Protesting U.S. Steel and the Attack on Workers' Pensions
February 1, 2011, 3:20 PM EST
Hundreds of CAW leadership and members took part in the Hamilton Day of Action January 29 in support of United Steelworkers Local 1005 who have been locked out by U.S. Steel.
The strong CAW contingent was part of a diverse cross section from labour and other groups, which included Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union members, Canadian Union of Public Employees, McMaster University students and many others.
The rally attracted more than 10,000 participants who marched through the downtown core of Hamilton waving placards and chanting to protest the actions of U.S. Steel and the failure of the Harper Conservatives to deal with the situation.
"This rally was an important show of solidarity and strength right across the labour movement," said CAW President Ken Lewenza. "As working people, we must not tolerate companies' attempts to remove our ability to retire in dignity, particularly after many decades on the job. This lock-out by U.S. Steel is an affront to us all."
U.S. Steel has locked out 900 Hamilton steelworkers and is pushing 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.
OFL President Sid Ryan said this attack on workers pensions must stop. "I won't stand by and let 9,000 pensioners have their indexing taken away," Ryan said. "Surely retirement security cannot be too much to ask for in this country today. That's a vision worth fighting for," he was quoted as saying in the Hamilton Spectator.
He also blasted the federal government for its lack of strategy to build industry and manufacturing and also for its lack of a pension policy.
The Steelworkers announced that they plan to take their message to Ottawa on May 1 with a demonstration to raise awareness on Parliament Hill.