Tuesday, January 10, 2012

EMD lockout continues into second week

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A lockout at Electro-Motive Diesel Canada’s London, Ontario, plant that began on New Year’s Day is spurring cross-border labor issues between the U.S. and Canada.

The Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) says EMD and its parent, Caterpillar Inc., offered a contract that cut wages in half and reduced benefits, as well as ending a current pension plan. “It’s not really a proposal, it’s an ultimatum,” said Tim Carrie, president of the union local that represents the factory’s workers. “This is an attack on middle-class jobs.”

For its part, Caterpillar said wages and benefits for CAW employees are about twice those of workers represented by the UAW at Electro-Motive's LaGrange, Ill., facility. marketplace."

But some CAW officials believe Caterpillar’s stance could force a shutdown of the Canadian factory as a prelude to moving all production to the United States. Such concerns existed prior to the lockout, generated in part by Caterpillar’s opening of a locomotive-production plant in Muncie, Ind., last October.