Latest News

Building on a resurgent labour movement

September 1, 2023

Steelworkers and unions across our country can take pride in our many recent achievements as we celebrate Labour Day this year. Building on a resurgence of activism and militancy that arose during the pandemic, our members are demanding, and winning, some of the best collective agreements we’ve seen in generations.

In the overwhelming majority of cases Steelworkers and other unionized workers are achieving these long-overdue gains through tough and determined bargaining.

Union members across the country are showing they’re willing to stand together and strike, if necessary, to win the improvements to their working and living standards that they have rightfully earned – including taking on inflation.

In a growing number of instances, Steelworkers have demonstrated remarkable solidarity to win stronger contracts after pushing their employers for better deals, such as at National Steel Car in Hamilton, where members of USW Local 7135 recently won a new collective agreement after a six-week strike. The new contract provides a 13% wage increase over three years, a signing bonus and important health and safety improvements.

Across Quebec, airport screeners who are members of USW Locals 1976 and 9554 won an impressive new agreement after unprecedented membership mobilization, seeing wage increases of 12% over two years. And members of USW Local 6285 at Tacora Mine in Wabush, N.L., won 24.5% wage increases over five years.  

In Saskatoon, members of Local 8883 at Andritz Separation recently were successful in negotiating a new contract, including wage increases of 12.5% over four years, including a retroactive first-year increase of 4%, along with improvements to pensions and short- and long-term disability plans.

For decades, labour productivity has risen as workers across our country have produced greater and greater economic growth and wealth. However, that wealth has been increasingly concentrated at the top, while real wages for many workers have not even kept pace with the increased cost of living (even before the recent spike in inflation). The level of household debt has increased, and with decreased union density, the rate of workers falling into precarious jobs such as part-time, temporary and “gig” work, has soared.

It’s not surprising that we’ve seen a surge of workers wanting to join unions to secure the better wages, benefits and conditions they deserve in exchange for their hard work that generates immense wealth for their employers.

A prime example is the unionizing drive at Starbucks locations in the U.S. and Canada, including in multiple Canadian communities where the coffee chain’s employees have mobilized to join the Steelworkers.

Profits skyrocketed by 31% – Starbucks opted to spend $20 billion on stock buybacks to further enrich its executives and shareholders, instead of fairly compensating the workforce responsible for generating the wealth.

Through the power of the union, Starbucks workers are finding that exercising their rights to collective bargaining is the best way to secure better working and living standards. Just last month, Starbucks workers who are members of USW Local 1-207 in Calgary won their first collective agreement, which set a new precedent for Starbucks workers in Canada, gaining a 10% wage increase over two years. The union also fought to get the regular annual wage increases paid to newly organized workers in Metro Vancouver after Starbucks refused. Like workers in other sectors, new groups of Starbucks workers are joining USW every year.

Of course, there are still far too many workers, including some USW members, who face employers intent on suppressing wages and benefits and eliminating good jobs.

Among the most-ruthless of these corporations is telecommunications giant Telus, which has eliminated or diverted tens of thousands of jobs from its Canadian workforce through offshoring operations to countries with poor labour standards.

Telus recently announced it wants to eliminate 4,000 jobs in Canada, even after workers produced billions in profits for shareholders and executives. USW Local 1944 members are fighting Telus’ job-cutting agenda.

As a union, we’re demanding that our governments make all current and future contracts with Telus contingent upon maintaining domestic jobs, and if the corporation fails to do so, governments should suspend those contracts.

Steelworkers also will continue to lead the way in demanding progressive legislative changes to benefit Canadian workers, such as ensuring the federal Liberals keep their promise of passing anti-scab legislation. This long-overdue law will help level the playing field for working people when they take the brave action of going on strike or when they are locked out by greedy and unreasonable employers.

As we celebrate our many achievements this Labour Day, Steelworkers also re-commit to our leading role in the fight for better working and living standards for all.

In solidarity, 

Marty Warren
National Director for Canada

Scott Lunny
USW District 3 Director

Dominic Lemieux
USW District 5 Director

Myles Sullivan
USW District 6 Director

Join our newsletter

Recent news

USW District 3 Logo

Bill 25 and “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement a major step forward: Steelworkers

May 16, 2024 | Media Releases

The United Steelworkers union (USW) District 3 is committed to reconciliation with B.C. First Nations and supports Bill 25, Haida Nation Recognition Amendment Act, 2024. The “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement is a major step forward. “We acknowledge our role in addressing the legacy of colonialism and we support the B.C. government doing the […]

Read More
Click to read the article about Bill 25 and “Rising Tide” Haida Title Lands Agreement a major step forward: Steelworkers
USW District 3 Logo

Canfor’s decision to not invest in Houston: a political move or economics?

May 15, 2024 | District 3 memo

To: BC Local Unions, BC Staff From: Scott Lunny, Jeff Bromley Last week, forestry company Canfor announced it was reneging on the corporation’s commitment to rebuild sawmill operations in Houston, BC. Canfor also took the opportunity to announce that the indefinite closure of Polar Sawmill in Bear Lake, BC, was now permanent and that hundreds […]

Read More
Click to read the article about Canfor’s decision to not invest in Houston: a political move or economics?