Workers Go on Strike as Gerdau Tries to Take Advantage of Economic Recession to Bust Union and Permanently Punish Workers

    CAMBRIDGE, ON, May 21 /CNW/ - On Friday, May 15, by a strong majority the
workers at Gerdau Ameristeel voted to reject the company's final offer. The
nearly 200 United Steelworkers have been on a legal strike since Saturday.
    During months of negotiations, and daily bargaining for the last two
weeks, the union offered to work with Gerdau to bring in serious, temporary
measures to deal with the current downturn.
    However, the company's final offer insisted on permanent changes to the
Collective Agreement whereby there would be a two-tiered set of employees:
two-tiered wages (for the same work), two-tiered vacations (for the same
seniority) and two-tiered pensions (for same years of service).
    Gerdau Ameristeel, based in Tampa Florida, also insisted on permanent
concessions to job descriptions, wage settlements and job placement.
    "These are hard times for companies and workers. However, these hard
times should not be an excuse to bust unions or permanently discriminate
against hard-working, productive workers," said Wayne Fraser, USW District
    "We believe that the Cambridge mill is profitable, even in these times.
There aren't many steel works across the continent that can say that. The
company's decision to attack our collective agreement has more to do with
political expedience and union busting than cost management and plant
viability," said Trevor Scurrah, president of USW Local 8918.

    The United Steelworkers represents 250,000 men and women working in every
sector of Canada's economy, including about 1,000 at Gerdau's Canadian
operations in Selkirk MB, Whitby and Courtice, ON.

For further information:

For further information: Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, (416)
577-4045; Trevor Scurrah, USW Local 8918, (519) 588-8918

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