Steel Mills

Contract Deadlines Loom Over Canadian Mills, Some USW Talks Stall

Written by Michael Cowden

Canadian flat-rolled steelmakers Stelco and Algoma face looming summer contract expirations with the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

That’s well ahead of US mills, whose contracts with the USW don’t expire until Sept. 1.

Here is where things stand now:


The most pressing deadline is at Hamilton, Ontario-based Stelco, whose five-year agreement with the USW expires on June 30 – just a week from now.

USW Local 8782, which represents workers at Stelco’s Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, said that negotiations with the company have stalled in a press release on Thursday, June 23.

The union said it requested a mediator from the Ontario Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, June 22. It also plans to hold a strike authorization vote on Monday, June 27.

Recall that a strike authorization vote does not necessarily mean that workers will go on strike.

The main sticking points in labor talks are wages, benefits and pensions, the USW said. The union also claimed that other USW-represented companies – such as Quebec’s ArcelorMittal Long Products and Montreal-based jet manufacturer Bombardier – have offered their employees better deals.

The USW says that more than 1,000 of its members work at Lake Erie Works, which operates one blast furnace and produces hot-rolled coil.

“These steelworkers have worked hard as essential workers, throughout the pandemic, and delivered the product that brought over $2 billion (CAD) in sales for Stelco in the last year,” USW Ontario Director Myles Sullivan said in a statement.

“Now it’s time for Stelco management to show some appreciation for its workers,” he added. “We are bargaining in better times, and these stellar Stelco workers deserve better.”

USW Local 1005, which represents Stelco’s Hamilton Works, voted to authorize a strike last week, with 96.1% of members voting in favor of the action, according to the union’s website.

“Your negotiating committee continues to bargain in good faith with Stelco with the goal of bringing you a contract that we can recommend for ratification,” Local 1005 said in an update on Tuesday, June 21.

Hamilton Works, whose blast furnace has long been out of commission, continues to operate its “Z-line,” which has capacity to produce 470,000 tons of galvanized and galvannealed steel sheet per year.

Stelco did not respond to requests for comment for this article.


The contract between the USW and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario-based Algoma expires on July 31.

Two local USW chapters represent the sheet and plate maker: Local 2724 represents salaried workers, and Local 2251 represents hourly workers.

Local 2251 plans to hold a special membership meeting on July 4 to provide an update on contract negotiations to its members and to vote on whether to authorize a strike.

It was not clear immediately whether there were any sticking points.

The company is in the middle of a project to shift to EAF steelmaking to reduce carbon emissions. Local 2251 has opposed the move in part because it would result in fewer jobs at the company’s coke batteries.

Algoma does not typically comment on contract negotiations, a company spokesperson told SMU on Thursday.

The USW is also engaged in contract talks with Pittsburgh-based US Steel and Cleveland-based Cleveland-Cliffs. But those contracts don’t expire until September.

By Michael Cowden,

Michael Cowden

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