Steelworkers Union Secures 98% Strike Mandate at AltaSteel

EDMONTON, Oct. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5220 have voted overwhelming in favor of strike action against their employer, AltaSteel. The secret ballot vote was held on Thursday October 10th 2013 immediately after the mandatory "fourteen-day cooling off period" ended.

The company has made extreme demands regarding scheduling and attacking seniority for long-time employees, as insisting on doing away with the longstanding role of the union - thereby undercutting union representation.

After several months of strained negotiations between the Steelworkers and AltaSteel, an impasse was reached in late August followed by mediation in September that was unproductive and did not get the parties any closer to reaching a deal.

The USW says it's looking to achieve a fair agreement, while AltaSteel looks for significant rollbacks.  "There has never been such an aggressive attack on our collective agreement by an employer in the fifty plus year history of the Local," says Paul Perreault, President of USW Local 5220.

Perreault hopes the employer takes the opportunity to reflect on the path they have chosen at the bargaining table and added, "the voice of the USW 5220 membership needs to be heard loud and clear".

The local union's bargaining committee first priority is reaching a fair and equitable collective agreement for its members, an agreement that is representative of the hard work that the members do day in and day out for the company. The union is committed to continuing with negotiations, but will not hesitate to exercise its strike mandate if necessary, says Perreault.

USW District 3 Director Stephen Hunt says the entire union is standing behind Local 5220.  "When global companies attack the gains we have made, our entire union stands shoulder to shoulder to protect the strong quality of life our members have built for themselves and their families."

AltaSteel, formerly owned by Anglo American, was purchased by Australian steel maker, One Steel in 2011, who became Arrium in July 2012. Arrium is a world leader in the production of grinding media for the global mining industry. AltaSteel product supplies many mining companies, including Teck, Vale, Barrack Gold, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information:

Paul Perreault, USW Local 5220 President, 780-405-6554 / 780-487-1141
Brad West, USW Communications, 604-754-1174 / 604-683-1117