September 2, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Hamilton, CA – Six days after an Ontario judge refused to restore health-care benefits for 20,000 U.S. Steel Canada retirees, the United Steelworkers slammed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his “deafening silence” on the issue.
“Steel-industry workers and pensioners were hoping for change when the Trudeau Liberals replaced the Harper Conservatives,” USW Ontario Director Marty Warren said in a statement released by the union Aug. 25, adding that the party had “failed to reform Canada's antiquated and damaging corporate bankruptcy laws.” In bankruptcy proceedings last fall, the Ontario Superior Court approved U.S. Steel Canada’s request to eliminate drug, dental, vision and other health benefits for the pensioners. The Aug. 19 decision by Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel sustained that ruling and also let the company pay its managers bonuses. The union says restoring the retirees’ health benefits would cost $42 million a year, and the company has a positive cash flow of $150 million. "Just about everybody sees this for what it is—the brutal, heartless and unnecessary elimination of pensioners' benefits. Everybody except our courts and our government, who don't seem to care,” said Gary Howe, president of USW Local 1005 in Hamilton. Read more