Stelco Day of Action rejuvenates Ontario labour

Show of strength aimed at awakening unions as much as bringing settlement to strike
By Danielle Harder
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 02/14/2011

A mass rally in support of locked out steelworkers in Hamilton has given organized labour the shake-up it needs in Ontario, according to Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

An estimated 10,000 union members from across Ontario, and a bus load from Quebec, converged on the city in late January over the U.S. Steel pension dispute. The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker locked out 900 workers last November after slowing down production to a near standstill.

At the heart of the dispute is the company’s desire to de-index pension benefits for 9,000 retirees and eliminate them altogether for new hires.