U.S. Steel locks out 1,000 workers at plant in Canada
U.S. Steel Corp. locked out union workers at one of its two steel plants in Canada after they voted to reject a final contract offer, marking the third time since the company acquired the plants in 2007 that contract negotiation have resulted in a lockout.
A United Steelworkers local that represents 1,000 workers at Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, rejected a final contract offer from the company last week. U.S. Steel locked the gates on Sunday.
“It's being viewed in this country as highly suspicious,” said Bill Ferguson, president of United Steelworkers Local 8782 in Nanticoke, who used the word “protectionism” as one reason for the latest lockout.
U.S. Steel Canada spokesman Trevor Harris did not return phone calls and an email request for comment.
For nine months from August 2009 to April 2010, the company locked out workers at the plant, described by the company as the “newest integrated steel facility in North America — and one of the most cost-competitive.”
Beginning in November 2010, workers at U.S. Steel's Hamilton Works in Ontario were locked out for 11 months. The union has nearly 1,000 members at the Lake Erie plant and about 2,000 in Hamilton.
Ferguson said on Monday that he believes the company will be shipping steel across the border to supply Canadian customers. Those customers “will probably turn to imports” from overseas instead of buying from U.S. Steel, he added.
“The price per ton at this plant is the most competitive within U.S. Steel and the steel community at large,” Ferguson said. “Total man-hour costs are lower here. It costs $4 more to keep an American worker working than a Canadian worker.”
The steelmaker and the union have been in talks for about five weeks, with their contract expiring on April 15. Workers voted last Tuesday to reject the company's final proposal by 70 percent of members voting, the union said.
Members objected to changes in their cost-of-living allowance, a new 10-percent copayment on medical benefits, and cuts in holiday pay premiums, Ferguson said. There also were concerns over seniority and work rules proposals.
U.S. Steel warned union members that a lockout would begin at 9 a.m. Sunday. On Monday, the union posted photos on its Facebook page of its members picketing.
“Lake Erie Works continues to lose large sums of money when other plants are making money,” said Jodi L. Koch, human resources director at U.S. Steel Canada, in a letter posted last week on the U.S. Steel Canada Inc.'s website.
In 2012, the plant, on the north shore of Lake Erie, produced about 10 percent of U.S. Steel's 23.6 million-ton global raw steel output.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Credit card use reflects confidence, flat wages
- Tourists rush to visit Cuba before American influence felt
- Aggressive drivers to face Progressive surcharges
- Falling demand for steel not likely to reverse any time soon
- Heinz merging with Kraft in mega-deal; headquarters to stay in Pittsburgh
- Economy in steady, but poky expansion
- Dow Chemical, Olin in $5B cash-and-stock deal
- Reliable family car feels upscale
- Internet ‘one road in and out’ for rural users
- Rate hike this year likely, Fed officer says
- Stocks snap 4-day losing streak; corporate earnings concerns linger