CUPE members came from all corners of the province on January 29 to march in support of locked out workers at the U.S. Steel operations in Hamilton, Ontario. The CUPE contingent included six bus loads of union activists, including the new “Pink Bus” from the CUPE Local 966 Flying Squad.
The demonstration was the largest union protest in Ontario since the Days of Action in 1996 against the Mike Harris government. CUPE members joined the massive crowd of activists, jamming the city’s downtown core. Organizers predicted that 6,000 would attend the demonstration. In fact, crowd estimates ranged from 9,000 to more than 10,000.
Last November, U.S. Steel locked out workers in an attempt to gut their pension plan. Underlying the dispute is the failure of the U.S. company to follow undertakings made to respect the collective agreement in force when it bought the mill from Stelco several years ago.
The Harper Government was singled out during the demonstration for failing to protect Canadian workers’ jobs and their pension plans. The Steelworkers and others unions will take this message to Ottawa on May 1 when they plan to demonstrate on Parliament Hill.
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