Steel Mills

US Steel Canada Responds to Secret Agreement Appeal

Written by Sandy Williams

US Steel Canada presented its arguments against revealing the confidential settlement between USSC, US Steel and the government of Canada. In a response filed with the Court of Appeal for Ontario on November 11, 2015, US Steel Canada asked that the appeal by the USW, USSC employees and pensioners, and the City of Hamilton be dismissed.

The appellants want the December 8, 2011 “secret agreement” between Canada, USS, and USSC revealed, claiming it is relevant to the CCAA proceedings for US Steel Canada. In April, a CCAA judge dismissed a motion for disclosure of the agreement.

US Steel Canada, in its response on Wednesday, stated the issues in the appeal are:

  1. Did the CCAA judge correctly interpret section 36 of the ICA, including the finding that there was no exception to privilege? 
  2. Did USSC waive privilege over the Settlement Agreement? 
  3. Should this Court reverse the decision of the CCAA judge and order disclosure of the Settlement Agreement?

USSC concludes in the first issue that the judge correctly interpreted the law in finding there was “no exception to privilege.”

In the second issue, USSC says that although USSC President and General Manager Michael McQuade did mention the agreement in generalized terms during the proceedings, disclosure of the “existence of a document does not constitute waiver over that document.” USSC’s clear intention was to remain confidentiality over the Settlement Agreement and that “the privilege attaching to settlement documents cannot be unilaterally waived by one party.”

Thirdly, USSC concludes that the decision not to disclose the Settlement Agreement should be upheld.

A series of letters have been sent to new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne by the Canadian USW and MPPs Dave Levac and Paul Miller regarding the situation facing workers at US Steel Canada.

The group called on the Government of Canada to bear “some real responsibility” for the plight of retirees and active employees at USSC. It asked the government to support the disclosure of the agreement and provide help for those individuals who are losing their post-retirement health benefits.

Wrote the USW: “These are vulnerable people who have done nothing wrong. They are losing essential health care benefits earned as deferred compensation during a work life spent in a heavy industrial setting. These workers and their families have counted on these benefits, and now they have been taken away and no one has been held accountable.”

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