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article imageElectro-Motive Workers Locked Out

By Ken Wightman     Jan 1, 2012 in Business
London - The workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario have been locked out. Earlier in the day the company claimed that the CAW represented employees were refusing to report for their first scheduled work shift and were therefore on strike.
The head of Local 27 of the CAW, Tim Carrie, disputed this position. An hour after Carrie refuted the company's claim, EMD admitted the workers were locked out.
The London Free Press quoted Carrie: "They’ve done what they intended to do from the beginning and by suggesting our members were going to show up for work only made them play their hand."
A picket line has gone up in front of the East London plant which has a long history going back 61 years in London. Already reeling from the recent closure of the area Ford Motors assembly plant, the Southwestern Ontario community stands to lose a further 2000 jobs if EMD closes. This number represents the plant jobs proper plus all the related support jobs.
Workers have been staking out the plant round the clock for the past few days, monitoring all comings and goings. The workers want to be immediately aware of any attempt to remove core equipment from the site.
Electro-Motive is owned by Progress Rail, which is a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc. Caterpillar has a well-earned reputation as a powerful, and successful, union buster. But Progress Rail may not be easy to deal with either.
Progress Rail has opened a large plant in Muncie, Indiana, where they are building EMD engines. When they advertised for an HR manager for the new U.S. facility, they stipulated that the successful candidate should have "experience with providing union-free culture and union avoidance."
The Canadian EMD workers had been asked to accept a cut of more than 50 percent in wages, have their benefits slashed and put their pensions on the table. It is believed that the strong Canadian dollar is pushing up the cost of doing business in Canada.
It is argued that if the workers the accept the massive cut in wages, benefits and pensions, it may not be enough to keep the plant in Canada over the long term. The buy American policy being followed by some publicly funded US passenger rail agencies requires their rail equipment be assembled in the States.
More about ElectroMotive Diesel, Progress Rail, Caterpillar Inc
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