Canadian USW urges government to refuse ratifying USMCA unless US tariffs and quotas are rejected

Friday, 22 March 2019 21:41:55 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

Canadian members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union said the Canadian government and all parliamentarians must be united in refusing to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement unless US tariffs and quotas on Canadian steel and aluminum are rejected outright.

After a meeting this week with union members, USW Canadian Director Ken Neumann and Quebec Director Alain Croteau called for a clear and resolute position from the federal government in support of the domestic steel and aluminum industries.

"The federal government, Prime Minister Trudeau himself, and all party leaders must be very clear with the Americans that this trade agreement will not be ratified until tariffs and quotas are removed from the equation," Neumann and Croteau said in a joint statement.

USW leaders plan to meet with all political party leaders to call for a united front in refusing USMCA ratification until tariffs and quotas are rejected outright in any resolution of the trade dispute with the US.

"There must be very clear unanimity on this issue, well before the next election campaign," they said.

USW leaders said uncertainty caused by the existing US tariffs, as well as speculation about possible quotas to replace the tariffs, are threatening investment in Canada; in a press release, the USW noted plans to build a new aluminum billet plant in Alma have been put on hold.

"It seems everything is slowing down due to the American tariffs and the fear is that they will be replaced by quotas, as the American administration wants," said Alexandre Fréchette, President of Steelworkers Local 9490, representing the Alma aluminum workers.

USW International President Leo W. Gerard added, "Tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel are unacceptable. Canada is a good trading partner of the United States and our steel and aluminum markets are highly integrated."

"Workers in both countries are adversely affected by the tariffs. Tariffs are harmful not only to aluminum smelters, steel mills, processors and manufacturers in Canada, but they also have serious repercussions in the United States. The automotive industry, all the manufacturing plants that use our metals and ultimately American consumers are paying a high price," Neumann said.

"This is all so unproductive. It's not resulting in new aluminum smelters magically appearing in the United States. So while the Trump administration drags this out, jobs are being threatened in steel and aluminum here and expansion projects are being put on hold," Croteau said.

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