Steelworkers Reviewing Options on U.S. Steel Decision

Toronto - The United Steelworkers (USW) disagrees and is disappointed with a judge's decision giving U.S. Steel creditor priority in the insolvency proceedings of the company's former Canadian subsidiary, U.S. Steel Canada.

"The union is reviewing this decision and discussing its options with counsel," said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

Superior Court Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel released a decision yesterday in which he endorsed U.S. Steel's claims that it is owed more than $2 billion in debt from its former Canadian operations in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

The judge rejected arguments from the Steelworkers, the Ontario government and other stakeholders that the money in question is equity, not debt. U.S. Steel should not be allowed to go to the front of the line over other creditors, particularly thousands of pensioners and workers, they argued.

"We can certainly say that we disagree with much of what the judge has decided," said Warren. "If U.S. Steel was technically insolvent before it tried to convert its equity or unsecured debt into secured debt, then it should not be allowed to do it."

"This is an insult to thousands of workers and pensioners who should be considered first and foremost in this process," said Gary Howe, USW Local 1005 President, representing U.S. Steel Canada's Hamilton employees.

"U.S. Steel controlled everything, took our work to the U.S., shut us down and tried to run us into the ground. And now they even get back the money they paid to buy us in the first place – it's a disgrace," said USW Local 8782 President Bill Ferguson, representing Nanticoke employees.

"We are disappointed with this decision, but this issue is not resolved yet – not by a long shot," Warren said. "There is a second part to this trial that has not even started and then there is the question of an appeal.

"In the meantime, the union remains focused on its key objectives – fighting to protect the pensions and benefits of retirees and ensuring U.S. Steel Canada is restructured as a viable concern that continues to provide good jobs to working people in the Nanticoke and Hamilton regions."

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