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The US Steel Hamilton Works plant is now under creditor protection, as seen in Hamilton on September 17, 2014.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Unions, salaried employees and retirees of U.S. Steel Canada Inc. and the City of Hamilton will ask the Ontario Superior Court to open up a secret deal that ended the federal government's attempt to punish the steel maker for failing to meet commitments made when it took over Stelco Inc. in 2007.

United States Steel Corp. and its Canadian unit (USSC), "should not be able to keep their responsibilities under the settlement agreement a secret," the three groups said in a court filing in U.S. Steel Canada's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act hearing.

U.S. Steel was granted permission by Investment Canada in 2007 to purchase Stelco by agreeing to 31 commitments, including maintaining employment at mills in Hamilton and Nanticoke, Ont., and increasing steel production.

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Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel failed to meet those commitments, citing the recession in 2008-09 that forced it to scale back steel output at its operations throughout North America, and the federal government initially sought to fine the company under the Investment Canada Act.

The government and U.S. Steel agreed in 2011 to a settlement that ended the prosecution. The details were kept secret, but have been released in the CCAA hearing on a confidential basis to the monitor overseeing the restructuring.

The United Steelworkers union, the salaried group and Hamilton argue in court documents, however, that releasing the details to the monitor means the agreement is relevant to the restructuring and contains information they need to know.

"By its own admission and the use of the settlement agreement in this proceeding, USSC has demonstrated that the settlement agreement is relevant," they argue in a notice of motion submitted to Justice Herman Wilton-Siegel.

The unionized workers and members of the salaried group have a "significant" interest in the restructuring, the filing said, notably in the status of the company's pension plans, which had a solvency deficit of $838.7-million as of Dec. 31, 2013.

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