THUNDER BAY – Bombardier workers have said a loud ‘No’ to the offer from Bombardier. “Bombardier Transportation is obviously disappointed by the results of today’s vote. At minimum, we were able to give members of Unifor the opportunity to vote on the contract for themselves,” said Aaron Rivers, Head of Operations, Bombardier Transportation Americas. “Unfortunately, the membership has decided to refuse the best and last offer, voting not to return to work. I wish to sincerely thank the employees who voted today in favour of the contract”.
“As the Bombardier Transportation Head of Operations for the Americas region, it is now my sole responsibility to shift our focus from fighting to get the Thunder Bay work force back to work, to ensuring that Bombardier’s customer contracts and commitments are fully met; utilizing all of our multiple resources to do so. We will now step away in light of today’s vote results, consider the impacts of the results on our customers and business moving forward, and make the tough necessary decisions.”
Unifor has been unhappy with what they have said is Bombardier’s “my way or the highway” bargaining approach.
“These workers have shown incredible resolve and determination in their struggle to maintain good jobs for today and for future generations,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
“These results send a clear message to Bombardier that the membership of this union supports its bargaining team, which has consistently told the company that it cannot accept the demanded concessions.”
Members of Unifor Local 1075, on strike since July 14 in the face of company demands for concessions that would have hit all workers and retirees enrolled in the company’s benefit plan, have rejected the company’s last offer by a vote of 80 per cent.
The vote held today was ordered by the Ministry of Labour after an application from Bombardier. The company is allowed to make one such application during each round of bargaining.
The current defined benefit pension plan would have been denied to new hires, and 500 members at the plant would have been denied their right to retirement benefits. In addition, if accepted, the offer would have meant the outsourcing of several jobs at the plant.
Dias called for Bombardier to listen to the very clear message sent with today’s vote, and return to the bargaining table to work out an acceptable collective agreement.
The workers at Bombardier build the new subway and streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission, as well as cars for the GO train commuter train service. The plant got the TTC contract under a Buy Ontario policy that the union helped secure.
Unifor Local President Dominic Pasqualino said he is proud that workers at the plant resisted intense company pressure and scare tactics. “Bombardier has tried to divide us, but all it has done it to make us stronger in our determination to stand up for good jobs in our community,” Pasqualino said.
Workers in Thunder Bay are concerned that a lot of the work for Bombardier are now being done in Mexico. Pasqualino said yesterday that workers are finding lots of faults and having to spend a lot of time fixing the mistakes that are passing through the quality control checking in Mexico.
Bombardier has won several contracts in Ontario to build rail cars for the Toronto Transit Commission.
It is not known what the TTC or Ontario Government might do if Bombardier were to take the work elsewhere out of Ontario.