US Steel labour talks stall, 1,000 workers remain locked out

Sides divided over elimination of cost-of-living wage increases, vacation time reductions.

April 30, 2013   by The Canadian Press

NANTICOKE, Ont. – A lockout of nearly 1,000 workers at US Steel’s Nanticoke, Ont. plant continued for a second day Monday, and there’s no end in sight.

Bill Ferguson, president of Steelworkers Local 8782, said negotiations have stalled because there have been no talks with the company since the lockout began.

The union represents 978 workers at the Lake Erie Works.

“We can’t do that (reach an agreement) when you’re not talking,” he said.

Ferguson said the two sides are divided over a number of issues, including the elimination of cost-of-living wage increases and a reduction of holidays.

US Steel, which makes steel for a number of operations from cars to building construction, bought one of Canada’s largest steel manufacturers – Hamilton, Ont.-based Stelco – in 2007.

The company and the federal government fought a long-running battle over promises US Steel broke to secure approval under the Investment Canada Act to buy Stelco.

The two sides settled the case in late 2011 with an agreement that saw the company promise to keep producing steel in Canada for at least another four years and make major capital investments at its Canadian mills.

The union has asked that the federal government publicly disclose the terms.

Last week, the union voted 70% to reject a final contract offer from the company.

Ferguson said workers would have received an extra $1 an hour under the company’s latest offer, but that had already been mandated under the cost-of-living clause in the previous agreement.

The Lake Erie Works facility makes 2.25 million tonnes of slabs and three million tonnes of high-quality hot rolled coils.

©The Canadian Press

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