Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
1:27 PM EDT
2014-07-14 at 16:56

On strike

Workers hold picket signs after walking off the job Monday.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Workers hold picket signs after walking off the job Monday.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- The only thing both sides seem to agree on is that it's disappointing Thunder Bay workers at Bombardier headed to the picket line Monday afternoon.

The strike became official around 2 p.m. as hundreds of workers filed onto Montreal Street, picket signs in hand after six weeks of negotiations between Unifor and management broke down. Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino, who represents around 900 workers, said the company is attacking benefits and pensions and haven't budged since July 12.

It was a similar sticking point in 2011 when workers went on strike for three days. This time Pasqualino said neither side looks like they're willing to back down.

"They've attacked it more ferociously than last time and here we are," Pasqualino said.

"We're not going back to work for less benefits than we had before."

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said there's no reason for the company to be looking for concessions when it has a $3.7 billion contract at the Thunder Bay plant. He came to Thunder Bay to negotiate a deal.

"It didn't work very well I mean I came out here to find a solution but I can't do that playing solitaire. I need someone to speak to."

Fences were up around the plant Monday morning along with buses for non-striking employees. Dias said that shows the company wasn't bargaining in good faith.

"They were looking for a dispute," he said.

But company spokesperson Stephanie Ash said the company has been committed all along to open and fair negotiations to try and find a reasonable agreement. Bombardier gave an offer that provided well-paying jobs and a salary increase.

"We're really disappointed," she said. "We made a very good offer."

Pasqualino said the last 18 months between employees and management has been bitter with more grievances and arbitration than normal. Dias agreed.

"The relationship here is terrible for some strange reason. It doesn't make any sense to me," he said. 

Ash said the company is willing to negotiate again whenever the union chooses to return to the table. When asked about replacement workers, she said Bombardier will take every measure necessary to deliver its product as the customer comes first.



Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
Dudebro says:
These days, many companies cannot afford to keep retired employees on the benefit plan. Those days are gone...pensions---of course, but expecting to be able to still keep benefits from a place you no longer work at is ridiculous. Its not happening much any more and no striking is going to keep it.
7/15/2014 4:24:58 PM
JIMMY2 says:
I'm really sorry DIAS but what doesnt make sense to you??? Spend one day in that plant, or talk to any worker there, and they will tell you what is wrong, or even an outsider, you bring in a whole new upstairs of staff, who then therefore change how everything is done, no communication, no parts, no rythym, but then get everyone to have to write down everything they do, sign in for jobs, sign out, do it by priority, you are trying to change everything at once, and not everyone has 6 out of 8 hours in a shift to be signing out jobs that they are doing, the plant in thunder bay is sooooooo horribly ran, and now add to all the upset workers who have been there 30 years plus and tell them your making less contributions to pensions and benefits, but we give good money?
7/15/2014 1:40:31 PM
tothecloud says:
Keep drinking the kool-aid Union haters, we'll all be working minimum wage soon enough. Typical corporate blackmail negotiation tactics.
7/15/2014 12:38:49 PM
oscarmyerweiner says:
The company is a fault here, you just don't take back what you've already given. Sounds like a greedy company to me. Treat your employee's with some respect, it's their lives your playing with.
7/15/2014 12:38:33 PM
Jack Frost says:
Power to all the hard working union workers in this very disappointing turn of events now faced.

Bombardier should be grateful to have such a dedicated workforce willing to work for such insulting substandard wages...

Well paid content workers goes a very long way overall to improve moral and production...

If it were not for labour unions, there would be NO middle class, workers compensation and or OHSA.

Something very seriously important to think about before bashing labour unions and it's honourable members...

Do CEO'S and politicians really deserver all their exorbitant salaries and "GOLDEN" pensions that they all enjoy ?!
7/15/2014 11:08:07 AM
TheFloyd says:
I don't understand all you union bashers. Kudos to the workers for standing up to what they've earned.

Will you people not be happy until everyone in Thunder Bay is working minimum wage and unable to support businesses within our community?
7/15/2014 10:35:15 AM
Mamanocash says:
People who comment to save money for the future and not worry about oensions..... Wake up! Starting at 18.00 an hour less taxes, less CPP. less EI. Less who knows what doesn't leave much to save for a family of 4. Private companies dont have pension plans and when we retire inwillingly because we are 'downsized' , the lack of a pension is a very large financial burden.
7/15/2014 10:32:02 AM
Dockboy says:
It will be a lot longer than a 3 day strike this time!
7/15/2014 8:27:22 AM
Bobguy says:
Dynamiter has hit it right on the head. The government should mandate the conversion of defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution plans as we can see in the past what happens when big companies fail. The DB plan model works only when there is constant growth in the company as the new employees support the old employees pensions. The whole thing falls apart when the company growth stalls or falls. Then you have situations like Great West Timber, Northern Woods, Resolute or south of the border, Detroit.
7/14/2014 11:14:18 PM
itmatters says:
Be happy you are working! These jobs will still be worth having even with the concessions. The pay is good. Open a bank account and save for the future. Being a union working employee, I am just happy for the wage. I am sure there are many others who would do that job for you.
7/14/2014 10:55:43 PM
sawmillsteve says:
"When asked about replacement workers, she said Bombardier will take every measure necessary to deliver its product as the customer comes first."
There's the nail in the coffin. Workers should always come first but its very apparent that they do not.
Better start looking for new jobs....I hear Resolute is hiring......
7/14/2014 10:11:11 PM
smartguy83 says:
Customer's come first. Many employees will never be happy, why not make sure the customers are?
7/15/2014 11:45:48 AM
Ranma says:
It really sounds like bombardier got what they wanted. They have no intention of giving the employees what they want. The plant will probably close and operations will be moved to Mexico.
7/14/2014 9:41:13 PM
albertallan says:
Yes, I believe Bombardier's demands were meant to guarantee a strike. They need to show the Ont Gov't they can't make it work here so they can take our tax dollars to Mexico.

Arch Stanton: It may look like we are orchestrating our own demise but we have no choice. If wages and benefits are reduced I can't afford to support my family.

Uncle Guiseppe in Siderno: grow up... the comments section is for adults.

Oddly though our union has not told us of any offers... They told us the Company only demanded concessions... hmmmm
7/14/2014 8:44:10 PM
donnybrook says:
"If wages and benefits are reduced I can't afford to support my family."

And yet people get disgruntled at the suggestion of raising the minimum wage so those who are also supporting a family at a third of the wage of Bombardier employees can put food on their table.
7/15/2014 3:51:36 PM
Murphy says:
What an ignorant comment "spend time at the lake". I'm sure their strike pay will allow for that.

Hope talks resume and they can come to an agreement.

7/14/2014 8:41:14 PM
watchful says:
and the company says Mexico here we come
7/14/2014 8:29:10 PM
nvjgu says:
Carefull now boy's and girls, Bombardier does not need to be here, it would not take much to move out of that place. I would not be surprised to see that happin.
7/14/2014 8:28:09 PM
nvjgu says:
It is the city of Toronto more so the Ont and Fed governments fault for letting work go to places like Mexico and china that is paid for by Ont taxpayers. And what I find real dumb is the fact that they want us to shop local.
7/14/2014 8:19:01 PM
trevor316 says:
cervasa pour ba bor???? corona and light rail cars will go hand in hand...the 3.7 billion contract is for Bombardier.....not "thunder bay bombardier plant" hopefully it works out...
7/14/2014 7:58:07 PM
damanisback says:
its hard to be competitive when your management staff is so bloated, imagine this overhead. formans,managers,directors,in parts,production quality,finance,hr. quality improvement,maintenance,purchasing.security,engineering,the list goes on and on and on. endless meetings that start with "what were we discussing yesterday?".management has doubled in the last 15 years. now there wondering how come we used to make money building trains and now we cant. hmmm I wonder?
7/14/2014 7:35:24 PM
smartguy83 says:
Prices have gone up too.

It is not admin costs that makes companies go under, it's usually unions, company lifespan or underperformance that will hurt you.

Unions are good for one group of people, and that's members of the union. Those who want to argue likely either was in a union, are lazy or want to be in a union.

I'll take my non union job where I can be fired when I deserve to be and have to earn what I am given.
7/15/2014 11:37:02 AM
orca says:
I wonder if those employees striking know what they're striking for.
7/14/2014 6:32:18 PM
moi says:
OR..if those employees know exactly what a pittance "strike pay" is. About enough to fill @half-a-tank on some of those 4X4 fuel hogs,just enough to drive back and forth to the picket line everyday.Say bye-bye to the atv's, 5th wheels, and boats...you'll need every cent just to keep your heads above water and to keep up with the monthly payments on "everything". LOL...it's all fun till somebody gets hurt eh? Check back with the people on the picket line, in say...about a month or two. Then you'll see some crying, and you'll be amazed at how fast members will turn on their executive,and on each other. Members will blame the executive...the executive will blame the company, and the finger pointing will never end.My advice? Get those resumes dusted off,and don't wait to send out job applications, 'cause I'm guessing...the union kinda screwed itself on this one.The company will go where the workers are, and right now...the workers "aint" in blunderbay.
7/16/2014 6:32:48 PM
fastball says:
It's new corporate reality.
Bust the unions by demanding concessions and wage rollbacks - and if they don't get those, close the plants down and relocate them in countries where they can get workers to go non-union and pay them whatever they want.
Just a quick Google search shows Bombardier signing contracts worth almost 20 BILLION dollars since 2011. Surely they can't be crying poor.
But the workers will have to be the ones that ultimately decide whether or not they are going back to work accepting what will probably be the first of many concessions - or sticking to their guns and walking the line for however long it takes.
7/14/2014 6:17:46 PM
moi says:
Ah yes..that 72 hour strike back in 2011, a real ball-buster.."don't sneeze or you'll miss it" strike by all accounts lol..
Welcome to the new reality folks, where companies quite frankly don't care/don't want unions. They will (companies) set-up shop where it's most favorable to their bottom line,and couldn't care less about your lot in life--whether you have savings in the bank..or, if you live paycheck-to-paycheck. Trades people have nothing to lose...there are so many ads/job postings/vacancies within a short commute of Thunder Bay,that I'm guessing that workers that are lucky enough to have a trade will have NO difficulty in securing another full-time, well paying position at another job site. IMO...the union kinda shot-itself-in-the-foot with voting in favour of a strike. Sorry guys...you've got no sympathy from this corner--"been there,done that"..trust me,wait till you don't have a paycheck for a month or two to pay the bills,I'm guessing union members will change their tune.
7/14/2014 6:07:14 PM
enos012 says:
"They've attacked it more ferociously than last time and here we are," Pasqualino said.
"We're not going back to work for less benefits than we had before."

They wanted you to strike so they can wave bye bye....
7/14/2014 5:36:48 PM
dynamiter says:
As I said before, this contract probably needs to be modernized. That means that new employees are switched to a defined contribution retirement plan from the unaffordable defined benefit plans. If the older employees are wise they will push for this will somewhat guarantee their defined benefit plans. As long as the company stays solvent they will get their money. If not then the next time the world economy tanks and it will, then these plans can cause the company to become uncompetitive. Just ask Air Canada and Resolute employees what happened to their plans. They have transitioned their newer employees and even some of the older employees away from defined benefit. Younger employees have the ability and longer time lines to adapt. Better to be working with a solvent defined contribution plan than collecting E I and an insolvent defined benefit plan and eventually that is what will happen.
7/14/2014 5:16:11 PM
enos012 says:
Why is does called 'modernization' seem to take more and more from the workers, which they fough so hard to get in the first place yet the rich seem to get richer? Seems like we are going backwards not forwards....
7/14/2014 9:00:46 PM
dynamiter says:
Maybe that is what you go on strike for. If you put 100 dollars into the new plan and the company matches, then ask for the company to put in more or something like that. Just don't refuse to negotiate as soon there will no longer be DB plans and that includes swivel servants, or this provides center will be like the city of Detroit, bankrupt due to DB pension liabilities.
7/15/2014 10:19:15 AM
dynamiter says:
This Province
7/15/2014 11:04:12 AM
fastball says:
Basically, you're saying they should throw the younger employees under the bus. Working side-by-side with a guy who's getting a guaranteed pension while you're working under a non-guaranteed plan flies in the face of everything for which the union stands.
Yes, I know the company will say some things are unsustainable - but a lot of that is rhetoric. I'm sure there's a happy medium someplace.
After all - negotiation means that no one gets EVERYTHING they want. A little co-pay here and a little concession there from both sides would smooth the bumps. But it takes two to tango, and if the company is perfectly happy to shut it down and move it to Mexico or Morocco or wherever - well, there goes your incentive to negotiate.
7/15/2014 11:07:56 AM
dynamiter says:
Come on Fastball - that is happening almost in every business. Look at Pulp and paper, look at auto industry, they are all doing it. It was also happening for years when you had apprentices doing the same work as journeymen but getting less pay and less benefits until they got their hours. It is not throwing people under the bus as you say - it is transitioning to a new system. Sometimes transitioning is easier than a total change or complete closure - pick your poison. But I get pretty sick and tired of things being either black and white - things arent except to Union leadership (or lack of it in this case). Younger people have a lot longer of a lead time to prepare for their retirement which is why they transition. Negotiate more into the pension for these younger employees or have a higher employee/employer match limit - or a bonus based on profits - there are ways besides not negotiating. Claw backs and co-pays are going to continue - just watch the Fibberals next year.
7/15/2014 3:34:15 PM
Arch Stanton says:
These strikers are putting themselves straight onto the scrap-heap... In recent years Bombardier Rail have closed plants in Derby, Wakefield, Pratteln, Kalmar, Amadora, Ammensdorf, Vesthau and Aachen. 1,200 high-paying jobs went at Aachen alone(!)

Thunder Bay is NOT immune. The plants in Mexico are picking up their work already... the rest is now being handed to them on a plate.

Pasqualino does not give a damn. Just as long as the last worker to turn out the lights at the Thunder Bay plant is still on full pension and benefits.

Just watch them do it!
7/14/2014 5:13:46 PM
S Duncan says:
This benefits the citizens of Ontario nicely.

I hope they both never give in to these demands because the citizens of Ontario cannot afford to buy their product.
7/14/2014 5:06:12 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In