Whose fault is it anyway?

by Aaron Wherry

The McGuinty and Harper governments blame each other for the situation at Electro-Motive in London.

Ottawa could have prevented the loss of hundreds of jobs at an Ontario locomotive plant if it had acted to modernize Canada’s “outdated” foreign investment laws, Premier Dalton McGuinty said Monday … However, the federal government said a month ago that the takeover was never looked at by Investment Canada because it fell under the $300-million threshold. A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister’s Office said the government sympathizes with the workers, but there was nothing Ottawa could do. ”This issue fell entirely within the powers of the McGuinty government, there was no ability for the federal government to intervene,” spokeswoman Sara MacIntyre wrote in an email. That’s not true, McGuinty said. What happened at Electro-Motive wasn’t a labour relations issue, “and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise.”

Whatever the Harper government’s lack of jurisdiction, Conservative MP Ed Holder says he arranged calls between Labour Minister Lisa Raitt and the parties involved.

I helped arrange discussions with the federal Labour Minister between the Company, the Union and the Mayor. These were in an effort to get everyone back to the bargaining table … The calls took place in mid-January.

Ms. Raitt released a statement about the dispute on January 5.

Meanwhile, Mike Moffatt busts the myth that Electro-Motive received a direct subsidy from the Harper government. And the House is spending the day debating the following NDP motion.

That this House condemn the decision of Caterpillar Inc. to close its Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario, with a loss of 450 jobs, and that of Papiers White Birch to close its Quebec City plant, with a loss of 600 jobs, and call on the government to table, within 90 days, draft amendments to the Investment Canada Act to ensure that foreign buyers are held to public and enforceable commitments on the ‘net benefit’ to Canada and on the protection of Canadian jobs.




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Whose fault is it anyway?

  1. Can someone please stop pointing figures and start lending a hand?

  2. It’s neither McGuinty or Harper’s fault, it’s entirely the fault of the CAW.

    • You, of course, would happily have taken a 50% pay cut.

      • You are just repeating the CAW spin – the wages of the unskilled workers were being cut 50%, the skilled 20%.

        • And that makes a difference….how?

          They all have mortgages and need groceries.

          • For someone who is always blah, blahing about globalization – now you are playing dumb.

            Reality check – once CAT bought EMC the CAW should have been educating the workers what they were up against and best and worst case expectations.  CDN/US$ at par, wages/benefits paid in other plant locations, etc.  

            http://progressrail.iapplicants.com/searchlistings.php 

          • Ontario has lots of branch plants, and everyone is aware of all that.

            Companies get lots of bennies by being here….it’s why they come.

            None of that changes the damage Cat has done.

          • What makes you think the CAW didn’t do that? Maybe it’s Caterpillar that needs to be educated about how to work and profit in a unionized environment.

            You’re making the assumption that the cost of establishing a new plant in a right to work state will be more profitable than EMC, but that’s a pretty big assumption given that they will have to pay expensive healthcare insurance costs, capital costs, and recruitment and training costs in Indiana that they could avoid in London.

            The lower wage environment might achieve lower overall costs over the long term, but it might not because of the ongoing costs of recruitment and training as compared with the comparatively stable skilled work force already in place.

            My point is that you seem to be assuming that unions and unionized workers make decisions based on ideology or misinformation or other considerations than economics while Corporations do not, when history and even the daily news would seem to show otherwise.

          • toby….
             
            From all I’ve read on this, the EMC workers were expecting a raise because of the huge CAT earnings, so that tells me CAW was not looking out for them.
             
            Personally I think it stinks the way CAT did this, but they are known for playing hardball.  I think it was a WSJ article on this that mentioned Muncie/Ind. gave $28 million (?) in tax concessions, etc. so it is not just lower wages when governments are willing to buy jobs.

      • When Obama was demanding and forcing the CAW to take wage cuts during the auto bailout, they took them.

        A bunch of London workers let the CAW union leadership use them as sacrificial lambs in support of the CAW’s political agenda instead of saving their own jobs.

        • Yes, it was a major national emergency and workers did get some concessions when the auto makers had their crash.

          Otherwise millions would have been out of work and the US was in no shape to cope with it at the time.

          London is not a major national emergency…..500 immediate jobs, 1700 ripple jobs….their will be large repercussions…the country, however, will hold.

          There was no intention to keep either the company or the workers, much less negotiate though. Once again, Canada has been screwed.

    • Please, offer to work for your employer at 1/2 your current rate. I’m sure you and your family wouldn’t have a problem with that.

      • sorry already took the 20 percent pay cut to save my job i wasnt  an idoit and decided less was better than nothing,

        • Assuming this comment isn’t a plant, “i got screwed so you should get screwed too” doesn’t benefit anyone except a very narrow band of people.

          • He won’t be so keen when they come back for the next 20%

          • no i have taken steps, cost changed bills adjusted and re educating my self  all things the union should have been doing for its members in stead of getting into a pissing contest with the company

          • and no its not i got screwed u should get screwed its called reality and people need to wake up it was all good when we took these jobs from the us when our dollar was 40 percent lower and our energy rates and such where cheap but today we have a par dollar that the union dose not want to address and a govt in ontario that dose not care unless you belong to the “Working Family coalition” of unions that got them reelected.

          • @24959e96f4f92a05755ab93513c7607b:disqus 

            Well, you were at all the union meetings voting….but I guess you didn’t speak up then eh?

            Hey….if you think I believe your fairy tale, you’re dreaming.

          • I’m pretty sure he’s a plant.

  3. The correct answer is, “neither”.

    It isn’t anyone’s fault.  Caterpillar had a better deal elsewhere; it gave the locals a chance to match it; they chose not, as ti would adversely affect their negotiations with other employers.

  4. Caterpillar crushed the workers without much help here (the Moffat piece is esp. interesting – while a tax benefit is still a subsidy, CCA just affects the amount of a deduction you can take sooner.  On the other hand, who else in Canada was able to take advantage of a CCA ramp up on locomotive building except them?)  

    Still the scariest is the clueless posturing from Ont. PC leader Hudak.  Ontario dodged a pretty big bullet last election.

    • Still, “you’re just too small to give a crap about” isn’t a great excuse
      from the feds if that’s the hat they’re trying to wear.  

    • “Ontario dodged a pretty big bullet last election”

      Sure we did.  Now we’re suck with McGuinty the retard and his huge deficits, high taxes, outdated labour laws and green regulations which drive company away.  We’ll never know what could have been, but maybe this plant would still be open if the province hadnt been managed by a drunken sailor for the past 9 years.

      • Be serious.

  5. Eric Hoffer ~ There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

  6. We’re all quite happy to opine on what the proper level of salary/wages should
    be for other people … especially unionized other people.
    Given the state of the company balance sheet, could I hear some opinion on
    what might be a proper level of profit ? Is enough ever enough ?

    • hey company balance sheet is not factory balance sheet and as for profit go ask the pensioners who own the stock in these companies,  omers and teachers pension among other large unions such as us state employee pension plans are the largest investors and
       buy companies and down size them or move them all the time to increase there returns just ask the 1000 or so workers in the schienders plant in kitchener.  Union on union job loss.

  7. No use wasting time assigning blame.  Everyone should be working together on  lowering of wages,  taxes, regulations, environmental/labour standards until they’re far enough below those in the new location to lure the company back.   Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!

    • No, you’d be in China.

      •  That’s the kind of can’t-do attitude that is ruining this country.   
        We can lower our standards below China’s if we all work together!

        • Ahhh  LOL yeah that we can do….

          Sure seems to be where we’re headed.

    • Yeah, lets all facilitate the race to the bottom. 

  8. “Meanwhile, Mike Moffatt busts the myth that Electro-Motive received a direct subsidy from the Harper government.”

    Meanwhile, Aaron Wherry buries this rather pertinent fact deep below his lede and hides it among more FedGov animus, presumably because it makes his clever “Photo-Op Goes Wrong” picture post of a few days ago far less so.

    •  Im actually surprised Wherry was honest enough to even include it in his post.  Im guessing one of the adults at Macleans told him that his partisan-hackery was a bit too transparent, so he decided to include a bit of truth in his posts for a change.

  9. Sad truth of the matter is The CAW has hired the loudest man in the room to run its org.  Instead in todays world they should be looking for the smartest man in the room.  Every time ken L.  is on tv he is shouting and flapping his gums and that time has come and gone.  Its time the union woke up and brought in some one that can honestly do the job properly and in that i mean someone who can plan the future and see the big picture for its members.  They need to take control of there pensions just like some of the govt plans and start investing in the places that they work.  If all members put forth a small amount of their dues to buying stocks in the places they work then you would be able to put people on the boards and affect the operations of  the company to better suit your members.  But it is sad that the CAW has become very old and tiresome in todays world.

  10. I also CAT will do the responsible thing and pass the savings on to it’s customers………NOT!! It’s all about greed!!

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