U.S. Steel Canada retired workers again denied benefits

Company allowed to pay special bonus to executives

U.S. Steel Canada retired workers again denied benefits
Steam billows from a stack at the U.S. Steel Canada plant, formerly Stelco, in Hamilton. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese

More than 20,000 U.S. Steel Canada pensioners were again denied a motion to reinstate pensioners' health benefits after a recent Ontario Superior Court ruling

The benefits were suspended in 2015, when the court granted a request by the company to do so, during its bankruptcy protection case.

The federal Liberal government is sending a resounding message to 20,000 U.S. Steel Canada retirees suffering from the elimination of their crucial health benefits, according to the United Steelworkers (USW).

"Steel industry workers and pensioners were hoping for change when the Trudeau Liberals replaced the Harper Conservatives," said Marty Warren, USW Ontario director. "As workers and pensioners suffer blow after blow, the deafening silence from the Liberals shows there is no real change.”

In addition to rejecting the reinstatement of pensioners' benefits, the judge agreed to the company's request to pay a special bonus to managers, which was the second such bonus awarded to management during the restructuring process, said the union.

"Our members, our pensioners and people throughout our community are outraged to see benefits that categorically belong to retirees simply taken away with the stroke of a pen, while managers receive bonuses," said Gary Howe, president of USW Local 1005 in Hamilton.

In its motion to the court, USW pointed out U.S. Steel Canada, while operating under the Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act, has a positive cash flow of $150 million.

Also, documents that were inadvertently made public have revealed that U.S. Steel Canada paid its American parent, U.S. Steel, $123 million above market prices for steelmaking supplies such as coal and iron ore.

Restoring the pensioners' benefits, meanwhile, would cost $3.5 million per month, according to the union.


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