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           Balazs on Safety & Health 

Safety And Health Report To start off the U.S.W.A. Local 2894  newsletter , for those of you who do not know the individuals of the J.H.S.C., let us introduce you to them:

The members are Ted Balazs, Co-Chair (Dept 08), Gary North (Dept 08), Roman Teska (Dept 27), Ernie Trivelli (Dept 29), Jim Creechan (Dept 52), and Jerry Pooran (Dept 15).

Salaried side of the committee consists of Frank Drescher (Eng), Stephanie Moffet (Eng), Bryn Jones (Eng) and Arpad Jozsa (EH&S Co-ordinator).

Our job is to recognize hazards in the workplace by conducting monthly safety inspections and to hold monthly meetings. Plus we provide monthly safety talks on various subjects such as :

  • Machine Safeguarding
  • Lockout / Tagout
  • Whimis
  • Compliance with the Law

     Please welcome this newsletter as a monthly distribution of valuable information that we can put to good use within the walls of Tenneco. It's all about working together.

  Ontario Employment Standards Act - In this section I will be taking excerpts from the Act .

Eating Periods


ē Employees canít work more than five consecutive hours without getting a meal break.  This break must be at least 30 minutes long and free from work. However, if the employer and employee agree, the eating period can be split into two eating periods in every five consecutive hours. This agreement can be verbal or in writing.  

Meal breaks are unpaid unless the employee's contract requires payment. Even if the employer pays for meal breaks , the employee must be free from work.


ARE OUR PENSIONS SAFE? I'm sure these workers thought so.


We need help now, Stelco workers tell MP

Tiffany Mayer - Times-Reformer

NANTICOKE - Local Liberal MP Bob Speller has pledged he will take the plight of local steelworkers all the way to Parliament Hill.

"I'm going to tell the Prime Minister that we need to do more as a government," Speller told steelworkers from Stelco's Lake Erie Steel on Monday.

Speller spoke to steelworkers concerned about the fate of their industry in light of recent threats by the beleaguered Stelco that it would have to cut labour and worker benefits and pensions in order to remain competitive.

The issue isn't just the security of jobs or retirement funds. The fate of those is a symptom of more serious issues involving the soaring Canadian dollar, the dumping of foreign steel on Canadian shores, countries who subsidize the export of the steel it produces and the perceived inaction by the federal government to do anything about these problems.

There is also the economic spin-off of these issues. Haldimand and Norfolk reap the benefits of having employed steelworkers living here, contributing to local businesses.

"We want the new government under Paul Martin to start making trade laws. . . so that we can start reaping the benefits of production," steelworker Roger Falconer told Speller.

"We need to fix the price, not production. Change the rules so they favour us and not other countries and we need your commitment to do it."

Stelco has wracked up $168 million in losses so far this year. As a result, the steel giant has said substantial cuts to its 6,000-person labour force are needed as one measure for staying afloat.

Speller, who has sat on the federal steel caucus for 15 years, including five years as its chair, was aware of the issues facing Stelco and the Canadian industry before Monday's meeting.

Afterward, he said there are some issues the federal government can strive to change, including trade rules regarding dumping and countervale steel.

While steelworkers say the price of steel drops five dollars per tonne for every cent the dollar rises, the soaring loonie is something the feds have little control over, Speller explained.

"We'll have a new (trade) minister and new Prime Minister and I most certainly will take their message back to Paul Martin and where they (steelworkers) feel the government should be and where changes should be made," Speller said.

"There is a future for the steel industry in this country. It's very important for the jobs it creates and for trade. It's a critical issue."

As to whether he's happy with what he heard, Falconer said that will depend on whether Speller lives up to his word of taking the steelworkers' fight to Paul Martin.

That's not Falconer's only concern, though.

"What I'm concerned about is time. The union has been saying this (is the way the industry is going ) for five years. The industry has been saying it for two. The government hasn't been saying anything," Falconer said.

Stelco also wants to reopen union contracts to renegotiate pensions and benefits. The company says it can't afford pensions, even those paid to workers already retired.

Stelco's pension plan accumulated a $630 million shortfall in 2002 and is expected to owe another $72 million this year.

John Felker, who has been retired for more than a year and is worried his pension cheques will soon run out, said he wasn't happy with what he heard from Speller.

"What I heard here tonight didn't give me any insight or comfort," he said. "They talk about pension insurance but it's a pittance and it's not what we worked for."

Speller said there is little he can do about pensions because it is a provincial issue. He will, however, try to flex his federal muscle with his provincial counterparts in Queen's Park, reminding them of the industry's importance and the need to protect worker retirement funds.

"It was a contract negotiated fairly and squarely and they (Stelco) should live up to it."

Big 3's slip mean trouble for Cdn auto parts firms: association
by Canadian Press posted Dec 10, 2003

By Steve Erwin
TORONTO (CP) -- It could take a decade before Canadian auto parts suppliers grab enough business from overseas-based vehicle makers to offset order reductions from the Big Three, says an association of parts producers.

And by that time, many of Canada's small and mid-sized parts firms may have shut down or consolidated under pressure from global competition, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association warned Dec. 10.

As General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler continue to lose market share to Asian competitors, Canadian parts firms, long dependent on the traditional Big Three for most of their revenue, are losing business as well.

That decline is worsened by the tendency of non-U.S. vehicle makers with assembly plants in North America to use their own preferred suppliers, the APMA says.

And it's difficult to compete for business with Japanese-based firms such as Toyota, Nissan and Honda that have dealt with specific suppliers for decades, APMA chairman Doug Boughner said at a news conference held to release the group's "strategic vision" for the Canadian parts sector.

"It's not that those new manufacturers don't think Canadian suppliers are adequate ... The new North American manufacturers will tell you that, yes, we will buy from you eventually," said Boughner, also CEO of Brantford, Ont.-based Eagle Precision Technologies Inc., a metal tube maker.

"But it will be a very long process, in some cases maybe even 10 years, after you make your initial call."

The APMA says sales by Canadian auto parts firms totalled $34 billion last year, down from a high of $36 billion in 2000. Most of those sales are from Ontario plants run by GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Toyota and Honda.

But in the all-important U.S. market, which produces about 75 per cent of all vehicles made in North America, the share of Canadian-made parts is dropping as shipments from Mexico and China increase.

Canada has recently been unable to attract new assembly plants from foreign-based automakers attracted to the U.S. Southeast by hundreds of millions of dollars in state incentives, or to Mexico, where labour costs are significantly lower.

That has the APMA concerned that foreign automakers will rely more on overseas suppliers setting up shop near newer U.S. and Mexican facilities.

The association's reliance on the Big Three comes as GM, Ford and DaimlerChrysler are seeing their North American sales fall.

In a Dominion Bond Rating Service conference call Dec. 10, the credit rating agency said that while its outlook for the Big Three is stable, their ratings are at risk because of eroding market share and inflexible labour costs at their unionized plants.

APMA president Gerry Fedchun called on Ottawa and the Ontario government to provide funding to attract more assembly work here and protect thousands of auto sector jobs.

"These are all problems that are creeping up on us, and if we don't act we'll have difficulty," he said.

Boughner also called for government research funds to create "innovative" parts that vehicle makers can't find elsewhere. Otherwise, Canadian suppliers will go bankrupt or be forced to merge to compete with parts operations in low-wage countries, he said.

"We cannot compete against countries that have an average income of $1,000 a year," he said. "The only thing we can do to combat that is to design and develop new parts that compensate for that difference."

Trade statistics show U.S. assembly plants imported nearly $13.8 billion worth of auto parts made in Canada last year, up 3.8 per cent from 2001. However, Canada's share of parts imported to U.S. vehicle factories slipped to 25.8 per cent, from 27.1 per cent in 2001.

Mexico's share increased from 27.3 per cent to 28.1 per cent and China's share rose from two per cent to 2.4 per cent.

Still, the U.S. data appear to contradict fears that Japanese assemblers building cars in North America aren't buying parts locally. Japan's share of the U.S. parts sector has declined from 23 per cent in 2001 to 21.1 per cent in 2002.

"The view that the Japanese are not sourcing their (original) parts in North American is just not true," industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers wrote in a recent report. "In fact, much of the automotive parts trade from Japan is for the aftermarket, so their North American parts content must be increasingly rapidly. Otherwise, one would pick up increases in the trade data."


By-Law Amendments

Just a note: All three by-law amendments passed . You will be electing your stewards in May 2006. This is the power that you, the union body , has if you attend the union meetings, as this was brought up on the floor by the union members themselves and passes by going through the proper channels. So, if you want to make positive changes please attend the union meetings instead of the on the floor or cafeteria ones.


Recent Media Coverage of United Steel Workers Of America

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Last modified: January 18, 2004