Court against company that fired worker over drug test results

An appeals court has ruled against a company that fired an employee for failing a drug test. The judgment by the Newfoundland & Labrador Court of Appeal is the first since Parliament voted to legalize marijuana.

Justice Gale Welsh dismissed an appeal by the Hibernia Platform Employers’ Organization over the firing of Gary Carroll, a longtime helicopter deck hand on a Hibernia rig. Carroll tested positive for banned tranquilizers under a company Drug And Alcohol Policy permitting tests “after a significant incident or a safety incident as determined by management.” The test followed repeated complaints of misplaced luggage aboard choppers that ferried crew from the offshore platform.

Unifor Local 2121 challenged Carroll’s firing as disproportionate, and the drug test as unnecessary. An arbitration board and lower court agreed, ruling misplaced luggage was not so serious a “safety incident” that it justified testing all eight helicopter deck hands on duty. Unifor argued managers conducted so many drug tests after trivial incidents that it “amounted to random drug testing” in breach of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that tests could only be performed with cause and consent.

“The employer submits that the board’s decision was unreasonable because the interpretation of the Drug And Alcohol Policy resulted in an interference with management’s right to order drug testing,” wrote Justice Welsh. The Court dismissed the company’s appeal.

The Senate by a June 19 vote of 52 to 29 passed into law Bill C-45 An Act Respecting Cannabis. The legislation to take effect October 17 legalizes recreational marijuana, including public possession of up to 30 grams of dried cannabis. Employers’ groups unsuccessfully appealed to Parliament to amend the bill to permit random workplace drug tests. Continue reading Court against company that fired worker over drug test results

Steel makers win in court challenge on Asian anti-dumping

The Federal Court of Appeal in a win for Canadian steelmakers has rejected a challenge of anti-dumping duties by Asian exporters. The Court said Chinese-made steel pipe transshipped through other countries could not evade duties.

“The final determination is made in relation to goods of a certain country and not goods of a certain exporter,” wrote Justice Wyman Webb; “The term ‘exporter’ is not defined in the Special Import Measures Act.”

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal in 2016 cited Japanese traders for dumping steel originating from state-owned mills in China. The Tribunal argued it “was important to look behind the transactions to see who knowingly provided the goods in issue for export to Canada,” the Court noted.

“The goods were dumped during the period under review, and the margin of dumping for the same period was not insignificant,” wrote Justice Webb. The Canada Border Services Agency beginning in 2008 imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 396 percent on Chinese steel products as a threat to Canadian manufacturers.

The 2016 duties were unsuccessfully challenged by a coalition of Japanese exporters including Nippon Steel, JFE Steel, Sumitomo Metal Corp. and others. Local steelmakers that sought the anti-dumping duties included Evraz Inc., a steel pipe manufacturer with facilities in Regina, Red Deer and Camrose, Alta.

Evraz CEO Conrad Winkler in 2017 testimony at the Commons trade committee said price-cutting by Chinese mills had cost Canadian jobs. “Free trade must be fair,” said Winkler.

“China has heavily subsidized and overbuilt its steel industry,” said Winkler. “China has more than 60 percent of the global steel overcapacity, and exports more than ten times the soze of the Canadian market annually.”

“Evraz has suffered job losses due to dumped and subsidized Chinese steel,” said Winkler; “We have to be at the top of our game every day to make a very small margin.”

The Court of Appeal decision follows an earlier ruling by the Trade Tribunal that cited South Korean shippers for price-cutting on steel pipe. Korean imports to Canada increased 580 percent in a single year, 2016, after regulators cited Chinese steel mills for similar unfair trade practices.

Canada has run a trade deficit in steel since 1996. National steel output as a portion of world production has fallen by half in the past 20 years.The Tribunal found the flood of Asian imports triggered a 22 percent price drop in steel product.

 

Freeland tells Trade Committee that steel and aluminum “support package” is coming

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Canadian government is working on a support package for this country’s steel and aluminum industries in light of stiff American import tariffs.

In testimony in front of the House of Commons trade committee Tuesday, Freeland acknowledged direct support for workers was needed. The minister was joined by senior department officials, including Canada’s Chief NAFTA Negotiator Steve Verheul.

“It is absolutely the case that our steel and aluminum…industries need our support,” she said, noting Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Industry Minister NavDeep Bains are “working on ways” to support the two sectors.

Canada and the United States are embroiled in an escalating trade war. U.S. President Donald Trump has publicly criticized Canadian trade practices. Continue reading Freeland tells Trade Committee that steel and aluminum “support package” is coming

NDP gov’t seeking feedback on changes to enviro assessment and impact of major resource projects

VANCOUVER—The B.C. government has opened the doors for public feedback on proposed changes to the environmental assessment regime, which considers the impact of major resource projects on the environment and communities.

Premier John Horgan tasked Environment Minister George Heyman with updating the assessment process last summer to ensure a “strong, transparent” process that respects the legal rights of First Nations.

It was “about time,” Gavin Smith, a lawyer with West Coast Environmental Law, said in a blog post earlier this year, “because our current approach to assessment and planning in B.C. is not working.” Continue reading NDP gov’t seeking feedback on changes to enviro assessment and impact of major resource projects

NDP: THE CPTPP TRADE DEAL WILL COST CANADA TENS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS

The implementing legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership was tabled today despite the overwhelming evidence that this trade deal is a betrayal to Canadian workers, the manufacturing sector, and our supply management system. The CPTPP will put 58 000 Canadian jobs at risk and jeopardize both the auto industry and supply managed sectors. The NDP urges the Liberal government to put workers first during this difficult time and not accept this trade deal, which has a weak economic forecast according to the government’s own impact analysis.

“If this deal is implemented, tens of thousands of Canadian jobs will be at risk. When negotiating trade deals, the Liberals cannot sacrifice good paying jobs in the Canadian auto industry and farmers in supply managed sectors, such as dairy, poultry, and eggs,” said Tracey Ramsey, the NDP International Trade Critic.

Despite the “progressive” label in the name of the deal, the CPTPP has no gender chapter, weak labour provisions, no Indigenous consent, no environmental protections, and the weakest cultural language ever in a trade agreement. The deal also has low environmental standards, which will further prevent Canada from meeting our climate change commitments, and regressive investor-state dispute settlement provisions, which significantly undermine Canada’s sovereignty and its ability to regulate in the public interest.

“The Liberals negotiated the CPTPP behind closed doors. Piece by piece, Canadians have learned the extent of the problems with this deal. The NDP urges the Liberals to stand up for Canadian workers and refuse trade deals that will cost our country tens of thousands of jobs. Simply put, the CPTPP is a bad deal for Canada,” said Karine Trudel, NDP Deputy International Trade Critic.

China Steel

BEIJING/MANILA (Reuters) – China’s steel output surged to a record in May as mills ramped up production to chase fat profit margins, with a strong outlook for demand likely to keep mills running at nearly full capacity for the rest of the year.

 

The increased output comes despite China’s efforts to limit production in key areas as part of its anti-pollution campaign and highlights Beijing’s challenge in tackling overcapacity in the world’s top steel producer.

China produced 81.13 million tonnes of crude steel last month, up 5.8 percent from the previous month and 8.9 percent from the same month last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Year-to-date output rose 5.4 percent to 369.86 million tonnes.

To view a graphic on China’s Monthly Crude Steel Output, click: reut.rs/2MohKT6

 

Daily average output climbed 2.4 percent to 2.62 million tonnes in May from April, according to Reuters’ calculations based on the official data.

“Steel mills have been running full-load and adding scrap steel to increase output in order to cash in on strong margins,” said Zhuo Guiqiu, senior analyst at Jinrui Futures.

Given firm demand and smog-battling production curbs in areas including the key steelmaking hubs of Hebei and Jiangsu provinces, analysts say mills can earn up to 900 yuan ($141) by producing a ton of steel at present, not far from more than 1,000 yuan late last year.

The utilization rate at steel firms across the country was above 71 percent from late May, a level last seen before winter production curbs which kicked in in October and lasted through March.

Recent environmental inspections in some 10 regions have forced some mills to cut production. But analysts do not expect the curbs to last long, unless new environmental policies add to pressure on supplies.

“Demand from downstream sectors may be better than expected,” said Zhuo. “The market generally believes the infrastructure construction sector is more active in the second half than in the first half, which could lift demand for steel products.”

Underlining firm demand, steel stockpiles at both mills and traders declined in May despite rising output, Mysteel consultancy data showed.

To view a graphic on Steel products inventory at Chinese mills, click: reut.rs/2JKFm2H

 

China’s output has been increasing despite its closure of 255 million tonnes in steel production capacity in the past two years, including illegal induction furnaces.

That is part of Beijing’s vow to address overcapacity that has dogged its steel sector for years.

Outside China, Chinese steel companies have built or acquired 13.5 million tonnes of capacity and are building an additional 8.6 million tonnes over the next few years, Morgan Stanley analysts said.

 

CDNPRESS/Ross Marowits: US Steel Tariffs Prompt Company to Force Worksharing

MONTREAL—ADF Group Inc. says uncertainty over U.S. steel tariffs reduced orders and prompted it to introduce worksharing for employees at its Quebec plant.

“Backlog growth is paramount to our success and unfortunately the uncertainty surrounding the steel import duty was a game-changer for many of our clients and negatively impacted our capacity to successfully close major bids during the first quarter,” co-chair and CEO Jean Paschini said

The company announced temporary layoffs at the end of March.

As of Monday, about 120 employees at its Terrebonne plant have seen their working hours cut 40- to 60-per cent and will receive Employment Insurance benefits to offset the reduction.

ADF said the program approved by the federal government will allow the company to manage its costs until steel fabrication work begins on recently awarded projects.

“As the U.S. trade policy on steel became somewhat clearer and uncertainties subsided in the following weeks we were able to secure $95-million worth of new contracts in the United States before the close of the first quarter,” he told analysts.

The Trump administration imposed 25 per cent tariffs on imports of steel and 10 per cent tariffs on aluminum against several countries effective March 23.

It initially gave Canada, Mexico and the European Union exemptions, but those were lifted June 1, prompting a retaliation from the Canadian government.

Paschini said the company is looking for every opportunity to improve the efficiency of its plants and has a strong pipeline of potential new contracts.

“No doubt the road ahead will be challenging but as we did in the past we will continue to work hard, roll up our sleeves to adapt to a prevailing market condition and trend.”

 

ADF lost $910,000 or three cents per share in its fiscal first quarter as revenue dropped by more than 40 per cent year-over-year.The loss compared with a year-earlier net income of $354,000, or one cent per share.

Revenue for the period ended April 30 fell to $28.5 million from $48.6 million because of a drop in business volume, as certain fabrication projects were nearly completed before newly-signed contracts were started.

Its order backlog was $158.7 million, up from $85.5 million at Jan. 31. The backlog includes $95 million worth of contract awards in the United States that were announced on April 23.

In addition to Terrebonne, ADF has plants in Great Falls, Mont., and Miami, Fla.

Action on Tarriffs

Steelworkers need quick action from the federal government to impose retaliatory tariffs on steel, aluminum and other…

Posted by United Steelworkers – Syndicat des Métallos on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

NDP GETS UNANIMOUS CONSENT IN HOUSE TO SUPPORT MOTION

 

OTTAWA – Today, NDP International Trade Critic Tracey Ramsey (Essex) received unanimous consent for her motion calling on all Members of the House of Commons to support the following:

 

That the House: (a) recognize the importance of Canada’s long-standing, mutually beneficial trading relationship with the United States of America; (b) stand with Canadian workers and communities that directly or indirectly depend on this trading relationship; (c) strongly oppose the illegitimate tariffs imposed by the U.S. government against Canadian steel and aluminum workers; (d) stand in solidarity with the Government of Canada in its decision to impose retaliatory tariffs; (e) remain united in support of Canadian farmers and supply management, which is integral for dairy, chicken, turkey, and egg farming; and (f) reject disparaging ad hominem statements by U.S. officials which do a disservice to bilateral relations and work against efforts to resolve this trade dispute.

 

“I believe this was an important step to show the solidarity and united front of Canada’s Parliament against the deliberately divisive actions of the President of the United States after his visit to Canada and the G7 meetings this weekend,” stated Ramsey. “Thousands of Canadian workers and communities rely upon trade with our closest neighbour and ally, and it is incumbent for the entirety of Parliament to show stabilty and a united front, in these turbulent times.”

 

U.S., as well as Canada, will be hurt by Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, C.D Howe study finds

Canada will sustain the most damage from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, but jobs will be eliminated in the United States and gross domestic product in that country will be reduced.

Those are among the conclusions of a study done by the C.D. Howe Institute on the 25-per-cent and 10-per-cent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, that the United States has imposed on imports of the metals from Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other countries.

About 6,000 jobs will be shed in the Canadian economy and GDP in this country will take a hit of 0.11 per cent. The tariffs will lead to approximately 22,700 job losses in the United States and reduce GDP by 0.06 per cent, says a forthcoming paper on the study written by economist Dan Ciuriak and Jingliang Xiao, a research associate.

But if the real aim of U.S. President Donald Trump’s belligerent new trade policy is China, it will miss the target with the steel and aluminum tariffs. Continue reading U.S., as well as Canada, will be hurt by Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, C.D Howe study finds

An insult to Canada U.S. tariffs will damage Pennsylvania’s economy, and America’s and Canada’s, too

 

As consul general of Canada to Pennsylvania, I have traveled across the commonwealth and my team and I have engaged with business executives, politicians and labor leaders from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and all points in between.

Everywhere I go, my message is the same: Canada is the United States’ largest trading partner and most steadfast ally. Canadian soldiers have served alongside Americans in difficult places around the world. We have fought and died together.

That is why the decision by the U.S. administration to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, citing national security concerns, is so perplexing and hurtful to Canadians. The idea that Canada could be considered a national security threat by selling goods to the United States is, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put it, quite frankly, insulting.

The facts are clear: 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, representing half of all U.S. steel exports. Canada is working directly with the United States to prevent unfairly priced foreign steel and aluminum from flooding the North American market. U.S. tariffs on Canadian metal products will be harmful to industry and workers on both sides of the border, disrupting supply chains that have made North American steel and aluminum more competitive around the world.

Nowhere in the United States will this be felt more acutely than in Pennsylvania. The economies of Canada and the commonwealth are too intertwined for this decision not to significantly affect families and communities across the state, as it will across America.

The decision to levy tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum does nothing to address the very real problem of foreign steel and aluminum overcapacity and dumping. Instead, it will hit American consumers with higher costs and spark retaliation, which will drive up prices and harm both our economies.

In my travels across this great state, I have met with many companies that rely on Canada as both a provider and a consumer of steel and aluminum. Our trade is integrated, fair and balanced.

The relationship between Canada and the United States is deep, multifaceted and, yes, complicated. But one thing is clear: For the past 150 years, it has been powered by a spirit of partnership unparalleled around the world. Targeting Canada for tariffs runs completely counter to the dynamic that has underpinned the economic prosperity and success of the U.S.-Canadian relationship for the last century.

Our disagreement is not with the American people; it is with this particular government policy.

I remain optimistic that, with the support our partners in Pennsylvania and across the United States, common sense will prevail.

PHYLLIS YAFFE, consul general of Canada to Pennsylvania

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.