Steelworkers say more work needed before deal reached with Stelco, Bedrock

U.S. Steel Corp.'s former Stelco plant has been a fixture on Hamilton's industrialized shoreline for decades. Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

The head of United Steelworkers Local 1005 says he’s not surprised there’s an agreement between Stelco, Bedrock Industries and the steelmaker’s salaried workers, but he’s still waiting for Bedrock management to respond to union demands.

Gary Howe said he finds the timing of the announcement interesting.

“I think what they’re trying to do is they’re trying to steamroller their way to a deal,” he said.

LISTEN: Union leader Gary Howe on Stelco, Bedrock deal 

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The agreement announced Wednesday in support of Stelco’s re-organization plan, which does not include Local 1005 or Local 8782 workers in Nanticoke, covers post-employment benefits, unfunded supplemental pension claims, termination and severance claims, and future pensions for salaried employees.

The agreement is still subject to court approval.

Howe said from the union’s perspective, there are still a lot of outstanding issues surrounding pensions, unused Stelco lands along the waterfront and health-care benefits.

READ MORE: Steelmakers Stelco and Bedrock reach deal with salaried workers and retirees

Howe says union negotiators met with Bedrock management last week and gave a list of proposals that include job security and reinstatement of health care benefits. He says the company has not yet said when it will respond.

But Howe points out the steel industry overall has improved since Stelco was placed under bankruptcy protection and that should help the company meet the union’s demands.

READ MORE: Tentative deal reached in bitter 11-month US Steel lockout at former Stelco mill

Affected creditors are scheduled to vote on Stelco’s restructuring plan on April 27.

In a news release, Stelco chief restructuring officer Bill Aziz says, “We are getting closer to the best, and only, outcome that balances the realities of the situation with the interests of the many stakeholders.”

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The steelmaker has been operating under creditor protection since September 2014. In early December, it was announced that Bedrock was working towards acquiring Stelco.

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