Key Algoma Steel union meets tomorrow, as strike pressure builds

Powerful Local 2251 demands wage hikes totaling 16 per cent wage over three years

Salaried workers at Algoma Steel Inc. have averted a strike, but 2,000 members of the powerful United Steelworkers Local 2251 will gather Wednesday at GFL Memorial Gardens, prepared to take a strike vote if no agreement is reached by 9:30 am

“The union is always ready to negotiate,” Local 2251 president Mike Da Prat told SooToday early Tuesday evening.

“Discussions are ongoing between the company and the hourly employees represented by USW Local 2251, and the company continues to work toward reaching an agreement before the contract expires,” the company said in a news release.

Da Prat’s Local 2251 represents hourly workers at Algoma Steel, Sault Ste. Marie’s largest employer.

“USW Local 2251 is presently in negotiations with Algoma Steel,” the local’s leadership said in a news release.

“The collective agreement terminates on July 31, 2022,” the release states.

“Algoma Steel has announced revenue. The local union proposed increases of six per cent, six per cent and four per cent.”

The release says the steelmaker responded “with an offer of COLA (cost of living announcement) roll-in plus 0.5 per cent increase the first year and $1.35 increase in years 2 and 3 reduced by any COLA amount generated.”

Local 2251 members will receive updates on negotiations at information meetings scheduled for 9:30 am, 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm Wednesday at GFL Memorial Gardens.

“Strike voting will take place after the first meeting until the end of the 7:30 pm meeting,” the union release states.

“Voting will continue on Thursday, July 28 and Friday, July 29 at 68 Dennis St. from 8:30 to 4:30 pm; and all-day Saturday from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm”

As SooToday reported on Monday, Algoma’s Steel’s 500 salaried workers, represented by United Steelworkers Local 2724, have voted 59.9 per cent to approve a new collective agreement.

Local 2724 represents salaried office and technical professionals, front-line supervisors, shift coordinators and planners.

Although its membership is smaller than Local 2251, its settlements often set the tone for the larger bargaining group.

“It’s back to work with no concerns about labor disruptions for Local 2724 membership….We have a renewed contract,” Local 2724 president Rebecca McCracken announced Tuesday.

In recent communications to her membership, McCracken has said her local’s agreement with the company contained no concessions.

McCracken said salaried staff will get a 2022 cost-of-living increase of approximately 3.2 per cent as of July 31, 2022.

She referred to a salary increase of 0.5 per cent on Aug. 1, 2022, a three per cent increase in base salary effective Aug. 1, 2023, followed by another three per cent hike on Aug. 4, 2024.

McCracken has recently expressed concern about “incorrect information” circulating about the Local 2724 agreement and has asked members to contact her office with any questions.

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