
shareholders' meeting in Switzerland was part of this global campaign.
The CEZinc workers were joined in the demonstration by
workers from the Swiss union
UNIA, the country's largest private sector union, and the international
IndustriALL. They denounced Glencore's refusal to negotiate and
requested that it negotiate
seriously by withdrawing its demands for concessions. Two Steelworkers'
went inside the meeting holding shareholders' proxies which allowed
them to speak and ask
questions. They called on shareholders to demand that Glencore
negotiate to reach an
agreement that is acceptable to the workers.
A steelworker said: "You're dealing with the lives of
people who do physically demanding
jobs in very hot and contaminated working conditions. This kind of
tactic by multinationals,
of continually trying to squeeze working and living standards, is
outdated and no longer
acceptable. Employees should be seen as valued partners who should be
able to keep the
hard-won gains that were achieved over generations of collective
Inside and outside the meeting, the workers also
condemned Glencore's attacks on its workers in other
countries including Peru, Australia, Colombia and the Democratic
Republic of Congo. In
particular, they denounced the fact that 16 workers were killed in
Glencore's facilities in 2016
and that reports on the causes of death have not yet been officially
addition, they pointed out that about 86 workers suffered from
occupational diseases in the
same year and Glencore did nothing to provide adequate compensation to
these workers and
improve health and safety conditions within its facilities.
The action at the shareholders' meeting was held as
workers at the Glencore-owned Oaky North coal mine in Australia
continue their strike, begun a few weeks earlier, against demands for
wage cuts, lowering of safety standards, dismantling of regular work
schedules and reduction of union representation regarding various
aspects of the conditions at the mine.
In the case of CEZinc, Glencore and NIF are demanding
the introduction of a system of
gradual wage reductions, and transferring those amounts into the
pension fund. The company
would then reduce its contribution to the plans by the same amount. A
demand is to raise the age of early retirement.
The workers, who point out that the pension plan is
fully solvent and even capitalized at 114
per cent, reject these attacks against a system that workers have built
through struggle and
sacrifice. They are determined that it will remain in place for them
and for future generations
June 1 -- 34th Ontario Injured Workers'
Compensation Is a Right! --
We Will Not Give Up Our Fight!
Injured workers and their allies marked the 34th
Workers' Day with spirited actions affirming that they will not give up
their fight for full and just compensation for all
workers who are injured or made ill at work, and for safe and healthy
conditions of work.
Women of Inspiration, a support group for injured women
kicked off the events on May 31 for the eleventh year with a "Sleepless
in Queen's Park" vigil. The vigils bring to
the attention of MPPs the situation of injured women workers, who spend
sleepless nights from the pain of their injuries and the stress of the
hardship brought on by the failure of the
government to meet its responsibilities to provide them with
compensation and support. The vigils also celebrate the women's
resilience and their fight for justice for injured workers. This
year's vigil included a lively cultural program led by the Justice
Singers and greetings to the Justice Bike Ride participants as they
from their week-long trip from Ottawa. Several young
women spoke passionately about joining the fight for justice for
injured workers and for safe and healthy workplaces, including one
who spoke movingly about overcoming
the difficulties she faced after a workplace concussion and
participating in organizing to change the situation for herself and
On June 1, hundreds gathered at Queen's Park for a
rally and march
to demand justice for injured workers, affirming that "Compensation Is
a Right -- We Will Not Give Up the Fight!"
Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups (ONIWG) members from cities
in southern Ontario were joined by workers from the United
Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial
Workers, Ontario Nurses' Association, Ontario Public Service Employees
Union, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canadian Union of Postal
Workers, Unifor and others. The many other
participants included contingents from the South Asian Women's Rights
Organization and the Workers' Centre of the Communist Party of Canada
(Marxist-Leninist). The large number of
young people and activists from many different unions participating in
the rally and march this year was a testament to the successes of
ONIWG's organizing to make the cause of justice for
injured workers the concern of all Ontario workers.
A busload of workers, many of them retirees, came in
Peterborough where they are fighting for compensation for workers who
became ill from toxins used in the General Electric
plant there as far back as 1945.
The rally welcomed participants in the Justice for
Injured Workers Bike
Ride -- Peter Page, Richard Hudon and Nicole Simpson -- who spent
the week leading up to the rally biking from
Ottawa through Cornwall, Brockville, Kingston, Belleville, Cobourg and
Oshawa, making their way to Toronto. Peter, speaking on behalf of the
riders, explained that they met with mayors
and councillors in these communities to call on them to demand that the
provincial government justly compensate injured workers through the
WSIB, instead of denying their claims and
forcing them onto Ontario Disability and Ontario Works, effectively
downloading responsibility for injured workers onto the municipal
OFL President Chris Buckley addressed the rally,
fight of injured workers belongs to all Ontario workers. Everyone has
the right to work in a safe workplace and
Workers Compensation must cover all workers, with no exclusions, he
said. Gerry Leblanc from the Steelworkers' Toronto Area Council spoke
to the need to enforce the Westray
-- which to date has resulted in a jail sentence for only one employer
found responsible for a workplace death. Alejandro Bravo from the
Fifteen and Fairness campaign addressed
the successes of their organizing and the work still to be done for
workplace safety, particularly for temporary workers in industries like
construction and those employed by temp
Following the rally, participants marched to the
Labour. On their arrival, they were met by a sea of pink flags as
hundreds of CUPE Ontario members marched from their
convention to join the injured workers and to add their voices to the
demand that the right of all workers to compensation when they are
injured or made ill at work be recognized.
CUPE National President Mark Hancock addressed the
rally at the
Ministry of Labour as did a CUPE spokesperson from the Ontario Council
of Hospital Unions. Sue James, on behalf
of the large contingent of General Electric workers from Peterborough,
explained the organizing they are doing to see that the claims of
workers exposed to toxins at the plant are
recognized and demand that the WSIB, which failed these workers for so
many years, be investigated. Janice Martell, whose father had passed
away just days before, spoke of the fight for
justice for him and for the other 20,000 or so miners and refinery
workers who have been exposed to McIntyre powder -- which contains the
neuro-toxin aluminum -- in the mines of
Willie Noiles, ONIWG President, told the rally that the
workers groups are focussing on three demands for changes to the
compensation system going into next year's
- the WSIB must end deeming, they must stop pretending
workers are employed when they are not, and provide full compensation
for as long as the disability lasts;
- the WSIB must stop its practice of systematically
advice of injured workers' health care providers and disregarding
medical opinions that an injured worker is not ready
to return to work. The WSIB must give priority to the injured worker's
treating health care team; and
- the WSIB must end the practice of reducing or
benefits to injured workers based on what they consider "pre-existing
conditions" -- often the signs of degeneration caused
by a lifetime of hard work -- and must treat all work injuries equally.
The final speaker outside the Ministry of Labour was
President Fred Hahn, a longtime ally in the fight of injured workers,
who declared in closing, "We Will Win
Justice for Injured Workers! Justice, Now!"
Following the rally, many of the injured workers and
participated in a panel discussion, "Fighting Back Against Toxic and
Unsafe Work," on the organizing going on in
different sectors to fight for the right to a safe workplace and full
compensation when injured or made ill in the workplace.
Queen's Park Rally and March, June 1
Rally at Ministry of Labour
Panel Discussion: Fighting Back Against
Toxic and Unsafe Work
Sleepless at Queen's Park Vigil, May 31
Justice for Injured Workers Bike Ride, May 25-June 1
Port Darlington, Toronto City Hall
Cobourg; Port Hope
Cornwall; Brockville; Kingston
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