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Steelworker's widow unsure how she'll survive without cost of living adjustments

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Louie Fiori worked for Stelco (now U.S. Steel) for 40 years until he retired in 1979. For that he received a pension indexed to the rate of inflation. Up until March last year, he received a monthly cheque for $890. His wife, Mary, now receives a survivor's pension of $553 a month.

And if U.S. Steel gets its way, she'll never receive a penny more.

"It's pathetic," said Fiori, at a rally held for the 900 locked out workers organized Monday outside the head offices of the Bank of Nova Scotia and Brookfield Asset Management in the heart of Canada's financial district.

U.S. Steel wants its current workers to agree to de-indexing of pensions for 9,000 former employees. United Steelworkers Local 1005 has steadfastly refused to agree to the company's demands and has been locked out of their workplace since November 7.

Fiori doesn't understand why U.S. Steel is trying to harm seniors by eliminating annual cost of living increases.

Considering the annual rate of inflation has been less than three per cent per year over the last ten years, Fiori would have earned less than $16.60 per month.

"It's a big mistake and a sad thing for us widowers."

Fiori said she's going to have to figure out how to make ends meet, especially since she was relying on her savings to make up for her revenue shortfall even before U.S. Steel decided to de-index her pension.

"It's not easy," she said. "I'm careful. I don't go anywhere. I don't spend any money foolishly." And she doesn't want to have to sell her home.

"It's not fair," said Fiori. "We have to pay the same amount as other people do for food. I still want good food. I don't want junk."

Louie Fiori started working at Stelco in 1939, and according to his wife, enjoyed his work for the next 40 years. Mary recalled the strike of 1946, when Local 1005 fought for official recognition, a 40 hour work week and a 19.5 cent wage hike with the company's increased profits from wartime production.

"It really was a bad one," said Fiori, who went down to the union halls to make coffee and sandwiches for the strikers.

"We went through a big deal, but it was worth it because going down there every day was a pleasure to knock out all those bad people in there."

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