TORONTO, Aug. 14, 2014 /CNW/ - Striking Bombardier workers from Thunder Bay wrap up three days of activities in Toronto to put pressure on the TTC not to accept new vehicles assembled by replacement workers and to raise awareness about Bombardier's attempt to slash pensions and retiree benefits despite record profits.
"We think it's important for Toronto transit riders and the general public in Ontario to know just where their public dollars are going," said Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor local 1075.
More than 900 workers at Bombardier's Thunder Bay facility, members of Unifor local 1075, have been on strike since July 14. They are striking to protect pensions and retiree benefits as well as good jobs created in Ontario by public investment in transit projects.
"Bombardier is doing really well financially, with $32 billion in orders on the books and a leg up from the 'buy Ontario' policy that our union fought for. For them to turn around and try to gut pensions and retiree benefits for the next generation of workers is just plain insulting," said Pasqualino, whose daughter Tabitha is also among the striking workers and joined the delegation to Toronto.
Meanwhile, Bombardier's net profits rose to $572 million last year, up 22 per cent, and the company's executives are reaping the benefits of this success. CEO Pierre Beaudoin took home $6 million last year and his stock holdings in the company rose by 53% to a whopping $18 million. The rail division's new president, Lutz Bertling, was sitting on a pension worth more than $640,000 at the end of 2013 after just six months with the company.
The striking workers build the Toronto Rocket subway cars, bi-level coaches for GO Transit, as well as the new TTC streetcars scheduled to be released on August 31.
"We take great pride in our work," said Ron Frost, chair at the Thundery Bay facility. "We know these vehicles better than anyone – every bolt and seam – and we work hard to make sure they're perfect when they leave the lot. I'm really concerned that Bombardier is using replacement workers who aren't as familiar with the work."
The workers have been leafleting outside of TTC stations and Bombardier's aerospace facility in Downsview. They have also met with John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and District Labour Council, TTC chair Maria Augimeri, and other Unifor locals in the GTA.
This morning the workers head to TTC head office at Davisville station at 10am for an information picket. From there they will go to the head offices of GO Transit.
Unifor was founded Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged. Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, with more than 305 000 members across the country.
For further information: For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Katie Arnup at 416-333-8097 (cell) or Katie.Arnup@unifor.org