CUPE National President Paul Moist, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and several dozen CUPE members joined locked out Steelworkers on their Hamilton picket line this week. Over 900 members of USWA Local 1005 have been locked out for over two months.
“CUPE wants you to know you are not alone,” Moist told the picketing USWA Local 1005 members. “Your fight is our fight too.”
Last month, CUPE National Executive Board passed a resolution to provide moral and financial support to USWA Local 1005, who have been locked out by the U.S. Steel Canada Group since November 7, 2010. The resolution calls for a $10,000 donation to the Steelworkers strike fund.
“Consider this a down payment on our continuing support for you,” Moist told USWA Local 1005 President Rolf Gerstenberger after presenting him the donation cheque.
USWA Local 1005 was locked out by the Amercian-owned U.S. Steel Canada Group after refusing to agree to pension changes. U.S. Steel wants to have all new hires enroll in a defined contributions pension plan rather than the current defined benefits plan. It also wants to remove indexing for all current and future retirees under the existing defined benefits pension.
“Defending the Steelworker pensions is a fight CUPE and the entire labour movement must be a part of,” said Moist. “If private sector pensions are eroded, the public sector will be next.”
Moist also blasted the federal government for its part in the pension battle. Specifically, for allowing U.S. Steel to purchase the Hamilton works from Stelco in 2007. “The way U.S. Steel is treating its workers shows the Investment Canada Act – the federal legislation meant to scrutinize foreign takeovers – is clearly not protecting Canadian workers,” said Moist.
Moist is encouraging CUPE Locals to offer financial and picket line support to USWA Local 1005, and is asking CUPE members to show their support at an upcoming rally being planned for January 29, 2011 at Hamilton’s City Hall.