On Tuesday, Oct. 12 McMaster hosted a conference entitled “Stop Stealing our Steel: The Struggle of the Steelworkers”.
The conference, organized by McMaster’s Labour Studies Student Association, and sponsored by OPIRG, began with an introduction by Brendan Sweeney, from the Department of Labour Studies. Sweeney explained the importance of labour studies in today’s dynamic society.
The brief introduction was followed by a thought-provoking speech by Lisa Nussey, spokesperson and volunteer for “Hamilton for Steel”.
Nussey gave the audience a brief introduction to well-known controversy between the owners and employees of US Steel.
Nussey proceeded to discuss the controversy that had erupted when the owners of the Hamilton based factory, Stelco, now known as US Steel, had breached their part of the agreement when the company was sold to them under the Investment Canada Act.
She explained that owners of US Steel wanted a two-tiered pension plan, yet the employees were not willing to settle for it, this thus led to ongoing negotiation between both parties.
Nussey also spoke about the “Hamilton For Steel Association,” about which she explained, “everybody’s fight on the issue of standard of living in our country.”
She further stated that through the years they had been able to accomplish many things in order to show support for the Hamilton steel workers and their families with initiatives such as the Billboard Project.
The Billboard Project granted permission for four billboards to be posted throughout City of Hamilton in order to raise awareness for the issue plaguing the lives of those impacted by the demise of the steel industry.
The meeting was followed by a brief viewing of the documentary entitled “Defying the Law,” which took the viewers back through the events and issues of that particularly hot summer in Hamilton when everything erupted. It also showed the dynamics of our current economic, social and labor challenges for the steel industry.
The evening was concluded with a brief question and answer session, at which time it was established that fighting for the steel worker is a key issue that should not be left until all is fair for the workers, their families and anyone else who is an affected by this issue.