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Standing up for Canadian jobs and better deals

April 26, 2023
Sheila Block at the podium at the USW National Policy Conference

Tuesday afternoon, delegates discussed a number of resolutions to continue the USW’s advocacy work in the forestry and industrial sectors, including when it comes to international trade.

Delegates unanimously backed calls to keep fighting the export of raw logs and the dumping of foreign materials and products in Canada. Resolutions calling on the government to increase investment in the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to include labour unions and workers at the centre of all discussions and planning for sustainable job initiatives also passed with full support.

Before the debate, a video was played, highlighting the USW victory, winning the right for unions to initiate trade complaints. [Watch the video here.] In the first union-led complaint, the USW won an investigation by the Canada Border Service Agency and the case against the dumping and subsidizing of mattresses produced in China. This win is just the beginning. As one USW member said in the video, “we can’t always rely on companies to do the right thing for workers.”

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Senior Economist and former long-time USW researcher Sheila Block also addressed delegates on Tuesday afternoon, to talk about the current state of the economy. Block noted, while inflation is making life harder and more expensive for workers, the combination of low unemployment rates and high energy and commodity prices are creating some very good conditions for bargaining for better deals for USW members.

“If you’re at the bargaining table and the employer doesn’t want to agree to your requests for more money, it’s not because he doesn’t have that money. It’s just that he doesn’t want to spend it on you,” Block said.

It was clear that Steelworkers are ready to keep challenging the corporate idea that the only thing that matters is profit.

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