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U.S. Steel debacle ‘complete industrial disaster’ says Stanford

CAW economist says shutdowns and firings had nothing to do with the recession


December 14, 2011
by Matt Powell

TORONTO—Jim Stanford, economist at the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW), says killing the lawsuit against U.S. Steel wraps up what has been a complete industrial disaster for Canada since the American steel-maker acquired Stelco in 2007.

“It’s pretty unprecedented when the government has to take a company to court to make them live up to the terms of a take-over,” he says.

Stanford says he doesn’t buy U.S. Steel’s defence the mass firings and eventual lock outs of workers at its Hamilton and Nanticoke facilities is due to do with the recession.

“I, in no way, accept that this was because of the recession,” he says. “There are U.S. Steel plants in the U.S. running at full tilt and now because we have become a cog in a bigger machine, Canada is vulnerable to being side swiped when it suits the company.”

Stanford believes the government needs to perform a complete overhaul of its foreign acquisition regulations, especially since the U.S. Steel debacle isn’t the first foreign acquisition disaster of a Canadian resource company.

“In resource sectors we don’t need foreign capital—we know how to dig this stuff out of the ground ourselves instead of selling out to some company that’s trying to time the bubble and once it bursts, make Canadians pay for the company’s mistakes.”

The U.S. Steel settlement in a nutshell:

    1. Paradis says U.S. Steel’s commitments will provide benefits that probably wouldn’t have been obtained through the court process.

    2. U.S. Steel says it will spend $50 million at its Hamilton and Nanticoke plants and keep its Canadian operations going until 2015.

    3. The United Steelworkers (USW) says the Conservatives have betrayed the workers and their families in Hamilton and Nanticoke by dropping the lawsuit against U.S. Steel.

“Instead of upholding a legally-binding agreement, the Conservatives have become party to a foreign corporation breaking commitments to Canadian families and communities,” said Ken Neumann, Canadian director of the USW.

Click here for an UPDATE on the US Steel story