District Reports to the National Steel Conference – May 26, 2020

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DISTRICT UPDATES

District 5
District 6
District 3

 

DISTRICT 5

Guy Gaudette, staff member in District 5, responsible for Montérégie region near Montreal, servicing ArcelorMittal, Heico Group, Rio Tinto facility in Sorel Tracey, Nova Tube in LaSalle, report on:

Novatube, Local 2423, Lasalle, QC:

• Manufactures tubular products.
• Production reduced by 50%.
• They normally run with 60 employees. 20 workers have been laid off.
• They hope to return to 2 crews in 2–3 weeks and that this will result in calling back the laid-off workers.

Rio Tinto facility, Local 7493, Sorel Tracy, QC:

• They manufacture metallic powder for the automotive sector.
• On April 1 there was a complete shut down the facility, due to COVID-19 and everyone was laid-off.
• Rio-Tinto, has been a good corporate employer in this case, and kept everyone on with 100% salary for 6 weeks with full insurance and pension benefits.
• Production has now resumed
• 46 workers are still laid off.
• If the automotive sector rebounds as anticipated, they hope to be back at full staffing by September.

Heico Group: 4 four local unions representing 600 workers

  • Infasco Plant (Local 6839) in Marieville, QC
  • Infasco Office (Local 9414-125) in Marieville, QC
  • Sivaco (Local 6818) in Marieville, QC
  • Galvano (Local 9414) in Beloeil, QC

Infasco Plant Local Union

• Manufacture steel fasteners, in large part for the construction and automotive sectors.
• Reduction of 20-40% of production in April and May, and outlook for June and July is no better with a 25% loss of orders for the last 2 months.
• In the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, prior to the federal salary replacement and wage subsidy programs being announced, some workers, based on their family situation, were not comfortable working. We made arrangements for voluntary layoffs with the employer.
• When the government Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program was introduced, we requested that the employer rehire the employees that had been laid off with the wage subsidy, as was the intention of this federal subsidy program.

The employer has refused to rehire the laid-off employees, leaving them to claim the CERB.
The employer is accepting the wage subsidies for active employees and will not discuss the matter of the laid-off workers any further.
Additionally, they are now restructuring their activities and proceeding to permanent layoffs, all the while receiving the wage subsidy of $21.08/hour for each active worker, and doing nothing to assist the workers facing permanent layoffs.
We continue to demand that the employees be rehired on the wage subsidy and are lobbying the government to ensure that this employer starts behaving contrary to their current actions.

ArcelorMittal

• They have 7 facilities in the Montreal region with 1300 workers.
• This is a highly lucrative company. In the last 5 years, their activities have resulted in $500M in net profits. In March 2020 alone, due to the profit-sharing program, we know that they made a profit of $11.1M. They qualified for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy, due to a drop of 15% in revenue in March 2020 compared to March 2019.
• In the beginning of the crisis, the employer was not going to recall workers by using the emergency wage subsidy.
• After lobbying efforts on their behalf, an agreement was reached for workers laid off on March 15 to be rehired at 75% of their regular salary, as per the federal wage subsidy program. Their health benefits, retirement plan and vacations will be maintained.

Yves Rolland, President of ArcelorMittal, Local 6951 in Contrecoeur Ouest, and acting president of the Comité de solidarité de l’acier (CSA) in Quebec report on various ArcelorMittal locals in QC:

ArcelorMittal, Local 6586, Contrecoeur East, QC

• 500 members.
• They produce for the automotive sector and diverse equipment parts.
• Operations were stable until April 12, when wire rod production fell from 4 crews to 3.
• Slab production was halted due to a Dofasco in Ontario announcing a work stoppage. Slab from this facility is shipped to Dofasco in Ontario.
• They don’t anticipate the resumption of slab production before late autumn 2020, as this production is highly impacted by the automotive sector.
• Announcements were made of a temporary work stoppage scheduled for June 1 in Contrecoeur East.
• As a processor of scrap metal, this facility is currently being impacted by low scrap metal prices.
• They have a 2-week scheduled shut down anticipated for this summer.

Office, Local 8060, Contrecoeur, QC

• These members carry out laboratory analysis and clerical work.
• Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have not yet incurred any layoffs though many workers have been reassigned to work from home.
• With the coming shutdown at Contrecoeur East, we anticipate 2 people will be laid off effective June 7.

Longueuil Plant, Local 8897, Longueuil, QC

• 200 workers manufacturing construction and automotive sector parts, other various equipment parts.
• Due to the complete shut down of construction projects in Quebec and the resulting lack of orders, operations ceased on April 5.
• Operations resumed on May 4 with 2 crews returning to work, and then to 4 crews on May 11.

St-Patrick site, Local 9399, Montreal, QC:

• Approximately 120 workers, manufacturing primarily wire rod for a range of products.
• This site has been the most affected by COVID-19.
• 20 workers were confirmed to have the virus, causing the facility to shut down for 2 weeks in early April. Since operations resumed there have not been any additional layoffs.
• The employer has seen a decline in orders, and they anticipate a 2-week shutdown during Quebec’s 2-week construction holiday in July.

Feruni, Local 6586-2, Contrecoeur, QC:

• This is the scrap recycling facility for the entire group.
• Scrap metal market prices have been low since the beginning of 2020, and foreign product being dumped into the Canadian market has greatly affected this facility.
• Italian product is selling for $551/ton, compared to the local $800-$900/ton price usually seen in Canada.
• The slow-down in the automotive sector is also resulting in an unstable situation for this facility.

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DISTRICT 6

Richard Leblanc, staff rep in the D6 Ottawa office, report on Ivaco Rolling, a Heico group in L’Orignal, ON, with 3 bargaining units:

The presidents are:
- Eric Fournier, Rod Mill, Local 7940
- Jocelyn Bernier, Melt Shop, Local 8794
- Sylvie Brisson, Clerical, Local 9740

• A total of 400 members.
• Rod mill produces 4.75 ml to 25.5 ml wire rod of different grade qualities and has a capacity of 2400 tons per day.
• Melt shop produces billets from scrap metal and has a capacity of 1500 tons per day. As this facility does not have the capacity to completely supply the rod mill, this facility relies on 3 other suppliers.
• The current CBA for melt shop and rod mill is a 5-year agreement beginning in January 2020. Office-Clerical will negotiate in November 2020.
• Since the end of March, customers have reduced production or shut down operations, affecting orders. This facility does not stockpile or produce for inventory.
• It is anticipated that with the automotive sector reopening, they will be in a position to ramp up their production, so anticipating a spike in orders in July and August. With the economic data for the steel industry, they anticipate that the economic recovery will be slow.
• Applied for the wage subsidy program, but they are confident that they will qualify.
• The company applied a work sharing program for all their non-union staff, and is in discussion with the Office-Clerical bargaining unit to see if this would be a suitable option for them as well.

Breakdown of 3 units:

LU 7940, Rod Mill
◦ 197 members. 72% production, the rest are trades. Normally working with a 3-crew operation, 1200 tons per week.
◦ This facility was already operating on a 3-shift basis, with occasional layoffs prior to COVID-19. Traditionally this was a 4-crew operation.
◦ Prior to COVID-19, the facility was planning on returning to 4 crews and had made some hires. The 4-crew ramp-up was sidelined for now.
◦ At present, operating half the time on a 2-weeks on/2-weeks off basis, and also at a reduced capacity.
◦ There are layoffs currently, and 35 members are currently working as a skeleton crew, doing fire watches, janitorial tasks, etc.
◦ The cancellation of the 4-crew ramp up resulted in 20 production labourers being permanently laid off effective April 28.

• LU 8794, Melt Shop:
◦ 172 members.
◦ On November 30, 2019, the company announced a layoff for April 4 to 18, 2020, now extended to June 13. The expectation is that they will return to work on June 13, but this remains to be seen.
◦ When the melt shop and the rod mill are not running, only 16 members are working.
◦ When the rod mill is working at half-time, the melt shop only has 30 members working.
◦ Local continues to communicate with their members through a private FB page to assist with EI and CERB applications.

• LU 9740, Office-Clerical:
◦ 35 members.
◦ Their work is directly affected by the number of people working in the rod mill and melt shop.
◦ Some members were permitted to work from home, but the employer has since reneged on this. Employer is now trying to get the members back to the office. These are ongoing discussions, as are discussions on work sharing.
◦ The executive is not favourable on workshare, but this is being discussed with their members.

John Catto, report on Gerdau, Local 6571 in Whitby, ON:

• 400 members.
• Primarily produce rebar and merchant bar.
• Have an electric arc furnace and 2 rolling mills.
• Melt shop and bar mill (for rebar primarily) are on a 4-crew 12-hour shift rotation.
• Structural mill, producing the larger products, is on a 2-crew Monday-Thursday 12-hour shift rotation.
• March 2020 was one of the most productive months ever on record, then things fell off quite significantly.
• Don’t have the orders at this point to remain on 4-crews, but there are no layoffs at this point as they are waiting to see how the market is going to react.
• Shipments in April were down just over 20% compared to January, February and March 2020.
• May looks like it will be a bit better then April, and they are hoping that as the provinces across the country begin to open up that those numbers will begin to improve, avoiding layoffs.
• If operations continue at 70-80%, layoffs in the future are a possibility.
• Comparison for Gerdau is a company based in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Operations are in 12 countries in the western hemisphere. North America and Brazil are the two biggest areas.

Canada is the shining star of their operation right now at 80% of what they should be. The USA are a bit lower, Brazil is only operating at 30% of their expected goals.

Impacts of Covid-19 on facility:

Gary Howe report on Stelco, Local 1005, Hamilton, ON:

Randy Graham report on Stelco, Local 8782 in Nanticoke, ON:

Concern:
Nanticoke produces some stainless steel, which may have a tendency to be overlooked. LU 8782 believes a national steel strategy on the use of Canadian steel in infrastructure projects is needed. Imports from India, Italy and China are hurting us the most.

John Kallio report on Algoma Steel, Local 2251, Sault Ste.Marie, ON:

Concern:
Need the automotive manufacturing sector to get back on its feet. The Oshawa GM plant closure last year was a real disappointment after the Federal Government bailed out General Motors. LU 2251 President is worried for sheet product if automotive plants keep closing and going to Mexico. There is no commitment from them to stay in Canada.

Rebecca McCracken report on Algoma Steel, Local 2724, Sault Ste. Marie, ON:

Cody Alexander report on Tenaris Algoma Tubes, Local 9548, Sault Ste-Marie, ON:

◦ Masks are mandatory if working within 6 feet of someone.
◦ Maintenance crew must wear N95 and face shields.
◦ Thermal scanners at the gate, iPad that scans and approves you to go into the mill.
◦ Must declare that you don’t have any symptoms.
◦ Protocols in place as to limits in the offices and lunchroom for social distancing.
◦ Staggered shifts, though there are only day shifts now to avoid people using the same machines.
◦ Contractors are sanitizing (spraying down) the whole mill weekly.

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DISTRICT 3

Patrick Rodrigues, District 3 researcher report:

District 3 Steel Sector is facing the following issues at this time:

◦ Gerdau, in Selkirk, MB, producing specialty products. They are currently in bargaining, so no one is participating today from this facility. Reports from the USW staff rep indicate lots of concessions are being asked of the union, and it is an intense round of bargaining.
◦ Evraz, in Regina, SK, producing oil and gas products, highly impacted by the current commodity prices.
◦ Evraz, in Calgary, AB, producing oil and gas products, highly impacted by the current commodity prices.
◦ Tenaris Prudential, in Calgary, AB, producing oil and gas products, highly impacted by the current commodity prices.
◦ Alta Steel, in Edmonton, AB, producing construction and mining products. They are less impacted by the commodity pricing, but are nonetheless facing demand issues at this time.


Mike Day report from Evraz, LU 5890, Regina, SK:


Patrick Veinot, staff Rep in southern Saskatchewan, report:


Paul Perrault report on AltaSteel, Local 5220, Edmonton, AB:

Joined in office by Jeff Kalichuck, USW staff rep, Alan Engman, VP.


Robert Collinson, report on Evraz, Local 6673, Calgary, AB:

Impacts of COVID-19:

  • Have been very fortunate as we’ve not had any cases.
  • The company has taken it seriously with social distancing, hand-washing, staggered starts, staggered lunches and this has worked so far.


Robert Gosse report on Tenaris Prudential, Local 7226, Calgary, AB:

Concern:
The scariest part of all this is that when we shut down in 2015, we learned through the trade tribunal process that Tenaris was facilitating orders through Tamsa in Mexico. Given the tonnage they were bringing in, we could have kept 1-2 weld crews going with work sharing, to keep things going. The scary part of the shutdown for us is that until the market rebounds enough to warrant the cost of reopening the facility, we will be out of work.

They will facilitate our orders, especially the OCTG, from Mexico. They will also push their seamless, because for an ERW facility we are just a compliment to the customer. With directional drilling taking over, we are slowly being phased out. If pricing of ERW and seamless align, then we really won’t open.

Only saving grace is the line pipe to keep us running.

We have many members that are days, weeks or months away from retirement. And they may or may not get that. The information from plant manager about the wage subsidy is good news as they are hoping to keep some people around for a few months. Whether that means a 40-hour or 32-hour work week is yet to be seen. Fingers are crossed, but things are changing daily.

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