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Casey questions loyalty of US workers

Gerdau Ameristeel Corp.'s top executive has questioned the corporate loyalty of American workers and said labor organizations need to get a new model for dealing with employers.

Phillip E. Casey, president and chief executive officer, told more than 80 people at the annual dinner of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association of Women in the Metal Industries that in certain ways workers in Third World nations have a "greater respect for work ethics than we do."

"I think to our misfortune our government, with their workers' compensation programs, with all their protected classes, with all of the lawsuits that are out there, it is much more difficult to manage the American worker today," Casey said. "They're less loyal to the company. So you have to be able to deal with that compared to countries like Brazil. Japan and South Korea, for example. In those countries it's a lifelong commitment to a company. So to some respect we're losing the competitive advantage we used to have in American work ethics."

Casey, who last year earned total compensation of $985,033, including bonuses of $458,340, said such benefits as health-care coverage, paid vacation and pensions are a burden to companies trying to compete in a global economy.

"All of those benefits are a burden you're competing against in countries that do not share that type of an overhead burden," he said. "So how do you compete when you're carrying a 22-percent burden overhead in terms of medical benefits, workers compensation, retirement, environmental-all of the other things mandated by the government hi our market. If you're going to compete in a global market, your competition is not saddled with those types of mandates."

Casey's comments last week came just hours before the company locked out approximately 265 workers at its Beaumont, Texas, wire rod mill after months of negotiations failed to produce a new contract.

Casey said that labor organizations need to develop a new business model because the old one isn't working.

"The old model of fighting management is just diverting energy that should be directed at competing against your competition and competing with imports," he said. "A labor contract is not going to protect anything. When 40 percent of the

industry went bankrupt, I think all but three of those 35 companies were union. The union has to determine what product they are going to bring to the table."

A United Steelworkers spokesman said he was astounded by Casey's remarks.

"His comments just show an incredible lack of knowledge about American workers and the global economy," the spokesman said. "He wants workers to have a lifetime commitment to the company, but no commitment to the workers. hi the steel industry, workers have been incredibly loyal to their employers-and watched plants shut down and their jobs eliminated."

The USW spokesman said Casey missed the fact that global steel competitors provide health care, pensions and vacation to their workers. "I'm not sure what he's thinking," the spokesman said. "It's astounding that benefits are a burden. What does he want workers to do: sit on a corner with a cup and beg for them?"

Gerdau Ameristeel Reaches Four-Year Agreement with United Steelworkers in Cambridge, Ontario

Tampa, Fla., May 19, 2005 - Gerdau Ameristeel Corporation (TSX: GNA.TO, NYSE: GNA) announced today that it has reached agreement on a four-year contract with the United Steelworkers Local 8918 members at its steel mill in Cambridge, Ontario.

The new contract extends through May 15, 2009, and covers approximately 190 employees at the Cambridge facility. Union employees ratified the agreement yesterday.

"We are very pleased that this long-term agreement benefits employees and the company. It is a demonstration of Gerdau Ameristeel's commitment to employee engagement," said vice president of human resources, Jim Rogers. "The agreement will enable us to implement a planned $20 million in new capital investments at the mill over the next three years and involve our Cambridge team in improvement projects. The stability the four-year contract provides will also allow the company to be flexible and responsive to market and customer demands."

Gerdau Ameristeel's Cambridge mill produces steel squares, rounds, angles, unequal angles, flats, channels, and concrete reinforcing steel (rebar).

 

PACE Members Vote to Merge with Steelworkers Union

Las Vegas, Nevada, April 12, 2005—Over 1,600 delegates from the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers (PACE) Intl. Union voted overwhelmingly today to merge with the United Steelworkers of America.

"This is truly a great moment in our union’s history," said PACE President Boyd Young. "Our members have voted to secure the future for themselves and the next generation of workers."

"This merger rings in a new day for the labor movement in the U.S. and Canada," said Leo Gerard, president of the Steelworkers. "Our members’ hands will be greatly strengthened in bargaining with multinational employers, and politically we’ll have considerably more clout in combating the assault on workers’ rights that is threatening to undermine decades of social and economic progress in both countries—especially among the thousands of unrepresented workers we’re determined to organize in both countries."

The new union will be called the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers Intl. Union or the USW for short.

The combined union will have over 850,000 active members in over 8,000 bargaining units in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. It will be the largest industrial union in North America, and will be the dominant union in paper, forestry products, steel, aluminum, tire and rubber, mining, glass, chemicals, petroleum and other basic resource industries.

"By joining with the Steelworkers, we will have greater resources to organize in our key sectors, influence bargaining and create cooperative partnerships with companies that recognize the benefits of a productive labor-management relationship," said Young. "This merger gives our members much more power in the workplace."

USWA President Leo Gerard will be the president of the USW. Young will be the executive vice president.

Under the merger agreement, PACE will continue to have an office in Nashville, Tenn., for the next ten years.

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ATTENTION!
UNITY COUNCIL EXPANDED

The Unity Council has grown to include all USWA locals at Gerdau/Ameristeel. The Unity Council was an alliance between all the USWA locals at North Star Steel, and when Gerdau bought North Star the Unity Council grew to include the following locals:

Local 2784-03 – Oshawa, Ontario
Local 5442 – Selkirk, Manitoba
Local 6571 – Whitby, Ontario
Local 7263 – St. Paul, Minnesota
Local 8581 – Wilton, Iowa
Local 8586 – Beaumont, Texas
Local 8740 – St. Andrews, Manitoba
Local 8918 – Cambridge, Ontario
Local 9447-05 – Calvert City, Kentucky
Local 9473 – Perth Amboy, New Jersey
We had a very successful meeting in Pittsburgh on January 27th and 28th.

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