NDP STATEMENT ON STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS TEMPORARY EXEMPTION

NDP International Trade Critic, Tracey Ramsey, made the following statement: 

 

“New Democrats, together with industry stakeholders and workers, cautiously welcome President Trump’s announcement today that the proposed steel and aluminum tariffs will be delayed. President Donald Trump has caused Canadian workers a great deal of anxiety over the past week and as the Member of Parliament for an area in which jobs are reliant upon most of these major industries, it certainly has caused sleepless nights.

Continue reading NDP STATEMENT ON STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS TEMPORARY EXEMPTION

Prime Minister Tour on Tariffs.

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau intends next week to tour regions of the country that are heavily reliant on the steel and aluminum industries in a show of solidarity for those who would be hurt the most by the imposition of stiff U.S. tariffs.

Prime ministerial spokesman Cameron Ahmad says Trudeau plans to meet with workers, business leaders, industry leaders and union leaders to demonstrate his support for those who may be affected by the tariffs.

Ahmad would not speculate on whether Trudeau’s tour will proceed if Canada wins an exemption.

The tour is to begin Monday in Alma, Que., home to one of Rio Tinto’s seven aluminum smelters in the province.

On Tuesday, he is to visit Hamilton, where the head of Steeltown’s chamber of commerce has predicted the tariffs could put 40,000 jobs in jeopardy, and Sault Ste. Marie, where Algoma Steel is the city’s largest employer.

He is to head Wednesday to Regina, where Evraz Steel — which bills itself as the largest steel company in western Canada —  has operations.

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports, with details expected to be unveiled Thursday.

The Trudeau government has been lobbying aggressively for Canada to be excluded from the tariffs, but there have been conflicting signals from the White House about the possibility of any exemptions. Trump himself has said an exemption for Canada and Mexico is possible if negotiations to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement are concluded to his satisfaction.

Canada is the biggest supplier of steel imported by the U.S. each year. But Canada is also the biggest foreign buyer of American steel.

The Canadian Steel Producers Association says trade in steel between Canada and the U.S. was worth $12 billion in 2017 and was “evenly balanced” between the two countries.

 

Possible Tariff Exemption

President Trump is planning to offer Canada and Mexico a temporary exemption from new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, reversing his original insistence that the measures apply to U.S. allies as well as nations like China, administration officials said Wednesday.

One version of the plan, which was still being finalized ahead of an expected announcement on Thursday, would give Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the tariffs, the officials said. The exemptions could be extended based on progress in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The move comes as the White House signaled a new flexibility after a six-day drama that has roiled relations with the country’s closest allies, triggered the resignation of National Economic Council chief Gary Cohn and spooked investors. Republicans in Congress have been urging the president to narrow his proposed global tariffs to avoid boomeranging on U.S. businesses and consumers.

Peter K. Navarro, the director of the White House’s Trade and Manufacturing Policy office, said Wednesday night on Fox Business that the president would meet Thursday at 3:30 p.m. with steel union workers and “sign the proclamations.

And within about 15 to 30 days, the tariffs go into effect. The proclamation will have a clause that does not impose these tariffs immediately on Canada and Mexico.” Other officials said the timing of the announcement and details of the plan remained fluid and subject to change.

In advance of the meeting, Trump tweeted that it was important to “protect” the U.S. steel and aluminum industries, while also offering concessions to “real friends.” 

But Trump also revisited the idea of using tariffs as leverage in trade bargaining and other talks — without specifically mentioning NAFTA. Trump wrote that flexibility is extended only to countries that “treat us fairly in both trade and the military.”

The White House shift came after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a last-minute appeal for flexibility, saying that overly broad tariffs would damage key security ties with U.S. allies.

On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers accelerated their efforts to pull the president back from a potentially costly trade war that he has insisted would be “easy to win.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a letter signed by 107 House Republicans that urges the president “to tailor” the tariffs to address market distortions caused by Chinese surplus production depressing global metals prices.

“We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers,” the letter read. “Because tariffs are taxes that make U.S. businesses less competitive and U.S. consumers poorer, any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers.”

The party’s extraordinary internal split was underscored when the Republican Study Committee, representing more than half of House Republicans, released a statement defending free trade and labeling tariffs a “tax on American consumers and businesses.”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Freedom Caucus and one of Trump’s most trusted allies in Congress, has spoken with the president multiple times over the past week in opposition to the tariffs, said three people briefed on his efforts who were not authorized to speak publicly.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. ‘Chaos’ doesn’t really do it justice,” said Claude Barfield, a resident scholar at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.

Government lawyers have struggled in recent days to reconcile Trump’s public comments with the legal provisions they have been told to enforce. For example, Trump is trying to use the tariff threats to force Canada and Mexico to offer unrelated concessions in NAFTA. By publicly acknowledging this, he has potentially spoiled the legal standing of the tariffs, a senior administration official said, making it harder for them to design the prohibitions.

Earlier in the week, Trump suggested that he would exclude Canada and Mexico from the new levies only if they made concessions in negotiations aimed at reaching a new NAFTA deal. Officials from both countries rejected the demand, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling the new tariffs “absolutely unacceptable.”

Major business groups that are normally allied with the Republican Party joined the anti-tariffs chorus.

“These new tariffs would directly harm American manufacturers, provoke widespread retaliation from our trading partners, and leave virtually untouched the true problem of Chinese steel and aluminum overcapacity,” said Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Alienating our strongest global allies amid high-stakes trade negotiations is not the path to long-term American leadership.”

The Grocery Manufacturers Association warned that the import taxes would disrupt global supply chains and raise costs for consumers, while the Beer Institute chimed in with predictions of 20,000 job cuts by its members.

The American Institute of Architects said the import levies would “drastically increase” the cost of building materials, threatening the viability of the president’s infrastructure proposal.

Republican lawmakers also want the president to establish a “robust exclusion process” when he announces the tariffs so that businesses can apply for waivers to import products that cannot be obtained from domestic sources.

The president may sign the official tariff order as soon as Thursday, but details of additional exclusions may not be ready for 30 days, according to one former U.S. trade official.

When the U.S. last imposed tariffs on imported steel in 2002, George W. Bush’s administration had a waiver process in place six months before the tariffs took effect.

“In the short term, it’s going to be chaotic,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The situation left lobbyists and economists alike unsure of the road ahead. By themselves, the tariffs are likely to have little impact on a $20 trillion economy that is already at full employment.

But with the European Union, Canada and China vowing retaliation, there is a danger that a costly global conflict could erupt, said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics, who expects the economy to expand by 2.9 percent this year.

“My fairly positive forecast for the economy assumes it does not turn into a major confidence-sapping trade war, with equities plunging etc.,” O’Sullivan said via email. “I think the equity market will be an important signaling device here.”

For now, the stock market — after plunging by 586 points when the tariffs were announced — appears sanguine. The Dow Jones industrial average fell by less than 1 percent on Wednesday and remains higher than on March 1, when Trump first disclosed his tariff plan.

The president signaled in a pair of tweets that his attention may soon shift to China. “The U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft. We cannot allow this to happen as it has for many years!” he wrote.

The administration has been considering for weeks various measures intended to punish China for compelling foreign companies to surrender their trade secrets in return for access to the world’s second-largest economy.

Among the options under review are tariffs on a variety of Chinese products and new restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.

The most radical steps would attempt to unwind existing Chinese investments, not just limit new ones, but that would raise legal questions, they said.

The debate follows Trump’s request in August for Robert E. Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, to examine whether China’s intellectual property policies unfairly discriminated against U.S. companies. That probe could continue until August, but a decision is expected by the end of this month, according to a former U.S. trade negotiator.

In striking at China, the administration can expect more uniform backing from corporate leaders, who have grown frustrated with the country’s less welcoming stance under President Xi Jinping.

Earlier in the day, the president also tweeted inaccurately about the overall trade balance between the United States and China.

“China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States. Our relationship with China has been a very good one, and we look forward to seeing what ideas they come back with. We must act soon!” the president wrote.

In fact, China last year had a $375 billion trade surplus with the United States. Reducing it by $1 billion would have no appreciable economic consequences.

The overall U.S. trade deficit rose to $56.6 billion in January, the highest monthly figure in more than nine years, the Commerce Department said.

Steel industry leaders are split over whether to exclude Canada. The United Steelworkers union, which has numerous members in Canada, is urging the administration to exclude Canada, arguing that America’s northern neighbor trades fairly.

“There’s no rational reason to have Canada sanctioned, because Canada never broke the rules,” said Leo Gerard, international president of the USW. “We want to encourage the administration to go after the cheaters.”

But steel executives are more leery of an exemption for Canada, the largest source of imported steel. The country’s mills could become an even larger source as companies in the United States scramble to find new suppliers if the tariff goes into effect only on Asia and Europe.

Trump should do a “fixed tariff across the board,” said Dan DiMicco, chairman emeritus of Nucor, one of the largest U.S. steel producers. “If I had my way, we’d be doing a 50 percent tariff on the really bad actors and 20 percent on the rest.”

Bush exempted Canada and Mexico from his steel tariffs in 2002. At the time, Bush’s advisers felt it wouldn’t be fair to put the tariff on such close allies and free trading partners. However, economists say there were still negative impacts on the economy, even with the carve-out for Canada and a handful of other nations and products.

“I don’t think it’s a game changer to get Canada excluded from tariffs,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, who has advised GOP candidates for president. “We did that under Bush. It was still the case that domestic harm to steel-consuming industries outweighed the gains to steel producers.”

david.lynch@washpost.com

heather.long@washpost.com

damian.paletta@washpost.com

Erica Werner, Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey and Brian Murphy contributed to this report.

U.S Anti Dumping Case

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – The U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday voted to continue anti-dumping and subsidy investigations into imports of large-diameter welded pipe from Canada, China, Greece, India, South Korea and Turkey, it said in a statement.

The U.S. Commerce Department said last month it was examining whether manufacturers from those countries are selling the pipe in the United States at below-market rates or are being unfairly subsidized by their governments.

The trade case comes amidst global trade jitters after U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he would impose broad tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum to protect U.S. national security under a Cold War-era trade law, a move that could raise consumer prices and ignite a trade war. Imports of the welded steel pipe, used to build oil and gas pipelines, in 2016 totaled $441.4 million from the six countries, department data show.

The probe was launched after a petition from a group of privately held U.S. producers and covers welded carbon and alloy steel pipe larger than 16 inches (406.4 mm) in diameter.

The pipe can be used to transport oil, gas, slurry, steam or other fluids, liquids or gases.

The investigation is one of around 100 the Trump administration has opened since taking office, which it says are aimed at protecting U.S. manufacturers in global markets.

The Commerce Department estimated that in 2016 imports of large-diameter welded pipe from Canada had a value of $66 million, China $139 million, India $26 million, Greece $70 million, South Korea $150.3 million and Turkey $116.1 million.

It estimated dumping margins at 50.89 percent for Canada, 120.84 percent to 132.63 percent for China, 41.04 percent for Greece, 37.94 percent for India, 16.18 percent and 20.39 percent for South Korea and 66.09 percent for Turkey.

“Dumping” is the practice of selling goods below market price.

The Commerce Department is scheduled to make its preliminary subsidy decision by April 16 and its preliminary dumping determination by June 29.

Trump campaigned on a platform of restoring a level playing field to trade relations, in particular with China. Even before the steel and aluminum tariff proposals, his administration was accused of courting a trade war by vetoing new appeals judges at the World Trade Organization, hobbling the trade dispute settlement system and running the risk that trade friction will explode into tit-for-tat actions.

 

Speculation in Washington about possible ‘adjustments’ to steel tariffs

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is coming under political pressure at home to exclude Canada from global tariffs on steel and aluminum, and while stating its preference for a hard line it’s leaving the door open just the tiniest crack to the possibility of adjustments.

Lawmakers, businesses, and hosts on the Sunday political talk-shows all challenged the logic of slapping a national-security tariff on a peaceful next-door neighbour, pushing the administration to justify its move.

The administration says a final announcement is coming next week. On Sunday, it signalled that President Donald Trump is leaning toward a no-exceptions-for-anyone attitude  but then added some potential asterisks.

In the midst of an internal tug-of-war within the White House the administration was represented on the talk shows by two of its most prominent trade hawks, Trump advisor Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Both appeared to suggest the decision is close to final.

While no countries will be excluded, Navarro said some industries could get exemptions. This is of keen interest to Canada’s auto sector, which is a leading supplier of steel and aluminum to the U.S.: “There’ll be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so business can move forward,” Navarro said on CNN.

Ross held out the slim prospect of some changes: “We shall see,” he told NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“(Trump) has made a decision at this point,” he said of the 25 per cent tariff for steel and 10 per cent tariff for aluminum. “If he for some reason should change his mind, then it’ll change. I have no reason to believe he’s going to change his mind.”

The administration is being deluged with demands from its own political allies to relax its policy. The same two top Republican lawmakers who shepherded Trump’s tax-cut achievement through Congress, Kevin Brady and Orrin Hatch, have pleaded for revisions.

A senator of a border state said he’s already hearing from businesses at home. Angus King, an Independent senator from Maine, compared Trump’s plan to the devastating U.S. tariffs of the 1930s. He said companies in his state fear price increases for steel.

King said any trade actions should be targeted to discourage Chinese dumping  not hit the entire world.

“You want to do these kinds of things with a scalpel  not a chainsaw,” King told NBC.

To apply the tariffs, the U.S. is invoking a rarely used clause in a 1962 trade law that allows the president to declare tariffs if required by national security. The White House argues that the wording is broad, and that national security also could include employment and economic stability of the domestic steel industry.

“I don’t think we need to block Canadian steel in the name of national security. They’re annoying. You know, they’re too nice. But we don’t fear a war with Canada,” King said.

Every host of the big weekly U.S. talk shows raised the Canada angle.

Fox News’s Chris Wallace asked how the White House can possibly justify using a national security excuse for imposing tariffs on a close NATO partner, and legal member of the U.S. military-industrial complex.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Navarro to imagine how Canada might see this: “From the perspective of Canada … Canada would say, ‘National security exemption? We fight with you in every war. Our soldiers are right next to your soldiers in every conflict. What possible scenario could you envision where we wouldn’t supply you with steel and aluminum?’”

But the general response from Trump officials was that everyone should prepare for tariffs. When Navarro was asked on Fox whether Trump would exclude anyone, he responded in the negative.

“That’s not his decision,” Navarro replied.

“As soon as he starts exempting countries he has to raise tariffs on everybody else. As soon as he exempts one country his phone starts ringing from the heads of state of other countries.”

He added more details in an interview with CNN: “Canada’s 40 per cent of the (American aluminum) market. If you exempt Canada, then you have to put big, big tariffs on everybody else. So this is a measured, targeted approach.”

He was repeatedly pressed on the Canada issue in these interviews. Navarro did leave out the possibility of certain industries being exempted.

The issue has sparked a ferocious debate within the White House. Last week, it appeared Trump had frozen out the free-traders in his office and made this announcement with the support of hawks like Navarro.

American press reports have also described the president feeling angry and isolated in recent days. His administration has been hit with resignations, infighting and conflict-of-interest allegations involving the president’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

A South Carolina Republican called it folly.

Sen. Lindsey Graham mentioned the Volkswagen and BMW plants in his state and expressed fear of how a trade war might affect jobs there. He said there’s reason to pursue China for intellectual-property theft and product dumping, but this is hitting all the wrong targets.

He addressed Trump directly in his interview on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

“You’re letting China off the hook,” Graham said.

“You’re punishing the American consumer and our allies. You’re making a huge mistake here. Go after China  not the rest of the world.”

 

 

Statement by Canada on steel and aluminum

From Global Affairs Canada

March 1, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement:

“As a key NORAD and NATO ally, and as the number one customer of American steel, Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminum as absolutely unacceptable.

“Any restrictions would harm workers, the industry and manufacturers on both sides of the border. The steel and aluminum industry is highly integrated and supports critical North American manufacturing supply chains. The Canadian government will continue to make this point directly with the American administration at all levels.

“Canada is a safe and secure supplier of steel and aluminum for U.S. defence and security.  Canada is recognized in U.S. law as a part of the U.S. National Technology and Industrial Base related to national defence.

“The United States has a $2-billion surplus in steel trade with Canada. Canada buys more American steel than any other country in the world, accounting for 50% of U.S. exports.

“It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.  We will always stand up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.  Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers.”

 

Canada’s Exclusion from U.S. Aluminum, Steel Tariffs Clearly Warranted

 

TORONTO, MONTREAL, 1 March 2018 – Canada’s steel and aluminum producers clearly must be excluded from U.S. import tariffs announced today by President Donald Trump, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

 

“The evidence is clear that Canadian steel and aluminum imports are not part of the problem that the U.S. administration is trying to address through its Section 232 investigation,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

U.S. President Donald Trump today announced plans to impose tariffs of 10% on aluminum imports and 25% on steel imports. Key details, such as whether fair-trading allies such as Canada will be excluded from duties, have yet to be disclosed.

“The investigation heard extensive evidence that Canada is a key U.S. ally that should be excluded from tariffs. Canada clearly is not one of the ‘bad actors’ that engage in unfair trade and dumping of aluminum and steel into the United States,” Neumann said.

 

“On the contrary, Canadian steel exports are part of deeply integrated supply chains for U.S. products. Imposing tariffs on Canadian exports risks causing significant economic harm and job losses on both sides of our border,” he said.

 

“The aim of the U.S. government’s Section 232 investigation is to respond to countries whose trade practices represent a threat to American national security. The evidence confirms that tariffs and punitive actions are warranted against ‘bad actor’ countries that engage in illegal dumping and unfair trade practices, including China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.”

 

“Canada is not the problem,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

 

“The United States and Canada have integrated manufacturing markets. In addition, the defence and intelligence relationship between the countries is unique and integral to our security. Any solution must exempt Canadian production,” Gerard said. “At the same time, Canada must commit to robust enforcement of its trade laws and enhance its cooperation to address global overcapacity in steel and aluminum.”

 

Steelworkers’ Quebec Director Alain Croteau asserted that “U.S. tariffs against Canadian aluminum producers would not serve the interests of the American economy.

 

“Canadian producers represent a stable, secure and environmentally favourable source of aluminum that benefits American industry and consumers,” Croteau said.

 

“Canadian and American workers and consumers should expect that the U.S. government will do the right thing and exempt Canadian aluminum and steel exports from tariffs or quotas,” he added.

 

The USW reiterated its call for the Government of Canada to act decisively to defend Canadian industries and jobs.

 

“U.S. tariffs threaten to increase the dumping of cheap foreign steel into Canada,” Neumann said. “The federal government must act to protect Canadian industry and jobs from this potential diversion of cheap imports into our markets.”

 

Canadian Aluminum, Steel Must Be Excluded from U.S. Tariffs and Quotas: Steelworkers

USW states that Canada is a ‘partner,’ not a threat to American national security

TORONTO and MONTREAL, Feb. 16, 2018 /CNW/ – Canada is not among the “bad actors” engaged in unfair trade and dumping of aluminum and steel into the United States and must be excluded from potential U.S. tariffs and quotas, the United Steelworkers (USW) says.

“There is no justification to include Canada with countries that systematically violate trade laws and engage in the dumping of illegally subsidized aluminum and steel,” USW National Director Ken Neumann said following today’s release of a U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) report on the impact of imported steel and aluminum on U.S. national security.

The DOC’s Section 232 report has recommended three separate options for American President Donald Trump to consider regarding steel and aluminum exports to the U.S., ranging from across-the-board tariffs, to tariffs for “bad actor” countries and exclusions for “good actor” countries. The president also can implement modified versions of any of the recommendations, or take no action at all.

“The intent of the DOC’s report is to respond to countries whose trade practices represent a threat to U.S. national security,” Neumann said.

“The report, as well as testimony provided by expert witnesses during the investigation stage, demonstrate that Canada is not one of the ‘bad actor’ countries that threaten U.S. interests,” added Marty Warren, USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada).

The DOC report includes several positive references to Canada, characterizing it as a partner and supplier to the American aluminum industry, rather than a threat.

During the DOC’s Section 232 investigation, retired U.S. army brigadier general John Adams urged that Canada’s steel sector not be hit with tariffs.

“The one supplier in whom I have complete confidence is Canada. Not only do we currently have a steel surplus with Canada, but we share a border and have synergistic strategic, economic and national security interests,” Adams testified.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard also said Canada should be excluded from punitive actions that should be focused on bad actor countries including China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, Turkey and Vietnam.

“Our economies are very closely intertwined and we hope the U.S. government won’t threaten the steel and aluminum industries by taking punitive action,” said Steve Hunt, USW District 3 Director (Western Canada).

U.S. trade action against Canadian aluminum and steel would not serve the interests of the American economy, Steelworkers’ Quebec Director Alain Croteau said.

“Imposing tariffs or quotas on Canadian exports will result in job losses in the U.S. manufacturing sector and will increase prices for many goods and products. Workers on both sides of the border will lose,” Croteau said.

“Compared to other producers, Quebec’s aluminum sector is more environmentally friendly and produces much lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.

The USW also is calling for a strong response from the Canadian government to defend the Canadian aluminum and steel industries from unjustified tariffs and quotas.

“The government of Canada must act decisively to defend fair trade and the tens of thousands of Canadian families whose livelihoods depend on the aluminum and steel sectors,” Neumann said.

“The Canadian government should work with the U.S. in fighting the predatory and destructive trade practices of China and other bad actor countries.”

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

Tim Hortons

Ontario coffee drinkers are rightfully dismayed that the owners of some Tim Hortons franchises have chosen to cut back on their workers’ benefits, paid breaks and even tips in response to the minimum wage increase to $14 an hour.

Ontario workers are right to be concerned that there is nothing illegal about the behaviour of Tim Hortons franchisees in reducing benefits and paid breaks. That’s because Tim Hortons employees do not have the benefit of an enforceable collective agreement — they largely work at the mercy of their employer.

If Tim’s workers did have a union, these cutbacks would, of course, be in violation of their union contract and the union would ensure Tim’s was prevented from making such miserly and unilateral cuts.

The reason Tim’s employees and so many other workers don’t have the benefit of a union contract is that Ontario’s labour laws make it virtually impossible for workers in franchise operations to join unions.

The recent package of labour law changes passed by the Wynne Liberals did some good things for Ontario workers — most notably it included a long overdue increase to the minimum wage. But it is unfortunate that the government did virtually nothing to provide service sector workers, like the thousands of Tim’s employees, with real access to unionization and collective bargaining.

Our current system of labour relations was designed in the 1930s and ’40s when workplaces were very different — and it is profoundly ill-suited to accommodate collective bargaining at thousands of retail franchises across the province. It is very difficult to generate any real bargaining power by trying to unionize one Tim’s store at a time — let alone trying to negotiate at one, or even five, Tim’s stores among the hundreds spread across Ontario.

As a result, the overwhelming majority of retail franchise workers in Ontario are not unionized. And it is not for a lack of trying, both by unions and workers. Many unions have organized Tim Hortons, McDonald’s and Starbucks franchises, for example. But those efforts have ultimately failed to create any real union density in the sector because labour laws remain stacked against Ontario’s most vulnerable workers.

The Ontario government promised its labour law reforms would address the challenges created by growing precarious employment in small workplaces. In reality, it has left vulnerable workers exposed to precisely the unfair treatment we are seeing today.

The government took no action even though its own task force — the Changing Workplaces Review — received numerous submissions from unions and other organizations calling for legislation to allow broader sectoral bargaining in Ontario, similar to laws found in some sectors in Quebec and across much of Europe.

The government’s own task force also concluded that the current system of bargaining with a single franchisee is “unlikely to be viable.” The task force recommended a small change that would have allowed bargaining with multiple franchisees of the same franchisor. Sadly, the government rejected even this modest proposal.

Finally, the Wynne government also rejected a proposal from the entire labour movement that workers in all sectors should have the opportunity to join a union without employer interference, by simply signing a union membership card. The government’s rejection of this proposal virtually assures Tim’s workers who want to join a union that they can expect to be subjected to a legal campaign of anti-union coercion and harassment by their employer.

Premier Wynne claims to have modernized labour laws to protect Ontario workers and grow the middle class. But simply increasing the minimum wage will not stem growing inequality.

History demonstrates that unionization and collective bargaining are the most important factors in reducing inequality and growing the middle class. On that score, the Ontario government has given retail workers less than half a cup of coffee.

Marty Warren is the Ontario Director of the United Steelworkers

 

 

USW Potash Locals United Like Never Before Following Strategic Meetings

 

SASAKTOON, Sask., 12 January 2018 – The United Steelworkers Potash Locals have concluded two days of successful and productive meetings in Saskatoon, Sask., where local unions came together to discuss a number of issues important to Steelworkers who work in potash mines in the province.

 

USW Locals 189, 7458, 7689, 7656, 7552 and 7916 were joined by District 3 Director Stephen Hunt, Assistant to the Director Scott Lunny, Staff Representatives Mike Pulak, Phil Hayden and MC Breadner to take part in the strategic discussions.

 

The meeting follows on the heels of the merger between employers Agrium and Potash Corp. The new employer is Nutrien and the USW sees the merger as an opportunity to strengthen the collaboration between all potash locals.

 

“The importance of standing together, shoulder to shoulder, was recognized by the leadership of all USW locals. We know that by co-ordinating our efforts like never before we can ensure Steelworkers are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve,” says Darrin Kruger, President of USW Local 7552.

 

As USW members employed by Nutrien and Mosaic prepare to go into bargaining, the meeting was an opportunity to build power and create even greater synergy among potash workers. USW locals at Nutrien let the Mosaic locals know in no uncertain terms that they have their backs and vice-versa.

 

That unwavering, mutual support will help all locals achieve good things for members over the coming years, says Kim Wehner, President of USW Local 7689.

“When we stand united, we can achieve tremendous things for our members.”

 

A key discussion during the meetings was the rise in potash prices and the positive outlook for the industry.

 

USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt congratulated the locals on their commitment to working together and says it’s how workers will continue to make progress at the bargaining table.

 

“From stem to stern, in every one of our potash locals and in every facet of our union, there is a strong commitment to speak with one voice and to stand united and together. I’m very proud that the leaders of all of our potash locals are working in solidarity to co-ordinate their efforts. It means good things ahead for our members,” says Hunt.

 

The USW Potash locals represent 2,500 potash workers in Saskatchewan.

 

Sask Taxi Workers

Steelworkers’ Taxi Workers Council Will Provide Strong Voice for Taxi Workers in Western Canada

SASKATOON, Oct. 25, 2017  – The United Steelworkers (USW) commitment to providing a strong voice for taxi workers has taken a significant step forward today with the creation of the District 3 Taxi Workers Council, which will represent taxi drivers and dispatchers across Western Canada.

The Council brings together representatives from USW local unions to work together on the specific issues faced by taxi drivers and dispatchers, to provide leadership that will ensure that USW taxi workers are at the forefront of building a safe and fair taxi industry.

The Chair of the newly created District 3 Taxi Workers Council says taxi drivers and dispatchers are standing together to fight for their rights as workers.

“The establishment of the District 3 Taxi Workers Council demonstrates the USW’s commitment to ensuring that every taxi worker in every province is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve,” says Malik Umar Draz of USW Local 2014 in Saskatoon.

Over two days of meetings, USW members employed in the taxi industry strategized about how to bring forward solutions to the many issues faced by taxi drivers and dispatchers; and how to grow their membership and ensure that more taxi workers benefit from the strength and voice that comes with belonging to the Steelworkers.

“As Canada’s most diverse union, we are proud of our record of fighting for workers in many different industries and sectors of the economy. I’m proud that we are building on our work representing taxi drivers and dispatchers by creating the District 3 Taxi Workers Council,” says USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt.

“Together, we will make progress for taxi workers and ensure they have a seat at the table.”

From a growing number of incidents of workplace violence, to challenging working conditions and issues like Uber, Lyft and others, taxi workers face many daunting matters. The District 3 Taxi Workers Council will provide the forum and leadership to address these issues and pursue respect, fairness and dignity.

 

Bargaining Update

USW Seeks Mediation as Evraz Negotiations Reach Impasse

Calgary, Alberta – Two Local Unions of United Steelworkers at Evraz steel facilities in Calgary and Regina have reached impasse in negotiations with their employer over the company’s outrageous concessionary demands. The union will be seeking the assistance of a mediator through the Saskatchewan Minister of Labour to advance negotiations, with the prospect of a labour dispute if mediation is unsuccessful.

Both USW 6673, representing 300 workers at Evraz Calgary, and USW 5890, representing 900 workers at Evraz Regina, have secured strike mandates, with votes of 100% and 99.3%, respectively. Evraz Calgary is a critical supplier to the North American energy market, specializing in oil and gas well casing, tubing, heat treating and EVRlock connections. Evraz Regina produces steel plate and coil, small and large diameter pipe, and oil and gas well tubing for the energy sector.

“Evraz management needs to wake up and realize that, as a profitable company, with a productive, hard-working workforce, they don’t need to attack benefits and working conditions,” says USW western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. “It’s despicable that the company is trying to squeeze out even more profits by going after benefits of young workers, retirees and surviving spouses.”

The two locals met jointly with Evraz negotiators in Calgary this week in the hopes of advancing towards a fair renewal of their Collective Agreements. Talks broke off on Tuesday morning with the company continuing to insist that concessions on the existing contract be part of the discussions and ultimately form part of any settlement. The Union has adamantly rejected rolling back benefits and terms of their existing Collective Agreements.

“Whether it’s in Calgary or Regina, Steelworkers do the hard work that makes Evraz profitable and all they are looking for in return is a fair deal that respects their work,” says Keith Turcotte, USW Staff Representative. “Rolling back benefits and conditions is not fair and the membership has said they will not accept it.”

“Evraz management needs to re-think their strategy,” adds Hunt. “We will not betray young workers and roll-back wages and benefits for new hires.”

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Contact:

Stephen Hunt, USW Director, 604-816-2554
Keith Turcotte, USW Staff Representative, 403-999-616

 

Steelworkers News Release

Strong Strike Vote By Steelworkers In Response To Evraz Attacks

 

May 26, 2017

 

Regina – Members of United Steelworkers Local 5890 at Evraz Regina have voted 99.3% in favour of strike action in response to Evraz’s extreme concessionary demands.

 

Evraz Regina Steelworkers have been without a contact for nearly a year – the previous contract having expired in July 2016. Despite the union’s attempt to negotiate a fair collective agreement, Evraz management have launched an unprecedented attack on the working conditions of their own employees.

 

“This Russian-owned, American-managed company is extremely profitable, but their greed knows no bounds,” says USW western Canada Director Stephen Hunt. “Evraz is trying to squeeze out even more money by attacking the long-standing benefits of workers, including a demand to end certain pension benefits for retirees and removing a benefit for surviving spouses. It’s a sickening and shameful attack on vulnerable people.”

 

Other demands from Evraz management include:

 

  • 0% wage increase for 3 years and then 0.5% for 2 years
  • Removing Cost of Living Adjustments
  • Implement a two-tier wage system for new hires
  • Reduce overtime payments and scheduling
  • Alter the Long Term Disability Plan

 

“Every day Steelworkers at Evraz Regina do the hard work to make the steel that help builds our country and allow the company to be profitable. Instead of a fair deal that respects their work, Evraz management have declared war on their own employees. It’s a reckless decision that puts the viability of the company at risk at a time when they’ve just received a contract to provide pipe for the recently approved Trans Mountain pipeline,” says Keith Turcotte, USW Staff Representative.

 

“Our members built Evraz Regina and they are never going to accept this type of attack lying down. The exceptionally strong vote is a message to management that they should rethink the path they are heading down,” says Hunt.

 

USW Local 5890 represents approximately 900 members at Evraz Regina.

Tubular 3 day layoff

For all individuals who were not contacted by the company and sent home for the 3 day layoff please either call the office at 569-9663, email m.day@usw5890.com, s.mackie@usw5890.com or r.mckenzie@usw5890.com so we can compile a list and file a group grievance.

Why a labour leader who backed Hillary Clinton is now drawn to Donald Trump’s side

AARON P. BERNSTEIN/REUTERSi

DAVID SHRIBMAN

PITTSBURGH

SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

APRIL 21, 2017

What’s wrong with this picture from the White House Thursday?

There’s President Donald Trump, sitting at his Oval Office desk, the iconic yellow curtains behind him and a group of American grandees, including the Commerce Secretary, surrounding him. And at the centre of the picture is Leo Gerard, who’s not even an American and who is president of a union that backed Hillary Clinton in the November election.

That picture – capturing an unusual, even uncomfortable president-to-president moment – is a glimpse of how the isms have become wasms in American politics. Mr. Gerard, who grew up near Sudbury in Lively, Ont., and is the chief of the 1.2-million-member United Steelworkers, was plainly uneasy in the Trump White House. But on a day in which the 45th President also launched an unscripted attack on Canadian dairy-trade practices, Mr. Gerard felt he had a vital role to play.

“The important thing for my being there is that Canada’s not the problem that the United States has in the steel industry,” Mr. Gerard said in an interview Friday in his office, a 12th-floor aerie with a spectacular view of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. “The problem with the steel industries of both countries – Canada and the United States – is the onslaught of unfairly traded steel, primarily from China but also from Japan, South Korea and India.”

The occasion for Mr. Gerard’s White House appearance was Mr. Trump’s signature on a memorandum calling for an investigation that could lead to barriers to steel imports from China and other nations with steel industries – a move that pleased Mr. Gerard and that Mr. Trump said was aimed at helping the American workers who he said were “one of the primary reasons I’m sitting here today as President.” Mr. Trump cited national security and invoked half-century-old statute for the basis of his initiative.

Mr. Gerard’s union may have opposed Mr. Trump’s election, but its members supported many elements of the Trump political appeal – not so much a contradiction as a commentary on the impatience and frustration that blue-collar workers have in the second decade of the 21st century.

“In the industrial heartland – and I refuse to call it the Rust Belt – a number of our members voted for Trump because he talked about doing the things they believed needed to be done, especially rebuilding manufacturing,” Mr. Gerard said.

“No one really was as aggressive or assertive as he was. He spoke directly to their concerns.” Then he added: “Part of the difficulty is that he’s got to deal with a Republican majority in Congress that over the time I’ve been around has never really lifted a finger to make life better for workers. In fact, they’ve done the opposite.”

The route from Mr. Gerard’s youth, as the son of an Inco Limited miner and volunteer labour organizer, to Mr. Trump’s office took him through negotiations involving Wilbur Ross, now the Commerce Secretary in Mr. Trump’s cabinet. Labour leaders such as Mr. Gerard sometimes are exceedingly wary of commerce secretaries – Herbert Hoover was perhaps the most famous – and often are more congenial to labour secretaries.

But Mr. Gerard considers Mr. Ross, who has a history of rescuing bankrupt manufacturing companies, as a vital ally.

“Back in the start of the 21st century, we had a huge crisis in the steel industry – again – and we worked with Wilbur Ross and were able to save the majority of LTV and Bethlehem Steel,” said Mr. Gerard. “I can remember they were going to close LTV’s Cleveland operations, and we got support to keep it going from Wilbur Ross. Today, that Cleveland mill is one of the most modern, efficient mills in the world – and they were going to bulldoze the thing.”

It was the involvement this spring of Mr. Ross, and the contemporary crisis in the steel industry, that drew Mr. Gerard to Mr. Trump’s side, at least for a signing ceremony.

“Part of the reason I was willing to go to the thing with Trump was to make it understood that it’s not just steel,” Mr. Gerard said. “The same thing’s happening in aluminum, cement, glass. The trade laws don’t work. On both sides of the border, we have to fix the trade laws. The American and Canadian worker should not have to pay this price.

“Don’t tell me we can’t compete,” he continued. “We can’t compete against cheaters.” Mr. Gerard, who during the 2016 campaign criticized Mr. Trump’s companies for using imported steel, isn’t the only North American labour leader to find himself by the new President’s side. Leaders of the United Auto Workers and the Building Trades Union have favoured Trump initiatives in his first hundred days on behalf of the automobile industry and energy-pipeline interests, respectively.

In his youth, Mr. Gerard, now 70, sat on the basement stairs listening to stewards’ meetings conducted by his father. He signed on with a contractor doing work in the local nickel smelter one summer. Eventually, he abandoned his dream of becoming an economics professor. He first visited Toronto when he began to advance in the Canadian labour movement.

Mr. Gerard, whose Northern Ontario accent would be unremarkable in Sudbury but is a colourful presence in Pittsburgh, knows he is playing a difficult role in Mr. Trump’s United States. But as the president of the largest industrial union in North America, he is an experienced political hand and believes he has both a strategy and a tactic.

“What we did, after the election, was to indicate that if the President wanted to renegotiate NAFTA and have a big infrastructure program and re-energize and rebuild the manufacturing base, we would be ready to help him,” he said. “But at the same time, if and how it gets done is important. If [Mr. Trump] is going to rebuild infrastructure by having toll roads and all that jazz, that would shift the cost back to workers, that would not be the best way to rebuild the infrastructure.” But Mr. Gerard speaks as much as a Canadian as a labour leader.

“Part of my role is to make sure I’m a voice for our members on both sides of the border,” he said. “Steel, rubber, cement, glass – I make it clear Canada is not part of the problem.”

 

Steel Trade with U.S

Brothers and Sisters,

On March 16th  members from your executive along with District 3 director Steve Hunt and Staff Representative Leslie McNabb met with the Honorable Ralph Goodale to discuss the impact  Steel trade with the U.S has on Steelworkers in Western Canada.

Much of our discussion was about the impact a “buy american” policy in the U.S would affect our members and Evraz as a whole. Mr. Goodale was very receptive to the talks and we left him with a few things to take back to the cabinet and the Prime Minister. We made the point that like our American counterparts, Canada’s steel industry has suffered from global overcapacity and the dumping of steel products primarily by China, Japan, Korea and Turkey. Without maintaining fair trade, and fair access to markets the Canadian government must be as vigorous as our American counterparts in defending Canadian workers. In the U.S unions have the direct ability to file trade complaints and in Canada we can not. An issue we would like to see changed.

Recent discussions in the U.S regarding the Keystone Pipeline have often incorrectly referred to Canadian made pipe from Regina as “Russian” pipe. The discussions  ignore that a significant portion of the pipeline will also traverse within Canada. They also ignore that there is no comparable pipeline manufacturer within the U.S that can produce the volume and quality that we can.

 

We will continue to fight for our jobs!

In Solidarity

 

2016 Industry Canada memo on steel industry raised “Buy Canada” policy

 

The industry department in a secret 2016 memo discussed a “Buy Canada” policy to aid the steel industry. The Access To Information memo cited “near-crisis conditions” due to dumping of China-made products.

“There are increasing demands from firms and other stakeholders for federal government action to support the steel sector, including strengthening Canada’s trade regime against unfair imports and adopting a ‘Buy Canada’ policy to favour Canadian steel in infrastructure procurement,” said the memo Steel Industry Update; “Global steel prices are expected to remain weak due to anemic demand and excessive production around the world. Conditions are not expected to improve until 2017 at the earliest.”

Canada since 2008 has imposed anti-dumping duties on steel products from China, the world’s largest producer. “This is not a fair market,” Paul Halucha, assistant deputy industry minister, testified at 2016 hearings of the Commons trade committee.

Steel Industry Update cited “hyper-competitive conditions” in the sector that have driven two of the country’s largest steelmakers into creditor protection, Essar Steel Algoma and U.S. Steel Canada.

“Near-crisis conditions in the global steel industry are posing significant challenges to the Canadian steel industry as it struggles with record low prices and competition from unfairly traded imports,” the department wrote.

Much of the four-page memo was redacted. Cabinet has publicly dismissed a “Buy Canada” policy as contrary to competitive bidding and trade policies.

Canada’s steel industry employs 17,000 and is worth $2.6 billion a year, by official estimate. MPs have advocated a “Buy Canada” policy on steel contracted for public works. Canadian-made product accounts for 19 percent of the steel used in construction of the $4 billion Champlain Bridge at Montréal.

“It is very strange the Government of Canada is importing steel while Canadian steel mills are laying off workers,” MP Erin Weir (Regina-Lewvan), New Democrat public works critic, earlier told the Commons. “If we are concerned about economic development in our country, if we are concerned about our environment, we should be using Canadian-made steel.”

Trade department officials have estimated Canadian steel mills emit 42 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every tonne of steel, compared to 152 kg in the United States and 598 kg in China.

“They can crank this stuff out,” Conservative MP Dave Van Kesteren (Chatham-Kent, Ont.), earlier told a trade committee hearing on steel imports. Van Kesteren recalled touring a Chinese mill fueled by high sulfur-content coal in 2007. “I really thought they were burning tires, seriously,” he said.

By Mark Bourrie

 

 

Grievance Protocol

CUPW – 2016-07-06 – CUPW Files Unfair Labour Practice Complaint Against Canada Post

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CUPW Files Unfair Labour Practice Complaint Against Canada Post

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Wednesday July 6 2016
2015-2019/135
No 36

The Canada Labour Code provides that the parties have a duty to make every reasonable effort to negotiate a collective agreement and must bargain in good faith. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from interfering in the affairs of a Union. Today, CUPW filed a formal complaint to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) that Canada Post management has failed to negotiate in good faith and is interfering with the Union’s right to represent its members.

The complaint covers both the Urban and RSMC bargaining units. It describes in detail the refusal of CPC to engage in any meaningful discussions or negotiations regarding the RSMC unit. With respect to both the Urban and RSMC units, CPC has refused to negotiate on their global offers which were submitted one week prior to the parties obtaining the right to strike or lock-out. CPC has also circumvented the bargaining process by negotiating through the media. An example is they claim our proposals will cost $1 Billion, which they repeatedly make to the media but refuse the Union’s repeated requests to justify their numbers.

Instead of bargaining, the employer has simply tabled offers that it knew would be totally unacceptable to the Union. Finally, management representatives have been communicating directly with Union members, making threats and spreading disinformation.

Once both parties have made all of their submissions, the CIRB will determine its procedure. We have asked that the complaint be heard immediately.

 

Negotiations Continue

As we previously reported, we met with CPC on July 4th, where they provided us with a written rejection of our global offer. Today, we met with CPC, in the presence of the mediators, to discuss several issues. Although we cannot report any major progress, we remain committed to the negotiations process.

We will continue to report developments as they occur.

 

 

As always, stay informed, stay united, and resist provocations.

Sylvain Lapointe
Chief Negotiator, Urban Unit
George Floresco
Chief Negotiator, RSMC Unit

The Leader Post from USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann

Dear Leader-Post Editor,

The photo printed with the headline “Tory Candidates Laud Pipeline Industry” (Oct. 9) was carefully staged to show pipe produced at Evraz stored outside the fence of Tesco Mechanical, the company hosting this Conservative campaign stunt.

The story did not mention that Tesco itself uses pipe imported from China, which does not support employment at Evraz in Regina.

It did correctly report, “The candidates did not make any new announcements in regards to new projects or investments.” Certainly, the Conservative government has not done anything to prevent Chinese steel producers from exploiting unfair competitive advantages by undercutting internationally-recognized labour and environmental standards.

The new trans-Pacific trade deal negotiated by Conservatives in secret during the election campaign will facilitate importing pipe from Japan and Korea, as opposed to manufacturing pipe in Canada.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair has consistently supported a west-east pipeline, subject to a proper environmental review process. Unlike proposals running west or south from the Alberta oil sands, a pipeline going east would have the capacity to transport Saskatchewan oil and keep refining jobs in our country.

The Conservatives offer nothing but photo ops and empty rhetoric about pipe manufacturing jobs. By contrast, the NDP’s fair trade policies would limit the dumping of steel from offshore into the Canadian market, encouraging the use of pipe produced in Regina.

The NDP has better policies to support good Canadian jobs and is the only party that can replace Conservatives in Regina.

Ken Neumann,

United Steelworkers Canadian National Director and former IPSCO employee