Limestone Local

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario

ETFO supports Hamilton steelworkers fighting for pension rights

January 28th, 2011

$10,000 donation comes as thousands journey to Hamilton on Saturday

Toronto, ON – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) will donate $10,000 to support beleaguered Hamilton steelworkers who have been locked out of their jobs since last November by U.S. Steel. The donation comes as thousands of working people journey to Hamilton this Saturday to support the 900 members and 9,000 pensioners of USW Local 1005 whose foreign owners want to de-index their pensions and forego defined benefit plans for all new hires.

“It is unconscionable that U.S. Steel would strip away hard-earned benefits from workers who have given their lives to this and the previous owner Stelco Steel,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond, who grew up in Hamilton. “What is disturbing is that prior to purchasing the company in 2007, U.S. Steel assured workers that it would honour a commitment to the Stelco pension plans.”

U.S. Steel is trying to de-index its workers’ pensions so that retirees would not receive any increases to keep up with the rising cost of living. The company is also trying to close its Defined Benefit pension plan to all new hires. It would replace it with a Defined Contribution plan that would guarantee workers nothing more than what they pay in, while giving the employer a free pass not to contribute.

“As working people, we can no longer accept that foreign-owned companies can come into this country and dismantle the structures that took unions and workers decades to build that provide income security for Canadians upon retirement,” added Hammond. “As these courageous workers in Hamilton, along with Sudbury steelworkers at Vale Inco and others, continue to stand up to the tactics of foreign owned companies, it is time to ask why the federal government is allowing foreign owners to wreck our communities and steal our futures.”

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.