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Michigan dad back on payroll at Algoma Steel. But not yet on the job

He must wash his own uniform
Aerial view of Sault Ste. Marie and the International Bridge
Photo courtesy of the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation

A young Michigan father forced to choose between his children and his job at Algoma Steel will be back on the payroll Sunday, SooToday has learned.

But so far, no date has been set for his return to the workplace.

The apprentice machinist won an abitration award this week defending his right to cross the International Bridge to work at Algoma Steel without the usual mandatory two weeks of self-isolation.

The Chippewa County father of two is exempt from the federal self-isolation rules but hasn't worked since March 17 because Algoma Steel introduced its own rule requiring employees who cross the border to self-isolate for 14 days.

He has two children – aged six and 10 – and is not currently married.

A custody order gives him access to his children on his days off, but they aren't allowed to cross the border to be with him while he's Canada.

An agreement was reached Friday between the company and United Steelworkers Local 2251 and shop-floor workers were briefed Friday on the details.

Sources close to the negotiations tell SooToday that the man will be allowed to provide care for his grandparents in the Ontario Sault during the workweek.

Other than that, he may travel only to and from work and for essential reasons in Chippewa County.

He is required to tell Algoma Steel if he travels in the United States outside northern Michigan and may be required to self-isolate depending on where he goes.

He's prohibited from travelling to COVID hot spots and must be masked during any travel in our area.

The man must be tested at least once a month at company expense for COVID-19 and must wear a mask in common spaces at the steel mill and gloves whenever possible.

He will only work night shifts at Algoma Steel and will be provided with a gate pass and required to leave his vehicle in a designated parking area.

He's expected, as much as possible, to stick to designated walking paths to his designated washroom, designated lunchroom and work station.

He must wash his own workwear while the company looks for alternative laundry arrangements.

Algoma Steel is currently unable to provide the man with a shower but is trying to arrange a reasonable option.

Although the man will now be receiving a paycheque for the first time in four months, no date has been established for his return to work.

Arbitrator Norm Jesin has reserved the right to revise his order allowing the man's return to work if pandemic conditions deteriorate or improve on either side of the border.