TORONTO, April 28 United States Steel Corp
has locked out all unionized employees at its Lake Erie works in
Canada, the United Steelworkers union said on Sunday.
The move, part of a contract dispute, affects nearly 1,000
workers at the Nanticoke, Ontario plant, which produced about 10
percent of U.S. Steel's raw steel output in 2012.
It is the third lockout at a former Stelco facility since
U.S. Steel acquired the Canadian company in 2007.
The last lockout at Lake Erie, which started in August 2009
and ran for eight months, halted production at the plant. It was
followed in the autumn of 2010 by an 11-month lockout at the
nearby Hamilton works.
According to a "final offer" distributed to Lake Erie
workers on April 19, U.S. Steel wants to drop the existing cost
of living adjustment (COLA) from the contract, replacing it with
a less generous scheme similar to those in its U.S. contracts.
"Given that the Lake Erie wage rates are already
significantly higher than the USW rates in the U.S., and that
the plant continues to incur huge losses, the COLA provision
must be modified," the company said.
The cost of living adjustment has been a major sticking
point in negotiations, United Steelworkers Local 8782 President
Bill Ferguson said on Friday.
Ferguson said the company's proposed formula is not likely
to be triggered in the next three years: "It's a formula that
was designed not to pay," he said.
He said the plant had already been shut down for several
weeks for maintenance.
U.S. Steel could not immediately be reached for comment.