Stelco workers, retirees learn fate of benefits plans as restructuring finalized

U.S. Steel Canada Inc. has successfully restructured and has exited protection under the Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act with Bedrock Industries Group LLC as its new owner.

The Financial Services Commission of Ontario filed its regulation relating to the U.S. Steel Canada pension plans on June 30, confirming the agreement between the company’s new owner and the regulator.

According to the FSCO filing, the new owner will make the following contributions to all pension plans: $5 million in total from July 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2017; $10 million per year for the years 2018 to 2021, inclusive: $15 million per year for the years 2022 to 2036, inclusive; and $5 million in total from Jan. 1, 2037, to June 30, 2037.

Read: Stelco sale approved as judge touts ‘new and more promising chapter’

The majority of salaried employees and retirees voted in favour of the restructuring in April. Under the restructuring plan, Stelco Inc. is no longer responsible for the administration of the salaried employees’ pension plan. Salaried employees and retirees have also learned in a letter that their group life insurance policy will end on Aug. 31, 2017. In its place, a health trust will provide benefits to retirees, the letter noted.

Unionized retirees from United Steelworkers Local 1005 in Hamilton, Ont., and Local 8782, in Nanticoke, Ont., who voted in favour of a new collective agreement at the beginning of June, have also received notification about their respective benefits plans.

Read: Stelco employees vote in favour of new collective agreements

Local 1005 sent a note to retired members to clarify that nothing has changed regarding the amounts they’ll receive from their pension. It also provided information about expanded coverage under the health trust for retiree benefits, including a $250 maximum amount for vision care; a 90-day prescription drug supply; and one dental cleaning for up to $175 until the end of 2017.

“Our mission is to reduce costs without sacrificing benefits and services,” the update noted. “As the Local 1005 employee life and health trust develops, there will be further expanding benefits and we will update you on any changes.”

Local 8782 also published a note for its retirees that said the post-employment benefits suspended in October 2015 would be active once again. “As of July 1, 2017, benefits resume in full for Local 8782 retirees and everything should be processed as it would have been prior to the court-ordered suspension of the benefits package under the business prevention plan.”

Read: Have your say: Is it time to boost protections for employees in restructuring cases?