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2014-07-15 at 17:24

A long fight?

Members of Unifor Local 1075 hit the picket lines outside the Bombardier plant for the second day of their strike.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Members of Unifor Local 1075 hit the picket lines outside the Bombardier plant for the second day of their strike.
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By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY – Striking workers at the city’s Bombardier plant insist they’re ready for the long haul.

Members of Unifor Local 1075 hit the picket line Tuesday for Day 2 of its strike against the transportation company. Linda Lafontaine, who has worked at the plant for 27 years, was among those outside the Montreal Street facility in the morning.

She remembers the short-lived strike of 2011 when the company and union were able to reach an agreement after just three days.

Despite that speedy resolution in the not-too-distant past, Lafontaine isn’t optimistic that there will be such a prompt agreement this time around.

“I feel it’s going to be a long one. I’m very afraid,” she said. “I feel so sorry for the young people here because a lot of them have mortgages and vehicles to pay for. If it’s long we’re going to lose a lot of good workers.”

Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino isn’t anticipating a quick resolution either.

Pasqualino said he has heard Thunder Bay unit vice-president Aaron Rivers is heading out of the country for the rest of the week, which will presumably put talks on hold. While those reports are unconfirmed, it’s just the newest sign of tension between the two sides that reportedly haven’t had any meaningful discussions in more than two days.

“Saturday was the last time they basically talked to us about an offer. We were waiting at the table all day Saturday, all day Sunday and all day Monday,” Pasqualino said.

“We actually gave them longer than the 72 hours we promised them, hoping they would come to the table but they weren’t interested in talks unless we were going to accept all their concessions.”

Company spokesperson Stephanie Ash said she was not aware of whether or not Rivers had left.

Pamphlets distributed by union members claim the company’s offer includes a reduction in benefits, eliminating a group of employees to be replaced by an outside contractors and nixing retirement benefits.

The pickets standing outside of the local plants say they’re just not willing to make those kinds of consessions.

“I’m ready to retire and now if they do what they want to do here I won’t be able to retire,” Lafontaine said.

“I’m very upset the company decided to go the way it did. I was very hopeful we wouldn’t even go on strike and believed they would give us a good deal. They’re not giving us anything.”

Rumours are swirling along the picket line that the company could be looking at bringing in replacement workers, which Ash neither confirmed nor denied.

If the company were to bring in replacement workers, Pasqualino does not believe they would be from the sister plant in Quebec considering that facility recently went through a nearly six-week long strike of their own.

The jobs aren’t the easiest to replace.

“I can’t believe somebody who has no skills, how they’re going to build these cars,” he said.

While the workers appear to be united on the line, Pasqualino is still concerned some might begin to seek other opportunities, harming the plant long-term.

One way or another the people are going to be working, he said.


 

Banner/Vector Construction

Comments

We've improved our comment system.
enos012 says:
This is why strikes never last long anymore, mortages and bills to pay...they are not giving you anything? A good paying job? No I don't agree with the reduction or benefits and pensions but steady work is that, you don't realise what you have until it's gone....
7/15/2014 6:08:15 PM
Carj says:
I greatly sympathize with the bombardier workers on strike, the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled a few yrs back that any company that is facing bankruptcy in the future can go after workers pensions/pension plans. I'm sure that any private company must just love that court ruling as it makes it soooo much easier to rip-off the workers. That ruling threatens a variety of workers in a variety of fields. The courts don't care, when has anyone heard of a judge' s financial or retirement future been in jeopardy ? Ask yourself how secure your pension is!,
7/15/2014 6:15:15 PM
Tiredofit says:
I'm sure the president is heading to Mexico to discuss the transfer of development to their divisions there.

It's a very slippery slope when you take on a company like this, sometes it's far easier to simply move it out of country, pay the fined etc.

Don't get me wrong, I feel for the workers and it will have a negative effect on the city and province as a whole, but they and the share holders only care about the bottom line.
7/15/2014 6:23:34 PM
nvjgu says:
Seek other opportunities, like what there is non. Here anyway.
7/15/2014 9:48:48 PM
rocketship says:
I haven't heard anything about what the workers want and what the company is offering.

How unfortunate that this is happening just when Thunder Bay was finally experiencing some economic stability!!
7/16/2014 8:53:50 AM
djs says:
I am hoping that the two parties can get back to the table. This is a productive business with a well known product. There have to be ways to save money without jeopardizing what the workers have in their past contracts. Maybe it is time to grandfather the retirement benefits or explore what benefits are used/not used to streamline that area. Eliminating workers and contracting out could affect the quality of the work produced as they won't have the same ownership to the quality. I will keep my fingers crossed that an agreement can be reached that doesn't take workers backwards or put people out of work. Management must be willing to share the weath with those who bring it in. It is a lesson Walmart can learn...
7/16/2014 9:11:04 AM
bttnk says:
Best of luck for a quick and fair deal for the workers.

I truly fear that the continued push by the union is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back and this plant will close once and for all in Tbay. It is becoming increasingly cost prohibitive to do business in Canada.
7/16/2014 9:13:51 AM
sg says:
I suppose if one says the union should take only concessions than yeah that's a push. They say no concessions. The company is pushing significant concessions. The Thunder Bay plant has many billions in contracts. It has many many workers because of all the work. So what's with the concessions?
7/16/2014 12:17:57 PM
outside looking in says:
I would like to see exactly what is offered and what the concessions are. The company is not taking away their pension but changing new members to another type of pension. Is this a concession? Last time the company and union negotiated a wage increase as part of the settlement. I am assuming that this time the union is aking for more money as a raise. Since this is a change to what was previously agreed upon, would it now be concidered a "concession" by the company to increase wages that were previously agreed to? Just a thought. There is a difference between what is demanded and what is negotiated. It works both ways.
7/16/2014 3:27:28 PM
sg says:
yes those are concessions. From what I understand the union would be satisfied with something closer to status quo. And there have been significant concessions in the recent past.

Find a member and ask them what was offered.

Frankly the company has walked away from the table. They haven't bargained in good faith from the very beginning.
7/17/2014 8:25:29 AM
yellowsnow says:
Maybe it's time to start looking after your own future, and not relying on the company you hate enough to strike against, to do it for you. Adios Amigos!!
7/16/2014 11:09:04 AM
Tachyion says:
Olla...Mexico or Brazil!!!!
7/17/2014 4:25:36 PM
what'sup says:
I understand that it is hard to give up something that you have worked hard to get and maintain (benefits/pension). I used to have all of that but now I am working contract to contract. I have been able to live without a pension and am very appreciative to have a job. There are worse things in life than not having a pension or benefits. I think people should count their blessings and appreciate what they are offered as they still have a job. If they continue to push the company I could see it pulling right out of the city. Why wouldn't a company so somewhere where the wages are lower and do not have to pay benefits? I wish all of you luck and hate to see good paying jobs be lost over greed.
7/16/2014 11:19:37 AM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:
keep striking.......

Bombardier will close doors & move to Mexico & not even blink an eye over it....

get back to work before your jobs are gone for good!!
7/16/2014 11:40:13 AM
Dockboy says:
nvjgu ??????????????
7/16/2014 11:41:35 AM
Jack Frost says:
Such BIASED and DISCRIMNIATORY reporting !!!
7/16/2014 1:29:36 PM
oscarmyerweiner says:
For a company to make 18 billion dollars profit last year then want to take away from the ones that helped them earn that. Shame, shame, shame.
7/16/2014 2:11:49 PM
djs says:
I don't think they "hate" the company; I think that they are willing to use what the labour act provides them with to attempt to get a fair deal. They have the right to strike. They have the right to expect to be treated fairly. They are lucky enough to have a union to help them provide a united front. These workers provide a quality product. Will it still be so if the company moves to Mexico, as some are suggesting? I doubt it. Let's support our workers because if they lose, those without union protection, lose even more.
7/16/2014 2:19:49 PM
Jack Frost says:
Before BASHING Organized Union Labour, keep this in mind...

Both Trade and Labour UNIONS are responsible for creating CANADA's MIDDLE-CLASS citizens.

If it were not for TRADES and Labour Unions, there would be NO middle class, No 8-hour-day, NO 40-hour-work-week, NO occupational health and safety, NO workers compensation, NO pensions, NO employment standards and NO
UNemployment Insurance (EI) and let's not forget NO HEALTH CARE etc., etc. that we ALL benefit and enjoy.

Remember too, that the police, fire and health-care workers etc. all have their Associations (Unions) as well that also bargain on all their behalf the exact same way as Unifor is doing for it's members.

Good paying jobs contribute higher purchases and taxes to help support our economy and CANADA.

Labour Unions are the best thing that has ever happened to and for ALL the working-class peoples and CANADA !

It is "ORGANIZED" labour and the middle-class workers that have built CANADA and all it's industries.

7/16/2014 5:58:05 PM
progress now says:
Hope this sorts out. The community needs the plant as much as the employees.
7/16/2014 11:56:28 PM
tudor says:
The company pension plan for any employee under five years is what the employer wants to eliminate. That's the majority of workers.

The plan itself is anything but generous and they want it removed.

So at a time when study after study is showing that gov't plans are insufficient for people to live, we have a private company getting rich on taxpayer spending for mass transit, trying to get even more rich.

Does anyone know what an employee at our local supermarkets get when they retire.

Approximately $30 a month for each year worked. And that is today. It was much less only ten years ago. Do the math if you work 40 years. 1200 a month.

I am sure some will argue that you should save for your retirement. If you force issues like this, more people will be forced to work longer, clogging up the jobs and making it harder for young people to find work.

Is that what we want.
7/17/2014 9:19:54 AM
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