September 20, 2014 - No. 33

Steelworkers' Response to
U.S. Steel's Filing for Bankruptcy Protection

An Appeal to the Court of Public Opinion


Labour Day 2014 in Hamilton

Harper Conservatives Enable U.S. Steel's Latest Blow to Canada
- United Steelworkers -
Fraudulent Bankruptcy Without an Owner
- Rolf Gerstenberger, President, Local 1005 USW -


Local 1005 USW Press Conference
Transcript of Presentation by President Rolf Gerstenberger
August 13 Letter from Local 1005 to U.S. Steel 
August 14 Response from Local 1005 to U.S. Steel's Self-Serving Restructuring Proposals


Defend the Rights of All
Harper Dictatorship Consigns Human Rights to a Museum
- Dougal MacDonald -
Museum of Human Rights Violations Launched
- Shoal Lake 40 First Nation -

Canada's Militarization of Culture Protested at Montreal's Old Port
No Harbour For War Commemorates 32nd Anniversary
of Sabra and Shatila Massacre

International Day of Memory of Victims of Fascism


Steelworkers' Response to U.S. Steel's Filing for Bankruptcy Protection

An Appeal to the Court of Public Opinion

Oppose U.S. Steel's Phony CCAA!

Let Us Together Take a Stand in Defence of the Dignity of Labour, Decency, Upright Behaviour and the Right Thing to Do!

Do not Permit Canada to be Trampled in the Mud by U.S. Steel!

Local 1005 condemns in no uncertain terms this phony CCAA bankruptcy filed by U.S. Steel on September 16. It creates a very serious situation for active and retired Canadian steelworkers and their union, the United Steelworkers (USW), as well as the locals directly involved, Local 1005 USW at Hamilton Works and Local 8287 USW at Lake Erie Works. This phony CCAA filing also directly affects present and former salaried employees of the company, the citizens of Hamilton and their Municipal Council, and the Province of Ontario.

The provincial government is up to its ears in irresponsible deals it cut with U.S. Steel at the time it seized Stelco and which USS is now conspiring to dump on the province and all Canadians. The responsibility of the federal government is all encompassing in this matter since it first allowed the seizure of Stelco under theInvestment Canada Act. It has since been signing secret agreements with U.S. Steel to avoid holding it to account for breaking the original agreement and despite mounting evidence that U.S. Steel's purchase of Stelco in 2007 was part of a North American wide price fixing conspiracy involving seven steel companies including ArcelorMittal. The U.S. courts have already revealed the evidence, which suggest the lockouts and shutdowns of Canadian U.S. Steel production appear to be part of the conspiracy.

Local 1005 USW hereby appeals to the Court of Canadian Public Opinion to see that justice is done in this phony CCAA filing. All the evidence points to a conspiracy to commit fraud. It is unseemly and unconscionable for Canadian courts or governments at any level to legitimate this fraud. We call on all stakeholders affected by this fraud to protest and join with us in opposing it. This includes the organizations of salaried employees, suppliers, environmental organizations, municipal councils, politicians at all levels - federal, provincial, municipal -- all political parties at the federal and provincial levels, and citizens and their organizations from all walks of life. It is the view of Local 1005 that this also presents an opportunity for all those involved in lawyering to uphold the integrity of their profession by opposing the use of the courts and legal proceedings and the law to commit fraud.

Enough Is Enough!

Let Us Together Take a Stand in Defence of the Dignity of Labour, Decency, Upright Behaviour and the Right Thing to Do! Do Not Permit Canada to Be Trampled in the Mud by U.S. Steel!

(Information Update #24, September 18, 2014)

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Harper Conservatives Enable U.S. Steel's
Latest Blow to Canada

The United Steelworkers (USW) union is committed to defending the interests of its members and pensioners affected by U.S. Steel Canada's application for bankruptcy protection.

"We are extremely concerned about these developments and we intend to do everything we can to protect our retirees and our members," USW National Director Ken Neumann said following today's filing by U.S. Steel under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

"Once again U.S. Steel has left thousands of families and entire communities in limbo. They will have to endure a long and complex court process," Neumann said. "We will work together with other stakeholders to seek the best outcome for our members and retirees."

"We will demand that U.S. Steel is held to its obligations," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

"We remain alarmed by the refusal of U.S. Steel and the federal Conservative government to disclose the terms of their agreement under the Investment Canada Act by which the government approved U.S. Steel's purchase of Stelco," Warren said.

"We again call for disclosure of those terms and all other material relevant to the financial situation of U.S. Steel. We're very concerned about issues such as the apparent mismanagement of U.S. Steel's pension obligations," he said.

Since its arrival in Canada, U.S. Steel has instigated unprecedented labour strife -- three lockouts in four years -- and broken legal commitments on jobs, production and investment.

Stephen Harper's Conservative government bears responsibility for the hardship U.S. Steel continues to inflict on Canadian communities, Neumann said.

"For six years and counting, the Conservatives have refused to hold U.S. Steel accountable for its string of broken commitments," he said.

"The Harper government has shown a breathtaking indifference to Canadian workers, pensioners and families who have suffered and will continue to suffer as a result."

Rather than hold U.S. Steel accountable for breaking its binding commitments on jobs and production, the Conservatives shut down legal proceedings against the company in 2011 and signed a secret, out-of-court settlement containing new promises.

"The Conservatives publicly boasted that their second secret agreement with U.S. Steel was even better for workers and their families. They bragged that this new deal was `encouraging investment and employment in Canada,' " said Warren.

"In reality, the Harper government has tacitly condoned U.S. Steel's behaviour and abandoned thousands of Canadian workers and pensioners who must face the consequences."

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Fraudulent Bankruptcy Without an Owner

While reading the U.S. Steel press release announcing the bankruptcy of its Canadian operations, it suddenly becomes clear that no ownership is involved. This is also reflected in the fact that the USS (X) stock price jumped 12 per cent upon announcement of the phony bankruptcy. Normally in a bankruptcy, equity ownership, either a public stock ownership or private equity, is the first to be hit negatively. Remember the attack on the old Stelco stock and its replacement with new Stelco stock during the 2004-06 bankruptcy. The price of old Stelco stock was reduced to next to nothing.

We know that USS (X) stock is directly connected with the Canadian operations because the executives had to apply for a change in the Ontario pension agreement upon the takeover of Stelco. This had to be done to allow USS (X) stock to continue to pay a quarterly dividend, which it has done to date.

In USS' September 16 press release, no mention is made of equity ownership. The only debt ownership is said to be the $150 million debt held by the Ontario government. As far as is known, the Ontario government has not applied to have USS put into bankruptcy for failure to pay.

The only other liabilities mentioned are the pension plans and other post-employment benefits of Canadian USS retirees and active workers.

How can a company put only a part of itself in bankruptcy without drawing in the entire company, especially its property assets, equity ownership and outstanding debt? USS has had trouble at both its Gary Works and Keetac mining company resulting in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars. Does this fraudulent form of bankruptcy mean that USS can declare those two entities bankrupt without affecting the whole company, its other assets, equity ownership and debt?

Hiving off this or that part of the company and declaring it bankrupt without affecting ownership of the whole is a fraud. In this case, hiving off the Canadian operations without affecting ownership is meant to renege on the $150-million Ontario debt, eliminate its responsibilities towards pensions and other post-employment benefits, evade responsibility for environmental cleanup and put downward pressure on the production of steel in North America by shutting the blast furnace in Hamilton permanently and questioning the viability of Lake Erie Works to put upward pressure on steel prices. It is a big attack on Canada and on business relations generally.

This fraudulent bankruptcy means that the Ontario government does not have access to the assets of equity ownership of USS to have its debt made whole. The pension and other post-employment benefits do not have access to the assets of equity ownership and neither do the municipal, provincial and federal Canadian governments have access to meet the demands of environmental cleanup and other issues.

This bankruptcy does not pass the first smell test in that no ownership can be identified. USS executives are scrambling to present a phony deconsolidation of its Canadian operations from the Company but that does not wash. The Company is one and if they want a bankruptcy, it must involve USS equity stock ownership, all its long-term and short-term debt, other legal obligations and all its assets and property holdings throughout the world but especially in the United States.

The owners and executives of U.S. Steel want to dump their obligations in Canada without going through the proper channels of selling assets or taking on debt to meet those legal obligations. This bankruptcy is illegal and a fraud.

(Information Update #24, September 18, 2014)

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Local 1005 USW Press Conference

Transcript of Presentation by
President Rolf Gerstenberger

On September 18, a press conference was held at Local 1005 USW's union hall in Hamilton. Local 1005 President Rolf Gerstenberger presented the views of Local 1005 on the September 16 Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) filing by U.S. Steel Canada, followed by questions from members of the media. The press conference was attended by 110 workers and pensioners along with Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina and Hamilton East Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller. The media were represented by the Hamilton Spectator, CHCH-TV, CBC-Hamilton and TML. TML Weekly is publishing the transcript of the presentation by Rolf Gerstenberger, very slightly abridged by the author. Also posted below are two related items handed out at the press conference.

***

Thank you all for coming. Here is what Local 1005 wants to communicate at this time.

Local 1005 with utter contempt rejects this entire CCAA fraud which U.S. Steel has filed. The term Grand Larceny only refers to theft above $500. What US Steel is doing is larceny on such a grand scale, a term has yet to be invented to adequately describe it. The fact that Justice Morawetz permitted USS to file these documents cannot be dismissed as par for the course. It is an unconscionable scam from A to Z and USW 1005 will not remain silent on any of it.

The very first statement in the factum declares, "USSC is the sole applicant in these proceedings. The remaining entities within the USSC Group are not seeking protection as applicants under the CCAA."

We question this in the Information Update issued today. It is very strange that no owner is listed in this entire proceeding. What is this USS Canada, which has no owner who can be held to account, and is hived off from USS for purposes of perpetrating this fraud?

The factum then blames labour for all its problems. It says:

Point 3. "Unfortunately, many of the problems that plagued Stelco continued to confront USSC after the restructuring and sale, such as competitive cost disadvantages including high cash funding costs in respect of pension and other retirement benefit obligations, as well as uncompetitive labour costs and related labour interruptions."

In this way, through sleight of hand, the fact that USS did its own due diligence when it purchased Stelco in 2007 is dismissed. More significantly, does it really think that its talk about labour disruptions being a problem will divert us from the fact that court documents have fully exposed that when it purchased Stelco it was engaged in a price fixing conspiracy with 7 other companies to smash production in order to keep prices high, making it clear that this is precisely what it did in Canada with its lockouts and layoffs?

USS has already agreed to settle the lawsuit against it by paying a $58 million penalty for its part but that is not the end of the matter. Right at the time when it purchased Stelco, it made a commitment to the federal government through the Investment Canada Act (ICA) to maintain a production level of over 4.4 million tons of steel for three years and to employ over 3100 workers for this period. Within one year of purchasing Stelco, it shut down the blast furnace in Hamilton for the first time and violated that agreement. In seven years since USS purchased Stelco, the Hamilton furnace has been shut down for five of those years and last fall, USS announced it was shutting the blast furnace and steelmaking down permanently.

When U.S. Steel shut down the whole of Stelco in 2009, Local 1005 introduced evidence for the ICA lawsuit that outlined how the workers at Stelco lost $29 million in wages and benefits. Also, 600 workers retired at that time because of the threat of permanent layoff. By taking their pensions prematurely, they have lost about $72 million in income. Then we had the phony lockout in November 2010 for 11 months, which also forced about 200 workers to retire early, and they have lost at least $14 million since that time. The lockout itself involved 600 workers locked out for 49 weeks with a loss of wages of $32 million, some of which is owed to the Employment Insurance Fund, which agreed it was a phony lockout. The total damage done to the Stelco workers for U.S. Steel's lockouts and layoffs is no less than $150 million and this does not calculate the additional damages to Lake Erie workers over the course of two phony lockouts.

It is incredible that USS dares to quote labour and the costs of labour to be the problem when it is already publicly known in U.S. courts that it conspired to smash production.

We would also like to remind the Provincial government that it has extra responsibility here and we will hold it to account. The Province permitted U.S. Steel to purchase Stelco over the objections of Local 1005. In the agreement in 2007, the Province allowed U.S. Steel to remove the provision from the pension agreement coming out of CCAA that prohibited the payment of stock dividends until the Pension plans had been made whole. We objected to this at the time. If we calculate that each year, from 2008 to 2014, U.S. Steel paid out $.05 per share for their approximately 144 million shares, about $7 million per quarter, this means that since U.S. Steel bought Stelco they have paid close to $187 million in dividend payments, not counting 2007 itself. This amount comes to $201 million counting the two quarters in 2007 and the first two quarters in 2014. Despite this, the pension funds are not whole and we are reliving the CCAA bankruptcy fraud to get rid of the workers' pensions.

We appreciate that the Province of Ontario is under big pressure here because this entire scam also dumps all the environmental cleanup costs on Canadians. In this regard we would like to warn against conciliation with this CCAA fraud in any way because both the Province and Hamilton City Council would be on the hook for cleanup costs, which USS intends to walk away from. Not only will their scam result in hardship for thousands of pensioners, but for the citizens of Hamilton and Ontario as a whole, because U.S. Steel also has plans to leave the city and province with cleanup costs related to Randall's Reef and for the land.

We also join the USW in denouncing the Federal government for not releasing the details of their secret deals. We express utter contempt for the statement made by Industry Minister James Moore quoted in the Hamilton Spectator. He says that the government's "thoughts are with the workers and their families." The content of this concern is exposed by his irresponsible statement about the Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing that U.S. Steel says is its only responsibility in this sordid affair. According to Moore, and I quote, "While this process is ongoing, U.S. Steel has indicated that they have a plan to ensure that salaries, pensions and operations are not affected. The government of Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely." This DIP financing is a real scam, an end run around their legal and moral obligations. DIP financing in CCAA is considered "Priority Charges," which rank above all other creditors. They have turned normal intercompany financing into a secured debt. This has become a problem with these huge monopolies, which hide behind layers of shadow companies and no one can be held to account. That was one of the initial reasons for anti-trust legislation. Local 1005 will speak more on this fraud of DIP and intercompany loans in due course.

We also want to go on record that one of the biggest frauds being perpetrated in this CCAA application is the ability of a Judge of the CCAA court to declare that USSC is insolvent despite the fact that it is part of the US Steel Empire, which has not been thrown into this mix. Even a cursory look at their financial reports every quarter shows that there was no separate reporting for the Canadian operations until a certain point when this scam to perpetrate a new conspiracy must have started being hatched. All the reports dealt with North America on a consolidated basis. The province permitted the sale to U.S. Steel by telling us that this was a good deal because U.S. Steel was "too big to fail." The pension changes which allow dividends to be paid is testament to one company with public equity held by USS stock going under the symbol X. But now we hear that it is permissible for U.S. Steel to dump U.S. Steel Canada by setting up a fraudulent bankruptcy and DIP and intercompany financing.

We expect the province to ensure that the whole corporation is responsible to make the pensions whole, to repay the $150 million provincial loan plus interest, for all environmental cleanup and for the federal government also to hold them to account for all other damages.

As part of the price fixing scheme, U.S. Steel has been allowed to smash production in Canada, and now the courts are being used to declare them insolvent. It behooves us not to let the Canadian Courts and court system lower the dignity of Canada, whereby a foreign entity can smash production in Canada and then the courts provide their seal of approval.

Last but not least at this time, we want to protest the statement of the CEO of USS Canada, made in his affidavit, that they have consulted with the stakeholders to no avail.

Michael McQuade, CEO of U.S. Steel Canada made the following submission in his affidavit to support the CCAA application:

"17. USSC has also engaged or attempted to engage, in restructuring discussions with key stakeholders; however, to date, no comprehensive restructuring solution that has secured the support of the necessary stakeholders has been achieved or is likely to come to fruition outside of a court-supervised restructuring process."

Local 1005 is a stakeholder, and we want it made known that on August 14, 2014, it made USS fully aware of its position on the scam it is now perpetrating by going into CCAA. The background to this is that on August 7, 2014, during contract negotiations, Mr. McQuade made a presentation to the Local 1005 Negotiating Committee. In our opinion, the presentation had nothing to do with the negotiations on a new contract and we duly informed USS of this, and that Local 1005  wanted no part of such things. As for the opinion of Local 1005 on the presentation, Rolf Gerstenberger informed USS that we considered their entire plan to be a conspiracy to commit fraud and that Local 1005 wanted no part of this scheming.

The presentation made by Mr. McQuade had nothing to do with the contract negotiations and, as such, Local 1005 is not bound by any agreement as concerns not speaking to the press about the negotiations. Today we are providing the media with both our objection dated August 13, to having USS's proposal to commit fraud provided to us during negotiations for a new contract, as well as our analysis and written response to their proposal, dated August 14.

We have received no response from them to our concerns, despite requesting to be informed in the event that we had misunderstood their proposal in any way. They then filed for CCAA protection on September 16, 2014 and it is clear to us that their factum and course of action proposed for the CCAA proceedings follows the script of their August 7 proposal despite the change of venue. Our conclusion remains the same - it is a plan to defraud our pensioners, to defraud the provincial government of the $150 million loan, to defraud governments at various levels of the environmental cleanup costs and to prevent any discussion on how to solve problems in Canada's steel sector and implement solutions. To date, U.S. Steel's response to problems in Canada's steel industry is to wreck it.

How will this script play out is what we are all now waiting to see unfold. Perhaps USS already has a phony front operation waiting to purchase Lake Erie Works and other assets within the requested 30 day stay of proceedings, which is said to be the "sensible" way to proceed. This would effectively sever much of the assets from the retirees whose work made those assets possible.

I would like to conclude by repeating the call we issued in today's Information Update:

"Local 1005 USW hereby appeals to the Court of Canadian Public Opinion to see that justice is done in this matter. All the evidence points to a conspiracy to commit fraud. It is unseemly and unconscionable for Canadian courts or governments at any level to legitimate this fraud. We call on all stakeholders affected by this fraud to protest and join in opposing it. This includes the organizations of salaried employees, suppliers, environmental organizations, municipal councils, politicians at all levels -- federal, provincial, municipal -- all political parties at the federal and provincial levels and citizens and their organizations from all walks of life. It is the view of Local 1005 that this presents also opportunity for all those involved in lawyering to uphold the integrity of their profession by opposing the use of the courts and legal proceedings and the law to commit fraud.

"Enough is Enough!

"Let Us Together Take a Stand in Defence of the Dignity of Labour, Decency, Upright Behaviour and the Right Thing to Do! Do not Permit Canada to be Trampled in the Mud by U.S. Steel!

Thank you. We will now hand out the documents dated August 13 and 14 respectively.

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August 13 Letter of Local 1005 to U.S. Steel

The following letter was delivered to Ms. Jodi Koch, Director, Human Resources, U.S. Steel who is the assigned negotiator for U.S. Steel in current negotiations with Local 1005 for a new contract.

***

Local 1005 USW hereby informs you that its Negotiating Committee is not mandated by the membership to participate in any discussions that do not address the core interests of steelworkers and pensioners to secure a negotiated agreement acceptable to its membership and, within this purview, to make the pension plan whole and viable for all members of the plan.

Local 1005's Negotiating Committee and U.S. Steel have now met several times in August in what Local 1005 believed to be contract negotiations. Some negotiations are taking place on the contract proposals submitted by both Local 1005 and U.S. Steel. However, Local 1005 notes that these meetings have also revealed what is, in the opinion of Local 1005, a CBCA [Canada Business Corporations Act] conspiracy on the part of U.S. Steel to defraud Hamilton pensioners of their pensions, the province of Ontario of its $150 million loan it made at 1 per cent interest in 2007, and Canadians of their right to have polluted grounds and waters cleaned up by the corporation responsible for polluting them.

Local 1005 opposes all talk and plans to isolate Hamilton Works as a so-called standalone entity so as to destroy the Hamilton Bargaining pension plan within a CCAA process or bankruptcy, to dump within that bankruptcy any contaminated land or water for which the company is responsible, and yet save for itself Lake Erie Works, its extensive lands and port and any other assets not connected with a CBCA restructured "standalone" Hamilton Works.

Within this plan, it seems U.S. Steel will ask the province of Ontario to forgive its $150 million dollar loan. As well, USS will issue $250 million in secured debt to cover perceived losses during 2014 and 2015 in a "standalone" Hamilton Works for which the holder will come first in line in any CCAA process or bankruptcy, and all pensioners, other creditors, suppliers and anyone else owed money will be left twisting in the wind. All of this seems to be carefully crafted to keep U.S. Steel assets, debt holders and shareholders in the United States free from any liability at a bankrupt "standalone" Hamilton Works and deny the rightful claims of pensioners and Canadians. In the opinion of Local 1005 USW, the people of Hamilton and indeed all of Canada will be outraged should this plan be implemented. This includes not only working people but also the business community and politicians of all stripes.

Local 1005 does not think these USS schemes will create a viable Hamilton Works and it opposes them. The price-fixing conspiracy USS entered into with eight other steel companies in 2007 has already caused grave damage to Hamilton steelworkers and the community, as well as the Canadian steel industry. The revelation of the conspiracy makes it clear that all kinds of promises made when USS purchased Stelco were not abandoned due to "market conditions" as steelworkers and Hamiltonians were led to believe. The price-fixing conspiracy indicates that USS seems to have known all along that its public commitments were false. Its current plans merely reveal another conspiracy in the making, first to use the CBCA and then CCAA or bankruptcy to achieve further dishonorable aims.

Local 1005 wants no part of this CBCA conspiracy. Its Negotiating Committee is not authorized to hear any more about it. Local 1005 also thinks that Hamilton Works can operate profitably albeit at the profoundly crippled level it has been reduced to since U.S. Steel took it over.

In conclusion, please be informed that the Negotiating Committee of Local 1005 was mandated to negotiate a contract. It wants to meet with U.S. Steel to negotiate in good faith a new collective agreement and to organize to make the pension plan whole, as both U.S. Steel and the Government of Ontario pledged would be done.

Local 1005, its members and retirees reiterate what has been said repeatedly, "No restructuring on the backs of workers!"

Rolf Gerstenberger
President
Local 1005 USW
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
August 13, 2014

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August 14 Response from Local 1005 to U.S. Steel's
Self-Serving Restructuring Proposals

The following document was delivered to U.S. Steel via Ms. Jodi Koch, Director, Human Resources, U.S. Steel on August 14, in response to a presentation made to the Local 1005 USW Negotiating Committee by Michael McQuade, CEO of U.S. Steel Canada, on August 7.

***

Let us look at U.S. Steel's CBCA [Canada Business Corporations Act] restructuring proposal and assess whether it solves any problems in the steel industry and is good for Canada.

The CBCA framework proposes that USS Canada (USSC) be broken up into six subsidiaries of USS, four in Hamilton and two in Lake Erie. Each entity would be a standalone company with no revenue coming from USS to assist it in course of a shortfall after 2015. As separate companies, they would be responsible for local taxes and other claims. The six standalone entities are:

Hamilton land (over 1000 acres);
Hamilton Cokes;
Hamilton Finishing;
Hamilton other (to include anything overlooked);
Lake Erie land (about 6600 acres of unused land);
Lake Erie Works operations.

USS would provide secured financing until the end of 2015 of $250 million. After that, the entities are on their own and would survive or fall according to their balance sheet.

A twist in this proposal involves Lake Erie Works and Lake Erie land after USSC is split into six entities. An M&A process (mergers and acquisitions) would commence regarding those two entities and USS would purchase them outright.

A USS purchase of LEW and LEW land would mean that they are brought back into USS as wholly owned parts of the company and would not be standalone entities in any legal sense. It would appear that this means that USS would have direct control over all operations and revenue from LEW and its land. An important aspect of this would be that LEW and LEW land would have no further legal connection with the four other standalone entities in Canada. Those four and their pensioners would no longer have any connection with LEW and its land. It is important to note that many of the pensioners of former Stelco and those workers who have passed away provided the revenue and collateral for the building of LEW and the acquiring of its land. This connection cannot and should not be broken.

The CBCA restructuring would then be in a position to dispose of the four remaining entities and their debts and obligations including the pension benefits without a legal connection with USS and its wholly owned subsidiaries LEW and LEW land. Presumably, a CCAA restructuring of one or more of those standalone entities could commence without any threat of spillover to other assets either directly or indirectly owned by USS. The majority of Stelco pension plan members, Hamilton Bargaining members (9,338), Hamilton salaried employees' members (3,276), would be severed from the last remaining operational blast furnace within the former Stelco steel operations.

Obviously, the number of retirees as compared with the remaining functional assets and employees of the four standalone entities would be extremely high. Hamilton Works' bargaining unit now has 600 members. USS would argue, as it already does, that the four entities are not viable while continuing to be obligated to provide defined benefits for their retirees. This is the main reason USS accuses Hamilton Works of being unprofitable.

A bankruptcy would occur where the secured holders of debt (the $250 million new credit for 2014 and 2015) would be first in line for the assets of either one or more of the standalone entities. USS would argue that the retirees are mostly attached to only Hamilton Cokes and Hamilton Finishing and are their responsibility alone. A bankruptcy would most likely involve only those two entities leaving the assets of Hamilton land, including the port probably, and Hamilton other untouched in the bankruptcy process or CCAA restructuring.

This CBCA restructuring would proceed in concert with a restructuring of the pension obligations prior to any CCAA restructuring or bankruptcy process. The object of the CBCA restructuring is to isolate most pension obligations and the environmental cleanup connected with Hamilton Works from the LEW, LEW land and U.S. assets. USS realizes to accomplish its aim through a CBCA to insulate LEW and its U.S. assets from any liability for environmental cleanup and its pension obligations at Hamilton Works, it must at least go through the motion of proposing a restructuring of its pension obligations.

If USS jumps straight into CCAA or an outright bankruptcy of USSC before its CBCA restructuring, it runs the risk of losing not only all its assets in Canada but also it leaves itself vulnerable to claims against its U.S. assets. With this in mind, it has made a pension restructuring proposal in concert with its CBCA restructuring.

USS pension restructuring proposal in concert with the CBCA:

USS would make the final five month payments into the plan for 2014 of $5.83 million each month followed by the final $70 million yearly payment in 2015. This brings USS to the end of the agreement with the Ontario government to fund fully the pensions by the end of 2015. In return, the company received a $150 million loan from the province at 1% annual interest. The province would forgive repayment of the loan and turn it into a grant if at the end of 2015, the pension plans are fully funded, solvent and whole, and capable of paying all defined benefits to all members until passing away. The pension plans will be far from fully funded, solvent and whole at that time so USS must repay the $150 million to the province.

Instead of repaying the loan, the USS pension restructuring would ask the province to forgive the loan anyway under the following conditions:

The period to fully fund the pensions and make them solvent and whole would be extended fifteen years to 2031;

The M&A process turning USSC into six entities would obligate the entities and/or buyers to assume the pension obligations, which are connected with each particular entity;

USS would agree to pay $10 million per year into the pension plans for the 15 years for a total of $150 million if the province would agree to extend the date for which the plans must be fully funded, solvent and whole until 2031 and would forgive the $150 million provincial loan;

USS would be given the option to pre-pay the $150 million up front;

The standalone separate six entities would be obligated to fund fully the pension plans for which they are responsible and make them solvent and whole by 2031.

The amount USS guarantees to put in the plans according to this restructuring would be:

$29.15 million for the rest of 2014;
$70 million for 2015;
$150 million total at $10 million per year for fifteen years until 2031.
This totals = $249.15 million

The $249.15 million is on condition the province forgives the USS loan of $150 million and extends the legal limit before the plans must be solvent to 15 years.

This means the net amount USS has offered to put in the plans equals = $99.15 million.

The latest report on the four pension plans puts the amount necessary to fund them fully and make them solvent and whole and capable of meeting the defined benefits of actual and potential retirees equals = $838 million

Breakdown:

Hamilton Bargaining Plan = $573 million
Hamilton Salaried Plan = $117 million
Lake Erie Bargaining Plan = $117 million
Lake Erie Salaried Plan = $32 million

In addition, the OPEBS (Other Post Employment Benefits) are $40 to 48 million.

Ontario law stipulates that five years after the ending of the pension agreement the four plans must be fully funded, solvent and whole with five yearly payments equal to one fifth of the solvency deficiency. This means USS is obligated to pay $168 million per year beginning in 2016 given the latest report. It also must pay back to the Ontario government the $150 million loan.

The pension restructuring comes nowhere near to meeting the legal pension obligations of U.S. Steel. The $99 million does not even meet its obligations for 2016 let alone for the remaining four years.

The CBCA restructuring proposal is obviously meant to liquidate U.S. Steel's pension obligations and OPEBS.

Canada's steel requirements are greater than steel production capacity at this time. This means steel must be imported, even those types that could be easily produced in Canada. The CBCA proposal does not even attempt to address problems of internal production shortages plaguing the Canadian steel sector. Hamilton Works could be renewed to go a long way in meeting Canada's demand for steel.

Unfortunately, USS takes a very self-serving position with regard to Canadian steel production. By refusing to renew production at Hamilton Works, USS appears to want to fill Canadian demand from its U.S. mills. This also dovetails with its efforts to curtail North American production to fix prices at a level it seeks. It recently agreed to pay $58 million to settle a price fixing indictment in U.S. courts.

The CBCA and pension restructuring proposals when looked at as a single package reveal what some claim is a criminal conspiracy to avoid the legal obligations of USS towards Canadian pensions, the environment and steel sector. These proposals are hostile to Canadians in general, and steelworkers and salaried employees in particular and should be soundly rejected by all Canadians and their government representatives.

Alternate proposals must be discussed that fully uphold the pension obligations towards all Stelco pensioners, and renew the productive capacity of Hamilton Works in particular, including a refurbishing of its blast furnace and other productive facilities. Revenue from both a renewed Hamilton Works and Lake Erie Works would go a long way to restructuring the situation in a positive way, meeting the pension obligations and building the Canadian steel sectors' capacity and vitality.

If this were done, and USS would show good faith in this direction, the Ontario government would undoubtedly come forward with positive proposals of its own to solve the pension funding problem, including putting USS payment of the $150 million loan towards the pensions and extending somewhat the time necessary to fund fully all four pension plans and make them solvent and whole and capable of meeting the pension benefits of all actual and potential retirees. But this requires good faith on the part of USS to renew Stelco and not further wreck it.

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Defend the Rights of All!

Harper Dictatorship Consigns
Human Rights to a Museum

On September 20, with great fanfare, the Harper dictatorship finally opened the still unfinished Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg. Four of the museum's 11 galleries opened to 9,000 people who obtained tickets to a weekend-long series of preview tours. The opening to the general public is on September 27. Much of the delay in completing the museum has been due to political interference by the federal government, which has been micro-managing the content of the exhibits in order to cast the Harper regime in the best possible light and to downplay any criticism of Canada's human rights record, especially under Harper.

The long-delayed museum originated in a 1999 proposal by the late Izzy Asper. Asper, the owner of Canadian media monopoly Canwest and an unquestioning supporter of Israel -- a country known as a serial human rights violator and perpetrator of war crimes -- proposed to build a Canadian Holocaust Museum as a private project. Asper sold the museum idea to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 2001 and Chrétien promised public funding. Paul Martin, the next Prime Minister, following Asper's death in 2003, shelved the idea but eventually pledged $100 million in federal money.

After Martin resigned in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper reconceived the planned Holocaust museum as a general human rights museum. The Harper dictatorship's Bill C-42, An Act Amending the Museums Act, received Royal Assent in Canada's Parliament on March 13, 2008, with support from all political parties. The bill created the CMHR as the first new national museum in over 40 years. The capital cost of building the CMHR, which has risen to $351 million, is being funded mainly by the federal government, the government of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg and private donations raised by the Friends of the CMHR, led by Gail Asper. Manitoba Crown corporations and the Government of Ontario have donated $9.5 million. The federal government will bear the cost of operating the CMHR, estimated at $22 million annually, since it is a national museum.

A right is a fundamental phenomenon of human civilization. People have rights by virtue of being human. Putting the word "human" in front of the word "right" is redundant but shows what must be done to remind the powers-that-be that we are human beings and that we should be treated in a way that befits human beings. A distinction has to be made between a right which exists only in words and a right which comes into being out of the conditions. In fact, there comes a time when the times demand that as a precondition for the actualization of human rights, the conditions themselves must be changed. In other words, a right, by definition, is an act of being, not something which exists only in words. Furthermore, a right is not a right unless it is guaranteed, unless it has in it the inherent demand that it must not be violated.

The Harperites' phony conception of human rights exists only in words and this is brought out in sharp relief by the immediate surroundings of the CMHR. The CMHR is situated in Winnipeg's North End, a working class area long considered one of the most destitute in Canada. Many of the poor line up regularly for assistance at a mission only a few blocks from the building. Those who suffer from poverty and unemployment in the area and everywhere else in Canada have long demanded their right to get out of these conditions, which is perpetuated by the rule of the monopolies that the Harper government champions. This demand can only be met by changing the conditions of their lives, not by building museums. Furthermore, 25 per cent of the population of the North End is Aboriginal. Close to the museum is a newly erected monument to the murdered and missing Aboriginal women whose rights are being systematically violated. Meanwhile, the Harper government continually refuses to launch a national inquiry into the 1,181 murdered and missing Aboriginal women.

There are many other examples of how the Harper dictatorship's promotion of the CMHR as a museum for human rights is clearly hypocrisy and fraud. The Harperites have constantly and consistently violated human rights at home and around the world. The striking postal workers, Air Canada workers, and the Canadian Pacific workers were all ordered back to work using government legislation and threats. The rights of foreign workers and refugees are violated as a matter of course.[1] The hereditary, treaty, constitutional and human rights of the First Nations people have been violated again and again, including at Oka, Gustafson Lake, Ipperwash, Caledonia, Barriere Lake, Attawapiskat and Elsipogtog. State security forces violated the rights of the G20 demonstrators in Toronto by violently attacking them. Abroad, the Harperites attacked the rights of the Libyan people by participating in the massive bombing and continue to attack the rights of the Afghans by engaging in aggressive war. Now they are conspiring to violate the rights of the Syrian people under the hoax of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The main aim of the Harper dictatorship's bogus museum is to select and feature exhibits that serve the agenda of the monopolies. The Holocaust exhibit will be used to generate sympathy for Israel, whitewashing its many crimes against the Palestinian and other Arab peoples, whose rights will be completely ignored. There will be no provision of the historical context of the Holocaust, about how the big U.S., British, and European monopolies such as Ford and IBM colluded with the German industrialists in their support of the Nazis. There will be no mention of how racist eugenic "scientists" in the U.S. cultivated close relationships with Germany's fascist eugenicists, some of whom became the murderous doctors of the concentration camps and were brought to Canada and the U.S. to continue their work in the post-war period. There will be not even a hint of any of the Zionist leaders' secret negotiations and deals with the Nazis.

The museum exhibit on the so-called Holodomor will also serve the interests of the monopolies. Holodomor is the name the Ukrainian reactionaries give to the mythical man-made famine in the Ukraine in the 1930s, a fable concocted by the Nazis and then widely publicized by the Hearst Press in the U.S. in order to attack the Soviet Union, communism and Stalin. The Holodomor exhibit was added following a campaign by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the so-called Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA). The UCC is the state-supported organization which in 1940 "united" the most reactionary Ukrainian circles in Canada by illegally seizing the assets of the progressive Ukrainian organizations, with federal help. The UCCLA was created in 1986 mainly to whitewash the war crimes of Nazi collaborators in the Ukraine who fought against the Soviet Union as members of the Waffen SS.

The blatant promotion of such reactionary forces as the Zionists and the UCC and UCCLA in the CMHR exposes that the museum has nothing to do with actually celebrating or advancing human rights. Rather, it is part of the ongoing campaign that the monopolies and their governments recently launched in Europe and North America to falsify history by portraying the enemies of the people as their friends in order to deprive people of their bearings so that their striving to affirm their rights in the real world does not succeed. The aim is to silence the people, prevent democratic renewal, block the forward progress of society, and conceal and continue the crimes of imperialism.

Many people are not fooled by the museum and they continue to ask questions and expose the Harperite agenda. If the CMHR is genuine, why will there be no mention of the continuing violation of workers' rights by the monopolies? Why will there be no mention of the state-sanctioned genocide of the indigenous peoples who lived in Canada in the pre-colonial era? Why will there be no mention of Israel's 65-year-campaign of state terrorism against the Palestinians? Why will there be no mention of the crimes of the Nazi collaborators in the Ukraine who fought against the liberating Soviet forces and helped murder four million Ukrainians? Why? Because the Harper dictatorship is using the CMHR, not to promote human rights, but as one more propaganda tool to promote its ongoing program of fascism at home and war abroad.

Notes

1. The inaugural CEO of CMHR, appointed in 2009, was Stuart Murray, whose family owns Domo Gasoline Corporation. As the leader of the Manitoba Conservative Party, in 2003 Murray proposed anti-union right-to-work legislation in the province (i.e., right-to-be-a-slave), a blatant violation of workers' rights. The same year Murray spoke at a rally in favour of the invasion of Iraq.

(Some of the material on rights is from the 1992 pamphlet by Hardial Bains, "The State of Human Rights After the Cold War," published by the Association of Indian Progressive Study Groups.)

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Museum of Human Rights Violations Launched

One of Canada's First Nations is looking to educate the world about that country's true human rights record with the launch of a Museum of Canadian Human Rights Violations. Their "living museum" consists of a guided tour of their own indigenous community, located just two hours east of the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights opening this week in Winnipeg. Shoal Lake happens to be the source of Winnipeg's water supply and the Shoal Lake 40 community has been cut off and economically repressed as a result of Canada's imposition of that city's intake on their reserve land. The ongoing difficulties and injustice experienced by the community has received widespread media attention and has attracted support from national and international Human Rights organizations. Ironically, Canada's museum architect, Antoine Predock, chose to use Shoal Lake water as a symbol of "healing" in his building's "Garden of Contemplation."

Roxanne Green, a past councillor and one of the Violations Museum's organizers explained, "At the settlers' end of the water pipe there's economic prosperity, clean drinking water and a $350 million building that advertises 'healing' and brags about what a wonderful country Canada is. At our end of the pipe we have 17 years of boil-water orders, no job opportunities and we are forced to risk our lives for basic necessities. It is important that the world have the opportunity to see that huge Canadian contradiction."

"I've been touring politicians and bureaucrats around our reserve for years," said Stewart Redsky, a former chief, "Showing them all the injustices and the ways we're blocked from accessing the necessities of life. Nothing has changed. A Violations Museum is at least a way to broaden the understanding of injustice to the rest of the world."

While the opening of Shoal Lake 40's Museum of Canadian Human Rights Violations coincides with the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, it is not a flash in the pan. The volunteers assert that their Museum's program of educating the world on Canada's hypocrisy will continue, "as long as the waters run" and as long as the violations continue.

"Our government is cooperating with volunteers in showcasing the violations. We're allowed access to some band facilities but mostly it's a lack of things like a water treatment plant and garbage disposal. People are opening their homes and telling their stories so it's a whole community thing. After centuries of colonialism, there's unfortunately lots to see," said Chief Erwin Redsky. "Who knows, if a lot of people come out, maybe we can turn 100 years of human and Treaty rights violations into an economic opportunity."

(intercontinentalcry.org)

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Canada's Militarization of Culture Protested at Montreal's Old Port

On September 13 and 14, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Quebec (PMLQ) held a picket line against the Third Montreal Military Culture Festival. The festival serves as an instrument of disinformation on issues of war and peace. For example, it equates the First World War, which was a slaughter organized by the imperialists, with the struggle against fascism and Nazism during the Second World War. It also promotes the invasions perpetrated by the United States with the help of countries like Canada, such as the invasion of Afghanistan, one of the themes of this year's event. The festival was held this year as part of the unprecedented intensification of war hysteria, with Obama's speech that said, among other things, that the United States will now bomb Syria, continue the bombing of Iraq and cause death and destruction in all countries that refuse to submit to its dictate.

The picket line received a lot of support from people entering and leaving the Old Port, many of whom were tourists from various countries including France, the United States, Chile, Colombia and several others. "I'm from Chile and my friend is from Colombia and we have direct experience with what it means when the United States interferes in the life of other countries in the name of democracy," one visitor said.  Several youth from the United States expressed strong opposition to Obama's speech, saying that it will only increase the problems facing the peoples, including the American people. A young cadet said he was very concerned over U.S. interference in Ukraine and that expanding NATO's activity as far as the Ukraine is a provocation. Canadians reserved their most scathing comments for the warmongering Harper government, saying the government favours war and aggression and is the first to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to attacking another country. The need to rid ourselves of this government came up in every conversation with them. A man from France said he was outraged at France attacking its former colonies and preparing for war. He said that in his opinion this is a way to divert attention from the problems that the French people are experiencing in France itself: "What does France have to offer today to those people who migrate to our country? Nothing. Nothing but misery and an economy in the worst possible state."

The general feeling expressed by most people is that actions such as the picket are important because the media present a distorted picture, as if the peoples support these wars of aggression and occupation, which is not true. How do we turn the situation around when governments, those who are supposed to think carefully and exercise judgement, are the ones leaping into war without even discussing it with their people -- was the question raised by many expressing their support for this initiative of the PMLQ.

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No Harbour For War Commemorates
32nd Anniversary of Sabra and Shatila Massacre

Posted below is the September 18 statement of No Harbour For War, the Halifax-based organization that fights for the rights of all and for an anti-war government in Canada

***


Scenes from the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, April 1982.

This 15-18 September marks the 32nd anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut, Lebanon. This conscience-searing event marks a defining moment in the Palestinians' struggle to be rid of the decades-long illegal military occupation of their lands and lives by the so-called State of Israel. It continues to be commemorated wherever Palestinians and their friends, including No Harbour For War, gather.

The Sabra and Shatila massacre was a slaughter of at least 2,920 and possibly as many as 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites. It was conducted mainly by the Kataeb Party, a Lebanese Christian militia, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. The executioners were mobilized and supervised by the Israeli Army which inserted themselves under various pretexts with a major aim of permanently expelling the entire Palestine Liberation Organization, including its leader Yasser Arafat, from Lebanon. The Israeli Minister of Defence, General Ariel Sharon, was leading the Israeli ground invasion force and was thus intimately involved.

The slaughter proceeded in two stages, one entirely executed by Israeli so-called Special Forces and the other by a Lebanese fascist gang financed by the Israeli government. On 15 September, as few as 63 and as many as 167 Palestinians capable of communicating in English with media beyond Lebanon (notably lawyers, medical staff and teachers) were individually identified and killed by an Israeli unit called Sayeret Matkal. From approximately 6:00 pm 16 September to 8:00 am 18 September 1982 a more widespread massacre was carried out by a Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia in an operation personally supervised at the entrance of the Shatila camp by Gen. Sharon. Apart from being formally disciplined in the most minor way by an Israeli inquiry after these events, Sharon became known worldwide after these horrific events as the "Butcher of Beirut."

End the Occupation!
From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will Be Free!

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International Day of Memory of Victims of Fascism

September 14 marked the International Day of Memory of Victims of Fascism this year. The day has been observed every year on the second Sunday of September since 1962. The date is observed in September since World War II began on September 1, 1939 with the Nazi invasion of Poland and ended on September 2, 1945 with the surrender of militarist Japan.


Memorial to the victims of Nazi atrocities at the site of the former Dachau concentration camp representing the demand of the world's people to never again permit the rise of fascism.

World War II involved 61 states and over 80 per cent of the world's population, causing a toll of over 55 million lives. Hostilities occupied the territories of 40 states and the vast basins of the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The Soviet Union sustained the biggest losses, some 27 million people, in addition to losses to its armed forces, some 8.7 million people.

Nearly 70 years have passed since fascism was defeated by a unified effort. Though fascism brought the world immeasurable suffering and killed millions, some countries are still trying to revise the results of WWII.

Russia's Foreign Ministry regularly draws the world's attention to the attempts of some former Soviet republics to alter history. Thus, it has repeatedly expressed indignation over the gatherings of veterans of the 20th Estonian SS division. Russia believes that support for such events that facilitate the promotion of fascism and neo-Nazi manifestations is inadmissible in an EU member state.

For example, Russia's bilateral ties with Latvia are seriously aggravated by the latter's efforts to glorify the former Latvian SS.

Many politicians and veterans of the Great Patriotic War are critical of the attempts to glorify the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its leaders in Ukraine.

Every year, marches are held in Ukraine to honour the formation of the Galichina SS division. The Right Sector, which unites Ukraine's nationalist organizations, operates on its territory. Activists are promoting extremist and nationalist activities through symbols and attributes of organizations that collaborated with fascists during WWII.

Upon Russia's initiative, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 2005 urging an end to the glorification of Nazism each year and in 2013 approved another resolution on combating practices contributing to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The General Assembly expressed its deep concern over attempts to glorify Nazism, neo-Nazism and former members of the Waffen-SS in any form, including the construction of monuments and the holding of public demonstrations.

The resolution expressed concern over the "recurring attempts to desecrate or demolish monuments erected in remembrance of those who fought against Nazism during WWII, as well as to unlawfully exhume or remove the remains of such persons," and noted an alarming increase in racist incidents and violence globally.

On May 5, President Vladimir Putin signed a law introducing punishment of up to five years in prison for rehabilitating Nazism, denying the facts established by the Nuremberg Tribunal and disseminating false information about Soviet activities during WWII. Under the law, fines will be issued to those desecrating the days of combat glory and other memorable events in Russia.

A draft law equating Nazi symbols to those of the organizations that collaborated with the fascists, including the followers of the Stepan Bandera movement, has been submitted to the State Duma. It extends the list of organizations whose public demonstrations, propaganda and symbols entail administrative responsibility.

Traditionally, public campaigns are held in Russia during the International Day of Memory of Victims of Fascism to commemorate the tens of millions of people who perished in WWII.

(Ria Novosti)

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