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The Globe and Mail

Caterpillar's Electro-Motive locks out union members at London, Ont. plant

Security fences surround ocomotive maker Electro-Motive facility in London, Ont., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in anticipation of a work stoppage. The Canadian Auto Workers union says it is holding off on a strike in the hope of reviving contract negotations with Caterpillar Inc.


Electro-Motive has begun the new year by locking out CAW members at its plant in London, Ont.

Contract talks collapsed last week after Electro-Motive issued a final offer that would cut the wages of union members in half, eliminate pensions and gut other benefits.

The previous contract for the 420 CAW members expired at the start of 2012, and the union set up picket lines at the plant last night.

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Electro-Motive is owned by heavy equipment giant Caterpillar through its Progress Rail subsidiary. Caterpillar has a long history of playing hard ball with unions.

CAW president Ken Lewenza issued a statement blaming corporate greed for the lockout, calling it a serious attack on working people, their families and the greater London area.

"Caterpillar may be one of the richest corporations to ask for the deepest of cuts," he said.

Progress Rail, which also produces diesel-electric locomotives, opened a plant in Muncie, Ind. in October, leading to speculation it intends to relocate the London operation there to benefit from Washington's Buy American policies.

The CAW is asking Ottawa to disclose the terms and commitments made during the 2010 purchase of Electro-Motive by Caterpillar, under the Investment Canada Act.

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