Canadian Manufacturing

Steel battle to continue in court as U.S. Steel Canada and USW enter sixth day of talks

Retiree pension and health benefit proceedings to hit court Oct. 7

TORONTO—The conflict over the fate of U.S. Steel Canada and its workers was rekindled earlier this month, with the United Steelworkers and USSC exchanging broadsides prior to the two parties entering mediation. The company and the union have now completed five days of discussions in Toronto. While the talks are confidential, the USW said neither side has broken off from the discussions and a dialogue continues.

USSC is seeking a court order to extend its protection from creditors into 2016 as well as permission to suspend all pension payments and healthcare benefits for its retirees, saying it will likely be unable to continue operations at its Hamilton and Nanticoke plants without such an order. Meanwhile, the USW have filed a court order of their own seeking to stop U.S. Steel’s reallocation of Canadian production to the U.S. The union has also vowed to protect its workers’ jobs and its retirees’ pensions.

“Throughout this process, our priorities have not changed. We will do all in our power to protect our members’ pensions, their crucial health benefits and of course Steelworker jobs,” Bill Ferguson, president of USW Local 8782 in Nanticoke, said.

The USW said a number of motions were to be heard by the Ontario Superior Court this week, but those motions have now been rescheduled for October 7 and 8. The motions include USSC’s motion to stop making certain pension plan contributions and to stop paying for crucial benefits for retirees known as OPEBs, or other post-employment benefits.

“As there are no longer any scheduled public proceedings this week, we instead call on our members, retirees and supporters to join us to witness public proceedings before the court on October 7 and 8,” Ferguson said.

USW hopes to have more information for members and retirees “very soon.”

“We will continue to stand together and fight hard for our members and retirees throughout this process. We’re Steelworkers,” Marty Warren, USW’s Ontario director, said. “We know that Hamilton Works and Lake Erie Works can succeed as stable, long-term, profitable businesses with good jobs and retirements for our members.”

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