Hamilton’s National Steel Car workers end strike, win 13% wage hikes

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Published August 9, 2023 at 9:54 am

COURTESY NATIONAL STEEL CAR
COURTESY NATIONAL STEEL CAR

National Steel Car workers have ended their six-week strike after they approved a new contract with the Hamilton-based railroad freight car manufacturer that “made significant improvements” from the last offer on wages.

USW Local 7135 said its 1,475 members ratified the three-year collective agreement by an 87.4-per-cent majority  Tuesday, Aug. 8. Workers had rejected the previous offer and began their strike on June 29.

Maintenance workers will head back to work immediately to conduct inspections of the plant at 600 Kenilworth Ave. N., according to the union in a press release. The rest of the members will return to work on Monday, Aug. 14.

“We believe that we achieved what we were looking for. Wages were a huge issue for our members,” said Frank Crowder, USW Local 7135 president, in a statement. “We wanted the company to offer wage increases that met inflation and we were able to secure that.”

The new contract will provide a 13-per-cent wage increase over three years, with six per cent in the first year, plus a $1,000 signing bonus. Members in the skilled trades will also get an extra $1-per-hour wage increase in each of the first and third years of the contract, according to the union.

The new collective agreement will “improve other health and safety provisions” along with adding an extra health and safety representative at the workplace.

Three workplace fatalities had occurred within 21 months at National Steel Car’s plant.

“Representatives of all levels of the union have worked jointly to address and improve systemic issues related to unsafe work entrenched in workplace,” the union said in a press release.

The contract also includes improvements to the defined-benefit and defined-contribution pension plans, and increases in shift premiums, dental care, vision care and safety boots allowances.

The USW is the largest private-sector union in North America, representing 225,000 members in many economic sectors across Canada.

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