On the Picket Line

Quebec aluminum workers stand firm in over yearlong lockout

By Adèle LeBlanc
and John Steele
March 4, 2019

BECANCOUR, Quebec — Over 1,000 ABI Becancour aluminum smelter workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 9700, have stood strong here since being locked out over a year ago. Solidarity and contributions from other workers have given the USW members the resolve to keep fighting. The bosses locked workers out just hours after they voted down a concession contract that would have undermined their pensions, gutted plant-wide seniority and imposed other concessions. The smelter — the second largest in North America — is owned by Alcoa and Rio Tinto Alcan.

According to locked-out workers on the picket line here Feb. 12, over 400 local unions have contributed to the strike fund, helping provide workers with a union sustainer of $635 a week. USW members at ArcelorMittal North Shore Steel give $9,000 a week to the smelter workers “as long as the conflict lasts.”

Others have sent statements of support, including 22 Walmart workers from two stores in Montreal that said,  “Your struggle for a decent union contract at ABI Becancour is our struggle.”

In early February the ABI bosses contacted Local 9700 officials to restart negotiations after months of refusing to negotiate. Then Feb. 15 the company walked out of the new talks.

Send solidarity messages and donations to Metallos SL 9700 F.D.P. Attention Eric Moore, section locale 9700; 8310, rue Desormeaux; Becancour, Quebec G9H 2X2. For credit card donations:  www.metallos.org/lockout-abi/.