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Steelworkers Stand Up for Steel in Ottawa 

June 4, 2024
A group of people wearing blue shirts and taking a photo outdoor. The Canadian Parliament Building appears in the background.

More than 60 USW national and local union leaders, staff and activists descended on Ottawa for the union’s Stand Up for Steel Conference, June 3 and 4.  

The conference’s first day included regional, local union and workplace updates, presentations on union priorities, industrial policy, trade, global trends, trade law and lobbying. 

“We can’t overstate the importance of our steel industry, not only to our union and our members, but to workers and communities across the country, and our national economy,” said National Director Marty Warren, in his opening address to delegates.

On the first day of the conference, delegates also heard from District 5 Director Dominic Lemieux, District 6 Director Myles Sullivan and Mike Duhra, Assistant to the District 3 Director, as well as workplace and local union representatives from across the sector. Local union representatives spoke about collective bargaining successes, how to curtail contracting out, health and safety concerns, the difficulty corporations are having to retain a skilled workforce, the importance of maintaining Cost of Living Adjustment clauses (COLA), the challenges of foreign ownership and more.

“We have some of the cleanest power in Ontario in the whole country. I don’t understand why we are not producing more steel,” said Myles Sullivan, District 6 Director.

“Governments don’t always think logically when it comes to procurement,” said Mike Duhra, assistant to the District 3 Director. “The federal government needs to lead the way and the provinces can follow.”

“At the bargaining table, we need to put pressure on for new investments,” said Dominic Lemieux, District 5 Director. “New sustainable investments mean long-term jobs for our members.”

Conference participants also heard from Meg Gingrich, Assistant to the National Director, on the union’s policy and lobby priorities when it comes to the sector: 

  1. Use Canadian-made steel in infrastructure projects.
  2. Implement a border carbon adjustment.
  3. Expand the capacity of the CBSA to identify unfairly traded steel.     

The conference’s first day also included detailed analyses on global trade and steel-production trends, presented by Troy Lundblad and Guio Jacinto of the USW Research, Public Policy and Bargaining Support Department. Trade lawyers Craig Logie and Mark Rowlinson (former long-time USW staff person) delivered a presentation on trade laws, and Shannon Devine and François Soucy of the USW Communications and Political Action Department provided delegates with a training session on lobbying politicians.

The second day of the conference saw delegates engage in more than 30 strategic lobby meetings with elected officials who hold key positions and who represent communities that rely on USW workplaces.               

For more information, please click here for our Stand Up for Steel campaign.

Please click here to see photos from day one of the Stand Up for Steel conference.

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