Monday, September 28, 2009

The following article from the Hamilton Spectator came to Molly's attention via the website of USW Local 8782. The Steelworkers Union is involved in a number of bitter disputes across the country, all at once. Aside from the strike at Vale Inco, many of these-in Pine Falls, Hamilton and Nanticoke-seem to involve lockouts. Looks like the bosses are in a particularly nasty mood. Either that or they hope to take advantage of the present hard times to 'stick it to' unions before an economic upturn. In the following case the opponent, MultiServ, is something of a subcontractor within plants owned by other companies. Makes it hard to build solidarity when the majority of the workers at a plant are not involved in the dispute. To say the least this the sort of thing that would be remedied by 'industrial unionism', where all the workers at an enterprise would be part of one union and not divided up. It seems, moreover, that MultiServ has gone beyond the tradition limits of trying to operate with salaried personnel and is in the process of bringing in scabs, just as Vale Inco wants to do elsewhere. Members of Local 8782 have reacted to this affront. See below.
Tensions rise on MultiServ picket line:
Lisa Grace Marr
The Hamilton Spectator(Sep 28, 2009)
Tensions are escalating in the ongoing dispute between MultiServ and its locked-out employees.

Early Saturday about two dozen employees formed a picket line at U.S. Steel's Hamilton plant. MultiServ runs its operations within U.S. Steel's gates.

The employees were protesting the use of replacement workers, some of whom were former union members who had received retirement packages.

About 110 employees of the firm, which provides slag recycling services to U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal Dofasco, have been locked out for nearly 11 weeks.

The company has been using salaried, non-union staff to run the plant.

Talks broke off last Tuesday without resolution.

Pennsylvania-based Harsco Corp., owner of MultiServ, is seeking a 15 per cent wage cut in addition to other concessions.

Darren Kerr, plant chair and financial officer for the United Steelworkers, Local 7577, at MultiServ's locations at U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Cambridge, said the company is now offering lucrative contracts to former employees, undercutting the union's bargaining ability.

He said so far, about 14 employees have taken the package, but it's unknown just how many have returned to work.

"One employee who's now (returned to work at MultiServ) was at our action centre and our staff helped him get his Class D licence ... more education and that's how he repaid us," Kerr said.
But on Saturday, Ken Julian, communications director for MultiServ, said the company and the union would head back to the table Thursday for negotiations.

"Our first priority is to our customers," Julian said. ( I seriously doubt that statement-Molly )

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