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USW Local 9563 building a strong local union and activists

May 30, 2023
Four people wearing masks, standing side by side, indoors

USW District 6 Director Myles Sullivan recently visited Steelworkers who work at ConMed Health Care Group’s Billings Court Manor in Burlington, Ont.

USW Local 9563 has over 500 members working across four ConMed facilities: Niagara Falls (Millennium Trail Manor), Fort Erie (Crescent Park Lodge and Maple Park Lodge) and Burlington (Billings Court Manor), Ont. Workers at the four facilities voted to join the United Steelworkers union (USW) in October 2021.

Since joining the Steelworkers, members have worked hard to build their local union from the ground up. They held local union elections and have elected their executive and stewards from each of the four locations.

Members have attended union education courses, taking advantage of the union’s extensive member-to-member education that is available to them. In April, a few members were able to attend the USW National Policy Conference for the first time.

The membership also had an outstanding vacation pay grievance that was neglected by their former representation. The USW successfully took the grievance to arbitration and received a favourable decision from the arbitrator.

“We knew that by joining the USW, we would get concrete action on the issues we are facing at work. Our local union membership has benefited from the Steelworkers’ resources available to us,” said Brenda Gagnon, USW Local 9563 President.

The local union has been consistently hosting two membership meetings every month – one in Fort Erie or Niagara Falls and another in Burlington, to ensure better access for members working at different facilities and shifts. The local union is also now part of the Hamilton Steelworkers Area Council, made up of various local unions in the Hamilton area and the District 6 Health Care Council, USW members working in the health-care sector.

The local union bargained gains in its first set of negotiations as members of the Steelworkers, which were greater than what the local union had seen in some time. In the coming months, members will be preparing for a new round of bargaining.

“When these members joined the Steelworkers, we made a commitment that we will support them every step of the way. We remain committed to that as they prepare for contract negotiations while continuing to build a strong local union,” said Sullivan.

From left to right: Shayla Seehaver (USW Local 9563 member and Steward at the Billings Court Manor facility), Brenda Gagnon (USW Local 9563 President), Myles Sullivan (USW District 6 Director) and John Catto (USW Staff Representative)

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