Buy Canadian Steel, Say MPs

Contractors on public works should buy Canadian steel, says the Commons trade committee. The recommendation follows a confidential 2016 Environment Canada memo that contemplated a carbon tariff on imports from foreign polluters.

“It is imperative that Canadian and foreign steel producers be subject to a level playing field,” wrote the trade committee in its report The Canadian Steel Industry’s Ability To Compete Internationally. “Global excess steelmaking capacity and the resulting dumping of foreign products into Canada have hurt Canadian steel producers.” Continue reading Buy Canadian Steel, Say MPs

Steelworkers Return from Washington: Everyone Wants a Negotiated Softwood Settlement but Path Forward Is Unclear

WASHINGTON, June 15, 2017 – After two intensive days of meetings with several U.S. Congressmen and Senators, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce, a delegation of Canadian Steelworkers heard the message loud and clear – a desire to negotiate a softwood lumber settlement sooner rather than later is shared across our borders.

“We had very constructive meetings. All parties were able to agree on one thing – a speedy settlement is in the best interests of both our countries and we need to get this done before the talks are polluted with other trade issues such as dairy or the reopening of NAFTA negotiations,” said the delegation’s leader, Bob Matters, Chair of the Wood Council of the United Steelworkers (USW). Continue reading Steelworkers Return from Washington: Everyone Wants a Negotiated Softwood Settlement but Path Forward Is Unclear

Canadian Forestry Workers Tell U.S. Officials: A Fair Softwood Agreement Is a Negotiated One

WASHINGTON – A delegation of Canadian members of the United Steelworkers (USW) from the wood products industry are telling U.S. politicians today that workers on both sides of the border will benefit from a negotiated settlement on lumber and the termination of unfair countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the United States.

“The only way forward is together,” said Bob Matters, USW Canadian Wood Council Chair and leader of the delegation of nine Canadian forestry sector workers. “Canadians and Americans have a long history of working together and we are here this week to advocate for a fair deal that will benefit both Americans and Canadians.” Continue reading Canadian Forestry Workers Tell U.S. Officials: A Fair Softwood Agreement Is a Negotiated One

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.”

 

House of Commons meeting on Chinese Steel dumping.

The president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce will be raising concerns about Canada’s competition with the Chinese steel industry before a House of Commons committee Tuesday.

The chamber’s Matt Marchand said China dumping steel into Canada has been a significant issue for the country and the Windsor area.

The problem, according to Marchand, is Chinese companies do not follow the same labour and environmental regulations as Canadians and they have a surplus of steel which they are selling to other countries at much lower costs.

“They’re not a market economy and asking our entrepreneurs and business community to compete against China is something that I don’t think we should be asking them to do in the current context,” he said.

The federal standing committee on international trade is working on a report on the ability of Canada’s steel industry to compete internationally. Marchand said Canada is at a disadvantage because Chinese steel companies are essentially owned by their government.

“With all the power they have, they don’t respond to market forces, they’re not interested in profits or losses,” said Marchand. “Basically, it’s a government department that’s manufacturing steel.”

Locally, the Harrow community in Essex is home to home to steel producer Atlas Tube. According to Marchand, they employ over 200 people, have exports of $250 million per year and generate $1 million in taxes for the town.

“Why should we have one set of rules for Atlas Tube and then another set of rules for Chinese companies that don’t play by those rules?” he asked.

The chamber has previously brought this issue up with its counterparts in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie. They have sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and received national support at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting in September.

Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, the vice-chair of the trade committee, helped set up the meeting for the chamber. She made the motion at the committee level to begin this study, which she expects to be completed in late spring.

“We are not the only country to be a target of this, but other countries have improved their trade remedy systems so they can address this in a better way and we are looking for Canada to do the same,” said the NDP’s trade critic.

Canada has become an “easy target” for the Chinese steel industry, said Ramsey, and the government should catch up to what Australia and the U.S. have done to limit the effects of dumping.

“Across all party lines, there has been a serious understanding of how important this is to the Canadian steel industry,” she said. “For myself, I just continue to highlight the importance of jobs that exist in my riding of Essex.”

Michael Cautillo, president and CEO of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, said in November 2015 all 22,000 tonnes of steel for the upcoming Gordie Howe International Bridge will come from the U.S. and Canada.

Ramsey said it’s important for the federal government to lead by example on all of its infrastructure projects in this context.

Marchand said he is also concerned the federal government is entertaining the idea of giving marketing economy status to China through the World Trade Organization. That would “give them even more access in terms of trade,” he said.

Governments of both the U.S. and China are taking “a very aggressive stance with their business community,” and Canada needs to think about how it will compete, said Marchand.

“I guess we’re going to be asking the question to the Canadian government: ‘To what extent are we going to aggressively defend Canadian businesses in the context of China dumping steel?'”

by Tom Morrison

Tom Morrison is a Windsor-based journalist. @TomMorrison12 on Twitter

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

 

Trump probably can’t require pipelines to use U.S. steel: Kemp

MoBy John Kemp | LONDON

Reuters, Wed Jan 25, 2017 | 7:18am EST

President Donald Trump on Tuesday invited the promoter of the Keystone XL pipeline to re-submit its application for a permit and promised an expeditious review.

But Trump’s memorandum on Keystone was twinned with another ordering the secretary of commerce to develop a plan to ensure all pipelines built, repaired or upgraded in the United States use domestically made steel. Continue reading Trump probably can’t require pipelines to use U.S. steel: Kemp

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

 

 

Rally for Resources and Support of Pipelines

Earlier today members of your executive took part in the Rally for Resources and Support of Pipelines in White City. This was put together by the Mayor of White City, Bruce Evans. With the negative publicity surrounding pipelines Mr. Evans decided a positive rally was needed in support of energy. Brother Courtland Klein spoke on the importance of getting pipeline projects approved and that old infrastructure needs to be replaced. He also spoke on the trickle down affect that the Jobs at Evraz has on the local economy.

Also speaking at this event was Ray Orb ,President of SARM. Jeremy Harrison, Minister of Economy for the Government of Saskatchewan and Andrew Scheer, member of Parliament for Regina/ Qu’appelle. All of these individuals spoke in favor of projects such as Energy East and know the importance of getting our energy here in the West to other parts of Canada and the United States. With all the negative publicity surrounding oil and pipelines we need to get out and promote for oil and pipelines.

New Democrats Pledge to ‘Stop the Killing’

TORONTO, Oct. 15, 2015  – NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is the only federal party leader to come forward to support a national campaign to enforce Criminal Code provisions that hold corporations, their directors and executives accountable for workplace deaths and injuries, says Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director.

“Our Canadian directors signed a letter to all the party leaders and their campaigns to ask for their commitment and leadership on addressing the shameful enforcement record of a law that was unanimously passed by Parliament in 2003,” said Neumann, referring to Criminal Code amendments known as the Westray Bill.

“The law is not being properly enforced across Canada, despite the workplace deaths of more than 1,000 workers every year,” Neumann said. “That’s 1,000 families every year for whom justice has not been served.”

Only Mulcair responded to the plea by Neumann, USW Ontario/Atlantic Director Marty Warren, Quebec Director Daniel Roy and Western Canada Director Stephen Hunt.

“The government’s failure to enforce the provisions of the Westray Bill has been an absolute disgrace,” said Mulcair. “A New Democratic Party government will enforce the full provisions of the Westray amendments to protect workers and hold corporations to account.”

The campaign, called Stop the Killing, Enforce the Law, has been endorsed by dozens of Canadian municipalities, police associations, First Nations, and has been addressed in annual meetings of federal-provincial-territorial justice ministers.

“What has been lacking is federal leadership in ensuring that provincial and federal enforcement agencies investigate workplace deaths as potential crime scenes,” said Neumann. “Only the NDP has given that assurance.”

Announcements

New Stewards Pipe Division: Chris Massier, Doug Demin, Ryan Mackenzie, Scott Mackie, Jim Cassano, Mike Smith, John Schmidt.

New OHS Reps. Pipe Division: Chris Lipp, Brandon-Shea Mutala, Mike Smith, John Asmay, Josh Leusick.

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) Women’s Committee: Kerry Molly sits as a representative of our Sister’s in the USW.

SFL Occupational Health & Safety Committee: Rob Desnomie sits as a representative of the USW.

SFL Political Strategy & Associate VP: Corey Liebrecht sits as a representative of the USW.

*If you are interested in becoming a Shop Steward or OHS Rep. within the steel, pipe or O&T divisions, we encourage you to speak to a member of the Local Executive, another Steward or OHS Rep.*

Remember that information, training and facts generate power and build solidarity!