Fighting Back Against the U.S. Steel Lock-Out
December 3, 2010, 2:06 PM EST
A nation-wide campaign must be launched to push back against the growing strength of international corporations like U.S. Steel, which are intent on attacking workers wages, benefits and defined benefit pension plans, says Rolf Gerstenberger, president of United Steelworkers Local 1005.
Gerstenberger addressed CAW Council delegates outlining the incredibly difficult struggle facing the 900 Hamilton, Ontario steelworkers who have been locked out by the U.S.-based corporation.
"Governments must be elected who will uphold workers rights not monopoly rights," Gerstenberger said. He blasted the neo-liberal globalization agenda that successive Canadian governments have done little to stop since the days of Brian Mulroney and the launch of free trade.
The result has been the gutting of a labour relations environment in Canada that was established and built up after the end of World War Two. This race to the bottom has resulted in wage cuts, lost jobs, lost control of Canadian resources, growing attacks on public health care, education and social systems which are critical to working people and their families.
He said the U.S. Steel lock-out is a shameful attempt to force 9,000 Hamilton retirees to give up the indexing of pensions as well as the loss of defined benefit pensions for new hires. He said when U.S. Steel took over Canadian-owned Stelco there was a federal government requirement that the sale would be of net benefit to Canada.
Instead, the shut-downs and lock-outs at U.S. Steel are devastating the Hamilton community. "Neo-liberal globalization for U.S. Steel means wrecking manufacturing in Canada, destroying the competition and securing a global market base," states a Local 1005 update.
"The federal and provincial governments must be held responsible because they are the only force strong enough to enforce the survival and growth of this necessary manufacturing facility as a fortress of Canadian self-reliance, prosperity, security and economic well-being."
Gerstenberger said the CAW, USW and other unions in Canada are all facing the same kinds of attacks on workers wages, benefits, pensions as well as the growing assault on public institutions. He urged a united response.
CAW President Ken Lewenza pledged the support of CAW locals and members.
"You have our entire support against this multi-national corporation that has no respect for workers," said Lewenza.