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Algoma Steel strike averted, for now

All Steelworkers asked to report to work as usual
20170511 Essar Steel Algoma KA 03
Essar Steel Algoma seen at sunset in this file photo. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

United Steelworkers Local 2251 and Algoma Steel Inc. have agreed to extend their collective agreement by 15 days.

This averts, at least temporarily, a strike that could have happened as early as today.

"A key issue regarding COLA [cost of living adjustment] was addressed, which allows the union to continue negotiating towards our fair share with Algoma," Local 2251's negotiating committee said in a written statement issued at 7:20 p.m. Saturday.

"We are urging all of our members to report to work as scheduled as we have an extension to our collective agreement."

"The union wishes to inform all of our volunteers on the strike committee who were scheduled to report to the union offices on Sunday, July 31 should no longer attend as the offices will be closed."

In a news release issued at 8:19 p.m. Sunday, Algoma Steel said it agreed to the extension "for the purpose of continued discussions."

"This extension demonstrates the willingness of the parties to work towards an agreement that provides fair and equitable improvements to wages and benefits and supports our collective future under the electric arc transformation'," said Michael Garcia, Algoma's president and chief executive officer.

"We are fully prepared to negotiate productively with Algoma to achieve our goal of getting our fair share. All members are instructed to report to work as scheduled," added Mike Da Prat, Local 2251 president.

Results released late last night by Local 2251’s negotiation committee show 91 per cent of the local's membership voted for a strike.

That would have placed the local's 2,000 members in a strike position early this morning.

On Friday night, Michael Garcia, Algoma's president and chief executive officer, announced that without an agreement, the company would be forced to start idling its local steelmaking operations.

"We have no choice but to commence preparations Sunday morning for the safe and orderly shutdown of operations," said Algoma president and chief executive officer Michael Garcia.

That, Garcia said, would involve banking the blast furnace, low-idling the coke batteries and implementing fire and flood protection measures.

Once the blast furnace is banked, it would take 10 to 14 days to return the facility to production, he added.

But on Saturday, company and Steelworker negotiators addressed a key sticking-point related to COLA [cost of living adjustment] and then agreed to extend their collective agreement by 15 days, allowing them to pursue further discussions.

"We are urging all of our members to report to work as scheduled as we have an extension to our collective agreement," the local told its members.


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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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