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Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday May 24 2015
11:21 PM EDT
2014-07-18 at 17:04

Union targets PR firm

A small group of striking Bombardier workers protested outside the Court Street offices of Firedog Communications, the public relations firm hired to represent the company.
Matt Vis,
A small group of striking Bombardier workers protested outside the Court Street offices of Firedog Communications, the public relations firm hired to represent the company.
By Matt Vis,

THUNDER BAY – The union representing striking Bombardier workers found a new target of their frustrations Friday.

A small contingent of pickets migrated from their usual position on Montreal Street, and demonstrated instead outside the Court Street offices of Firedog Communications. The local public relations firm has been hired to represent Bombardier, which has caught the union’s attention during its recent labour dispute.

Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said he harbours no ill will toward Firedog CEO and lead strategist Stephanie Ash, but said it was time to send a message that the union was not happy with how the company’s representatives have been portraying the labour dispute.

“We feel the statements that have been coming from Stephanie Ash have been misleading or untrue. We feel she should look at some of the facts,” Pasqualino said.

“I know it would be difficult for her to get the truth because it’s not the actual people at the bargaining table on the company’s side speaking. It’s a consultant.”

When reached later in the afternoon Ash said demonstrations come with the territory, but was disappointed to be singled out.

“It’s my job to represent the company we work with,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate the union chose to target me personally in this but that’s their choice and they’re obviously upset about the situation and it’s their right to express their feelings.”

Thunder Bay Police Service officers responded to the protest. Pasqualino said police encouraged the workers to leave because their dispute was not directly with Firedog. The union complied.

The last straw the union came when local media outlets reported Thursday a tentative agreement regarding strike protocol had been reached. Pasqualino said no such agreement has been reached.

He believes any potential miscommunication could be avoided by simply having members of the company’s negotiating team responsible for communications. It would also be cheaper.

“Bombardier is saying they need to cut costs and we think they can save a lot of money by having the people from the bargaining side on the company come to the media and eliminate the middle man by having Stephanie there,” he said.

With no picket line protocol agreement, the company has gone ahead and filed an injunction.

Ash said it was the company’s understanding was the union would meet to review the proposed protocol by noon but had not done so, prompting the filing.

The company has expressed concern for the safety of the 400 employees who still must report to work at the Montreal Street plant.

Employees still reporting for work include management and those who perform administrative and engineering roles.

The picket line has been busy since the close to 900 Unifor workers, who are responsible for building the light rail cars, walked off the job Monday afternoon.

City police officers have been routinely patrolling the line and controlling traffic.

Buses have been routinely blocked from entering the facility and employees, such as management, have had to park their vehicles and cross the line on foot.

In related news, Bombardier announced Thunder Bay and Rocket head of operations Aaron Rivers was named as the company’s Americas head of operations, expanding his role beyond Thunder Bay to include all sites in the United States, Mexico and Brazil.

The move caught Pasqualino by surprise, who said he was “disappointed” considering the current state of affairs at the one facility Rivers was overseeing.

“He has all this trouble in Thunder Bay and he hasn’t been able to solve any problems at this point in time. Now they have him in control of all the Americas. I think that’s a bad sign for Bombardier,” he said.

Negotiations towards a new contract have been at a standstill since last weekend. The company continues to seek pension and benefit concessions from the workers while the union is refusing to back down.


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Bob Roberts says:
Unifor flush with money in the coffers (union dues) after making a bigger Union from the dwindling memberships of other unions. The times are a changing and your past your expiry date. The new business rationale is the same for all companies, Reduction in Benefits = more proft margin, Defined contribution plans for new employees (saves company money over long haul), hell you will be lucky to get any benefits after you retire. Unions have outlined their purpose as the Union management and exective have not kept up with the times. Strike for what these days, Pride , Lets show the company, in the end your out of pocket, no gains just losses. Maybe a reduction in wages and benefits to keep the plant open and competetive in a global market ecomony. Oops there are always minimum wage jobs, or part time work at Walmart. Your Last Stand , better make it a good long strike and show them who is boss.
7/21/2014 11:28:21 AM
Just Sayin' says:
The government needs to stop investing in plants like this and start investing in newer industries and technologies where money grubbing isn't an issue. Clearly no innovation left in this industry. Just like auto industry the only way to increase profits is take from someone else. The best thing for this plant and our City is for it to shut down...Only when times are tough do we often change and I think we are overdue for change.

With the Ontario Gov't that we voted in - a budget reality is going to happen in the future...We won't be able to afford the made in Ontario railcars being produced in our province. When that happens, there really is no need for Bombardier to be located in Ontario. On the bright side it should open up much needed power for our "Ring of Fire" so maybe we don't need a power plant here at all?
7/20/2014 11:45:09 PM
albertallan says:
I am not discouraged by Bombardier's lack of honesty in the public forum but I'm sure as hell discouraged by the "bold faced lies" UNIFOR is feeding me.
I believe this strike is taking place for the purpose of protecting unreasonable/untenable pensions for the high seniority members at the expense of the rest of us.
We, who will never see such pensions due to the reality of the current world we live in, are just cannon fodder for the well entitled UNIFOR members.
All these lies and all this risk with the National President's blessing.
7/20/2014 10:22:43 PM
albertallan says:
We can't vote on anything now because contrary to popular belief the Union has not told us the whole story, only snippets and buzzwords to keep us fighting.
UNIFOR has spoken little but lies to it's members since it was formed...
We were told membership cards were to be distributed to the members.. many months later all
I have in my pocket are excuses.
It is known for a fact our cards have been gathering dust in the office for several weeks.
We were told to vote for a strike weeks before any offers were tabled... now we are on the line without recourse.
We were told in writing that time served on the picket line the first Tues, Wed would count towards our obligation for strike pay... at the meeting on Thurs we were told by Frosty "time served before Thurs was for the support of you union" no pay. (Like we owe him something)
we were told our obligation for strike pay was 8hrs/wk... UNIFOR arbitrarily raised it to 18hrs/wk.. no recourse.
7/20/2014 10:12:02 PM
orca says:
Somebody's saying Bombardier is getting record profits yet the stock price is at an all time high of $3.75.
7/20/2014 3:24:11 PM
Mystified says:
You got wrong Joesmo. It's a sellers market in Tbay. We got 40k above list price when we vacated that depressing town.
7/20/2014 12:44:10 PM
prickeral says:
There was no full disclosure on what the company has offered. Did the workers get a print out of what was offered? I know I didn't get one. They talked the talk to keep morale up. I hope this will not be a repeat of a previous strike, out for 6 months & go back for 5 cents.

Why was not all avenues exhausted before we had to walk out at 2:00 pm last week? Was it because the head of Unifor was coming to Thunder Bay for only us? No he was here for other business as well.

I am thoroughly disgusted with the behaviour of some of our members who make us all look bad. Liquid lunches before coming back to the picket line in time for the other 400 employees to leave just does what...makes you seem though?

If our members are honest they will tell you they have witnessed some incidents that are in conflict to what our president says to be true.

Do our members forget that we are being watched? It would be a shame to have your conduct on the picket line cost you a lot more in the end.
7/20/2014 11:10:38 AM
Joesmo says:
You are all going to be in the same boat as safeway employees soon. The union doesn't care about you they are getting fat off your contributions.
Best of luck but it doesn't look good for you all. I guess there will be some houses will be going cheap soon.
7/20/2014 5:02:07 AM
westfortterri says:
Give the workers the company's last offer and then let them vote if they want to be on strike. What is the Union afraid of?
7/19/2014 9:13:45 PM
tudor says:
Mr. Brown, did you say these things at your union meeting or just behind the anonymity of a web page. Stand up and yell if that is what you believe. As for the new folks being impacted. Yes, anyone with less than 5 years which is hundreds of people and all of those yet to come. As for this issue, I certainly can understand why people might be upset that Firedog is being picketed, except Firedog took the paid gig from Bombardier to be toe the company line publicly. The more logical question is why a company with billions, needs to hire a firm to be the mouthpiece during a strike if for no other reason than the highly paid mgm't team's wish to stay clear of the media.

How about this.

Both sides agree to final offer arbitration.

Company pitches their generous offer and the union proposes what they are hoping for.

The arbitrator can only pick one, not a combination of both.

Let's see if the company wants to agree to that? They should have nothing to fear if their offer was really good
7/19/2014 2:40:30 PM
orca says:
This is what happens when the truth starts coming out. But some people will still keep their eyes closed without understanding the complete picture.
7/19/2014 10:49:55 AM
westfortterri says:
Let the workers vote now that they actually know what the concessions are. We are supposed to be a Democratic society
7/19/2014 10:02:55 AM
westfortterri says:
Each striker is losing $1000 a week, less strike pay if they get it, to win something that has no gain for them. Smart. Most if not all of the new workers will probably not be working there when they retire in 30 years. People keep saying we have better, smarter workers than in Mexico. Really?
7/19/2014 9:30:19 AM
educator says:
Good of the whole westfortterri.

If those who came before you or the loved one you are defending had not taken a stand, you would not have what you have today.

7/20/2014 4:02:23 PM
BobBrownTB says:
This is great guys!!! I am so proud of having you guys as Union Representatives!!!! You decide to attack a small business in TB instead of really protecting our jobs and the well being of our city. The Mafia moves are over guys!!! Intimidation does not work anymore. We are in 2014. Please tell our members the true of what we are really fighting for? The plant is currently full and the package offered by the company only affects new employees. Do you think is it fair to put at risk our jobs (900 members) for future employees who may never be with us in Thunder Bay???? Are you going to pay my mortgage Today??? I care about my job, my family and my city and I do not believe that you are really representing us right now...these jobs will end up leaving the town and after I will be picketing at you house...Bombardier will end up moving to another location in Ontario and we will be left with nothing...Great Job Union!!! I bet you are currently getting your full salary!!!
7/18/2014 11:41:31 PM
SG says:
No they are not getting their full salary. Strike pay just like you. Nice try though.

As for the rest... well that's your opinion. You don't have to walk the line if you don't want to.
7/19/2014 10:48:32 AM
maidofpandora says:
My sympathies BobBrownTB. I agree that the unions should protect their members, but I cannot see how new members (hired only a month or two ago) should be put in priority over the guys who have been doing this their whole career. Everyone had to work hard to secure the contracts that you're working on right now and it'd be embarrassing to see the work leave Thunder Bay for another plant because of this strike - not to mention disastrous for the people who won't be able to find work elsewhere in the area.

By the way, Defined Benefit Pension programs are being replaced everywhere by Defined Contribution programs. Why are the unions acting as though this is some crazy move by Bombardier when it's actually the trend and has been already implemented by most companies...?
7/19/2014 11:49:08 AM
Shark says:
Since you don't agree with Unions why do you have a Union job? Quit and go find yourself another job. Having a Union job when you don't like Unions makes you one major hypocrite. Unions represent the whole membership not just the ones with seniority. If you don't like it well don't let the door hit you in the ars on the way out. If you don't know whats going on then maybe you should attend the meetings, and if you have no money for your mortgage then maybe you should learn to live within your means. We have known for at least a year now that this was going to happen so you should have prepared and if you didn't, that would be your own fault.
7/19/2014 12:22:45 PM
canadian_trucker says:
thought i support the strikers and what they are fighting for... why are they allowed parking on both sides on Montreal St... reduce the road surface for others too travel on safely...and yet the police do nothing too prevent this?? park on 1 side and allow other citizens who support your cause too be safe while driving of a city street,,,,, 100% for you strikers... lets all be safe
7/18/2014 11:13:37 PM
orca says:
Why hasnt TB newswatch released the company's version of the story?
7/18/2014 8:59:54 PM
TBTNFL says:
ORCA, all TBT news has done is show Bombardier's side of the story.
7/19/2014 10:58:30 PM
bubba says:
Regardless of the future you deserve X. I'm not responsible , you owe me.
Carefull what you post folks, they'll be outside your/my door next ! Defined benefits only work when interest hits a certain point. That ain't happening any time soon, maybe never again.
7/18/2014 7:23:54 PM
educator says:
The police have no jurisdiction to act against the picketers as long as they are not impeding traffic.

I applaud the strikers. Stay strong brothers and sisters and don't let them bully you.
7/18/2014 6:38:55 PM
common cents says:
The more I read into this,

Shame on you... Bombardier

Shame on you... Firedog Communications!
7/18/2014 5:43:24 PM
westfort resident says:
Bullying a small business! Classy, Unifor.
7/18/2014 5:28:15 PM
BobBrownTB says:
Instead of promoting new businesses in our city we target them...This small business is just representing Bombardier's mandate. It is not up to this business to decide how to proceed or the message to be delivered...Great Job Union Leaders!!!! Let's go against anybody who thinks differently!!! Come on guys??? Let's be professional...You are representing 900 members and a good part of the Thunder Bay work force and our community!!!
7/18/2014 11:56:45 PM
BobBrownTB says:
I am so proud of our Union Leaders who like to bully around!!! Great move!!!!
7/19/2014 12:13:17 AM
educator says:
And yet you are okay with Bombardier, a company with 2013 revenues of $18.2 Billion bullying 900 local employees.

7/19/2014 10:48:15 AM
BobBrownTB says:
I am not OK with big companies bullying employees but the issue is that Globally this is what is happening...We can strike for months, get no payment in the meantime, and at the end we will have to follow the trend of what is happening all over the place. The other plant in Quebec stroke for 6 weeks because they did not want to accept the Define Contribution Pension Plan for new employees. After six weeks, they came back and accepted the deal that Bombardier is implementing worldwide. Do you want me to let go 6 weeks of my salary to end up in the same situation?
7/19/2014 1:30:38 PM
TBTNFL says:
Bombardier has record profits every year and every contract they take more away from the people who make them these record profits. If you ask me accepting this simply because this is what the company is doing globally is a terrible idea. Our government should be demanding better for it's citizens as these contracts were given to bombardier in good faith they employed Ontario workers. Not to mention the renovations Ontario tax dollars paid for so this plant could hire Ontario workers. Bombardier instead takes the money and outsources to Mexico, record profits again.
7/19/2014 10:57:07 PM
educator says:
If I was one of your union brothers or sisters, we would be having a little chat about your attitude.

You have what you have today because of your union and the brothers and sisters who came before you.

I think it's high time you realized this strike is about the good of all, not the good of one.
7/20/2014 12:36:58 AM
westfort resident says:
Welcome to the global economy. Bombardier doesn't HAVE to operate in Thunder Bay. The era of entitlement is OVER.

BobBrownTB has common sense and a real perspective on the situation.
7/19/2014 9:36:46 PM
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