Hamilton Steelworkers Visit Striking Windsor Salt Workers' Picket Line
On April 20, United Steelworkers Local 1005 President Ron Wells, Vice-President Jim McColl as well as retiree and former President Rolf Gerstenberger, joined the striking Windsor Salt workers' picket line in Windsor, Ontario to deliver a donation of $1005 and to bring the support of their members. The donation was approved by a general membership meeting of the Steelworkers held on April 12, following the initial visit to Windsor of retired steelworkers and others from Hamilton, who joined the rally on International Women's Day.
The steelworkers, striking salt workers and a number of retired salt workers shared their common experiences dealing with arrogant U.S. companies that think they can do as they please in Canada. All emphasized the importance of taking a stand to say No! and that this is the only way to find a way forward and also make these companies -- and the governments that back them up -- think twice about attacking workers.
The active and retired salt workers explained their experiences with Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc. whose modus operandi is to issue ultimatums and dictates and then act friendly at the last moment in the hopes of disorienting the workers. They also explained the process of production, what life is like working in the mine, and the support they have gained from the community and across the country.
The steelworkers explained how they waged some of their battles against U.S. Steel. In their case, they rejected the company's attempts to provoke a strike which they could use to lay workers off but the steelworkers did not fall for that. The company then locked them out and the workers were able to prove that it was in fact a layoff. They also explained how they built support amongst their community, and always put their struggle within the context of Canadian nation-building. By the end, U.S. Steel "had two friends in the whole city," the steelworkers said.
Below is the letter of support that went with the donation:
Dear Windsor Salt Workers,
We are writing to express our support for you as you fight for job security and to stop outsourcing. It takes a lot of courage and determination to stand up for what you believe in, and your efforts have not gone unnoticed. You are an inspiration to all workers who are fighting for fair treatment and respect. Your demands for job security and an end to outsourcing are more than reasonable. All workers have the right to job security, and outsourcing only serves to undermine that security. It is important that companies like Windsor Salt recognize the value of their workers and provide them with the protections, wages and benefits they deserve. Your strike sends a powerful message to management and to the broader community that workers will not be taken advantage of. Your determination and unity have shown that workers can make a difference when they come together and demand fair treatment.
We stand with you in your fight for job security and to stop outsourcing. I hope that your efforts will lead to a positive outcome that benefits all workers.
USW Local 1005
This article was published in
Number 23 - April 25, 2023