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City joins call for public inquiry into U.S. Steel bankruptcy process

The bankruptcy protection process has left hundreds of Hamilton steel retirees without their regular healthcare benefits.

But one councillor admits it won't make a difference

Union presidents Bill Ferguson and Gary Howe, in front, represent thousands of active and retired steelworkers affected by the sale of the former Stelco plants in Lake Erie and Hamilton to U.S. Steel in 2007. The union has called for a public inquiry into U.S. Steel Canada’s bankruptcy protection process, as has MPP Paul Miller. On Wednesday, the city joined them. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

The city of Hamilton has joined the chorus of voices demanding a public inquiry into U.S. Steel Canada's bankruptcy protection process. But one councillor acknowledges the city has little sway on the issue.

I am in no way suggesting it has a significant tangible outcome attached to it. But it does have moral as well as legal support.- Source

City council voted Wednesday to join United Steelworkers Local 1005 and Hamilton MPP Paul Miller to make an official call for the inquiry into the process that has left hundreds of Hamilton steel retirees without healthcare benefits.

Sam Merulla, Ward 4 councillor, says the city's call may not make a difference. But it will give legal and moral support for the union as it moves forward.

"I am in no way suggesting it has a significant tangible outcome attached to it," said Merulla. "But it does have moral as well as legal support. I'm sure they appreciate it."

The union and Miller first made the call in July, when Merulla also served notice of his motion.

U.S. Steel Canada entered the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act protection in September 2014 and is searching for a buyer. Last October, the court also granted the company permission to stop covering retiree benefits.

In August, a court ruled that the company had to contribute $2.7 million to a transition fund to help retirees left without benefits. But it can also set aside $1.57 million for retention bonuses for "key employees."

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