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?