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Caterpillar Announces its Closing Progress Rail Plant in London

As rumoured, Caterpillar has decided that to close its London locomotive factory and move production to low wage U.S. (probably Indiana).

So Steven Harper’s poster child for the great benefits of corporate tax cuts–”see how it attracts big American corporations to come to Canada”–is packing up and firing hundreds of Canadian workers.  Funny how the U.S. has become the cheap labour source in the new free trade world, isn’t it.  It’s no coincidence too that the U.S. has by far and away the highest income inequality in the advanced economic world.  A low wage strategy will do that.

I don’t know if the CAW is planning on filing a bad faith bargaining or unfair labour practice complaint to try and obtain greater severance damages.  It does look like Caterpillar had no intention of reaching a collective agreement and staying in London.  If that is the case, then perhaps there is an argument that it engaged in “surface bargaining”–when an employer simply goes through the motions of bargaining without any intention of reaching a deal.  Surface bargaining is unlawful.  On the other hand, Caterpillar would likely argue that it was prepared to enter into a new collective agreement if the workers had agreed to accept that lousy wages  people will work for Indiana.  If that is the case, then the Labour Board could find that this was simply Hard Bargaining, which is lawful.

What do you think?  Do you think it should be illegal for a corporation to propose a 50% pay cut, and then fire everyone and leave the country if the workers don’t agree to it?

Or is that just smart business?




3 Responses to Caterpillar Announces its Closing Progress Rail Plant in London

  1. Chris Davidson Reply

    February 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I think at the very least every tax break, like the $5 million tax break Electro-Motive got from the federal government, should come with the stipulation that such money will be paid back to the government if the plant closes while the company is still earning a profit.

  2. Stan Squires Reply

    February 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I am from vancouver and i wanted to say that it is no secret Caterpillar has a deep hatred for unions.So when Caterpillar heard about the anti-worker law called Right to Work been passed in Indiana they decided right there and then to move there.In todays world when ever a reactionary law like that gets passed in one country it effects workers in other countries to.
    A good example is the situation in europe.Not to long ago workers in europe could get old age security at 60 yrs. of age.Then the govs. of europe decided to follow the example in canada and the usa where workers had to wait until they reached 65 yrs. before they could get old age security.Now workers here have to wait even longer.
    The working class everywhere have to take political power into their own hands so to be able to put an end to these brutal conditions that the working class have to put up with.

  3. Mark Bowman Reply

    February 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I worked for EMC and was let go as a result. I had 23 years and was at the top of the seniority list. If I had have known this was their plan all along, as it was, I would have made other decisions long ago. There were people who could have retired but chose to stay and now have lost all benefits because of the lies they told us.

    In a meeting after the first negotiations back in may of 2011 the CEO of EMC London stated ” it’s not your wage and benefits it is the inefficiency”. We increased it by 20% only to find out they wanted to get Muncie Indiana up and running. Hind-sight is 20×20. This is only one of many lies they told us.

    For those who stated we should have taken the money. My pension,which is locked in with GM ( 17.3 yrs) would have been cut in half and that is only the tip of the loss we would have received.

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