About 5,000 people rallied in Hamilton on January 30 at a very successful Day of Action organized by Locals 1005 and 8782 USW with the support of United Steelworkers, the Hamilton and District Labour Council, the Ontario Federation of Labour and other labour councils and unions. Active and retired steelworkers from Hamilton, Nanticoke and the surrounding communities attended the rally along with entire families and people from all walks of life who identify with the cause of the steelworkers.
This was well expressed by Gary Howe, President of Local 1005 who hailed the 70th anniversary of the union and also drew attention to the plight of Max Aicher workers who have been locked out for 31 months while the company carries on production with scab labour. Defending the right of the steelworkers for their pensions and benefits Gary said, “Declaring that the new normal is an alleged rule of law sanctioned in bankruptcy courts and through secret backroom deals is the most self-serving and pathetic excuse for justice anyone could possibly give.”
“We do not agree that a foreign company has the right to march into Canada and willfully destroy production and walk away from pension, tax, production and environmental obligations,” Gary said. “Nobody agrees to that in the name of the right of these companies to do well. Companies, no matter where they come from, are not above the laws and regulations that should serve Canadians simply because people in power say their duty is to favour those narrow private interests.”
This was also captured very well by former President of Local 1005 Rolf Gerstenberger in an op-ed published in the Hamilton Spectatoron the morning of the rally. Addressing the significance of the rally and why people should attend, Rolf said, “If the government does not use its authority to uphold the laws and if special [Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act] courts can be created to rule that might can make right, where does that leave the citizens who are supposed to be protected by the law? This is a very serious problem that goes way beyond the legalization of the theft of our pensions.”
Local 1005 published a special issue of their newsletter Information Update with President Gary Howe’s speech and the op-ed by Rolf Gerstenberger. For the information ofRenewal Update readers, the text of both presentations is available here.
Left: Local 1005 Poet Bill Mahoney; right: Local 8782 USW President Bill Ferguson.
Left: Ken Neumann, USW National Director; centre: Hassan Yussuf, Canadian Labour Congress President; right: Chris Buckley, Ontario Federation of Labour President.
Left: Fred Eisenberg, Mayor of Hamilton; centre: Thomas Mulcair, federal NDP leader;
right: Andrea Horwath, Ontario NDP leader.
Left: Scott Duvall, MP for Hamilton Mountain; centre: Anthony Marco, Hamilton and District Labour Council President; right: Bob Bratina, MP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.
Source: Renewal Update, February 1, 2016 • No. 2 | PDF