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The return of Stelco: U.S. Steel Canada changing its name back

U.S. Steel Canada will announce Friday that it is changing its name back to Stelco, and the company is bringing some of its administrative jobs back to Canada.

Now that the company is separate from U.S. Steel, it’s getting a new name, said Trevor Harris, spokesperson for the newly named Stelco.

– Scott Duvall, MP and former steelworker

He couldn’t say exactly how many jobs will be “repatriated” to Canada. But the jobs will be in IT, finance, sales and procurement.

There’s still no agreement with Bedrock Industries, which wants to buy the company. Bedrock is a private equity investment firm that signed a memorandum of understanding with the province back in September, and U.S. Steel earlier this month.

The function of Hamilton Works isn’t changing either, Harris said.

Stelco logo

The newly named Stelco will unveil its new logo Friday. (Stelco)

But “it’s turning a new page, and a new chapter,” he said.

The Stelco name “has a great legacy in Hamilton, and we’re happy to capitalize on that. We think the image we’re putting forward is modern innovative and forward thinking.”

Bill Ferguson, head of steelworkers union Local 8782, for the Lake Erie Works, posted about the name change on the local’s YouTube channel.

– Bill Ferguson, steelworkers Local 8782

“Worst kept secret in the world, we’re going to be going back to the name Stelco,” said Ferguson.

Workers having been going around the plant in Nanticoke in recent days, taking the U.S. Steel Canada name down. In some instances the Stelco name has reappeared, he says.

“Tomorrow the new flag is going to go up. I welcome it. I think it’s going to be a good thing. Going back to the name Stelco gives us that independence.”

The Stelco name in Hamilton goes back to 1910 and has been synonymous with steelmaking in the city since then —until a forced bankruptcy protection process results in the 2007 sale to U.S. Steel.

U.S. Steel march

While officially gone since 2007, the name Stelco never disappeared from local usage, as the sign at this march from earlier this year shows. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Ferguson’s Lake Erie local signed a “letter of support” last week in favour of the Bedrock bid to buy the company, but the Hamilton local, 1005, remains wary.

– Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Local 1005 includes 9,000 retirees and 540 active members.

Ferguson cautioned that the name change doesn’t mean issues his local has around the proposed sale have all been settled.

“It doesn’t mean we have a deal,” he said.

“I do look forward to it. It’s another step on the road, it’s another step along the way.”

Scott Duvall, a Hamilton Mountain NDP MP and former steelworker, said he’s puzzled why the name change is happening without an agreement with Bedrock.

“To me, it’s kind of weird that they’re doing this so fast,” he said.

The Stelco name, though, is “the history of Hamilton,” he said. “It does bring back the heritage of our city, that’s for sure.

“My question to them would be ‘I’m glad you’re naming it Stelco. But by going back to the old name, how about you go back to the old way of paying pensioners their benefits?'”

Mayor Fred Eisenberger said to Hamilton, the Stelco name is “familiar, and I think it possibly signals a new independence.”

What he really wants to know, however, is about the future of stable jobs and pensions, as well as the use of the lands.

“I’m optimistic that something is going to happen,” he said. “I just don’t know what it is.”

Michael McQuade, president and general manager of Hamilton Works and Lake Erie Works, will make the Hamilton announcement in the morning, and a Nanticoke announcement in the afternoon.

samantha.craggs@cbc.ca | @SamCraggsCBC

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