A group of Hamilton steel workers will hit the picket line Wednesday to protest an impasse between Max Aicher North America (MANA) and its employees that has seen some without work for months.
The company at 855 Industrial Rd. locked out its workers at midnight on Saturday. The workers will bring signs and banners to the dormant plant early on July 3, said Tim Blackborow, chair of the United Steelworkers Local 1005's MANA unit.
"(MANA) would like to either starve us or scare us into having to accept their terms," Blackborow said.
The workers will picket the bar mill on and off throughout the day.
The picketing is the latest in a complex saga between MANA and roughly 118 steel workers. The company purchased idled bar and bloom mills from U.S. Steel in November 2010 with much fanfare and the promise of new jobs for the city's struggling steel industry.
Some of the workers were included as part of that agreement, Blackborow said. About 50 retired members of local 1005 also came back to work then. At its peak, there were 118 in the bargaining unit.
The company began layoffs in June 2011 that have continued today, Blackborow said. "Some of our members have spent more time laid off than they have working."
About 40 were laid off in November 2012, and another 10 or so in December, Blackborow said. Twenty-two have retired. Others have seen their employment insurance expire and have found "survival jobs" wherever they could.
"Some have gone on to good employment opportunities, some not so good," he said.
Union members voted last Tuesday against the latest offer from the company, which included an hourly wage decrease ranging from $7 to $11, he said. It also lacked a defined pension plan in favour of a defined contribution plan, cuts to benefits, the elimination of a cost-of-living increase and a reduction in severance payments and vacations, he said.
MANA has rejected the union's counter offer. Company officials could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.