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Tariff exclusion a stay of execution: Unifor

March 8, 2018

TORONTO – Unifor says the exclusion of tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum exports to the U.S. is simply a stay of execution.“This isn’t a victory, it’s a threat,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “The U.S. is now holding tariffs over Canada’s head at the NAFTA table ahead of the next round, which uncoincidentally will take place in Washington.”

Unifor represents more than 40,000 members in the auto industry and thousands more in the steel and aluminum sectors, including 4,000 aluminum workers employed at Rio Tinto in British Columbia and Quebec.

“The American government has taken our industries and workers captive with the expectation that Canada will pay the NAFTA ransom, except it has no leverage,” said Dias. “The reason Trump offered an exclusion in the first place is because the U.S. realizes that it can’t strike us without hitting themselves.”

The American import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum will do little to address the underlying problem of dumping in the North American market by individual nations such as China.  Today’s actions will merely escalate a global trade war as all impacted countries are forced to retaliate.

“America is trying to bully its way to a trade advantage,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director. “Canada, along with other key trading partners, must send a strong united message to the U.S. to stand down or risk being shut out of world markets.”  

Unifor points out that today’s tariff drama is overshadowing the signing of the CPTPP, an agreement that will inflict significant damage to Canada’s auto and dairy industries among others. Read the union’s CPTPP media release here.

 Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at  or 416-896-3303 (cell).

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Marie-Andrée L'Heureux at or 514-916-7373 (cell).