Standing Up Against Unfair U.S. Tariffs on Canadian Steel and Aluminum


The USW Fights for All Canadian Steel and Aluminum Workers


Faced with absurd American ‘national security’ tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum products, only the United Steelworkers has consistently stood up for our members and all workers in Canada’s steel and aluminum industries.


USW leaders on both sides of the border have been unequivocal in our opposition to the Trump administration’s baseless tariffs of 25% on Canadian steel and 10% on Canadian aluminum. On May 31, the USW International Executive Board unanimously and publicly condemned these bogus tariffs and Trump’s approach to the Canada-U.S. trading relationship.


Everyone knows Canada does not pose a national security threat to the U.S. – including Donald Trump. Trump acknowledged he was just using the baseless tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum as leverage to extract concessions from Canada in the renegotiations on NAFTA.


Sadly, Canada’s Liberal government submitted to Trump’s numerous concession demands in the new trade deal – the USMCA. Even more unforgiveable, the Liberals did not even insist that Trump hold up his end of the bargain – lifting the bogus tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.


The magnitude of the Canadian government’s sell-out was made clear by Trump’s economics adviser, who gloated that “Canada gave very graciously.”

The Liberal government has attempted to justify the sell-out by arguing steel and aluminum tariffs were separate from the USMCA negotiations. However, Steelworkers – and the news media – have exposed this argument as patently false.

The USW has generated national media coverage by highlighting the fact that the Liberals agreed to a trade deal that legitimizes such baseless U.S. ‘national-security’ tariffs on our key industries – now and into the future. Canada’s national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, published my opinion column exposing this critical issue.

Unlike some others in the labour movement who are cheerleading this abject failure, Steelworkers are at the forefront in denouncing the USMCA for exactly what it is – a sell-out of tens of thousands of Canadian working families, in the steel and aluminum sectors, in dairy, egg and poultry farming, and the list goes on.


Those who negotiated this deal – with help from some in our labour movement – sold out steel and aluminum workers in exchange for some protections for auto workers.


It must be awkward for union leaders who support the USMCA and have members working in both the auto sector and the aluminum industry. As Steelworkers, we will never sell out one group of workers for another.


It is only the United Steelworkers who have consistently stood up for all Canadian steel and aluminum workers in our strong opposition to the tariffs and to the USMCA.


No union has been more forceful and more relentless in demanding action to crack down on steel and aluminum dumping by countries such as China, Turkey, Malaysia and Vietnam, to name a few. We have been steadfast and clear on this – apply trade measures, including tariffs, on countries that threaten a robust Canadian steel and aluminum industry.


Steelworkers have influenced policies in Canada to address the harm done by the tariffs. On June 26, I appeared before the Standing Committee on International Trade to call for immediate relief measures for our steel and aluminum sectors. Within days, the government announced a $2-billion package to help Canadian steel workers. In Quebec, the USW was at the forefront of securing an aluminum industry support package for our members and all aluminum workers.


We have advocated for improvements to the support package and for additional trade remedies to protect Canadian workers from potential increases in illegal dumping into our market. This led to a federal investigation and the application of additional 25% tariffs on some steel products where imports have surged.


The USW will continue to lead the way in advocating for fair trade. Unlike some others in the labour movement, Steelworkers oppose U.S. tariffs as well as quotas on our steel, aluminum and other products. Steelworkers are demanding that the Canadian government ensure there are no such tariffs or quotas on our steel and aluminum exports prior to ratifying the new USMCA.


Steelworkers will continue to be the voice for all Canadian steel and aluminum workers. We will continue to speak out against absurd tariffs and the sell-out of Canadian workers by our government and its cheerleaders in the labour movement.


Attached to this letter, we have provided an overview of the situation affecting the Canadian steel and aluminum industries,  the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, our union’s position on these issues and the action we have taken on behalf of all Canadian steel and aluminum workers.



In solidarity,


Ken Neumann
USW National Director