U.S. Steel Hamilton Workers Win Another Victory
On Friday, USW Local 1005 advised Steel Market Update the Canadian government had ruled the locked out union members were eligible to collect Employment Insurance (EI) benefits retroactive to November 7, 2010 – the day the union was locked out of the U.S. Steel Hamilton mill.
According to local media reports, the decision means the union members will be able to collect up to $400 a week in EI benefits on top of the strike payments from the United Steelworkers. The combination of EI benefits and strike pay will garner most workers about two-thirds of their normal $800-$900 weekly pay.
USW union management was very pleased with the latest victory by the union which worked hard to present their case to Service Canada which did an extensive legislative review.
According to a theSpec.com article shared with SMU on Saturday morning, “Normally, workers involved in a labour dispute are denied EI benefits, but the union argued the Hamilton situation is different because the workers aren’t on strike, they’ve been locked out by a company that has also broken employment and production promises made to the government. (The federal government is suing the company over those broken promises, seeking penalties that now total about $15 million. The case could go to trial in the spring.)”
Even with the latest victory by the union the USW told SMU in their press release, “…this certainly does not take away from the fact that our members would much rather be working producing Steel.”
The union believes this decision will help put pressure on U.S. Steel to negotiate with the union and bring the Hamilton plant back into production.
U.S. Steel locked out the workers insisting Local 1005 members agree to changes closing the existing defined benefit plan to new hires which would be directed instead to a defined contribution plan. The mill is also insisting on an end to pension indexing for the approximately 9,000 existing retirees. The union position is to work under the contract agreed to by U.S. Steel when they purchased the former Stelco facility in 2007. (Source: USW Local 1005, theSpec.com)
For more information about the subject you can visit the SMU Blog where we have a number of blog postings and comments from both pro-union and non-union positions.
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