Court order sought to stop ‘reprehensible’ U.S. Steel plan

Tony DePaulo —

The United Steelworkers is seeking a court order to stop U.S. Steel’s reallocation of Canadian production to the United States and is condemning a threat to suspend pension plan contributions and crucial benefits for retirees.

“U.S. Steel has hit a new low with its latest threats to our Canadian operations and its obligations to our workers, pensioners and communities,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“We contend U.S. Steel’s plans are illegal and we are urging the courts to stop them in their tracks,” Warren said.

U.S. Steel (USS) says it is moving production of high-value steel for the auto industry out of U.S. Steel Canada (USSC) plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

The plan violates a court order, as part of USSC’s court-supervised bankruptcy protection, for USS to maintain services and production in a manner consistent with existing arrangements and past practice, the USW says. The plan threatens jobs, pensioners’ benefits and the future of the Canadian operations, the union says.

“The potential for the success of the restructuring process is significantly adversely affected by the threatened loss of production, and the resulting instability, loss of revenue, and the heightened risk of damage to mill equipment, among other things,” the USW says in a motion filed with Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel, the Ontario Superior Court judge overseeing the bankruptcy protection case.

“Now U.S. Steel Canada is threatening to stop making pension plan contributions, to stop providing benefits to pensioners, and to even stop paying municipal taxes they owe to our communities,” said Gary Howe, President of USW Local 1005 in Hamilton.

“It’s a reprehensible, fear-mongering strategy from a company that has been on a crusade for years to abandon its obligations to workers, pensioners and our communities. Everyone in Hamilton is growing tired of U.S. Steel’s constant threats and ultimatums,” Howe said.

“It is particularly despicable that the company is attacking the most vulnerable in our community by threatening to suspend pensioners’ health, medical, dental and life insurance benefits.”

“There is no justification for U.S. Steel to be diverting our high-value production out of Canada,” said USW Local 8782 President Bill Ferguson.

“It’s an artificial, contrived plan to threaten workers and pensioners. It’s designed to give the company leverage to force us to bend to their will under duress,” Ferguson said.

“We need our governments to step up and defend Canadian workers and pensioners and help reverse eight years of damage U.S. Steel has inflicted on our communities. We need our governments to support and promote a vibrant Canadian steel industry.”