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BREAKING: No deal at Algoma Steel

No strike immediately, but company is in a position to lock out workers next week
2022-07-28MikeDaPrat
Mike Da Prat, president of USW Local 2251

United Steelworkers Local 2251 has advised its 2,000 members that contract negotiations with Algoma Steel stalled on Friday when the two sides couldn't agree over who was supposed to present an original offer.

With their current contract due to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, talks have terminated and the Steelworkers will hold meetings to present Algoma's final offer to its membership on Thursday, Aug. 25.

Voting on the offer is scheduled for Aug. 29, 30 and 31.

The negotiating committee has further advised Algoma Steel that even though it's in a legal strike position, it won't withdraw services until eight hours after results of the vote been tabulated.

"Unless otherwise notified by the company, all members of Local 2251 should report for work on Aug. 16, 2022, continuing until the result of the vote is known," the union has told workers.

Local 2251 also said Friday that the company is in a legal lockout position as of 12 a.m. Aug. 16 and it's possible workers could be locked out.

The following is what the union local communicated to its members:

On August 11, 2022 the union approached the company to see if there would be any value in meeting in an attempt to reach agreement on wage increases.

The union was under the impression that if the union committed to moving off 3.5 per cent wage increases for every year of the collective agreement, the company was willing to discuss movement on wages.

It should be noted that the union moved a number of times from the original proposed wage increases down to 3.5 per cent for every year of a collective agreement.

Further, the union’s position always has been that COLA is completely separate from discussions regarding wage increases.

At the same time, the union was bargaining in good faith, the company was issuing communiques from the CEO giving their description of their “last, best and final offers.“

The company’s position was that the union should allow the members to vote.

The union’s position was that they could not bring those “last, best and final offers” to the members as the union was not prepared to dignify them as fair offers.

At today’s meeting, the discussions stalled over who was to make an original offer to the other party.

Again, the union’s position was that the union had responded the last day with a reasonable offer which consisted of a significantly shortened list of non-monetary proposals (contract language etc.) and a significantly reduced wage increase down to 3.5 per cent per year.

In spite of the fact the union had committed to moving off 3.5 per cent, the company wanted the union to make an offer which would result in the union negotiating with itself.

As a result, discussions were terminated today, and the union informed the company that a vote on their last (second) “last, best and final offer” would be scheduled.

The purpose of the vote is to demonstrate the members support for their negotiating committee’s position and the fact that the members found the “last, best and final offer” unacceptable.

We informed the company clearly that the vote was not to satisfy their request, but to ensure that the members made the decision and for the members to send a clear message to the company.

To that end, the union scheduled three meetings on Thursday Aug. 25, 2022, 9:30 a.m, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the Quattro Hotel and Conference Centre, 229 Great Northern Rd.

The meeting is to inform the members and to clearly demonstrate that the offers are unacceptable and to provide the members the negotiating committee’s recommendation to reject the company’s offer and to go on strike.

The members will be provided 48 hours to consider and discuss the company’s “last, best and final offer” and a vote will be conducted.

The vote will be held at 550 Queen St. W. (west of the tracks on the north side of Queen St. Please be advised that the parking lot is accessed from the Albert Street side), Aug. 29, 2022 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Aug. 30, 2022 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Aug. 31, 2022 from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The negotiating committee also informed the company that in spite of the union being in a legal strike position, the union was not withdrawing the services of their members and going on strike until eight hours after the results of the vote are tabulated.

Unless otherwise notified by the company, all members of Local 2251 should report for work on Aug. 16, 2022, continuing until the result of the vote is known.

The company is also in a legal lockout position as of 12:00 a.m. August 16, 2022.

It is possible that we may be locked out.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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