Pensioners protest at US Steel Canada court hearing resumes

Stelco pensioners and employees from U.S. Steel Canada demonstrated at the Ontario legislature today over motions by the company in bankruptcy court.Three bus loads of retired and current steel workers went to hear a proposal in court from U.S. Steel Canada to stop paying property taxes in Hamilton and stop topping up pension payments. When court was adjourned until this afternoon, steel workers marched to Queen’s Park to seek provincial government support for their concerns. U.S. Steel Canada is appealing to the court to suspend pension benefits and municipal taxes in order to continue operating the plants in Hamilton and Nanticoke, while it tries to sell or restructure the business under court protection from creditors. “It’s a hugh impact. Benefits and security over our pensions is our whole livelihood for the rest of our lives. We spent close to 40 years I did myself at Stelco and U.S. Steel. Now in our golden years all that is threatened?Over what? Greed! And our government is not supporting Canadian workers here.”“When you think about what’s going on, it’s like just like I got here. CCAA is an illusionary justice that screws workers and pensioners. They are trying to legitimize this. We know it’s a fraud by U.S. Steel. If U.S. Steel wanted to pay its debts and liabilities they would have added 40 per cent more production to the Canadian work.”“What are they doing? They are taking it away.”Paul Miller, the member of provincial parliament who represents the Hamilton riding where U.S. Steel is located, raised the concerns of steel workers in the legislature this morning. “It’s hard to believe, but it only gets worse. U.S. Steel is also expected to succeed in their demand to no longer pay municipal taxes to the city of Hamilton.”“That’s $6 million a year to local coffers that goes to pay for schools, paved roads, and other things. It’s hard to think how this won’t end up being a provincial problem, with a provincial price tag, and a large one.”“Everything has been too little, too late, and the federal Conservative government has done absolutely nothing to help these people. They sold out, they knuckled under, they are a disgrace. Will this government stand up for the pensioners, stand up to this corporation and hold U.S. Steel accountable for what it is doing to my city of Hamilton and to the people of this province.”“We must do something now.”Ontario finance minister Charles Sousa responded to Paul Miller’s plea by saying the Ontario government will work to help the pensioners and workers of U.S. Steel.The steelworkers are looking at this as a precedent-setting case. They say if the courts allow the steel company to open up their pension uneder the CCAA rules, then down the road any company will be able to open any pension and have it dissolved under the same rule. The Ontario government is concerned, and so is the city of Hamilton: it faces a $6 million tax hit if all of the motions from U.S. Steel are approved.Additional video Marvin Ryder of the DeGroote School of Business says none of the options will be good for anyone involved: read more