Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
10:48 PM EDT
2014-07-24 at 14:16

Staying put

Strikers continued to picket Thunder Bay’s Bombardier plant Thursday along Montreal Street.
Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
Strikers continued to picket Thunder Bay’s Bombardier plant Thursday along Montreal Street.
By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- Rumours of Bombardier pulling up stakes in Thunder Bay and fleeing to Mexico are unfounded, says company spokeswoman Stephanie Ash.

The company has no plans to leave Thunder Bay, despite a labour dispute that’s stretched to 10 days and left management scrambling to put the finishing touches on rail cars slated for delivery this year.

“Absolutely not at this time,” Ash said on Thursday. “The evidence shows we’ve actually doubled the workforce here in Thunder Bay in the last three years. The plant is at capacity pretty much in terms of employees and production. This is a really great plant for Thunder Bay. It’s a great plant for the company.”

However, Ash added, Bombardier has to be financially responsible and must consider cost containment in order to survive.

“There is a market reality that needs to come into play. We have to keep this site cost competitive. So part of the contract proposal and coming to an agreement with Unifor is making sure we keep this plant here in Thunder Bay competitive for the long term,” Ash said.

“It’s about bringing more jobs to Thunder Bay. It’s about bringing more business to Thunder Bay. Again, we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market.”

At the centre of the strike are benefits and pensions. The company wants to move away from a defined benefit pension, something union leaders say they refuse give up.

Talk of a move might be a moot point, if the company wants to continue doing business with Ontario municipalities. Under the proposed Bill 168, municipalities receiving grants or loans from the province to purchase mass transportation vehicles would have to ensure 60 per cent portion of the bid price for materials, overhead, labour and profit originates in Canada. Ontario already has lesser content regulations in place.

If the new bill passes, installation of propulsion control and cooling, braking, heating and air conditioning and communications equipment, motors, wheels and axles, suspensions, frames and energy sources for auxiliaries and controls must be completed in Canada.

It’s already passed first reading at Queen’s Park.

The company, which employs 1,400 in Thunder Bay, does have a plant in Kingston, Ont., but it would need capital investments to be able to complete the light-rail work being done in Thunder Bay.

Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said moving the work to Mexico would be a mistake.

“I see the work that comes from Mexico and I don’t think it would be good for the Ontario consumer or public to ride on these cars if the cars are coming from Mexico,” he said. “We do a lot of repair work from Mexico. I think that it’s a bad idea. And I think it’s a bad idea for Bombardier.”

Pasqualino added the company got its current Toronto contracts based on the fact the work would be complete in Ontario.

“We are made in Canada and I think that maybe perhaps the Ontario government would look at a wider spectrum of buyers before they got a car again from Bombardier if they went to Mexico.”

Is he afraid it might happen though? He certainly is.

“It’s a possibility. Anything can be a possibility,” Pasqualino said.

Talks remain at a standstill, a day after the two sides finally agreed to picket-line protocols on Wednesday.

Pasqualino, who said he’s heard talk of management putting the finishing touches on rail cars scheduled for delivery, said no talks are scheduled.

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tiredofit says:
Key sentence in that article...

“Absolutely not at this time,” Ash said on Thursday.


Strike goes on long enough that will change. It's a sad reality of life today, the only thing that really matters is the bottom line and the shareholders
7/25/2014 2:56:40 PM
lvm123 says:
Not a lot of C series rail cars out there. Like really , refer to s story 4 months old in a completely different division.
7/25/2014 11:58:57 AM
CM Punk says:
The writing is on the wall.
Bombardier is going to lay off 1800 people in Montreal over the delayed and faulty C Series plan development.
Those jobs are likely to move to Russia and China according to a CBC and CTV news report.

The local plant will be locked and the work will be moved to Mexico. As Ash has said, the company needs to be financially responsible, meaning they want to make more money.

I am really surprised that a business such as Firedog is up front and in the spotlight here.
Considering TBay is a union town and they are basically part of the problem in soon to be losing 900 to 1300 good paying jobs. I don't think they are getting a good rep in whatever their business is supposed to be.

7/25/2014 9:57:05 AM
trevor99 says:
The union told the workers that anyone under five years would lose their defined benefit pension.


It seems no one at Bombardier cares that their own union is providing them with false info.

Now don't confuse this with support for management.

But the union members need to take back control.

If the union were to cave on the pension plan for new hires, yes, they would be setting up a two tier system, but here is a thought.

Those hires know that coming in. They know the game and they know what the pay is. If they don't like it, don't take the job.

To go on strike for yourself is one thing. To go on strike, risk a plant, risk mortgage payments, car loans or things your kids need, that is something else.

Move on that issue and likely watch everything else fall into place. As for Canadian Content, why has the union not made this part of their demands. Why do they need gov't to do it for them. Get it into your contract or are you waiting for gov't to do that for you.
7/24/2014 8:42:37 PM
Shane Caker says:
You obviously don't know anything about unions. The striking members are reaping the rewards of past union members, and now it's their turn to carry the torch. They understand that. They won't crap out on new hires for self gratification. That, in a nutshell, is how it works.
7/24/2014 9:51:13 PM
orca says:
The sad thing about this is that ideologies like this won't feed your family. Family first no matter what. Coz if and when the company closes down, your union leaders can't feed your family with ideologies.
7/25/2014 8:13:31 AM
SG says:
And ideas like yours are the ones that let the companies win, over and over again. Slowly but surely they take from the average worker.

It's a tough thing to do, it really is. But if unions never fought in the first place we wouldn't have a 1/4 of the things we enjoy today.

You're right, strikes make it hard to feed a family. But if we continuously allow greedy companies to take what will we be left with - five years from now, ten years?
7/25/2014 9:10:37 AM
orca says:
Really? Like having a DC instead of DB will make the average worker a loser in the end? Do you know that if the market is better in 30 years you earn more with DC than DB? If the company is having a hard time, what happens to your DB? And why should I let somebody manage my future retirement and not do it myself? DC's are usually matched by companies and that's what is great with it.

Only if you don't have financial knowledge are you afraid of taking charge of your own future. Make sure your kids are well equipped because if they won't work in Bombardier Thunder Bay, chances are they won't be getting a DB pension plan anytime soon.
7/25/2014 4:10:12 PM
smartguy83 says:
It's a much different world now than it was before. That theory works in professional sports and that's about it...

You must be of the older demographic.
7/25/2014 1:44:11 PM
orca says:
SamIAm, guess what, all corporations in the world today are so greedy that they believe that they are only as good as their last year's performance. Anything less than 16B is a failure. If they achieve only 15B this year, they will make drastic measures to surpass that 16B at everyone's expense including moving to a new location which they believe could perform better.
7/24/2014 7:50:22 PM
pitbull4074 says:
I've been reading a lot of comments on all the posts that have have been on here about the strike and it's pointless to comment on the opinions of people that have no idea what's really going on samIam so just read the crap they write and let them have their fun behind their computers....stick to your guns, stand up to corporate greed, and hope this gets resolved soon....it doesn't matter what nobodies have to say cuz they are oblivious....If they were the ones working there they'd have a different opinion. ...good luck to all of you, you have a lot of support in this community
7/24/2014 7:21:10 PM
oscarmyerweiner says:
orca you sound like a retired or fired foremen, from somewhere other than Thunder Bay perhaps? Whatever Bombardier wants to do they will do. If they don't start negotiating soon there will be no one left to work there including management and office workers. People are already working and may not return if this keeps up. It's not that great of a paying job, it's the benefits and pension that kept many there or what they came for. Without these it's not really worth the headache.
7/24/2014 6:27:04 PM
smartguy83 says:
Maybe they don't pay as well because they offer great benefits and a pension? It's all part of a compensation package....common sense I must say.
7/25/2014 1:40:55 PM
Rock49 says:
As a Bombardier investor, I demand that they cut costs to make a profit and raise share prices. I don't want these rail contracts going to competitors, so the union will have to ensure the LONG term viability of the plant.
7/24/2014 6:12:14 PM
Murphy says:
I really hope this bill 168 is passed soon. Maybe with City Council supporting the strike this could expedite it.
Mgmt can suck it up...maybe go on the shop floor and realize how hard your staff actually works while you sit in meetings all day talking about stuff you just had a meeting to talk about. Look at the real waste of money, look at the "mgmt" team that clearly doesn't support the workers. You give these ppl top dollar, fantastic benefits and pensions so they can micro-manage and talk in circles. They have to hire a PR firm to do their talking and still can't get that right.
If it wasn't for the hard working ppl on the strike line I would be in full support for them to pack up and leave. Maybe then mgmt would realize how good they had it with the hard working crew they have.
7/24/2014 5:47:59 PM
smartguy83 says:
You do realize that you work hard because they pay you right? I'm not so sure I could ever potentially cripple the company paying my bills. I work for what I have and I think you should too. If they aren't making what they deem to be reasonable profits off of the current model then they have every right to seek alternatives. If you don't like the job go find another job? Or wait...there are no other comparable options. Maybe it's time to accept this and get back to work.

Many people in this city would die for a pension plan for their retirement and their family. Defined benefit or not, you still have a step up on most people.
7/25/2014 1:38:45 PM
Tbayworker says:
Orca, before you make statements, check your facts. Yes there was a plant in Kingston and it was closed years ago because of lack of work. AND YES IT WAS A UNION SHOP. When it closed there were provisions that if it ever reopened the union would still be there.
7/24/2014 5:33:54 PM
SamIAm says:
orca you either live in Kingston or should leave Thunder Bay all together. Bombardier made over 16 billion last year in profits. We workers at the plant rework parts from Mexico all the time, the parts from China on the Rocket line are always messed up as well. The head president and local VP both have said the company is too Top Heavy Management wise. So its time to get rid of the deadwood. The reason I know all these facts is I work at the plant and am not sitting on the side spouting off factless opinions while getting ready for my job at Mickey D's
7/24/2014 5:19:22 PM
Truthandjustice says:
Obviously you can't read a financial statement. As per posted consolidated financial statements on sedar, the company made net profit of 552M for its latest fiscal year ending Dec 31/13; did you honestly think that they made 16 Billion? That was the gross revenue for 2012 (ie before all expenses including wages paid to employees like you). I have no problem with your rights as a union supporter but please don't follow like a sheep and preach whatever garbage the union leaders feed you. They only truly care about themselves and their power. I really feel sorry for the rank and file.
7/24/2014 7:40:43 PM
Fozi says:
You do realize what `profits` means, right. Profit was about half a billion. The transportation section itself made $144 million before interest and taxes, most of the profits were made in Europe. Profits and revenues have very little to do with each other, particularly if you can't control major costs like, you know, labour and stuff.
7/24/2014 7:47:48 PM
unknowncronik says:
be ready to say "would you like fries with that" more often strikers
7/25/2014 12:04:41 AM
Tachyion says:
Quite obvious that SamIAm is not a shareholder in the company.....Mickey D's could end up being the other employment option.
7/25/2014 9:17:08 AM
mewild says:
"We have to keep this site cost competitive." Just get the right parts in that don't have to be modified multiple times and in on time so that the vehicles can be built right the first time and you will be more than competitive also allowing employees to keep what they have with a financial gain in salaries.
7/24/2014 3:21:29 PM
orca says:
Bombardier stocks down almost 2% today to $3.67/share from $5.35 in October. Oh yeah, this company is doing great.

7/24/2014 3:11:22 PM
Tachyion says:
And around 1.2 Billion o/s COMMON shares. Would be interesting to know ( although impossible to research ) how many employees actually own shares in the company they work for. No question that moving the plant to Kingston would benefit the Taxpayers who ultimately pay for the products made at the Thunder Bay plant. It's all public money and very overpriced in value received.
7/25/2014 9:10:35 AM
orca says:
Kingston is actually not that bad. It would just be a few hours away from their main office in Montreal and customers in Toronto and about a dozen hours nearer to Mexico than Thunder Bay. And it's in Ontario.

Then Bombardier will give the workers at par salary and benefits with unionized people so everyone will be happy. The workers will think twice before forming another union.

This move could benefit long term for Bombardier.
7/24/2014 2:44:06 PM
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