Steelworkers Encouraged by Framework Agreement on U.S. Steel Canada Purchase

HAMILTON, ON, Sept. 21, 2016 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) welcomes today's announcement of a framework agreement between the Ontario government and Bedrock Industries, LP for the purchase and continued operation of U.S. Steel Canada facilities in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

"We are encouraged by many aspects of the agreement announced today between the Ontario government and Bedrock Industries," said Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director.

"We have been briefed on the agreement and we acknowledge that the province and Bedrock have made an effort to address many of our concerns about protecting the interests of our members and retirees," Warren said.

"It has been a stressful and painful two years for our members and pensioners," Warren added, referring to the fact U.S. Steel Canada has been operating under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) protection since September 2014.

The agreement announced today contemplates that Bedrock, an industrial company building its production platform in metals, will purchase and continue operating U.S. Steel Canada's plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

"We have been in discussions for quite some time with the province and various potential buyers about a restructuring of U.S. Steel Canada that would be good for our members and our retirees," Warren said.

"The deal announced today is far from perfect, given the challenges that arise from such a lengthy and complex insolvency process," he said. "However, after two years in CCAA protection and after numerous discussions with other bidders, we believe this could lead to a good final deal for the Union's members and retirees."

Among the challenges to be resolved, Bedrock must complete negotiations for new collective agreements with Steelworkers Local 1005 in Hamilton and USW Local 8782 in Nanticoke, noted Tony DePaulo, Assistant to the USW Ontario Director.

"Subject to completing negotiations for new collective agreements and resolving other details related to the transaction, we believe this agreement offers a positive step forward," DePaulo said. Details of the framework agreement have been shared with leaders of both USW locals, DePaulo said.

"Subject to finalizing this complex deal to the union's satisfaction, this transaction appears to be the best available way to secure jobs for our members and offer as much protection to our retirees as possible," he said.

The USW recognizes the Ontario government's efforts to find a resolution to the U.S. Steel Canada insolvency, Warren said.

However, the union is calling out the federal Liberal government for failing to take any meaningful action to address the steel crisis in Canada or to provide any support to workers and pensioners affected by the crisis.

"The federal government has not been engaged and has not offered any material support – neither in this case nor to help other communities across the country hurting from the steel crisis," Warren said.

"Essar Steel Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie is operating under CCAA protection and other steelmakers have cut jobs and production, but our federal government is missing in action," he said.

"Thousands of pensioners and working families are desperate for real support from the federal government. So far, they're being ignored."

SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)

For further information: Marty Warren, USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792; Tony DePaulo, Assistant to the USW Ontario Director, 416-243-8792, 905-869-0760, tdepaulo@usw.ca; Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, 416-434 2221, bgallagher@usw.ca

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