THUNDER BAY - Allan Tamminen has been a machinist at the local Bombardier plant for nearly 20 years, but with a strike four days in, he's considering all his employment options.
"Everybody's got a mortgage to pay," he said Thursday morning at the CLE Coliseum where striking Bombardier employees met with union officials to discuss strike protocol.
“Nobody can survive on strike pay," said Tamminen, who says if the strike isn't over in about six weeks, he'll have to start looking for other work.
The strike wage is $250 weekly and the workers have to spend 18 hours per week on the picket line.
Tamminen said he knew a strike was likely and fortunately planned for it.
"I have a contingency," he said.
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino said the meeting was called to discuss any strike-related issues, including details of the last proposal from the company, how to pick up their cheques and behaviour on the picket line.
The Coliseum was packed for the meeting and Pasqualino said he'd never seen a crowd like it before.
"Everybody is interested. Everybody is involved," he said.
On Wednesday, Bombardier announced it was seeking an injunction over safety issues on the picket line.
Both union and company officials are meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss strike protocol and address any safety issues.
"Our intention is to make sure the picket line is safe and nobody is going to be threatened or feel unsafe or hurt in that picket line," said Pasqualino. "That's what our goal is."
Bombardier spokesperson Stephanie Ash said they are still preparing the information to file the injunction, and echoed the fact that the afternoon meeting is about developing a protocol to ensure safety on the picket line.
"It's about working together, collaborating. We want Unifor employees who are on that picket line to be safe as well as other employees who are trying to get to work today and the rest of the week," she said.
Ash said there were still difficulties Thursday morning for people trying to cross the picket line.
Buses carrying employees weren't allowed to cross the line and other employees, including management, had to get out of their vehicles and cross on foot.
The company is also doing its best to minimize the impact of the strike on its customers, said Ash.
There are about 900 employees on strike with another 400 Bombardier employees who have to cross the line to get to work.