Dominic Pasqualino says Unifor Local 1075 members are worried Bombardier negotiators are looking to slash pension benefits in the next round of talks.
It’s one of the main reasons why more than 1,000 workers at the Thunder Bay plant voted in favour of striking, should as-yet unscheduled negotiations not go as planned, the local union president said.
However Pasqaulino said getting the strike mandate this early in the game is not unusual.
“It shows that they support the bargaining committee and they support the mandate that we’re going for. We had excellent response,” Pasqualino said, about an hour after company officials expressed disappointment and surprise at the result of the May 3 vote.
According to Pasqualino, 100 per cent of the skilled-trade workers and 99.4 per cent of the general membership gave the strike mandate the thumbs up.
“We had almost 400 people in attendance, so we’re pretty happy about that.”
Pasqualino said the company has been reluctant to come to the bargaining table, and thus shouldn’t have been caught off guard by the vote.
“Normally we would have started negotiating by this time. But unfortunately they haven’t been available. Hopefully we can get things settled. Our goal has been, and we’ve stated since then, that we would like to get things settled as soon as this agreement ends, to not have that limbo period in between,” he said.
Bombardier Transportation issued a release on Thursday expressing the company’s disappointment in the decision.
The company stated it has not yet begun negotiations, but it has proposed bargaining dates to a national Unifor representative.
“Therefore, a vote to strike seems surprisingly premature. In addition, the current collective agreement is in effect until May 31, 2014,” the company said.
Bombardier officials went on to say that it values its 1,300 employees, including its 800 blue-collar workers and that the company plans to move forward with an approach that protects well-paid jobs for its employees to ensure a sustainable future for Bombardier Transportation in Thunder Bay.