THUNDER BAY – A Bombardier spokeswoman is calling the conduct of striking Unifor Local 1075 members during the movement of light rail cars “disgusting.”
The company moved two finished cars out of the plant shortly after 9:30 a.m. and were followed down Montreal Street by a crowd of plant workers who have been on strike for the past four weeks.
This was the first time since the strike began on July 14 that Bombardier has moved cars out of the plant and a third car was scheduled to be moved out later that same afternoon.
Bombardier spokeswoman Stephanie Ash said there was profanity and abusive language directed not only at the personnel moving the cars, which are being delivered to the Toronto Transit Commission, but at members of the city police force escorting the trucks out of the plant.
“There was no control by the picket captains and a complete lack of leadership,” Ash said. “It resulted in Unifor members breaking the strike protocol on numerous occasions so there were real problems (Tuesday) morning that should have been addressed instead of them being in Toronto.”
Warning: Video may contain graphic language.
Unifor Local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino, along with other senior union leaders, were away from the picket lines Tuesday to take part in other planned demonstrations this week at public transit stations in the Greater Toronto Area.
Pasqualino was at the line prior to the cars departing and said there were no issues first thing in the morning.
However, it’s alleged that changed once the wheels started moving.
Seeing the fruits of their labour being hauled out of the plant amid a strike that seemingly has no end in sight appeared to infuriate several of the demonstrators.
The conduct of Unifor members also created a myriad of safety concerns, Ash said.
Emotions were running high as workers marched alongside, and sometimes in front of, the flatbed trucks hauling the cars. Some of the workers accused the police service of being paid off by Bombardier.
“This is a sad day for our city,” shouted one worker after the trucks pulled away down Neebing Avenue.
“Everyone working for the last month gets paid, except for us,” another yelled referring to the employees, not represented by Unifor and not currently on strike, still working within the plant.
But the company wasn’t the only one upset with conduct. Pasqualino said he’s not pleased with the conduct of the company’s security staff, saying they impeded him from leaving the site to drive to the airport.
He added that police officers at the scene had to request multiple times that the security allow Pasqualino to get out.
The events of Tuesday morning could lead to both sides returning to court.
Ash said the company is planning to file another injunction this week against the picket line behaviour of union members.
“I think at this point we have no choice,” she said.
Pasqualino accused the company of trying to take advantage of his absence, especially with trying to return to court this week.
“I think it’s very strategic,” he said, adding the company had other opportunities to move the cars prior to Tuesday morning.
Ash said the company began last week to make arrangements to move the completed cars out of the plant to be shipped to Toronto.
The company tried to move them on Friday out the plant’s side entrance on Neebing Avenue, but were unable to do so due to objections from union leadership, citing the protocol that states cars must be moved out the main gate.
She said the piece of the protocol requiring a 72 hour notice period to the union only applies to cars that are shipped by rail.
The Rocket cars are always shipped by road, Ash said.
The picket line captain who was on duty during the move declined interview requests.