As news broke a week ago that Caterpillar was laying off about 700 people in London, Ont., it was clear that there was much more to this story than a simple plant closure.
Auto industry reporter Greg Keenan gathered the details: Caterpillar was closing its Progress Rail Services unit at the Electro-Motive Canada diesel locomotive factory and moving those jobs south. The factory’s workers had been locked out since Jan. 1, after refusing company demands to take a 50-per-cent pay cut in many job categories and give up their defined-benefit pension plan, among other concessions. Eight days earlier, Caterpillar Inc. had reported a record profit of $4.9-billion (U.S.), an 83-per-cent increase from 2010.
To say readers were outraged by the news would be an understatement. The story rapidly rose to the top of The Globe and Mail’s most-read list, readers left nearly 2,800 comments, many condemning Caterpillar’s actions.
“Union or non-union, 1/2 your current wage is a tough pill to swallow. If CAT really wanted to stay, they would find some sort of middle ground. Bottom line for CAT: Leave North America=MORE PROFIT,” reader “Ginglis” wrote on the comment page.
And on social media, the conversation continued: “Where is this company’s sense of responsibility to its workers....record profits...and closing this plant...Capitalism is not interested in polishing its tarnished image....people need to make a stand when corporations act ruthless...enough is enough....make your voice heard,” wrote Clint Versluis on The Globe’s Facebook page.
Clearly, the story had touched a nerve, not just within the London community, but across the country as well. It’s a story many Canadians can relate to, especially in southwestern Ontario, where three U.S. corporations have closed factories in the past six months alone.
The Globe will continue to report on the EMD plant closure in London and the plight of the 700 employees who have lost their jobs.
We also want to hear from you. If you’ve suffered an extended job loss, send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll edit and share some of your stories with Globe readers.
In your e-mail, please include as much detail as possible, including:
- Your name, age, location and a photo
- Your company, job title, and details of your job loss
- How the job loss affected your family, your finances and your confidence
- Your success or failure in finding new employment
- Your message for other readers in similar situations
We look forward to hearing from you, and if you have any questions about this project, you can contact Report on Business community editor Dianne Nice.