Electro-Motive employees in London, ON, have voted 95% in favour of accepting the severance package negotiated between the CAW and Caterpillar. The deal does seem generous, including things such as 3 weeks of pay for each year unionized workers have been employed at Electro-Motive. It is not, however, a long term solution or very comforting to the now unemployed workers and their families.
Where some have lost others, in another country, have gained. As Electro-Motive workers were voting on their severance package and thinking of what to do next, Caterpillar held a job fair in Indiana, to hire workers for the plant which will replace the shuttered one in London, ON. Indiana’s state legislature recently passed anti-union legislation. There’s nothing wrong with Caterpillar wanting to lower costs, but there is definitely something wrong with showing complete contempt and disregard for your employees (especially long term ones) and the community in which you exist. Based on the prominence of the Electro-Motive labour dispute and the resulting shutting down of the plant in the news, this plant was clearly an important fixture in the community. While it is always unfortunate when business shut down, it is sometimes needed for a firm to stay competitive. When a major employer, with ties to its community shuts down, it is something entirely different. Businesses like this need to recognize their importance in communities and consider all stake holders in their firm, not just the shareholders.