For most of the world, this is all old news, but I have to vent about this issue.
Electro-Motive, the locomotive manufacturing company that’s owned by Caterpillar Inc., gave a shocking update to 500+ employees at the beginning of 2012 by telling them they had to accept less than half their original pay or the plant will be closed.
Caterpillar’s move devalues us all.
When these guys were making $30 an hour, I could charge a similar rate for my time. Now that they’re being forced to accept about half that, that has a negative impact on my billing rate.
Should I charge clients $25 per hour? $20? $15?
How low are we supposed to go?
This is a kick in the junk for all Canadians.
Admittedly, one of the greatest challenges this country (and others) faces is the resistance of unions to change. How many accept stock option plans or direct local ownership? How many engage in co-op-type models instead of worker / employer models that are cast in the beginning of the 20th century as opposed to the 21st?
What are unions doing to respond to these kind of actions locally and globally?
And what actions are our governments taking when they forked out millions to Caterpillar Inc. to set up shop in London, Ontario? What did they do to encourage ownership at the local level? Why didn’t they anticipate companies coming in, stealing our money and locking out local citizens?
What’s their plan for stability or are our politicians only good at throwing our money around for foreign corporations?
Last question: when so much went into this plant in terms of public investment, why are not considering Electro-Motive to be public property? If we spent the money to get the plant here, then part of that plant is ours and belongs to the people of Canada. It probably wouldn’t be easy, but we should re-tool the facility and convert it to making all kinds of train-related vehicles (trains, subway cars, trams, light rail, high-speed transit, etc).
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I know this: more people should be asking them.
I’ll be there. Join me.