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Mike Da Prat disputes Algoma Steel news release

Local 2251 president says members are being asked to reject Algoma Steel’s final offer
2021-07-16 Algoma Steel File BC (2)
Algoma Steel file photo.

With contract talks stalled and a strike vote scheduled later this month, the man who's led United Steelworkers Local 2251 for the past 19 years is accusing Algoma Steel of issuing misleading statements to media outlets.

Local 2251 president Mike Da Prat called SooToday on Saturday to say he takes issue with the two opening statements in a Friday-night news release titled "Algoma Steel confirms USW Local 2251 agrees to take offer to employees for a vote."

The first disputed statement was this: "Algoma announced today that United Steelworkers Local 2251 have agreed to take the company’s last offer to a vote by employees in the affected bargaining unit."

Said Da Prat: "I would say that the comments are misleading in the sense that it suggests that the union agreed with the company to take the issue to the members, ignoring the fact the union informed the company that we were taking it to the members to reject the offer."

"It is important to identify the fact that the union did not agree to present the company offer to the members."

"When the parties got into a discussion about who was to make the first offer during the talks, we informed the company that we were taking their unacceptable offer to the members so that the members could send a message to the company that that offer was not acceptable."

"The company appeared to be indicating that they believed the members would accept it. We thought that it would be more productive to make sure that the members send the company a strong message," Da Prat told SooToday.

The second Algoma statement disputed by Da Prat is this: "...the union has agreed to provide advance notice to the company to allow for a safe and orderly shutdown of operations in the event the union instructs employees to go on strike."

"We didn't agree to give advance notice," insists Da Prat.

"What we stated was we would provide eight hours for the orderly exodus of our members after the vote is tabulated," he says.

With the current contract due to expire at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, talks have terminated and Local 2251 will hold meetings to present its position on Algoma's final offer to its membership on Thursday, Aug. 25.

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

Local 2251's negotiating committee has advised Algoma that even though it will be in a legal strike position, it won't withdraw services until eight hours after the results of the vote have been tabulated.

Unless otherwise notified by the company, all members of Local 2251 have been advised by their union to report for work on Tuesday, continuing until the result of the vote is known.

Local 2251 said Friday that the company is in a legal lockout position as of 12 a.m. Aug. 16, but the Algoma news release stated: "Operations will continue in the ordinary course during the voting process."

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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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