Steelworkers head into fourth week of strike, call on SNOLAB to bargain fair contract

SUDBURY, Ontario, May 28, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Members of United Steelworkers union (USW) Local 2020-59, on strike since May 8 at the SNOLAB research facility, have reached out to the employer with a new contract offer aimed at meeting union members’ needs and resolving the dispute.

However, SNOLAB has largely ignored the union’s offer that includes reasonable provisions such as wage increases that meet the cost of living in 2024 and paid family responsibility leave. SNOLAB has instead opted to use scab labour to perform the jobs of the striking USW members, undermining the collective bargaining process.

“Some of our members haven’t seen a wage increase from SNOLAB in three years. But instead of negotiating a fair contract with their own employees, SNOLAB is paying for scab workers and for buses and security services in order to get the scabs to cross the picket line,” said Christa Paquette, USW Local 2020-59 member.

“Meanwhile, they keep telling us they have no money to provide our members a decent wage. It’s disgraceful,” said Paquette.

This week, the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is hosting CAP Congress 2024 in London, Ont., which SNOLAB executives, including Executive Director Jodi Cooley, are attending. Several USW Local 2020-59 members have made their way to the event to bring attention to SNOLAB’s refusal to pay workers fairly, which has led to the strike.

According to the CAP, its congress “attracts between 550-600 Canadian physicists, students and physics teachers from across Canada,” with attendees including SNOLAB’s funders and associates. It is a great opportunity to expose SNOLAB’s disrespect of its employees’ work and its substandard contract offers.

Solidarity among the striking workers remains strong and they are receiving significant community support. Leaders and members of USW Local 2020 and USW Local 6500 (representing Vale workers) and local residents have shown up to the picket line over the last three weeks to show their solidarity. Local Members of Provincial Parliament, Jamie West (Sudbury) and France Gélinas (Nickel Belt), both of the Ontario New Democratic Party, also have joined the picket line to support the workers.

“The silver lining to this strike is that it has brought together all the different professionals and strengthened their relationships. This is a great group of workers who want nothing more than to continue to contribute to the world-class research being done at SNOLAB and to have fair working conditions,” said Steve Brunelle, USW Local 2020-59 member.

One thing is clear: the USW members enjoy widespread support in their battle for a fair contract that meets the realities of living in 2024. SNOLAB needs to get back to the bargaining table, negotiate a fair contract and stop using scab labour.


Pascal Boucher, USW Area Co-ordinator, 705-675-2461, ext. 226,
Tracy Nguyen, USW Staff Representative, 705-675-2461,
Lorei Leigh De Los Reyes, USW Communications, 416-544-6009,