Thunder Bay – BUSINESS – After months of lobbying, Unifor members are relieved with today’s funding announcement by federal and provincial ministers, the Mayors of Toronto and Thunder Bay, and transit officials to purchase sixty additional streetcars and refurbish bi-level coaches that will secure jobs for Unifor Local 1075 members at the Alstom plant in Thunder Bay.
“Today’s announcement is about securing jobs for the present but more importantly for the future,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, speaking at the virtual news conference, streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. “Sixty additional zero-emission streetcars is a real game changer for the facility in Thunder Bay. Today’s announcement is about vision, it’s about saying how we can do things when we put our collective minds together.”
Since 2018, Unifor has repeatedly raised concerns with public officials that hundreds of direct and many more indirect jobs were at risk at the Thunder Bay plant. As the plant moved from Bombardier to new overseas ownership by French rail manufacturer Alstom, the union ramped up its campaign to secure orders for transit vehicles beginning in 2020.
Today’s announcement provides much needed short-term sustainability for the plant. Funding commitments include a combined total of $568 million in federal, provincial and municipal funds to purchase 60 streetcars from Alstom Thunder Bay as well as expand storage facilities for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). In addition, discussions will continue with Metrolinx to refurbish additional GO bi-level coaches.
“These jobs are vital to our economy and our members have always delivered high-quality rail vehicles,” said Dominic Pasqualino, Unifor Local 1075 President. “Now our goal is to secure the plant’s long-term stability and increase capacity.”
Unifor will continue work with the company and public officials to help obtain additional work for the plant.