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Vol. 77/No. 11      March 25, 2013

Quebec steelworkers score victory
after 5-month fight
After five months on the picket line, locked-out steelworkers in Boucherville, Quebec, southeast of Montreal, voted Feb. 7 by 92 percent to return to work with a solid victory under their belts. The 94 workers are members of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN).

The workers, without a contract since April 1, 2012, were locked out Sept. 10 by Acier Leroux, a division of multinational Russel Metals. During the lockout CSN members repeatedly voted down company concession demands.

“We won everything that we wanted,” local union President Lucien Dallaire said in a phone interview. He works as a shunter, driving trailers and other vehicles in and out of the plant. The signed contract did not include previous company clauses to contract out many union jobs.

After four months without progress in negotiations, the company was functioning at 60 to 65 percent capacity with scab labor, said Dallaire. In December and January, workers carried out informational picket lines at many Acier Leroux clients in the region. “Clients didn’t want to be mixed up in this, and phoned to cancel further orders,” Dallaire said. “Production in the plant then dropped to 30 percent.”

After the contract was adopted, the company paid two union members to call and inform clients the conflict was over so that orders would resume, the union president pointed out.

Health and safety measures were strengthened in the final contract and workers’ share of health insurance costs were lowered to 20 percent from previous offers of 50 percent. Wages will increase by 12 percent over the life of the four-year pact.

After Christmas all but 10 workers were on the picket line, Dallaire said. Of the others, “five were working elsewhere and five were injured. We didn’t give them an inch.”

Amélie Lanteigne and Katy LeRougetel contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Rally backs ILWU fight against lockout in Wash.
Montreal unionists protest cuts in jobless compensation
Locked-out sugar workers in North Dakota get jobless pay
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