March 14, 2018 12:28 pm

Trudeau impresses Hamilton labour boss during steel and aluminium tour

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Hamilton to visit both Stelco Hamilton Works and ArcelorMittal Dofasco as part of a cross-country tour to show support for workers at those factories.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to have made an impression on steelworkers during his stop in Hamilton on Tuesday as part of a cross-country tour of Canadian steel and aluminum operations.

United Steelworkers Local 8782 President Bill Ferguson says Trudeau was well-informed on the steel file, understanding all the issues causing concern to local labour.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau calls idea that Canada’s steel could threaten U.S. security ‘just silly’

Ferguson says U.S. President Donald Trump’s threatened 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium “impacted on a lot of places in Hamilton that ship to the United States, including an erosion of consumer confidence. Places that were in collective agreement talks have been impacted and sales agreements, all this chaos, came from the threat.”

LISTEN: United Steelworkers Local 8782 President Bill Ferguson joins The Bill Kelly Show

The union boss says the prime minister talked about ways and means of correcting those problems.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau says he’s in Hamilton ‘to listen’ amid U.S. trade strife

Ferguson also says Justin Trudeau did something that no other prime minister has ever done; he walked into the Stelco lunchroom.

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The labour organizer says the PM took questions from the workers that were not scripted or planted.

READ MORE: Prime minister wraps up tour of Hamilton steel plants amid tariff threat

Steelworkers, Ferguson says, asked about pension protections and outlined the problems they’ve experienced because of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act process.

The federal legislation gives financially troubled corporations the opportunity to restructure their affairs. It’s the legal process U.S. Steel used to seek court protection, put pensions into jeopardy and eventually divest itself of Stelco.

Ferguson says Trudeau gave some basic answers, but the fact that he was there, made a big impression on the rank and file.

Trudeau’s cross country tour continues with stops planned Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie and Regina.

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