Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Strike hits Bombardier Thunder Bay plant

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Roughly 900 workers at Bombardier Transportation's Thunder Bay, Ontario, rail production plant walked off the job on Monday, July 14, 2014, following a breakdown in contract talks with management.

At issue are proposed changes by Bombardier to pensions and benefit packages, similar to what the company proposed in 2011, which triggered a brief strike at that time. 

Unifor Local 1075 has continued to work since its contract expired May 31; the union has been free to strike legally since June 10. No talks are currently set to resolve the dispute.

"We've rejected their last offer," Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, Canada's biggest private-sector union, told Reuters. "We have zero interest in that."

Bombardier's latest proposal would enroll new hires in a defined contribution pension plan instead of the current defined benefit plan, and workers who started after May 2010 would lose their post-retirement benefits, Dias said.

Unclear is how deeply any strike will affect Bombardier's production, including large orders of subway, light rail, and streetcar vehicles for the Greater Toronto Area, as well as a related light rail transit order for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.

Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) spokesman Brad Ross told local media TTC still plans to introduce Bombardier Flexity streetcars into revenue service on Aug. 31, regardless of the number of streetcars TTC has on hand by that time.