After the photo op


March 2008He also toured the Electro-Motive Diesel plant on Oxford Street where he met many of the firm’s 900 employees. Harper said his visit to the rail locomotive plant was intended to highlight tax measures from his government aimed at keeping manufacturers competitive.

Today. The company that owns the locked-out Electro-Motive plant in London, Ont. has decided to close the plant permanently. Progress Rail Services Corp., a subsidiary of U.S. construction conglomerate Caterpillar, announced “it is regrettable that it has become necessary to close production operations at the London facility,” in a release on Friday. The company locked out 450 workers from the facility on Jan. 1. Costs were the main factor in the dispute, with the company pushing employees to take a 50 per cent pay cut.


After the photo op

  1. Hope the plant in Illinois getting this business is ready to accept wage parity with the plant in South America…

  2. So the Union overplays it’s hand, and this is somehow Harper’s fault? Keep trying.

    • Are you for real!….turrning down a 50% cut is overplaying it’s hand?

       That’s not even an attempt to negotiate, it’s simply a cowardly way of shifting the blame for leaving anyway…yeah somone overplayed their hand alright, but it wasn’t the union this time. 

      • Well it would depend entirely on what they were being paid, wouldn’t it? If they were all making $200+k, then a 50% cut isn’t really absurd, is it?

        •  I was going to say “unless salaries were well into six figures it’s crazy” in my own post, but then I realized there was no way they were and no one would be so dumb as to realistically suspect they were. 

          You really beat the expectation curve, there.

          • None of those except maybe the $56,000 guy at the bottom are front line workers of the kind there would be 450 of to terminate.

            You have trouble with intelligent conversation, don’t you?

          • Did you actually look at that – no won over 70,000 except the executives who on the ones making 6 figures.  And these are all the white collar people.

          • You’re really going to insult my intelligence when I post proof of what I’m saying, and you provide nothing but idle speculation. And what the heck is a “front line worker” anyway? The engineers aren’t “front line workers”? Thanks for calling *click*

          • When people double down on stupid with ideas I figured no one would be ridiculous enough to posit in the first place, supplied with “data” which hardly supports their conclusion, yes, they get called on it and no I am not polite.

            Ultimately the internet will be a better place. 

          • Oh come on.  We’re not talking about the salaried workers at the plant, are we?  They’re not unionized, are they? 

            Yeah, they were getting $38 an hour which is way too much for labourers.  But the link you posted in no way illustrates that.

          • Thanks for the $38 info Peter. I was unable to track down that information. Would also like to know if that includes any bonuses and benefits.

            And thanks for making the internet a better place!

          • Project manager – key word manager. 

          • You’re not calling anybody on anything. You’re simply stating that you don’t believe the data because it doesn’t suit your prior assumptions. If you want to make the internet a better place, you might want to try contributing something.

          • Are you related to wilson?  She always ‘wins’ too. 

        • lol…do you expect me to seriously comment on that bit of sophism?Are you by any chance a management consultant? I assume you don’t actually believe the average wage is $200 grand? Let’s take another figure – $ 80 thou a year…what’s 50% of that?
          I have no idea what the real wage structure is but i bet my guess is better than yours.

          • OK, $80k. Do you really think anybody deserves $80k/year for doing a job that a robot could do? Do you think that Cat can compete in the global market when they’re paying their employees 2-3x what their competitors are paying? Would you support a multimillion dollar bailout for a privately held company by taxpayers, just so that a handful of entitled workers can continue to be overpaid?

          • So you can’t figure out how to make $80,000 so you figure anybody would who might is overpaid, is that it?

          • What’s deserve got to do with it? Are you in favour of free markets only for CEOs but not for unions? Union guys/gals pay lots of taxes and stimulate the economy too you know…have kids too now i come to think on it.

          • You are right kcm—-the free market determined that Caterpillar could not continue to pay inflated wages to union employees who were determined to do as little as possible to make the company efficient and profitable.

            The free market said it could not afford inflated union salaries—expect more of this.

          • He’s a branch manager at a CIBC in Calgary.

          • O god i have my money in there somewhere…not to worry, i’m mostly overdrawn anyway.

    • The truth is, the Union did overplay their hand.  Unless they were completely clueless, they should have realized that the company sincerely needed to cut wages to the 18-20 dollar an hour range in order to compete.  What’s better?  Employing 200 workers at $20 an hour or 0 workers at $0 dollars an hour?  The age of labourers getting $40 an hour plus generous benefits is long gone.
      What Wherry is trying to illustrate is that Harper’s corporate tax cuts have no effect on economic growth or employment.  This, the latest example of bleeding in Ontario’s manufacturing sector, illustrates it nicely, even if the union had a hand in it.  Many other non-unionized manufacturers have shuttered their doors in Ontario. 
      Given today’s announcement of a rising unemployment rate in Canada, with its low corporate rate, and a falling unemployment rate in the U.S., which has a much higher corporate rate, it appears as if the cuts are ineffective. 

      • Give me a break Peter Zeroone.  The over-the-top demand followed immediately by a LOCKOUT by the company meant the company was not interested in negotiation and everyone was well aware their parent US company – which the Canadian government allowed to purchase Electro–Motive- was looking to close up shop and move the work to the new “right-to-work for less” state of Indiana where it already had a facility.    They weren’t interested in keeping the plant, and locking the workers out is just a handy excuse for them to put the blame on the workers and take the heat off them.  And folks like you seem to have fallen for it.

  3. Fifty percent pay cut?  That’s not even negotiating. 

    •  Why, we offered them SIX slices of bread a day, all the water they could drink and first choice of prime mattresses in the dormitory sleeping quarters.  If they don’t want to work, well, that there’s the market for ya. 

      • Your post was not sufficiently exaggerated or histrionic.  Please try again.

        The Liberal War Room

        •  I don’t feel the hyperbole employed was unjustified overall.

          • Listening to Kevin O. friday I would say you barely scratched the surface of how much the anti union movement wants to see workers grovelling in abject poverty.

          • He needs people to work on his plantations for next to nothing…

        • Why the Liberal War Room?  I doubt the third party has one, can’t afford it, and also, in case you didn’t notice: this blog is about Brian Topp, an NDP leadership candidate.  Clue: he’s not Liberal, and nobody in the article, or in the posts to date, have mentioned Liberals. It’s past time for you to redirect your ideological hatred: you’ve got the other-side-ideological NDP to contend with now.

      • Kevin O: You’re on here!

  4. ” …..  highlight tax measures from his government aimed at keeping manufacturers competitive ….. The company that owns the locked-out Electro-Motive plant in London, Ont. has decided to close the plant permanently.”

     Bastiat ~ That Which Is Seen …. 

    In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects.Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause – it is seen. The others unfold in succession – they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen. 

    Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference – the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee. Now this difference is enormous, for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the ultimate consequences are fatal, and the converse. 

    Hence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good, which will be followed by a great evil to come, while the true economist pursues a great good to come, – at the risk of a small present evil.

  5. So in 2008 Harper tours Electro-Motive, then in 2010 it gets bought by a subsidiary of CAT, now they are moving to the US – just what was going to stop them??

    Muncie likes the news.  Bombardier manufactures locomotives for Progressive-Rail in thier Mexico plant.

    “Workers in Canada had feared the plant would close because wages for union workers there were $30 an hour or more, compared to wages of $12-15 an hour at the Muncie plant.”


  6. Get a trade you all say, get a trade!

    ‘Ownership of the plant has changed too, sold by Greenbriar Equity Group to Progress Rail, a subsidiary of Caterpillar, a company with a lengthy history of fighting unions and moving plants to lower-cost jurisdictions.
    Union officials say Progress Rail’s final offer would slash wages to $16.50 from $35 an hour and also cut benefits, a claim consistent with a company memo obtained by The Free Press.’

    ‘Three years ago, Harper donned protective goggles and posed with workers to chat up how his government had created a $1-billion tax break for industry broadly and a $5-million break to grease the wheels for sales by the locomotive-maker.’


    • Funny. A few years back Greenbriar bought a rail car plant in my old home
      town. It was closed shortly after … the unionized workers having been
      bludgeoned in the meantime. The NS gummint is now paying a Korean
      company to build wind turbines there. I’m sure that will go well.

      Just as an aside, I worked at that plant off and on through the 60’s .. I
      was young but back then “Human Resources” was some guy who wrote
      your name on a slip of paper and shoved it under his desk blotter. You
      kiddies can google desk blotter. Anyway, the digressive point of all this is
      that I worked on the first refrigerated rail cars to be built in Canada  … and
      they were known as “reefer” cars … which made for a lot of funny conversations
      in the 60″s.

      • Yeah, we get taken every time…we’re good at provinding bucks and jobs for other people, just not ourselves.

        PS…yeah reefer cars would sound funny then. LOL

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