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					                                     Communities in Crisis
                                             Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario


Introduction

             Sault Ste. Marie is a steel town. Since steel first poured from
      a Bessemer converter in 1902, Algoma Steel has been at the centre
      of the Sault, and Algoma Steel put the Sault in the centre of
      Canada. Workers here built the steel rails for the railway that
      brought the country together and kept it moving in the early years.
      Algoma Steel and the United Steelworkers played an important role
      in Canada’s economic and social development after the Second
      World War. Algoma has been the third largest integrated steel
      producer in Canada since the 1950s. In 1988, Algoma was bought
      by Dofasco to forge the largest steel maker in Canada. In 1992,
      Algoma became the largest worker-owned company in Canada. A
      decade later, Algoma was back in corporate hands and, in 2007, it
      was bought by Indian-based Essar Steel. Now Essar Steel Algoma
      is part of a global firm whose strategy is to make a profit in an
      “open” world economy.

            Sault Ste. Marie is a northern Ontario city of 75,000 situated
      on the rapids of St. Mary’s River. Located at the point where the
      water of Lake Superior drops seven metres into Lake Huron, this
      community has long been a place where people gather to trade,
      make their living, settle, or extract and process natural resources.
      It was an ancient Ojibwa meeting place and became one of the
      central anchors of the fur trade in the 18th century. A series of
      canals bypassing the fierce rapids on the river has allowed both
      ships and travellers to move between Lake Huron and Lake
      Superior since the beginning of the 19th century. To this day, the
      American Soo Locks maintain one of the busiest shipping routes in
      the world.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      1
                                                     Communities in Crisis
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            The Sault is also a paper town, as well as a hub for smaller
      communities in the Algoma district. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is
      also a border town connected to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, by the
      International Bridge. The Trans-Canada Highway runs through the
      Sault between Sudbury and Thunder Bay, hugging the shore of
      Lake Superior to Wawa, and traversing some of the most dramatic
      landscapes in the country.

             Despite its impressive infrastructure and industrial history,
      the region’s economic fortunes had been uneven for some time.
      Insofar as the steel industry was connected to the petro-boom, as
      well as other expanding sectors, steel companies did very well
      during much of the 2000s. Paper and forestry products, however,
      have been under intense pressure since the rise of the Canadian
      dollar beginning in 2002, and because of misguided federal
      economic policies. For a long time, residents depended upon
      passenger rail and bus services, but services have been reduced or
      eliminated entirely. Businesses continue to rely upon the railway,
      but the future of services is unclear. The public sector has faced
      cutbacks and the restructuring which resulted in reduced services
      and work intensification, as well as demands for government
      grants by private service providers. This combination of medium-
      and long-term factors meant that by the spring of 2009, the
      unemployment rate in Northern Ontario reached 13.6%; the
      highest level since December 2000.1

             At the end of June and the beginning of July 2009, we went
      to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to talk to people about the impact of
      the economic crisis on their community and in their lives. We
      wanted to know how people in this community were facing the
      latest and most dramatic of “busts” since the Great Depression.
      Our research team consisted of Teresa Healy from the Canadian
      Labour Congress, Tom Juravich from the Labor Center at the
      University of Massachusetts, Erin Weir from the United


Canadian Labour Congress
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      Steelworkers, and Gary Premo, the president of the Sault Ste.
      Marie and District Labour Council. From June 25 to July 1, 2009,
      we conducted 19 interviews with laid-off workers, community
      leaders, and politicians. We spoke with trade unionists from the
      United Steelworkers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the
      International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers,
      the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, and the
      Ontario Public Service Employees Union. We talked to Aboriginal
      activists and to anti-poverty activists, academics and legal aid
      workers, women’s shelter workers, and public health care
      advocates. We came to listen and to learn.



Don’t make any financial commitments

             2008 was a year of dramatic highs and abysmal lows. In the
      first half, Essar Steel Algoma made so much money that it had its
      fourth best year ever in its 107 years of history, even though it lost
      $18 million in the second half of the year. Steel prices fell from a
      high of $1,100 U.S. to less than $400 U.S. a tonne during the year.
      North American steel production was at 90% capacity in the first
      half of 2008, and then fell to 40% in the second half. Essar Algoma
      was well on its way to increasing its production by more than one
      million tonnes beyond what was being produced when it bought
      Algoma Steel two years earlier when the bottom fell out of the steel
      market in the U.S. and Canada.2 By the fall of 2008, Steelworkers
      Local 2251 president Mike Da Prat told his members at Essar,
      “Don’t make any major financial commitments in the near future.” 3
      During the winter of 2008-09, 600 of Essar’s 3,500 workers had
      their hours reduced, and 600 more were laid off. By June, there
      were 300 production workers on layoff at Essar Algoma. 4

            Workers in the steel tube facility were affected as well. In the
      late 1990s, Algoma Steel mothballed its seamless tube mill that



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                        3
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      produced pipe for the oil and gas industry. In November of 2000,
      the mill reopened, leased by Tenaris, an Argentinian firm. The mill
      was then bought by Tenaris in 2004 for $12.5 million. With more
      than 600 jobs, it was welcome employment in the Sault, especially
      for younger workers who, unlike earlier generations, had not been
      able to be hired on at Algoma Steel.

             In 2008, with the oil and gas industry stalled, the Tenaris
      Steel tube plant was shut down completely for an extended
      December holiday and for two weeks in January 2009.5 Layoffs
      continued through February. One hundred and thirty-three of
      these workers were not recalled. This was followed by a six-week
      shutdown that put all 440 production workers on layoff beginning
      in March.6 One hundred and five workers were not recalled.7 As a
      result, that same month, the total number of Steelworkers on
      layoff in the Sault approached 800.8 By the summer, Tenaris, the
      only Canadian maker of seamless pipe for the oil and gas industry,
      had resumed production on a limited basis with 130 workers still
      on layoff. Gary Premo describes how this bare bones operation
      worked, “One week they make pipe and the next week they finish
      that pipe, and then the third week they actually ship it. So one
      crew works three weeks, but doing different jobs. So only a third of
      the workers are actually working.”

             While never as large as steel, pulp and paper-making has
      been in the Sault as long as steel has. The Sault Ste. Marie Pulp
      and Paper Company was chartered in 1895, and the pulpwood mill
      was constructed in the same year. At the time, it was described as
      “the largest and most perfectly arranged and equipped mill in
      existence.”9 It later became part of the Abitibi Company, and was
      acquired by St. Mary’s Paper in 1984. The company produces
      “super-calendar” paper, a high-quality, glossy paper used in
      magazines and other colour flyers and advertisements.10 Due to the
      severe and ongoing crisis of the pulp and paper industries in


Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                       4
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      Canada, St. Mary’s faced bankruptcy, and then reorganized in
      2007 with the support of local backers.

             Although a mainstay in the Sault, 150 of the 360 workers at
      St. Mary’s Paper were on layoff in the summer of 2009. Two of its
      three paper-making machines were shut down.11 “I think it’s just a
      matter of survival right now,” says “Antonio,” an activist at one of
      the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union locals at St.
      Mary’s who asked us not to use his real name. “They’re doing
      everything they can to cost-cut to make sure that the plant runs,
      and they’re going to try everything.” Antonio reflected on the deep
      crisis in the pulp and paper industry. “We’ve been through what
      every other mill is going through right now,” he said.

             Labour council president Gary Premo suggests that the Sault
      is no stranger to the ups and downs in the economy:

            We’ve seen a few bankruptcies at Algoma [Essar]
            …We’ve seen our local paper mill go through the
            same changes of being prosperous and being in
            bankruptcy, and then coming back out again.
            And the CNR had a similar experience before
            they became CN. So Sault Ste. Marie is familiar
            with the swings and the cycles of steel and
            lumber.

             Not only were workers in the large industrial sectors
      affected, however. Even the newer service industries meant to
      diversify this northern economy were hard hit.

             There had been an effort in the Sault to attract a number of
      call centres. Sutherland Global Services was the largest, peaking
      with over 3,000 employees in the Sault.12 However, with the
      Canadian dollar moving toward parity with the U.S., and the
      business services market getting soft, there was little to keep call
      centre jobs in the Sault.13 These were important jobs in the



Canadian Labour Congress
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      community, even though they were not as well paid as jobs at the
      mills. With wages ranging from $11 to $12 an hour, and with some
      limited benefits, call centre jobs were a significant step up from
      minimum-wage service sector jobs. Another call centre, NCO,
      closed its doors in November 2008 taking 300 jobs with it. 14 At its
      peak, NCO had over 800 employees in what used to be the Woolco
      department store in downtown Sault Ste. Marie.

              Other trouble spots arose. The Huron Central Railway
      announced that without government support, it would close the
      rail link between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, thereby idling 45
      workers. At Boston Motors, a 75-year-old auto dealership in Sault
      Ste. Marie, 42 mechanics were about to lose their jobs because of
      the General Motors bankruptcy and subsequent mass closure of
      GM dealerships.

             Wendy Bird is the director of administration and a
      community legal worker with the Algoma Community Legal Clinic
      in Sault Ste Marie. Bird was one of the founders of the clinic 25
      years ago and knows a great deal about the Sault. She argues that
      the announcements of job losses at the big industries only tell part
      of the story, and that the “invisible unemployment” from small
      workplaces is equally important:

            They weren’t all in one place, so they didn’t get
            any press. There’s one here, and there’s one
            there. Tim Horton’s let two go or whoever. So
            you don’t see those, and you also don’t hear very
            much about small store closures. You may go to
            that place to get something and find out they’re
            not in business any longer, but that would be
            the first you hear of it. So I think it gives an
            imperfect understanding of the impact on the
            community.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      6
                                                    Communities in Crisis
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      In the spring of 2009, layoffs were announced by the school board,
      and the Sault Area Hospital was laying off staff. The food bank at
      the university serving students was increasingly out of food. First
      Nations enterprises saw a sharp decline, and community members
      faced increased unemployment. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming
      Corporation (OLG) operated an office and runs the local casino and
      employs 400 people in the Sault. We heard of no changes to
      employment levels at OLG.



Remembering the little communities that are just outside

             In our interviews, a number of the people reminded us of the
      close linkage between Sault Ste. Marie and the small towns that
      operate within its orbit. Economic downturns and job loss have, in
      some ways, greater impact in these economically marginal
      communities that rely on jobs based in the Sault and the wages
      they provide, especially if they have previously lost their mills or
      mines, schools or hospitals. This is a regional story as much as it
      is one about the Sault.

             One good example of this was the threatened closure of the
      Huron Central Railway that operates between Sudbury and Sault
      Ste. Marie. Quebec-based Huron Central gave three weeks notice
      that it would discontinue the western part of its service on August
      15, and would shut down completely by October 31.15 The rail line
      is owned by CP, but Huron Central is responsible for track
      maintenance. Huron Central said that it could not continue to run
      the service without government support and investments.

            Essar Algoma’s CEO Armando Plastino estimates that
      “between fifty and sixty per cent of our annual domestic shipments
      (as much as 1.3 million tonnes) have been through Huron
      Central.” If the rail service is ended, Essar can still connect with



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      7
                                                      Communities in Crisis
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      the CN main line further north, but it will add travel time and
      increase costs. Plastino argues that, “for us to replace [Huron
      Central] rail shipments with truck [shipments] means we would
      need to send another 350 to 400 transports a week.”16

             Gary Premo, a locomotive engineer by trade, sees the closing
      by the Huron Central as part of the government’s disregard for the
      rail infrastructure:

            The railroad system in Canada hasn’t had a
            new, what we call, roadbed — railroad tracks
            and ties and slag — they haven’t been rebuilt in
            twenty years. That’s going to add cost and make
            you less competitive. An alternative becomes an
            east-to-west railway system through the U.S.
            instead of across Canada — one [that] was
            supposed to join Canadian businesses.

      Gayle Broad, Research Director of the Nordic Institute at Algoma
      University, reminds us that the impact of the closing of the Huron
      Central would not only be felt in the Sault proper:

            There’s going to be forty-five jobs lost there,
            most of those will be in the Sault, but again,
            some of those will be located in the small
            communities between here and Sudbury, and …
            in the small communities, one job is really
            important. And I guess it’s a concern that I have
            about looking at Sault Ste. Marie. It’s
            remembering the little communities that are just
            outside… are really profoundly affected by these
            job losses.

      Premo also sees the impact on the region:

            Anybody between us and the small towns in
            between — Webwood, Spanish — their lumber
            mills or paper mills aren’t going to be able to get
            rid of product. So it forces them to use trucks.


Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                        8
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            Now it’s more costly, more traffic on the
            highways. Now it turns our routes into an
            already truck-heavy highway — and travel is
            already unsafe in the area.

      As the summer wore on, the decision by the Huron Central to
      suspend service was postponed pending negotiations between the
      company and government officials. Federal and provincial
      governments allocated $3 million in short-term funding to track
      improvements which ensured that service would continue until
      August 2010. Domtar and Essar agreed to contribute $16 million.



I was hoping to come here and plant some roots

             Even through these hard times, many of the workers we
      spoke to in the Sault spoke about the importance of the support
      they were getting from their families. As one worker points out,
      “I’m lucky I’ve got family here. I’ve got lots of support here, but
      there’s guys that moved to town for jobs, and all of a sudden
      they’re laid off and they’re here alone. I couldn’t imagine what
      these guys are going through.” People who have come from other
      hard-hit communities in the region find themselves in precarious
      situations.

             Lance Dubreuil did everything he was supposed to do to
      succeed in the global economy. He was trained as a millwright at
      Dofasco in Hamilton, and then moved back to Sudbury to be closer
      to his family, but was laid off. He relocated to the Sault to work at
      Tenaris, only to be told two months later that he was on
      permanent layoff:

            I was hoping to come here, establish myself, and
            establish a family here, plant some roots and
            hopefully start a family, but like I said, I was
            hard hit. And now I find myself laid off,



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                       9
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            collecting EI, which doesn’t cut it. It’s half my
            wage, and plus I’m finding myself applying from
            Western to Eastern to Southern to Northern
            Canada pretty much. I’ve applied to roughly one
            hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and
            thirty different establishments, and I’ve only had
            one call back, so it’s tough.

      Without any family support, Lance says that, “It’s been hard for
      both myself and my fiancée. She’s picked up a job fortunately at
      Station Mall as a security guard. She was going to pursue her
      dream as a nurse, which she had to discontinue in Sudbury to
      follow me with my career.” He’s frustrated that, “where we find
      ourselves today is just a rough situation, and we’re pretty much at
      rock bottom again.”

            Dubreuil is a skilled worker and a licensed millwright, yet
      with manufacturing in free fall, he is finding it impossible to find
      new work. “I’m a certified industrial millwright. It’s almost like I’ve
      jumped through hoops to get here, and I continue to jump through
      hoops today, and the hoops are getting even bigger and bigger and
      bigger, and they’re harder and harder to jump through.”

            Gayle Broad says that a number of workers laid off in the
      current recession are new to the Sault:

            The people that are being laid off there, quite a
            number of those people... were displaced from
            their jobs because of the forest industry. The
            forest industry was really ignored in terms of
            any kind of government assistance going to the
            forestry sector. Over the last three to four years,
            Northern Ontario has lost fifteen thousand jobs
            on the forestry sector… So a lot of those trades
            people came to Sault Ste. Marie, then they got
            the jobs at Algoma Steel, and then, of course,
            they’re the last hired, so they’re the first ones
            out the door.


Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                       10
                                                     Communities in Crisis
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Reeling from the effects like everybody else

             Sault Ste. Marie has a large Aboriginal population.
      Approximately 10% of the city is Aboriginal, which is significantly
      higher than in Ontario and the rest of the country. There are a
      number of Ojibwa communities in the area, including the Garden
      River and the Batchewana First Nations. First Nations people live
      both on- and off-reserve in Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding area.
      Jutta Horn is a councillor for the Missanabie Cree First Nations,
      which is based in Sault Ste. Marie, although they are engaged in
      negotiations for recognition of their traditional lands north of the
      Sault. Horn suggests that First Nations people are “reeling from
      the effects like everybody else. We’re all having to meet our
      obligations financially. It’s very difficult.” The Band has a small
      property in Missanabie, which it runs as a tourist operation,
      organized around fishing. Demand has been affected by the
      financial crisis, “…a lot of our business comes from the States and
      they’ve been economically hit hard.” But the community is
      responding by changing the focus of the lodge, “from being
      completely reliant on that fishing industry to turning it into
      something different where we can offer retreats, we can offer artists
      retreats — non-impactive, where you’re not taking from the lake,
      you’re actually integrating the beauty of that area and promoting
      that beauty.”

            Horn also suggested that they are working hard to promote
      education and retaining for the members of their Band. “We really
      encourage it for our people, to go back to school to regain the
      education to build new skills.” She continues, “The old reliance on
      industry just isn’t there anymore because eventually we’re going to
      extract everything to a point where we’ve got nothing left to
      extract.”




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      11
                                                      Communities in Crisis
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Now people are desperate

             Jason Guzzo is 38, and has worked for the past five years in
      steel at Tenaris and for mechanical contractors. The father of two
      sons, five and two, he was laid off at the end of January 2009. We
      met him in his backyard on a hot June afternoon, his wife and
      kids sit at the picnic table with us. Jason is wearing an oversize t-
      shirt that says something about being the World’s Best Dad —
      undoubtedly a gift from Father’s Day. The kids slide on and off his
      lap as we talk.

             Jason is frustrated that there is no work in the Sault. It’s not
      just that he can’t find work at the rate he used to be paid at
      Tenaris, but “the biggest issue that we’re facing is finding a job
      that pays at least equal to what EI does.” That’s how bad he sees
      his job prospects in the Sault. He had worked in call centres
      between industrial jobs before and says he would go back to
      support his family if he couldn’t find anything else, but right now
      they’re not hiring either.

            He talks about the price of oil and gas dropping so
      precipitously that demand for steel tubing evaporated overnight.
      He’s hoping that price of oil will rise as we climb out of the
      recession. He quips, “They could charge me two dollars a litre as
      long as I’m working, I don’t care, because I can afford two dollars
      for gas. But I can’t afford eighty cents if I’m sitting on the
      unemployment line.”

            Jason loves the Sault, and remembers what it was like
      growing up there. “Life was simple when I was kid. Well, I went to
      school, I came home, played with my friends, hung out, went
      fishing… summer time, I was never home, I was gone all the time.”
      Even though he is fiercely committed to the city, he’s concerned
      with how the Sault is changing:



Canadian Labour Congress
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            My kids, I don’t let them leave the back yard. My
            oldest son is five years old. I was all over the
            neighbourhood at five years old, and there was
            never a question, it was a good life. Now people
            are desperate because there’s so much
            unemployment, do things, you got to watch, lock
            your house, everything now… not like it used to
            be.


I’m not even thinking about having children

            Randy Ryan Ritter also grew up in the Sault. Unable to find
      work at home, he worked for Suncor in Alberta as an apprentice
      mechanic. He came back to the Sault because one of his family
      members was terminally ill and later went to work at Essar. He
      describes the ups and downs:

            I got hired on March of 2008 and was laid off in
            mid-January of oh-nine. Yeah, it definitely hit us
            hard — a lot of the younger guys who just got
            hired in — it was a big shock, because just a
            year, not even a year prior there, it was really
            going strong, the markets were good. So it was a
            tough hit.

      For Randy and the other young men at Essar and Tenaris, being
      hired during the boom was their chance at the kinds of jobs their
      father had and, for the most part, hadn’t been available to them
      until recently. “Growing up here in the Sault ...it was a dream to
      come home and have a good-paying job... I really don’t want to
      move. I’m really hoping that things can turn around with Essar,
      and I can get back there. The work is available back out there in
      Fort McMurray where I currently was, so if things really don’t pick
      up, I’m hoping I don’t have to take that route again.” He has not
      had much luck finding new work in the Sault, “The job search, it’s
      been pretty tough. There’s not a whole lot out there… It’s been a



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                     13
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      tough go. The city — it’s really hit hard.” He finds it hard with
      nothing to keep him busy. “It’s pretty tough. Day-to-day you’re just
      hoping that phone rings and you get back to work.”

             Very few young women were hired into these jobs in the mill.
      Some, like Shannon Vlasty, changed their expectations about what
      kind of work they wanted to do, after being out in the world for a
      while. She was at Tenaris for seven years until she was laid off in
      early in 2009. She worked as a crane operator, in quality control,
      and as a welder — which was her favourite job:

            I love working with my hands. It feels good to me
            at the end of the day to go home and know that I
            made something that’s going to be there... I
            know that I’ve done something that will help
            create something else that will be around for a
            long time, being the pipe. At the end of the day,
            it’s very rewarding for me… It’s not like doing
            laundry where five minutes later something’s
            dirty again, or cutting the grass, it stays for a
            little while. It’s nice. That feels good to me. I
            guess that’s just the way I’m made up. I like to
            be able to stand back and be able to look at
            what I’ve done at the end of the day.

      Working in steel was not her first choice. She tells us that,
      “Honestly, I went to college to be a hair stylist — which I was very
      good at but didn’t enjoy it a whole lot.” Her father suggested that
      she “take the welding course, because it, too, was artistic and
      working with your hands.” “I’d love to be an artist, but it’s very
      hard to make money doing that, so I’m my own artist on my own
      time at work. I make sure my work is pretty. Yeah, that’s how I
      ended up doing what I’m doing now.” Sara Russell is a welder at
      Essar who also found herself challenging traditional gender roles.
      She loved her work in a job she never expected to be doing. “It’s
      something new every day, like you don’t just sit in a little box. It’d




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                        14
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      be different if you get to weld on this over here, or build this, or
      construct that, or tie this and throw that.”

             The recent exodus of young people from the Sault gives us
      some indication of why the population growth in Sault Ste. Marie
      is slower and residents are older than most communities in
      Ontario and Canada. The average age in the Sault is 44 years.
      Clearly, the economic crisis has had a disproportionate impact on
      young workers in Sault Ste. Marie. Even before the bottom fell out
      of the labour market in the fall of 2008, many young workers were
      already struggling to find the kind of full-time, decent-paying jobs
      of their parent’s generation. “So you’re looking at twenty-seven-
      year-olds, the twenty-eight-year-olds,” tells Steelworkers staff
      David Pettalia, “they’re giving up their apartments and moving
      back home with mom and dad. This particular individual has lost
      two jobs in Sault Ste. Marie in the last two years, and has been
      laid off twice, and he’s now at a point where he can’t make his
      payments so he’s moving back home.” John Kokis from Boston
      Motors concurs, “It’s not where your kids are moving out anymore.
      I’ve got two at home and they’re both in their twenties. They really
      don’t have real jobs, and they’re not going to unless something
      dramatically changes.” “I think youth poverty is something that
      tugs at the heart of everyone,” suggests David Petallia.

             Long-term layoffs and high unemployment put incredible
      pressure on young workers, most of whom want to stay in the
      Sault. Laid-off Essar worker “Bob Black” didn’t want his real name
      used but he told us, “I love the Sault. This is my kind of town. I
      don’t like the big cities. I like being able to go to camp, do fishing
      and hunting, and stuff like that. I have no care to go anywhere
      else, but like I said, if you have to, you have to. You can’t live on
      half your wage for all your life.”




Canadian Labour Congress
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              Those that stay live more modestly, and more than one
      worker told us that starting a family will just have to wait. As
      Lance tells it, “I don’t know what their plan is out there for us, but
      I’m not even thinking about having children. I’m thirty-one years
      old. It’s time to have children now, but to bring them into a world
      as today, well you might as well forget about it. We’re hurting now
      at my age, I could just imagine my children, even their children. If
      things don’t pick up, there’s not going to be many people left.”



That neighbourhood seems to have elderly people now

           These intergenerational issues have broad ramifications. For
      Mike Da Prat, the lack of young people and young families has a
      tremendous impact on the community:

            You need young families to come in a regenerate
            the workforce in a community, and everything
            flows from that. Jobs for school teachers, jobs
            for service industry, sales, and so on. A vibrant
            community cannot be vibrant if all you’ve got is
            old people like me here. We don’t spend the
            money (like) a young family. We don’t generate
            the income.

             Brenda Brooks works at the Algoma District School Board in
      Sault Ste. Marie, and is an activist in CUPE Local 16. Lynda
      McFarling is also a custodian, and secretary for the CUPE local.
      With fewer young people staying in the Sault, and those that
      remain having children later, the student population is shrinking
      in the Sault. “I think the neighbourhoods are changing,” tells
      Brenda Brooks. “For example, Bayview Public School closed last
      year. That neighbourhood seems to have elderly people now, where
      before it was a lot younger people. A lot of people are leaving the
      Sault to look for employment. They want something that’s stable.”




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            Without much choice, many leave in search of work
      elsewhere. This is reflected in the demographics of the Sault whose
      population dropped from 84,000 in the early 1990s to under
      75,000 by the 2006 Census. As Gayle Broad explains:

            The population base here keeps ageing. Our
            youth keep going elsewhere to find work... It
            used to be they went out West. Now they’re
            going further and further afield, so young people
            who can’t get jobs teaching, are going to Japan
            or Korea — teaching English as a second
            language. We had a young man come back this
            year who had been away teaching for seven
            years, and he said, “I just want to come back
            home. I’m tired of living in other countries.” He
            said, “It was great for a little while, but I really
            want to live in Canada again.”


It takes years to learn that craft

             In addition to the personal costs to young workers, and the
      costs to the community, there are also productive costs incurred
      when all but the most senior people are laid off. One of the
      significant losses is that the transfer of knowledge between
      workers becomes precarious. Antonio knows that paper-making is
      a craft:

            And you don’t learn that just by walking in
            there. It takes years. It takes years to learn that
            craft. To make paper, there’s a process, and you
            have to understand that process... so you have
            to put a good thirteen years in there... When
            you’re working on that machine, you know the
            sound of how it runs, and any little ‘querp’ you
            pickup right away because it’s not a sound that
            you’re used to, and you got to start looking.




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             As well as the worker-to-worker sharing of knowledge that’s
      needed, management also must invest in new technologies and
      training. Says Antonio:

            We’re at an age now, at about, I’d say forty-
            seven to forty-nine, and in ten years there’s
            going to be a lot of guys retiring, and if you want
            that mill to run, you got to keep your employees
            [up] to-date on all aspects of technology... I
            know our mill isn’t making any investments as
            far as bringing in new technology or upgrading.

            With all of this volatility and uncertainty, Antonio reflects on
      his son’s future down the road:

            It’s just we’re so limited up here, and that’s why
            we have a hard time holding our young people
            here. Just for that reason. Just not enough jobs
            for them to come back. My kid, after his first
            year says, ‘I’ll guarantee I’m not coming back.’ I
            say, ‘You know what son? You’re probably
            right’... He can come back and try, but he knows
            very well that jobs are few and far between.


I’ve gained fifteen pounds since being off

             Bob Black worked seven years at Algoma until he was laid
      off in March. Like Jason, he’s under a lot of stress. “I’m twenty-
      nine years old, and I have nightmares almost every night, stressed
      out whether to wait to go back to work, and the rumours are it’s
      going to be maybe November, maybe February, maybe next March.
      Maybe they’re going to start laying off every summer. Nobody
      knows what’s going on. Management isn’t telling us and so it’s just
      way too much. People can’t handle this.”

            We interviewed Black in a basement room in the
      Steelworkers Hall. He’s not uncomfortable speaking with us, but


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      he is wearing the stress. When we ask him how he spends his
      time, he’s frank:

            Honestly, a lot of arguing with the wife. A lot of
            sitting there watching TV, not really paying
            attention to what’s on. Just sit there thinking
            what you’re going to do. I mean, I love to fish if
            someone has enough cash that I can go fishing
            for a weekend, that would be great! People
            wonder about substance abuse in times like
            this. Well, the guys that work and drink every
            night after they work, well now these guys aren’t
            working, so now they’re just drinking all day.
            And then they sit there and complain about how
            alcohol abuse has gone up. Well, these guys
            have nothing else to do.

            You look at the market information. The only
            markets that go up in times like this are alcohol
            and gambling, because that’s all guys have left
            anymore. They go out drinking with their
            buddies and they go to the casino, blow what
            unemployment cheques they got thinking that,
            ‘Maybe this week I’ll double it’… They keep
            telling you there’s ways of relieving the stress.
            There really isn’t…You’re only stress relief is
            maybe you get a job…So like I said, you just sit
            there and watch TV and don’t even know what’s
            on the screen.

             For workers who had very physically demanding jobs in the
      steel industry, not working is also a huge adjustment for their
      bodies. After our interview with Shannon, we adjourn to Muio’s —
      a well-worn Italian restaurant in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. The
      sign over the pass-through to the kitchen where the plates of pasta
      and “broasted chicken” were delivered, told us they had been in
      business for 45 years, although no one knew how long the sign
      had been there. Wonderful old photos of the Sault are all over the
      walls, including one of where the firehouse burned down. Amidst



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      the heaping plates of pasta and chicken, Shannon orders only a
      sandwich. “I can’t eat what I want to any more, now that I’m not
      working. I also lost all of my muscle after been off for a month.”
      Bob also tells his story, “Yeah, you do. You lose your muscle mass.
      I’ve gained fifteen pounds since being off…. you have nothing... all
      you do is sit at home and eat chips, and do nothing. It’s not good
      for you. It’s not good for you physically, it’s not good for you
      mentally.”

             Many unemployed workers find it very hard to adjust to a
      new routine with so much time on their hands. Jason told us how
      he details each of their cars every week — a skill he learnt in an
      earlier job, but he tells us that it’s “getting old.” Bob would like to
      have the money to do more around his house:

            Yeah, you do have all this time on my hands.
            There’s all kinds of stuff I could do around the
            house. My garage needs repainting and to be re-
            shingled [but I] can’t afford to buy the paint or
            the shingles. There’s all kinds of stuff to do
            around the house. Well, when you wake up in
            the morning, you sit there and think, ‘Well, I’ve
            got eight to nine months to do it,’ next thing you
            know, instead of waking up at nine [o’clock]
            every morning it’s eleven. And instead of eleven,
            it’s one, and instead of one, you sleep in till four
            every day, and then there’s been days where I
            sleep in till five, because my wife gets off at six.
            Why am I going to get up? I’ve got nothing to do.
            It’s not even worth getting out of bed some days.

            Sara Russell also finds the idleness hard to take. She “was
      devastated,” when she was laid off in January. Now on layoff, she
      describes how her life has changed:

            You get out of that routine of getting up and
            going to work, and you think, ‘Oh, my God!’ You
            enjoy it for a little bit, and then you’re like, ‘Ugh,


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            another day! What do I do? I’ve already
            accomplished this, I’ve already accomplished
            that.’ You start other little projects and never get
            anything done because you think, ‘Oh, I have
            time tomorrow.’ So, you sleep till noon and get
            up when you want, do what you want all day,
            and it’s not that great.

      While she thought the experience she had at Essar should be an
      asset to finding other work, Sara has found the opposite to be true.
      “Because I’m laid off, people don’t want to train me, and then have
      me go back to work. I’ve had quite a few people call and say, ‘Is
      this going to be permanent? Are you going to come here, and work
      here, for a long period of time?’ Prospective employers thought ‘…I
      might not stay there permanently,’ so I didn’t really get a job.”



People leave there crying

             With so many people coping with lack of work, those still
      working have been feeling the impact of the economic crisis in a
      different way. Work has intensified as workers have to look over
      their shoulders, knowing that there are hundreds of workers in
      line for their jobs. This is true across a number of sectors of the
      economy.

            In steel, they are working with incredibly “leaned-out”
      workforces. “I’d say it’s probably not good on the shop floor
      because of the cuts,” reports Gary Premo. “Every area is at
      minimal employment levels. So people are either working short-
      handed, or they’re working extra hours, and things aren’t fixed as
      soon as they should be. So we’re going through all that. Cost-
      saving becomes number one. That’s what we’re experiencing now.”

            Mike Da Prat reports that “we are critically short-staffed,”
      and that it has resulted in “upwards of 2,000 grievances with



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      Essar.” He continues, “The reality is, although the grievances span
      a number of issues in the collective agreement, the underlying
      cause is absolutely the same, and it’s a shortage of manning, so
      that all the grievances that flow from that are contracting out,
      spell-times, overtime, a number of other grievances that flow
      exactly from the lack of manning.”

            While the school board has not issued massive layoff notices,
      with declining enrolments and uncertain economic prospects for
      the community, administrators are looking at cutting costs
      through the reduction of building services staff. Brooks reports
      that among CUPE members:

            They’re looking at the seniority list, and they’re
            going, ‘Am I going to get knocked out of my
            job?’…They’re going to bump back and now this
            person is going to lose that school, and maybe is
            going to have to drive a lot further to go to
            another school. So people were actually
            panicking.

             In addition to layoffs, building services staff are concerned
      that the work will continue to be sped up and intensified. As part
      of their union negotiations, they have arrived at a formula for how
      many staff are necessary, and how much work an individual is
      required to do. “They’re coming after our cleaning formula,” says
      Lynda McFarling. “I’m really afraid they’re going to come after our
      cleaning formula, and that will be totally against the collective
      agreement, and I think all hell will break lose.” Brenda Brooks
      sees trouble on the horizon:

            I believe the recession we had before is going to
            swing right back around, and we’re going to be
            right into it again. This time, I think we have
            other issues. We have a casino here, which a lot
            of people think that they can make money off of
            a casino, and then end up so much in debt. I


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            know personally people that have committed
            suicide because of gambling. They get into drugs
            because they don’t know how to deal with these
            situations… You’re going to see people’s lives get
            totally destroyed over this. You’re going to see
            marriages break up, and the kids are going to
            pay the price in the end, and it’s not fair. The
            government needs to step up to the plate.

            Margaret Rafter is a medical laboratory technologist at the
      Sault hospital. Until last December, she was the president of the
      Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 620. The last few
      years have been very difficult for her and her colleagues as the
      hospital has worked to balance its budget. “The Ontario
      government has mandated that there’s six steps required to
      balancing a budget in the hospitals in Ontario, and by law, they
      are required to balance their budgets. Step three is cuts to
      diagnostic and support services and ...they’re very heavy into step
      three.” The hospital in the Sault has privatized some of its lab
      services and reduced its in-house lab staff considerably. Margaret
      describes how they used to have downtime and be able to “go put
      these things away right now, and you had that down time. But
      now we’re facing no downtime.” She continues:

            You’re performing at two hundred per cent for
            seven-and-a-half hours a day, and quite literally,
            people leave there crying. Quite literally…you’ve
            got a doctor screaming at you because you can’t
            get some results out, or you can’t get them out
            fast enough and you don’t have the time to go
            and find out where that specimen is because
            you’ve got these other sixty specimens sitting on
            the wheel…There’s two people where we used to
            have six in the department less than five years
            ago. We have two running the department now…
            The stress level is extremely high.




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      Rafter suggests that few people understand how much of the
      laboratory work has been privatized. “People in this city actually
      think that blood work stays in this city. They don’t believe that it’s
      transferred to Sudbury to be analyzed. It’s collected here. It must
      be done here. Those are really high-paying jobs. Why do we want
      to lose those jobs?”



From a hospital to an urgent care centre

             Margaret is concerned about more than just her own job.
      She wonders how the hospital and medical community are going to
      be able to respond to the social crisis with staff downsized to a
      minimum. “When you have a downturn in the economy such as we
      have, and in this area manufacturing, your pulp and paper
      industry has been hugely hit, you have all the social fall outs from
      that. Those all fall back onto your health care system.” While the
      city is in the process of building a new hospital, she is worried that
      it is part of a Public-Private Partnership (P3). She has a number of
      concerns, including how the equipment and instrumentation will
      be maintained once it is in the hands of a private owner. Rafter
      also notes that the new hospital will not have significantly more
      beds than the current hospital, and that it is three miles north of
      the downtown. “Where are these people that use the hospital as
      that kind of central focus? Where are they going to get their
      services? Who’s going to step up to the plate and cover that?”

             Concern over the P3 became more widespread in the Sault
      when one of the major lenders, the New York-based CIT group filed
      for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, even after receiving $2.3
      billion as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from the
      United States government.17




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            Rafter also tells how this new P3 hospital in the Sault is also
      part of the regionalization of health care in the surrounding area.
      For example, Matthews Memorial Hospital in Richards Landing
      that serves St. Joseph’s Island and the population south of the
      Sault is on the chopping block.18 Rafter explains:

            Matthews’ is funded under the Sault Area
            Hospital budget and they’re trying to change the
            classification from a hospital to an urgent care
            centre… So, if you were having a heart attack,
            you would be brought to the Sault from St. Joe’s
            Island, (instead of) stopping at Richards Landing
            for treatment, stabilized, and then brought to
            the Sault, which is the current path.

            Natalie Mehra from the Ontario Health Coalition reminds us
      what is lost in the transition to an urgent care centre. “The
      problem is that urgent care centres don’t do emergency care.”19



I worked on GMs for thirty years

            Even though the Sault is far from the centre of the Canadian
      auto industry in Southern Ontario, the collapse of auto was felt
      here. Shannon Vlasty thinks it’s really a shame that the GM
      dealership where she gets her truck serviced is closing. “I really
      like my mechanic up there,” she says.

            John Kokis is an automotive technician. He’s been in the
      trade for 38 years; 32 of them at Boston Motors, which is a GM
      dealership and has been a fixture in the Sault for over 75 years.
      Kokis is secretary-treasurer of the Machinists local representing
      workers in a number of dealerships in the Sault since the
      Canadian Labour Congress spearheaded an organizing drive of
      auto dealerships across Canada in the 1960s. “Because of the
      restructuring of General Motors, there’s, I believe, 40% of the



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      dealerships in Canada that will close,” reports Kokis, and Boston
      Motors is one of them.

            Well, with the closure, we have nowhere to go.
            This is a one-horse town. Where are you going?
            The other union dealership’s not going to be able
            to take all of us on. Working in a GM dealership
            you work on GMs. I worked on GMs for thirty
            years. I know something about GMs. I know very
            little about the others. So you’re getting back
            into another training curve, and I think, after
            thirty years, why would one want to go back to
            the same trade. Body parts aren’t there
            anymore. In this city, you have Essar Steel, and
            they’re not hiring. No one’s hiring here, with a
            decent wage.

      The prospect of collecting EI is foreign to John. “I collected
      unemployment when I was eighteen years old for two weeks. Since
      then, I’ve never collected it.”



You cannot get a job within our Board right now

            Shannon is very aware that not just Steelworkers have been
      hard hit by the recession. She continues:

            Well, the steel plant has been all over the news.
            They’ve laid off a lot of people. One of my
            girlfriends is a high school teacher, and she was
            saying the other day that you cannot get a job
            within our Board right now. It’s impossible.
            There are teachers who have been teaching for
            twenty-five years who are getting pink-slipped.

            For Shannon, these kinds of things don’t happen in the
      Sault. It is a city where there were jobs, and people worked hard.
      She describes how, at first, she didn’t understand why people were
      lined up in front of a downtown building:


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            I noticed one day driving past the United
            Way...the front lawn was full of people. It was
            probably five at night. I had to stop — what was
            in that building and why there were a bunch of
            people gathered outside? And it occurred to me,
            ‘Oh, my gosh, people are hungry. That’s the
            United Way. They’re stopping to get food.’ So
            that was kind of heart-breaking to see, and I
            would imagine it’s just going to get worse until
            things pick up again.

             School board workers see the impact up close. “The Algoma
      District School Board, they just announced they had two hundred
      and sixty redundant teachers this year, sixty that they haven’t
      allocated for the fall, so that’s sixty layoffs across our school
      district.” Brenda Brooks works in building services at the Algoma
      District School Board in Sault Ste. Marie, and is an activist in
      CUPE Local 16. She explains how it takes time for the school
      district to feel the effects of the economy:

            (I)t will usually hit us near the end, and we’re
            starting to see that come now. Our employer is
            looking at ways to cut jobs, and as a union, we
            are trying to hold as many jobs as possible
            through the collective agreement and also
            working with the employer.

            Gayle Broad describes how the crisis has affected students
      at Algoma University, and how students have responded by
      opening a food bank on campus:

            And that food bank is used. I couldn’t believe
            how much it’s used…It’s regularly cleaned out.
            And they raised over three thousand dollars on
            one event that they had, so I would say that
            there probably a minimum of fifteen thousand
            dollars worth of food that they’re generating
            going through here, and you know we only have
            twelve hundred students, so that’s fifteen


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            thousand dollars worth of food for students that
            are supposed to be fed appropriately.

      From her faculty position at Algoma University, Broad is also
      concerned that, “…the sky-rocketing rate of tuition fees is really
      causing a lot of our students grief, and then, on the other side, we
      have over twenty per cent of our students come from First Nations
      communities and … they are really fearful that they are going to be
      losing their funding.”

            MP Tony Martin sees this rise in the cost of education as
      part of a shift from a collective to a more individualized approach:

            We used to think that education was both a
            right and a responsibility. Somehow, we allowed
            ourselves to be convinced that the public
            responsibility and the carrying of the cost of that
            should be shifted over to the backs of
            individuals and families, and it’s just killing a lot
            of people, and it’s contributing to the overall
            depth of poverty that’s out there.


Getting off “stop”

             Workers laid off at Tenaris are fortunate to have an Action
      Centre based out of the union to assist them with job search and
      re-training possibilities. While the layoffs were significant enough
      at Essar to warrant an Action Centre, according to Steelworker
      Area Coordinator Jack Ostroski, “We had a pissing match with
      Essar Algoma over it.” He explains:

            We proposed it. They said that they’re doing
            something for the employees. We said we had
            one before. We wanted to have a community-
            based Action Centre. The argument was over
            location. We viewed that the union hall was a
            proper place that always worked well here. They


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            wanted it on Algoma property. Then finally, they
            just said they didn’t want any involvement in it,
            that they were going to deal with the employees.

             Lillian Roe is the coordinator of the Labour Adjustment
      program and the coordinator of the Tenaris Action Centre in Sault
      Ste. Marie. Roe worked for a number of years in various clerical
      positions at Algoma Steel until she was laid off in 1991, and spent
      over a decade working on training issues before returning to the
      Sault. From her perspective, what is different about the Tenaris
      Action Centre from the other Action Centres is that the workforce
      is much younger. “For many of them, the first time they had ever
      had a job with benefits and reasonable salary, a lot of them had
      been minimum-wage jobs prior to that.” She continues:

            So they were not quick to leave the opportunity
            of recall and look for other employment because
            most of that employment would be at minimum
            wage, and basically, they would be earning less
            than they were getting on EI. So they were very
            hesitant. A lot of them, to do anything, they
            might consider sort of giving the impression that
            they were accepting this as being final.

             Bob Black volunteers as a peer helper at the Action Centre.
      His experience working with laid-off workers from Tenaris echoes
      Roe’s:

            These guys that only have the one, two years in
            there that are really holding on to the hope that
            they’re getting back. It’s hard to tell them that
            it’s not going to happen. How do I look at a
            grown man and tell him you’ve got to find
            something else. I’ve had guys come to me in
            their fifties almost in tears, telling me how
            they’re going to lose their house, how they’re
            going to lose their camp because they’re waiting
            for Tenaris to call. It’s not happening.



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      Roe believes that social isolation is one of the major obstacles they
      need to overcome. “Camaraderie is one of the biggest things they
      miss when they lose their job.” When laid-off workers come
      together in the Action Centre to work on job searches and training
      options, according to Roe, “…it helps build their self esteem, which
      gives them more confidence to go forward.”

             The toughest job for Roe and peer helpers at the Tenaris
      Action Centre is to “get them off ‘stop’ — so that they aren’t all
      sitting waiting for recall, but they are taking advantage of this
      opportunity to maybe make some difference in their life, take
      control, and be in the driver’s seat.”



They must submit three letters from potential employers

             Lillian Roe has serious concerns about the way various
      training programs are administered. For example, when we ask her
      to describe how the Second Career program works, she retorts,
      laughing, “I can’t. I’m sorry, I can’t.” She explains, “It’s because
      it’s changing by the day…”

            For me, I think that a lot of people need shorter
            term training to enhance their skills and make
            them more employable, and going to school for
            two years is a remote thing for some people. Is it
            really economically feasible in their household? I
            don’t know.

      Roe also described for us the complex process that laid-off workers
      must go through to be eligible for training, including writing a
      “Return-to-Work Action Plan”:

            The individual goes in initially and has a
            meeting with a case manager... The package
            includes having a résumé, making a budget…
            They would have to do research into the


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            training, where they could get it, how much,
            start dates, all that kind of thing.

      But the process does not end there, she adds:

            And they would have to submit, as part of their
            return-to-work action plan, at least three letters
            from potential employers who would say, with
            this skill, I would consider hiring this person.

            Bob Black suggests this requirement for letters is a real
      obstacle for many workers to pursue retraining. “They want letters
      from companies saying that they’ll hire you in two years when you
      graduate. You can’t ask a company to hire you two years before
      you’ve even taken the course. It’s just way too much, way too
      stressful for people.”

            Given that we have highly capable economists who conduct
      labour market research for the Ministry of Education, it feels
      almost punitive to require workers to chose a training program and
      then ascertain the need for that according to the needs of
      employers two years down the road. It is clearly an
      insurmountable obstacle for many.



You can’t live on half your wage for all your life

             When looking at the current EI program, Roe suggests that,
      “The very first thing I would say to them is to eliminate the two-
      week waiting period. People are going into such a lower income
      than what they had before, and you start them off in a hole.” She
      also suggests that many of the laid-off workers from Tenaris are
      getting poor service from EI staff. “Some of the fellows here have
      spent ninety minutes and more, more than once, on the phone to
      wait for a call centre, and the inconsistency of the answers they
      get… There are so many laid off, they’ve had to hire new people,



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      and they may not be well-versed, but people do not get consistent
      answers, and that to me is a big problem.” USW Local 2251
      president Mike Da Prat elaborates:

            We’re not talking about machinery because if we
            were, the treatment of the machinery would be
            different. We’re talking about people here, people
            that can’t eat, can’t pay bills, and it’s totally
            acceptable that the people have been off of work
            for three months with nothing because your
            employer forgot to tick a box.

             Randy’s discouraged that there has been so little government
      support for workers like him. “If I had a chance to get in front of
      the [EI] Commission, I would say to extend the period [for EI
      eligibility]... Canada is one of the nations that’s probably in the
      best spot during this recession, so there’s no reason why I believe
      that there should be a problem offering it to the Canadian people.”
      Jason Guzzo sees the EI system as fundamentally flawed,
      especially for long-time employees.

            So you put in twenty years of EI every pay
            cheque and get laid off. You can collect EI for
            one year and then you’re on the street. How fair
            is it? It doesn’t make sense. The government is
            taking from you because you have to pay – it’s
            the law, but when you get laid off, they don’t
            want to give you anything back. They say, well,
            there’s this, there’s that, and there’s this
            stimulus money. Well, that stimulus money is
            not helping the two hundred and fifty brothers
            we got laid off right now. It’s not doing one thing
            for any of us.

           Antonio is frustrated by the possibility that industrial
      workers would face an EI overpayment at the end of the year:




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            Well, you know, that’s ridiculous. I want to
            work. If I get laid off, it’s not my fault I got laid
            off, it’s because of lack of orders or because of
            mismanagement or something... If you’re there
            to help me, then help me. But as far as giving it
            back after you help me, then, well, what’s the
            use? Because you’re just putting me in a worse
            position than when I started.


Agencies may not be able to handle it

            During our time in Sault Ste. Marie, most of the workers we
      spoke with still had their Employment Insurance benefits. It was
      June. There were no heating bills. Workers could go hunting,
      fishing, and tend their gardens. Nevertheless, the spectre of
      poverty weighed heavily on many laid-off and unemployed workers.
      As MP Tony Martin pointed out, there were many who had already
      exhausted their EI benefits:

            Once you get on EI, if you are lucky enough to
            get on EI, you’re making about forty-five to fifty
            per cent of what you would normally make, but
            once you fall onto welfare, you’re screwed... It’s
            just unbelievable... You’re driven from the
            welfare system into a depth of poverty that you
            never imagined because you’ve got to get rid of
            all your assets, and so you have nothing… We
            have made welfare ― through very conscious
            government policy ― a vehicle that is punitive.
            That is punishing. That is actually going to drive
            people both further into poverty and depression
            in a way that we have not seen, and that’s the
            concern for me. How are we going to deal with
            that?

      We asked Wendy Bird from the Algoma Legal Clinic for her
      assessment of the social service agencies in the Sault, and their
      capacity to step up in a time of growing need:



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            I think a lot of them were hurt in the mid-
            nineties and are still rebuilding. So I don’t think
            they were as strong as they were in the late-
            eighties, early-nineties. I think that’s the
            difference we have here, and I’m not sure what
            the outcome will be. There’s a lot of government
            spending to put people to work, but I’m not
            aware of a lot of spending on agencies and
            services for people. If the layoffs become
            permanent or they become longer term, I think
            there may be a problem with getting services,
            because agencies may not be able to handle it. I
            know, even in our clinic, one of the difficulties
            when you have finite funding and it doesn’t
            expand. It doesn’t matter if the community gets
            worse. You don’t have any more people.

             Advocacy organizations are also struggling to care for the
      chronically poor in the Sault. Despite their strong reputation, the
      shelters do not have permanent funding. As a result, there is a lot
      of staff turnover and other problems.20 In July 2009, St. Vincent
      de Paul was forced to close its Thrift Store that operated in the
      former St. Ignatius Church that was closed in 1999. As heating
      and maintenance costs rose, there was less money for the soup
      kitchen, food bank, and men’s shelter.21

             David Pettalia has been involved with the activities of the
      United Way in Sault Ste. Marie for a number of years. In terms of
      the fund-raising that the United Way does for its 23-member
      agencies in the Sault, Pettalia reports that in the past, they
      expected that $18,000 of pledges made would never come in. “We
      bumped it to thirty thousand dollars which is a substantial
      increase, and I’m not so sure that’s going to be sufficient this
      year.”




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The vacancy rate is below one per cent

            One of the major issues in the Sault is the lack of affordable
      housing. Vacancy rates are at an all-time low of one per cent. The
      housing stock in the city is considerably older than most
      communities, with 85% of the dwellings built before 1985. Wendy
      Bird explains:

            We’ve seen a lot of affordable housing dry up in
            the last while. In the last couple of years, there
            have been some older hotels, motels that have
            been renting rooms, essentially rooming houses,
            and have been closing for one reason or another.
            And you know, that creates a problem. Where
            are these people supposed to live?

              Bird is very clear on what will happen in the Sault as a
      significant number of workers exhaust their EI. She says it will
      lead to “an increase in homelessness. What else could I say?” With
      the housing market already very tight for the working poor, there is
      little capacity to absorb new people looking for low-cost housing.

             MP Tony Martin put the housing crisis in the Sault in a
      national context, suggesting that, “We need a national, affordable
      housing strategy. We were building affordable housing in the
      eighties and early nineties, but that’s gone. We haven’t had a social
      housing program in Canada since the late eighties, early nineties.”
      Given the older housing stock in the Sault, buildings continue to
      be taken down, which is clear in the streets in the Sault with
      numerous vacant lots. Recently, several single-room occupancy
      buildings that provided reasonable rents have been torn down, but
      nothing has been built to replace them. As Martin explains:

            There are a number of things we can do, and
            one of them is the federal government has to get
            into the business of assuring every Canadian



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            who’s a citizen and based on their humanity
            have a right to certain fundamental support.
            We’ve signed on to international covenants to
            speak to that and we’ve made commitments
            internationally and we’ve not lived up to them.


You feel the angst and the worry that’s out there

            MP Tony Martin describes how the Sault used to be
      integrated in manufacturing across Canada:

            In those days, twelve hundred people worked in
            Wawa mining ore… and sent it to the Sault
            where twelve thousand people turned it into
            steel. From Sault Ste. Marie, we sent steel out to
            Saint Johns, New Brunswick, Vancouver,
            Windsor, to make cars, to make buses, to make
            boats, and hundreds of thousands of people
            worked. That’s how the Canadian economy
            worked. It was all very integrated, and we were
            all connected in very significant and important
            ways.

             Along with this industrial integration, Martin suggests that
      Canada developed a series of public institutions that integrated
      and provided for people across the county, “…like our Canada
      Pension system, our EI, our health care system. We built that
      together. We agreed that that was something we owed and had a
      responsibility to provide for each other.” Martin continues, “With
      the coming-on-board of free trade, that all disappeared… We began
      to see the diminishing of that in the mid- to late eighties, the
      nineties, and up until the whole thing collapsed in the last year or
      so.” But it was not just the integrated Canadian industrial system
      that failed. “Many of us who were watching this, many of us who
      were living through it, felt a real attack on those institutions that
      provided for all of us, and gave everyone an equal opportunity.”




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             Faced with the economic and political attacks, the labour
      movement tried a varied of strategies in this new era of “Free Trade
      Agreements” (FTA), economic recession, and neo-liberal ideology.
      The FTA with the United States in 1989 was not really about
      import duties. It was about the freedom of corporations to invest
      how and where they pleased, without having to conform to the
      demands of any state-led industrial policy. Shortly after the
      Canada-U.S. FTA came into force, the world economy experienced
      a serious recession, and companies like Algoma Steel faced shifting
      competitive pressures. By 1991, the growth of mini-mills and low-
      cost Japanese steel that flooded the market threw the entire North
      American steel industry into crisis, including Dofasco which had
      purchased Algoma Steel several years earlier. Dofasco decided to
      write-off its investments and cut its losses.22 Algoma Steel was left
      drowning in debt.23 It was not clear that Algoma would be able to
      get back on its feet, and yet, the costs of a closure would be
      devastating to the community.24 The company’s first plan for
      reorganization called for the elimination of 4,000 of the 6,100 jobs
      at Algoma.25

            Leo Gerard, Steelworkers District 6 director at the time,
      knew there had to be a better way. The Steelworkers union, with
      support from the Ontario government under the New Democratic
      Party, proposed a bold move for a worker-buyout of Algoma. 26 In
      exchange for gaining majority control of the company, workers on
      average took a 16% wage cut and reduced vacations. Employment
      was reduced by 1,600 through attrition. The Ontario government,
      as well as Dofasco, provided loan guarantees, and Canada’s largest
      worker-owned company came into being on June 1, 1992. 27 The
      new company quickly moved into the black, and saw its stock
      prices soar.

            The worker-buyout was good for business, but it also
      strengthened the capacity of individuals and the broader


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      community. As Gayle Bond28 and Linda Savory-Gordon29 have
      documented, the skills that hundreds of leaders and activists
      learnt as part of the buyout also had important spillover effects in
      the personal, family, and community life of the Sault.30 David
      Pettalia has been at Algoma since 1974, and is now a union
      coordinator at Essar. He reflects back on the experience of worker
      ownership:

            I feel that one of the best things that happened
            while the employees owned the company was
            that people were trained, and those people took
            those skills out in the community and used
            those skills at various organizations throughout
            the city.

      This was a time when democratic spaces were expanded in the
      Sault. The people of the Sault watched their elected representatives
      take the risks necessary to secure funds for the worker-buyout.
      Workers took on more active roles in the operation of the company,
      and they extended these roles to their families and community.

             Running a steel company was full of contradictions,
      however. The worker-owners of Algoma Steel had to work with
      management on a competitiveness agenda and a workers’ agenda
      at the same time. In 1995, Algoma Steel decided to close the iron
      mine in nearby Wawa.31 The steel tube plant was closed in 1998.
      In the wake of Nucor’s success with a continuous caster, they also
      endorsed the building of the Direct Strip and Plate Complex (DSPC)
      to increase productivity. Gayle Broad identifies the central problem
      faced by the union. “They needed to refinance in order to build that
      new mill, and the banks didn’t like the idea of employee-owners,
      and so they forced them to sell some of their shares.” Although the
      workers still held a significant number of shares, Broad says, the
      sale “really made the employees feel that they did not have control
      of the company anymore.” Moreover, the new investments made



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      by the worker-owners to reduce costs meant significant job losses.
      Approximately 800 workers were employed in the old operation
      but, when we toured the plant in the summer of 2009, only 21
      workers were required on each shift (a total of 63 over three shifts)
      to run this highly computerized DSPC operation.

            Algoma Steel was back on the ropes in 2001 because of
      problems with the DSPC caster and the fall in steel prices. Unsure
      the company would survive, many of the worker-owners sold their
      remaining shares. The company declared bankruptcy for the
      second time, and ten years of worker-ownership came to an end
      just as prices for steel were beginning to increase. The company
      emerged from bankruptcy without government support, and with
      600 fewer workers.32 In June of 2007, Algoma Steel was
      purchased by Essar, an Indian-based, global steel producer. Essar
      had ambitious plans to increase the steel output of the plant,
      restart No. 6 blast furnace, and expand its deep water port. As
      Gary Premo told us, Essar promised to make the company “the
      hub of their North American operations.” Essar Steel Algoma is
      now a privately-held company that does not trade on the stock
      market.

             Many in Sault Ste. Marie believe that the foreign ownership
      of Algoma Steel has moderated job loss. “Well, actually, these
      owners have pursued and utilized their global contacts and got us
      a few orders offshore. So …we’ve maintained at an operating level
      that some others have not,” reports Da Prat. Says Gary Premo
      about Essar, “They look at people different, they look at work
      different, and they certainly look at unions different, so we’ve had
      our struggles there. But we measure it — people are still working.”

           In this Great Recession, the crisis facing the capitalist
      economy is borne directly by workers, with very little public
      support for them to rely upon. Governments focus on the needs of



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      global producers, not workers’ needs for economic security, nor
      links to domestic markets, nor the economic well-being of
      communities. Martin goes on to describe how this laissez-faire
      approach developed in the Sault over the longer term:

            We now have a level of unemployment in the city
            that wasn’t there five or ten years ago… They
            have significantly reduced their workforce, and
            that creates unemployment and pressure on lots
            of institutions here that are trying mostly on
            their own without much government support,
            because government has backed away from that.
            The senior levels of government, over the last
            fifteen years, starting with the federal ‘96 Budget
            of Paul Martin where, come hell or high water,
            he was going to fight the deficit mostly on the
            backs of public programs. We don’t have the
            same level of support anymore from the senior
            level of the government, so as people go on to EI
            and experience the challenge that is there on EI
            to continue to pay the bills, send the kids to
            university, pay the rent, and all of that, you feel
            the angst and the worry that’s out there.

            David Petallia suggests that Canada’s lack of an industrial
      policy goes beyond the issue of artificially low-priced steel imports:

            I think the government should be looking at
            fixing the trade deals to make them fair, and I
            don’t mean fair by: you only buy Canadian, but
            it’s got to be a fair deal for people in a third
            world country. For example, China produces
            coke, a lot of coke. Their pollution is
            phenomenal, and it’s unacceptable. And by us
            purchasing coke from China, we’re enabling
            further pollution to our planet, whereas, the
            companies in North America have all conformed,
            and have put in place pollution controls to
            eliminate a lot of these chemicals that are going
            into our environment.



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There are going to be new kinds of jobs

             For the past few years, Sault Ste. Marie Council calls the
      city, “The Alternative Energy Capital of North America.” The
      Premier of Ontario complimented city council for their commitment
      as he announced that an experimental tire reclamation facility
      would be established in the Sault. The premier said that, “The
      world beyond the recession is going to look a little different. There
      are going to be new kinds of jobs...”33 The question arising out of
      the experience of the Sault is whether these new jobs will meet the
      needs of workers, or will the jobs be few and far between. Without
      a commitment to manufacturing, for example, wind farms do not
      create many jobs. A proposed new Brookfield Renewable Power
      wind farm near Marathon will establish 66 turbines. In the
      construction phase, 200 short-term jobs will be created, and 10
      permanent technicians will eventually run the facility. 34 This is
      likely to be a profitable venture. The Ontario government is offering
      13.5 cents per kWh for wind power, but there won’t be much spin-
      off into the local economy.35

            In 2006, Algoma Steel entered into a joint venture with
      Schaaf Industries Corporation (SIAG) to manufacture wind towers
      in Sault Ste. Marie.36 It was expected that the facility would create
      140 jobs.37 By November of that year, the project was on hold, and
      then dropped due to the German company’s internal restructuring.
      38
         Wind tower fabrication is not among the priorities of Essar, and
      wind farms are being created in the area with imported towers. As
      Jack Ostroski says:

            The former Algoma did a partnership with a
            German outfit, and we had a big grand opening
            that they were going to build a plant to make the
            bases, the towers. And they went bankrupt, and
            no one’s gone back to that... We have one of the
            best mills in the world here in town that can be



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            adjusted to produce almost any type of steel to
            build those towers.

      Brookfield Renewable Power has one of the largest wind farms in
      the country, with 126 towers and plans to build others in the
      region.39 As a result, Steelworkers have to sit and watch the
      towers being trucked into the region. Says Ostroski:

            That really burns my ass! I mean, they were
            importing. Our highways were shut down. You
            couldn’t drive anywhere because you were just
            congested. They travel so slow. I think that’s a
            great opportunity to get into, because that’s the
            future.

      Brookfield is owned by the Canadian firm, Brookfield Asset
      Management. It has 1.196 GW of capacity in the Sault area. These
      derive from hydro stations on 13 river systems, a 20,000-acre wind
      farm with 126 wind turbines, and a natural gas-fire, cogeneration
      plant.40

              Industry in Sault Ste. Marie has become involved in
      cogeneration efforts. Algoma created an energy company in 2006
      which entered into a construction and power purchase agreement
      with the Ontario Power Authority to create a 70-MW cogeneration
      facility. The cogen plant opened on June 15, 2009, and is expected
      to reduce Essar’s reliance on the provincial grid by 50%. It will also
      reduce Essar Steel Algoma’s nitrous oxide emissions by 15%.41
      The facility is fuelled by by-product gases from coke-making and
      iron-making and converts it into electricity and steam to be used in
      the steel plant. Ontario Power Authority compensates Essar’s
      cogeneration company each month for the difference between the
      negotiated price and the actual market price. 42

            St. Mary’s Paper responded to a Request for Proposals issued
      by the Ontario government to create a cogen plant fuelled by



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      biomass.43 Jack Ostroski sees the benefits in developing energy
      cogeneration:

            They should get into it because there’s a lot of
            wasted gas. They’re environmentally more
            economical than to just burn it off to just put it
            in our water. The paper mill here is trying to get
            a cogeneration burning fibre. We have another
            opportunity at our dump. They’re trying to burn
            garbage and create energy. So I think that’s
            where the growth has to come up in the North.
            We have all the natural stuff you need up here,
            and I think we can create a lot of jobs by going
            green.

      The Ontario government has given a permit to Elementa to create
      an energy-from-waste-plant in Sault Ste. Marie. Municipal council
      will sign a five-year contract with the company to build a $30-
      million facility to develop energy from residential waste which will
      then be sold into the provincial grid. The facility is not an
      incinerator, but a gasification plant.44

              Another enterprise is developing solar power in Sault Ste.
      Marie. The Pod Generating Group will build, own and maintain the
      facility, and sell energy to the Ontario government. 45 There was no
      indication, however, that the photovoltaic cells needed for the
      project would be manufactured in the region, as first announced in
      2008.46

            One of the more expensive renewable energy initiatives of the
      region actually began with the privatization of hydro-generating
      stations under the previous Conservative provincial government.
      Brookfield Renewable Power bought some of these assets in 2002
      for $340 million. It now operates four hydro-generation stations
      and a series of dams on the Mississagi River east of Sault Ste.
      Marie. For the next 20 years, the provincial government will



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      guarantee Brookfield a base price of 6.9 cents per kWh (i.e. not
      including peak hour prices) if it sells energy back to the province.
      The government pays publicly owned Ontario Power Generation
      3.2 cents per kWh for hydro-electricity which is less than half of
      what it pays the private provider. Each year, Brookfield makes $40
      to $50 million on these Mississagi generation stations.47



Federal infrastructure spending

            The municipality has determined their priorities for federal
      stimulus spending include: a “deep water port; the short-line
      railway/multi-modal transportation hub; the International Bridge;
      and industrial land servicing,” estimated to cost more than $200
      million.48

            To this point, federal funding for the deep water port has not
      been approved.49 Mike Da Prat says that the need for deep water
      harbour capacity in the Sault was identified a long time ago by the
      union:

            Essar is looking at proving their deep sea
            harbour capacity, and in fact, when we were a
            joint company union venture here, there was a
            proposal made by the workers that we should
            make a multi-modal shipping centre... because
            we heard that Bethlehem Steel was generating
            jobs and income by being a multi-modal seaport.

            Essar previously announced plans to invest in a $100-
      million investment in expanding its shipping facilities. This would
      presumably be done in tandem with federal government spending
      which does not appear to be forthcoming.

            Other infrastructure money included $10 million for
      bioscience and technology at Algoma University; $26 million for the



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      reconstruction of Sault College, and $7.3 million to partially fund
      a new municipal public health building. Other funds were directed
      to road upgrading; a waterfront, walkway expansion; and
      community centre renovations. When the government announced
      the approval of $24 million for an invasive species centre at the
      Great Lakes Forestry Centre, federal MP Tony Martin was not given
      notice. Instead, the prospective Conservative candidate in the next
      election was there to make the announcement. 50

            In September 2009, $44 million of stimulus money was
      announced for a new plaza on the Canadian side of the
      International Bridge.51 These funds reinforce the federal
      Conservative government’s commitment to border security and
      increased security integration with the United States. Early in
      2010, the federal government agreed to respond to the multi-
      stakeholder coalition that had been seeking money to support rail
      capacity in the region. It is hoped the government will allocate $12
      million in stimulus spending to upgrade the track used by Huron
      Central. Community leaders continued to hope that a further $21
      million will be allocated under other federal infrastructure funding
      programs.52



In conclusion

             Amidst the financial crisis, in the spring of 2009,
      Steelworkers Local 2251 put its union hall up for sale. It is a two-
      story glass and steel building, like so many others built in a
      modern 1960s style. In front of the hall are two large gears,
      interlocked 90 degrees to one another. When you look up close,
      you see a full image of a man at work on each half. It is such a
      representative piece of art that there is no mistaking what the
      members of this union do. Inside the small glass and steel
      vestibule is the old Steelworkers emblem in mosaic tile.



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             The day we arrived at the union hall, two young women,
      barely out of their teens, sit on the stairs in their aqua gowns and
      bouquets, and we see the rest of the bridal party in the kitchen,
      barely more than children — the bride squeezed into a white
      wedding dress and her husband-to-be with several piercings and
      hair moussed up on his head. They are two of many Steelworkers’
      sons and daughters who have been married in this hall over the
      last forty years, along with countless anniversaries and retirements
      from the mill. The hall was also used by a variety of civil society
      groups. The first day we visited the Local, a poverty forum was
      being held. The event was sponsored by a number of social service
      and advocacy organizations.

            “What has happened is, in the downsizing, the membership
      can no longer afford the building, which represents a huge cost,”
      explains Mike Da Prat:

            It was designed never as a money-making
            venture, but as a place where services will be
            provided to our members such as a hall to hold
            events… but with two thousand to twenty-five
            hundres members, that can’t be afforded. As sad
            as it is to see an icon going, I don’t think it’s fair
            that the member that required a representation
            today has to be told, ‘Yeah, you have a legitimate
            grievance, but maybe we can’t afford to go to
            arbitration. However, you still have your icon.’
            The building is ageing… and of course, there’s
            the maintenance of the building and the energy
            costs.

            USW’s area coordinator Jack Ostroski remembers, “I’ve
      grown up in this hall when my father was an officer. I remember
      coming here as a kid… putting NDP signs together, putting leaflets
      together for the strikes in the sixties, helping my dad out.” He
      understands the economics of the situation, and supports the local




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      union’s decision to sell the hall, but adds, “It’s a sad day. It will
      always be the union hall to us.”

             In some ways, the sale of the Steelworkers’ hall is
      emblematic of the crisis in Sault Ste. Marie. In 1998, when Algoma
      Steel went into financial distress, the province stepped in not only
      committing its own funds, but helping to orchestrate a deal with
      the banks and the union that resulted in the largest worker-owned
      enterprise in Canada. It was a time of social partnership, and we
      saw the expansion of democratic spaces in the Sault, which
      included what happened in the union hall and spilt out into the
      larger community. This experiment came up against some serious
      contradictions, and those involved were unable to sustain the
      arrangement as an alternative to neo-liberal globalization.

             As Canadian manufacturing hemorrhaged in the wake of the
      financial crisis of 2008, we saw a fundamentally different response
      this time by the Canadian government. With the election of Steven
      Harper to Prime Minister, the neo-liberal principles which were
      embraced by earlier Liberal governments came to their full
      flowering. According to the Harper government, it was the
      marketplace, not direct government involvement, that would solve
      financial woes. While Harper was forced to commit to more
      economic stimulus than he wanted to, Canada has lagged in the
      amount of stimulus, particularly in response to the great needs
      facing the manufacturing sector.

            This time, there would be no industrial policy or job
      retention program, except that which the market would provide.
      Infrastructure spending was minimal and flowed slowly, although
      the need for public infrastructure was great. But it was not just
      the lack of direct spending that was different. This time around,
      many of the social institutions that had been in place to assist
      workers and their communities are seriously eroded. As we have



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                         47
                                                      Communities in Crisis
                                                      Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario



      seen, the social safety net in the Sault is already frayed and heavily
      burdened. The responsibility has been shifted to the workers who
      must remain flexible in their unemployment. Even the much
      needed new hospital in the Sault is being built by a private
      developer as part of a Public-Private Partnership, and not as part
      of the public commitment to the people of Sault Ste. Marie.

             While the unions and the action centres have worked hard to
      hold onto the notion of the collective good, even if they will no
      longer have a central meeting space, their solidarity is undermined
      at every opportunity by the individualism of the state and the
      larger society. One of our most disturbing interviews was with a
      worker who was laid off from Essar who supplemented his EI by
      reprocessing cars, trucks, boats, and a variety of vehicles in the
      Sault and as far away as Sudbuy — most likely from his union
      brothers and sisters who, like him, were laid off. While we do not
      want to suggest that this is something that is unique to the Sault,
      it provides a dramatic example of what individuals may resort to,
      in the absence of collective responses. The crisis in the Sault this
      time is also different given the permanent restructuring of the
      forestry, pulp and paper industry, and the steel industry. 53 Gary
      Premo describes how, even if all the currently laid-off Steelworkers
      eventually are called back, the steel industry will never be the
      same:

            A long-term problem at Algoma Steel is it went
            from ten thousand employees to three
            (thousand). So at one stage, we were at eighty-
            five thousand, heading to one hundred thousand
            people, then all of a sudden, we lost three
            thousand or four thousand employees at Algoma
            Steel. So the city has been in a big decline since
            the mid-nineteen-eighties. I don’t think we’ve
            had a positive growth since. There’s an out-
            migration of youth that’s a major issue. Essar,
            even though they’re more modern, employ less.


Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                       48
                                                     Communities in Crisis
                                                     Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario



            We spent seven hundred million dollars for a
            new mill, and it employs one hundred and fifty
            people. So, big investment in dollars, big
            technology, high-paying jobs, but less of them.
            The steel industry doesn’t generate jobs the way
            they used to, and neither does the lumber
            industry.

             All 2,500 hourly workers were back to work at Essar by the
      end of July 2009.54 Essar is not out of the woods, yet. For the first
      half of the fiscal year 2009-10, Essar lost more money than at any
      time in the company’s 107-year history. Between April 1 through
      June 30, Essar lost $265 million. As a result, it was forced to
      recoup some of those losses with the sale of the cogen plant to its
      parent company for $136 million.55 However, Essar’s No. 7 blast
      furnace was out of operation for four weeks in the fall of 2009
      because of pipe failure, and third-quarter earnings were severely
      reduced as a result.

             In September, 150 Tenaris Algoma Tubes workers were
      recalled after being on layoff for more than six months. 56 By
      October, there were 380 unionized workers back on the job. This
      was about 60 fewer than before the downturn a year earlier; 113
      salaried workers were also back at work full-time. Full production
      resumed at St. Mary’s Paper in August after 100 workers were on
      layoff for three months. On August 13, paper machines, Numbers
      3 and 4, started up again.57

            Even if Essar, Tenaris, and St. Mary’s weather this storm, it
      has become clear that the days of massive employment in steel and
      paper mills are over. To compete in a global marketplace, the
      industry is moving to more and more automated production. As
      Premo indicates, this has long-range implications for the Sault,
      and for the young people growing up there. While steel and paper
      may remain an important core of the economy of the Sault, it will



Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      49
                                                      Communities in Crisis
                                                      Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario



      not be the same. The question that remains is what will replace
      jobs lost in the Sault?

             For a while, it appeared as though call centres might fill part
      of this gap, yet the current economic crisis and significant job
      losses in that sector suggest that this was a stop-gap measure at
      best. There have been a number of green initiatives proposed, but
      it is unclear if and when the projects will come online, and how
      many jobs they will provide.58 In many ways, this research has
      underscored the issues of youth in communities like Sault Ste.
      Marie, and the importance of community renewal.

             As we have seen, part of the permanent restructuring of
      industry in the Sault is the changing nature of work. As firms
      operate in an uncertain economic terrain, and public entities face
      declining tax revenue, employers have cut workforces to the bone,
      and at the same time, sped-up and intensified work for those still
      working. We saw this in steel, paper, and in the public sector in
      Sault Ste. Marie. This threatens to undermine a generation of
      advances both in union contracts and, as we have seen, is already
      having a significant impact on workers and their families. So this
      is not just a story of those left without work in the current
      financial crisis, but how those still employed have been profoundly
      affected as well.

            MP Tony Martin is concerned about the future of Sault Ste.
      Marie and the rest of the country if Canada stays on the same
      course. He knows there has to be a better way:

            So government will shrink, taxes will continue to
            shrink, and what ability will we have as a
            country to continue to build on this vision, this
            dream that my father sold everything that he
            owned to buy into? … How can we get back to




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                       50
                                                     Communities in Crisis
                                                     Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario



            that and reclaim that, and see it as good and
            right for everybody?

           Margaret Rafter says it will take more than
     people just taking care of themselves:

             We have to stand up for our communities. I
             need to know what’s going on in the paper mill. I
             need to know what’s going on in Algoma Steel,
             and I need to understand it. It’s not good
             enough to say, ‘Oh yes, the Steel plant is laying
             off. The paper mill’s gone down again.’ People
             need to understand that. They need to go out
             and look at it, get their heads out from under
             their rocks and take a look. Remember that your
             community is not just your house and your two
             neighbours next to you. Your community is
             down on Queen Street. Your community is at
             the skate park. Your community is at the Essar
             centre. They need to open their eyes and look at
             their community. St. Vincent de Paul, they’re
             closing. They have no place to run their Thrift
             shop out of. The community has to get behind
             that, and this community will. It never takes
             enough credit for itself, but it will.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                      51
                                                                     Communities in Crisis
                                                                     Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario




                                           Appendix

                                  Sault Ste. Marie Interviews
      June 26/09         Tony Martin, MP
                         Wendy Bird, Community Legal Clinic
      June 27/09         Gayle Broad, Algoma University
                         Shannon Vlasaty, Laid-off worker, Tenaris
                         Gary Premo, USW/Labour Council Staff
                         Jason Guzzo, Laid-off worker, Tenaris
      June 29/09         Lillian Roe, Coordinator, Action Centre
                         Brenda Brooks, CUPE Local 16
                         Lynda McFarling, CUPE Local 16
                         Jack Ostroski, USW Staff
                         Mike Da Prat, President, USW Local 2251
                         David Pettalia, USW Staff
      June 30/09         Sara Russell, Laid-off worker, Essar
                         “Bob Black,” Laid-off worker, Tenaris
                         Randy Ryan Ritter, Laid-off worker, Essar
                         Lance Dubreuil, Laid-off worker, Tenaris
                         John Kokis, IAM, Boston Motors (GM)
                         “Antonio,” St. Mary’s Paper, CEP
                         Margaret Rafter, OPSEU
      July 1/09          Jutta Horn, Councillor, Missanabie Cree




TH:jc:cope 225 • March 31, 2010
V:\\2\03\0




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                                      52
                                                         Communities in Crisis 2009
                                                                   Oshawa, Ontario


1    Sylvain Schetagne, “Statistical Profile of Communities in Crisis: Sault Ste. Marie,
     Ontario,” Canadian Labour Congress, 2009.
2    Dan Bellerose, “What Does the Future Hold for Essar Steel?,” The Sault Star, June
     27, 2009.
3    Editorial, “We’ll Have to Roll with Economic Punches,” The Sault Star, October 18,
     2008.
4    Dan Bellerose, “Back to work - for some,” The Sault Star, June 20, 2009.
5    Dan Bellerose, “Tenaris Tubes Shuts for 2 Weeks,” The Sault Star, January 29,
     2009.
6    The Sault Star, “100 more laid off at Essar,” The Sault Star, April 14, 2009.
7    Dan Bellerose, “Recovery slow to reach Tenaris,” The Sault Star, August 8, 2009.
8    Dan Bellerose, “Tenaris to Pink Slip Vast Majority of Remaining Workers: Number
     of Steelworkers Laid Off Nears 800,” The Sault Star, March 18, 2009.
9    Sault History on Line, “Early Industrial Development in Sault Ste. Marie.”
     http://www.city.sault-ste.-marie,on.ca/Ind_Pulp.html
10   Dan Bellerose, “Paper Mill Temporarily Cuts Back,” The Sault Star, May 5, 2009.
11   Dan Bellerose, “Paper Mill Temporarily Cuts Back”, The Sault Star, May 5, 2009.
12   Elaine Della-Mattia, “Call Centre Packs up to Leave Town; Takes 300 Jobs With It,”
     The Sault Star, September 10, 2008.
13   Dan Bellerose, “What Does the Future Hold for Essar Steel?” The Sault Star, June
     27, 2009.
14   Elaine Della-Mattia, “Call Centre Packs up to Leave Town,” The Sault Star,
     September 10, 2008.
15   Dan Bellerose, “Ribbon of Steel,” The Sault Star, July 25, 2009.
16   Dan Bellerose, “What does the future hold for Essar Steel?” The Sault Star, June
     27, 2009.
17   Frank Dobrovnik, “Troubles Facing 1 Financial Backer of New SAW Won’t Affect
     Project,” The Sault Star, July 12, 2009.
18   Donna Schell, “NPD Leader Joins Fight to Keep Hospital Open,” The North Bay
     Nugget, July 8, 2009.
19   Frank Dobrovnik, “Status Quo Probably Not Option,” The North Bay Nugget, June
     30, 2009.
20   Meghan Boston and Gayle Broad, “Evaluation of Homeless Initiatives: Pauline’s
     Place, Vincent Place and the Mobile Support Workers Program,” Algoma University
     College, May 2006.
21   Brian Kelly, “Local Landmark—St. Ignatius Church—Will be Leveled if No Buyer
     Comes Forward,” The Sault Star, June 29, 2009.
22   In January, Hamilton-based Dofasco Inc. wrote off its $713-million investment in
     Algoma…and ended further support to the company because of fears that it would
     jeopardize its own financial stability. Marian Stinson, “Algoma Steel Seeks Time for
     Buyout,” Globe and Mail, June 20, 1991.
23   Algoma was left to deal with $800 million in debt, as well as a need to write down
     assets by approximately $411 million. Mark Hallman, “Workers May Buy Algoma,”
     The Financial Post, January 25, 1991.
24   M. Gunderson, J. Sack, J. McCartney, D. Wakely, and J. Eaton, “Employee
     Buyouts in Canada,” British Journal of Industrial Relations, 33 (3), 1995, pp. 430.
25   United Steelworkers, “Canadian Steelworkers Plan Worker Buyout of Algoma Steel:
     Employee-Owned Major Steel Company Would be a First in Canada,” PR Newswire,
     August 1, 1991.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                                 53
                                                        Communities in Crisis 2009
                                                                  Oshawa, Ontario


26 United Steelworkers, “Canadian Steelworkers Plan Worker Buyout of Algoma Steel:
   Employee-Owned Major Steel Company Would be a First in Canada,” PR Newswire,
   August 1, 1991.
27 M. Gunderson, J. Sack, J. McCartney, D. Wakely and J. Eaton, “Employee Buyouts
   in Canada,” British Journal of Industrial Relations, 33 (3), 1995, pp. 432.
28 Gayle Broad, “Stepping Outside the Safety Zone: Worker Ownership and
   Participation at Algoma Steel Inc.,” Dissertation, University of Bristol, 2000.
29 Linda Savory-Gordon, “Spillover Effects of Increase Workplace Democracy at
   Algoma Steel on Personal, Family, and Community Life,” Dissertation, University of
   Bristol, 2003.
30 Gayle Broad and Linda Savory-Gordon, “Workers Ownership as a Strategy for
   Community Development” in Eric Shragge and Michael Toye (eds.) Building for
   Social Change. Sydney, Nova Scotia: Cape Breton University Press, 2006, 225.
31 Gayle Broad, “Stepping Outside the Safety Zone: Worker Ownership and
   Participation at Algoma Steel Inc,” Dissertation, University of Bristol, 2000, pp.
   146.
32 Joe Castaldo, “Top CEO 2006: Dennis Turcotte, Algoma Steel Inc.,” Canadian
   Business On-line, October 9, 2006.
   http://www.canadianbusiness.com/innovation/article.jsp?
   content=20061009_81405_81405&page=3
33 Frank Rupnik, “Sault a green hub? It’s happening,” The Sault Star, July 22, 2009.
34 Staff, “Regional Briefs: Wind Farm still in the works,” The Sault Star, October 7,
   2009.
35 Antonella Artuso, “Wind rates to impact hydro bills,” Kingston Whig-Standard,
   September 29, 2009.
36 Algoma Steel, “News Release: Algoma Steel embarks on wind energy joint venture,”
   February 10, 2006.
   http://www.algoma.com/media/AlgomaSteelEmbarksOnWindEnergyJointVenture-
   SIAGGreatLakesLP-Feb10-06.pdf
37 Development Sault Ste Marie, “Ontario secures new jobs for the North.”
   http://www.sault-canada.com/development/index.aspx?l=0,3,43,53,159
38 Staff, “Empowering Algoma Steel with Energy,” Northern Ontario Business,
   November 6, 2006.
   http://www.northernontariobusiness.com/DisplayArticle.aspx?
   id=16244&LangType=1033
39 “The Alternative Energy Capital of North America.” http://www.sault-
   canada.com/UserFiles/Alternative%20Energy%20Capital%20Webpage.pdf
40 Brookfield Renewable Power.
   http://www.brookfieldpower.com/content/power_generation-489.html
41 Essar Steel Algoma, “Essar Steel Algoma confirms start-up of cogeneration facility,”
   Press Release, June 15, 2009.
42 Dan Bellerose, “Essar Steel Algoma sells interest in cogeneration facility to Essar
   Power,” The Sault Star, November 25, 2009.
43 David Orazietti, MPP, Press Release, “McGuinty Government Renewable Energy
   Strategy Supports $135 Million Project in Sault Ste. Marie,” June 15, 2009.
44 “Municipal solid waste is gasified into synthetic gas (“syngas”) in an oxygen-
   deprived environment within a sealed, indirectly heated rotary kiln,” by John
   Nicholson, “Simply Elementa(l): Sault Ste. Marie’s co-venture into waste-to-energy.”
   www.solidwastemag.com February-March 2009 p.32.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                               54
                                                         Communities in Crisis 2009
                                                                   Oshawa, Ontario


     http://www.sault-canada.com/UserFiles/Elementa%20-%20Solid%20Waste
     %20Magazine.pdf
45   “Pod set to construct massive solar energy farm in the Sault.” http://www.sault-
     canada.com/development/index.aspx?l=0,3,43,53,454
46   Elaine Della-Mattia, “Solar Project to get go-ahead,” The Sault Star, January 7,
     2010.
47   Bob Stewart, News Editor, “A great deal, but not for us,” Daily Miner and News,
     December 1, 2009.
48   Elaine Della-Matia, “Major stimulus items under wraps til Fall,” The Sault Star,
     July 23, 2009.
49   Elaine Della-Matia, “Major stimulus items under wraps til Fall,” The Sault Star,
     July 23, 2009.
50   Elaine Della-Matia, “Is John dissing Tony?” The Sault Star, July 29, 2009.
51   Michael Purvis, “Prime Minister Visits, sad news from Afghanistan,” The Sault Star,
     January 12, 2009.
52   Dan Bellerose, “Huron Central on track for long-term solution,” The Sault Star,
     January 29, 2010.
53   For more on what is happening in forestry, pulp and paper, see the Communities in
     Crisis reports from Campbell River and Liverpool.
54   Frank Dobrovnik, “Production picks up at Essar,” July 29, 2009.
55   Dan Bellerose, “Essar delays Q3 results,” The Sault Star, February 13, 2010.
56   Dan Bellerose, “Tenaris workers back on the job,” The Sault Star, September 19,
     2009.
57   Staff, “Northern Briefs,” The Sault Star, July 31, 2009.
58   Dan Bellerose, “Energy Giant Tests Winds North of City,” The Sault Star, September
     2, 2009.




Canadian Labour Congress
www.canadianlabour.ca                                                                55

				
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