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Caterpillar Locks Out Canadian Union Workers, Aims to Cut Wages In Half

The Wall Street Journal has the scoop on Caterpillar, Inc. locking out union workers in Ontario, and even the conservative rag admits that the company’s behavior toward the workforce comes “despite a big recovery in earnings over the past two years.”

Caterpillar Inc. said Sunday it had locked union workers out of a train locomotive plant in London, Ontario, in a sign that the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment is prepared to get tough with workers despite a big recovery in earnings over the past two years.

Caterpillar said in a statement that workers would be barred from the Electro-Motive Canada plant until “a ratified contract is in place” for the workers, represented by the Canadian Auto Workers union. The most recent contract expired at the end of 2011, and the two sides have been unable to come to terms.

Caterpillar’s Electro-Motive Canada plant was acquired in 2010 as part of the $820 million purchase of Electro-Motive Diesel Inc., based in LaGrange, Ill.

Union officials said Caterpillar’s latest proposal would halve wages and reduce benefits. Tim Carrie, president of the union’s local branch, said the cut would mean hourly pay of $16.50 for most workers, down from $34.

“Caterpillar may be one of the richest corporations to ask for the deepest of cuts,” CWA President Ken Lewenza said.

A Canadian Business piece includes assertions from other union leaders about corporate favoritism in Canada. These trends are remarkably similar to those being witnessed in the U.S.

Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan says Ontario’s labour movement is ready to mobilize to help the CAW stop scabs from crossing picket lines at the London plant.

“Workers across the province are angry and feel betrayed by their government and they are ready to fight together to defend good jobs,” he said.

Ryan warned that corporations and all levels of government are being put on notice that 2012 will be marred by labour unrest if they continue to destroy the livelihoods of the middle class.

The OFL leader said the situation in London underscores the need for provincial legislation to ban the use of replacement workers during strikes and lockouts.

Ryan also had a message for Ottawa, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s corporate tax cuts are continuing to fuel record profits that companies are keeping instead of investing in new technologies and equipment that lead to job creation.

The Toronto Star notes that the CWA, which had threatened to strike, never actually called for one.


One Comment on “Caterpillar Locks Out Canadian Union Workers, Aims to Cut Wages In Half”

  1. This is a foreshadowing of what is to come. Corporate control is very nearly complete…In the words of James Larkin, the Irish labour leader; “The great only seem great because we are on our knees; let us rise.”

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