Tbnewswatch Local News
Tuesday July 7 2015
12:39 AM EDT
2014-07-21 at 17:03

Compromises needed

Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino (left) meets with Mayor Keith Hobbs and Coun. Paul Pugh on Monday at the picket line in front of the Montreal Street plant.
Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino (left) meets with Mayor Keith Hobbs and Coun. Paul Pugh on Monday at the picket line in front of the Montreal Street plant.
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY – A deal can be reached between Bombardier and its 900 local striking employees only if the union is willing to talk about compromises, says a company’s spokeswoman.

The primary point of contention between the Montreal-based company and members of Unifor Local 1075 during the week-long labour dispute revolves around concessions the company is said to be seeking from the workers.

Bombardier’s local spokeswoman, Stephanie Ash, on Monday said there seems to be some confusion from workers on the picket line about the conditions outlined in the company’s most recent offer.

One of the biggest issues is perceived changes to the pension plan of current workers.

“I can tell you that is absolutely not the case,” Ash said of whether the company is seeking changes to the pension plan.

“What we have proposed in the contract does nothing to impact or change the current pension plan of any of the employees working on the site today or on the picket line.”

However, Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said while the changes might not affect current workers, he has to stand up against changes that will impact future members.

It’s an attempt to divide and separate the workers and it won’t work, Pasqualino vowed.

“I think what they’re doing for all new employees in going to a (defined contribution) plan, which is certainly going to divide the membership. The membership stands united. We don’t have second-class citizens in our workforce here so we all stick together on these issues,” he said.

For current workers the company is seeking concessions to their retirement benefits, as well as the eligibility for retirement, Pasqualino added.

Ash acknowledged the company is seeking some changes to retirement benefits in some cases but that most of the proposals have been taken out of proportion.

“There are some proposed changes related to benefits in retirement for people who choose to retire early, like 55 years. There is a contract proposal related to bridging for the people who choose to retire early,” Ash said.

“However, if you work with the company until 65 in a traditional retirement plan those pension and benefits will not be affected.”
There is no timeframe for when contract negotiations will resume.

The two sides are scheduled to meet later this week, though it will happen in a courtroom.

The company has filed an injunction against the union regarding picket line procedures, with the two sides to present their arguments on Wednesday.

Ash said the injunction was filed to establish a code of conduct and reducing the wait times for vehicles entering and exiting the Montreal Street plant.

Both sides attempted to work out a protocol agreement last week but those talks were unsuccessful.

The company is trying to ensure the safety of all at the site, Ash said.

“We have had several incidents that will be part of the injunction filing where people have come forward and reported threats to their safety in trying to get to work,” Ash said.

There are still close to 400 employees that must get across the line and report to work.

Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said he doesn’t think the injunction will be successful.

“Our lawyers feel the company has a very weak case,” Pasqualino said.

He is also concerned an injunction would limit the number of people on the picket line, making it easier for the company to bring replacement workers into the plant.

Ash quickly dismissed the notion of the company hiring replacement workers.

“At the current time there are no plans to bring in replacement workers,” she said. “This is not what this injunction is about. This injunction is about safety and making sure everybody is safe when they are crossing that picket line.”

Mayor Keith Hobbs visited the picket line to meet with workers. As a former union president during his time as a police officer, Hobbs said he sympathizes with the workers.

He hopes to see a quick resolution at a plant that he calls a “great economic driver” for Thunder Bay.

“I would really encourage management to sit down with the union and hammer out a deal that’s good for the union and good for the city,” Hobbs said. “Long, protracted strikes aren’t good for anyone, especially for the people out here who hope to feed their families.”


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bird500 says:
I call "LIE" on the fact that some people feel threatened when crossing the line. There have been no threats or intimidating tactics. The picket line has been quiet and peaceful, but Bombardier wants the union and it's members to be perceived as the bad guys in this dispute. The company is doing the smoke and mirrors trick for the benefit of the media.
Can the company provide times and dates for the "alleged" threats? Seeing as how they have video cameras doing constant surveillance of the line, they should be able to produce it.
7/23/2014 9:29:43 AM
westfortterri says:
The Union needs to show the members what is actually on the table and let them vote. Don't treat them like sheep
7/22/2014 6:14:56 PM
albertallan says:
There is "some confusion" on the line. UNIFOR has not shown us exactly what Bombardier is offering. They have no intention of letting us see or vote on the current offer.
We are ALL being mislead!
7/22/2014 12:20:12 PM
Bob Roberts says:
Time is a wasting Unifor get back to table and stop the BS posturing and settle quickly while you still can save some face. Face it the company knows you can't afford a long strike, they are in control and its up to the members to decide their fate. Stop the BS and get back to the table before your Jobs are gone to another plant (not in Ontario)
7/22/2014 10:34:57 AM
sg says:
spent much time on the line there Bob?
7/22/2014 1:34:04 PM
moi says:
Probably as much time as you have sg.
7/22/2014 7:27:19 PM
outofgas says:
Was Pugh representing the city with union Tshirt and hat. He can go as himself to support his brothers, but this comes across as the City supporting the union.
7/22/2014 10:21:20 AM
mrforreal says:
Guys... don't worry about hobbs being there to screw up anything.. He just came for the photo-op as the elections are 3 months away! after all in the interview he supports the workers and the company he said! he supports everyone! how can you support everything.. when the two don't agree. = Its simply all for votes and for his own agenda to get his job not axed.
7/22/2014 8:30:24 AM
fastball says:
Basically - they want the union to throw the new employees under the bus.
So you'll have two systems - and in 20 years, Bombardier will have everyone under THEIR preferred system.
7/22/2014 8:15:29 AM
westfortterri says:
The Company wants to switch new hires to a defined contribution retirement plan instead of the current Defined benefit plan (this is not taking away the pension plan just changing it). Also, the Company wants to take away Post retirement benefits for people with less than 5 years. How many people out there have private health benefits after they retire. Those are the 2 concessions that the union is talking about.
7/22/2014 7:14:25 AM
Shane Caker says:
My taxes are paying Hobbs to defend a union? lol. This is the last straw for me. Ken Boshcoff for mayor!
7/22/2014 1:51:21 AM
oscarmyerweiner says:
Ken was there as well.
7/22/2014 7:03:37 PM
oscarmyerweiner says:
I do believe the company forced the workers to strike just to buy some time to get things in order. A poor tactic on there part but the fence was put up on Sunday before there last meeting.....then they even missed that meeting. The union did what it had to...it's too bad these tactics play havoc with the lives of the employees. A lot are seeking jobs elsewhere and probably won't return. It will be very disappointing when they do resume and the employees are not there. If the company was offering something fair why haven't they asked for a membership vote.... because they know it's not fair and want to blame the union once again. Very sad indeed.
7/22/2014 12:57:50 AM
Harold_76 says:
In my opinion. All overpaid as is. Should be greatfull to make such good money without a college education.
7/22/2014 12:19:00 AM
Ranma says:
As always, a company that makes millions, if not billions, demands that workers take a massive pay cut, while the CEO gets a raise. Everyone remember what Caterpillar did after taking millions in hand outs?

For those that don't remember, they closed up shop and moved the hand outs down south and paid the workers less than half of what the canadians were being paid. All paid for with government money.
7/22/2014 12:11:34 AM
former says:
Why is the union they afraid of a defined contribution plan. This has been for a long time and is the way of the future. My company converted to this 25 years ago, and by my calculation, I have 90% more than what a defined benefit plan would be today. I'm glad we switched.
7/21/2014 11:37:05 PM
jonthunder says:
typo...the parties are "now" in or going to court. And, again, what are our City Council members doing taking sides in such a labour negotiation? Would they like companies or others to poke their noses and sticky fingers into their labour relations and negotiations? I think not. And a Councillor who was the union rep for years - representing the city in such a dispute - disgusting and totally unprofessional and unethical. I take not sides in the labour negotiation - let the parties reach an understanding/agreement, not the clowns in the peanut gallery.
7/21/2014 11:15:27 PM
dynamiter says:
“I would really encourage management to sit down with the union and hammer out a deal that’s good for the union and good for the city,” Hobbs said. Blah blah blah - If the union is totally unwilling to negotiate then what you see is what you are going to get. This is the second time that during the labour agreement negotiations that the company has come after the Defined benefit plan and rightfully so. As a country our businesses cannot afford these plans. It is time to move towards a more cost effective plan. This does mean that these new employees will not have a lucrative plan - just the company will not have the albatross of a defined benefit plan around their neck. http://www.thestar.com/life/parent/2008/01/27/whats_best_defined_benefit_or_defined_contribution_plan.html
7/21/2014 10:32:49 PM
TBTNFL says:
I'd encourage you to look into what you are saying. Bombardier can definitely afford these plans but instead gives a bonus to their top heavy management and takes from it's workers to satisfy shareholders profit demands.

The union has tried to bargain with the company however the company gave the union a take it or leave it offer and never even showed up to the last bargaining meeting.

What Bombardier is doing is no different than the big auto makers and bank bail outs. A hefty bonus for management and cuts for the workers after accepting provincial subsidy's.
7/21/2014 11:24:48 PM
dynamiter says:
Nobody is saying that the company is going broke. But Defined Benefit plans are long term liability. The pulp and paper and Auto Unions argued for years that these companies were making a bunch of money and would never go broke. They have all changed their labour agreements towards defined contributions. It put the money and plans in control of the members and their financial planners (if they want one). It is by far much better as the article that I referenced.
As far as what type of bargaining strategies are being used by both parties - no comment - these strategies and things such a lockouts are diversionary tactics to win public support. Just from what Mr Pasquilino has been stating - that they are fighting this for future employees reeks of marching to Unifors head office orders. They should be looking at what is happening to their current employees who will never get these lost wages back.
By the way Resolute has had many different pensions plans for different locals for years.
7/22/2014 2:24:59 PM
averagejoe says:
I think people should learn to read a balance sheet before assuming a company is going broke. End of fiscal 2013, Bombardier had total assets of $29.3B. That's up more than $4B from 2012.

The company as a whole is doing quite well. The local operation has many contracts which will keep the facility running for many years.

The company is being greedy, and has offered the union members a bad deal, plain and simple. The members have only asked for the company to take the concessions off the table, but management won't even talk to the union.

Support UNIFOR!
7/21/2014 11:34:39 PM
dynamiter says:
Meant to say that - This does NOT mean that these new employees will not have a lucrative plan
7/22/2014 9:32:43 AM
windigo says:
Who does hobbs think he is, sticking his nose in this labour dispute. We all know he was a union rep from way back. Wants the company to make a deal good for the city and the workers, what about the company. Not good for the city if bombardier doesn't make money and closes the plant. I have an idea hobbs, why don't you take a page out of all companies books, and realize defined pension plans are not realistic. Why should I guarantee other peoples investments
7/21/2014 9:58:41 PM
jonthunder says:
Why are our Mayor and Council taking sides in a labour negotiation? And is it correct that person with a -local marketing firm is speaking for and essentially bargaining in the media for a big company like Bombardier, and the parties are not in court....it all sounds messy, and could be spinning out of control.
7/21/2014 9:56:18 PM
S Duncan says:

these people should be neutral in this matter if they care about the good of the city.

If I was a big wig at Bombardier, and I saw the town clowncillor dressed in union garb, and the mayor there kissing boots.. I'd go out of my way to make sure my business did as little as possible for that community.

I would feel less concerned about packing up operations and moving them to an area that supports big employers rather than undermines them.

I see this as a tremendous conflict of interest, especially on Pugh's account getting dressed up in his favourite colour like that.

this showcases an attitude of a city that is unfriendly to business and if you think nobody else sees that as well, youre kidding yourself.

If you were looking to set up a business, would you come here where the politicians are obviously biased vote beggars?

or would you go somewhere that welcomes you?
7/22/2014 10:23:47 AM
moi says:
I rarely agree with you S Duncan...but on this occasion, I do agree with your post.
The mayor and (members of) council have absolutely NO business shwowing-up at that picket line.Hobbs will NOT have my vote come this election.
7/22/2014 7:19:15 PM
tudor says:
My nephew was told that they wanted to take away the defined benefit plan from current workers. It seems Bombardier wants to take it away from future hires. That is a rather large difference.

I am fine if the union wants to save it for workers not yet there but I take exception to the current workers being told that their pension plan is at risk.

So is Ms. Ash wrong in her statements.

Both stories cannot be true so someone is misleading the public.
7/21/2014 9:40:05 PM
smartguy83 says:
She is correct.
7/22/2014 9:44:28 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
OK kids. Hobbs stuck his nose into CN's business and where did that get him. What's going to happen if he sticks his nose into your business?
7/21/2014 8:31:26 PM
smartguy83 says:
It's his job to "stick his nose in"
7/22/2014 9:43:56 AM
westfortterri says:
Come on Dominic. What are you afraid of? Let your people see what the company is offering and let them vote! You are ruining families and yet you claim to be protecting future workers. If Bombardier leaves there will be no future workers. This lose will be devastating for everyone and we will know who to blame. Democracy - vote.
7/21/2014 6:55:42 PM
Kam River says:
So Hobbs is a former Union Boss and Pugh is the former Union Boss at Bombardier

What has this got to do with their position on Council other than it is election time.

This is wrong the city should not be involved.
7/21/2014 6:42:45 PM
orca says:
Let the workers see what the company is offering and let them vote if they want to strike or not! Workers should decide their future, not the union leaders.
7/21/2014 6:39:11 PM
averagejoe says:
Somehow you've missed the point of what it means to be part of a union. Google it, then come back to the conversation.

Any union worker that does not want the benefits of being part of a union, you are free at anytime to leave your resignation on your manager's desk.
7/21/2014 11:49:30 PM
Eastender says:
United you stand.
Divided yoou fall.
7/22/2014 10:13:10 PM
caesarjbasquitti says:
Hello...is anyone listening.

In other countries, like China, they the government demand, dictate, that all products made for local production MUST have a high degree of local production.

I understand that the federal and provincial governments in Canada don't do this. Perhaps because of 'free trade' which if you are dealing with 3rd and 4th world countries are unfair to the local people.

Now with Ontario Provincial contracts, funded by the Ontario Tax Payers, there should be such stipulations, or we will see alot of this manufacturing moving off shore.

Wonder why the government did not insist that these details be part of the original contract ?
7/21/2014 5:16:38 PM
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