Let's hear it for Muncie!

Caterpillar Closes Plant in Canada After Lockout

Bulldozing its way through a high-profile dispute over wages, Caterpillar Inc. said Friday it will close a 62-year-old plant in London, Ontario, that makes railroad locomotives, eliminating about 450 manufacturing jobs that mostly paid twice the rate of a U.S. counterpart. Caterpillar's decision, ending a standoff with locked-out workers huddled around barrels of burning scrap wood outside the London factory gates, may benefit another downtrodden manufacturing city: Muncie, Ind., where Caterpillar last year opened a locomotive plant and where it is trying to fill jobs at about half the pay workers in Ontario received.

At a job fair in Muncie Saturday, Caterpillar will be offering jobs at that plant at wages ranging from $12 to $18.50 per hour. Wages for most workers at the Ontario plant are about 35 Canadian dollars an hour (US$35.03). "The cost structure of the operation (in Ontario) was not sustainable and efforts to negotiate a new, competitive collective agreement were not successful," Caterpillar said in a statement Friday morning. It added: "The gulf between the company and the union was too wide to resolve."

... Caterpillar's announcement came on the same day Canada released much-worse-than-expected jobs data, underscoring its tenuous economy. Canadian employers hired far fewer workers than expected in January, adding just 2,300 net new jobs, and the jobless rate rose unexpectedly from 7.5% to 7.6%, the highest level since April 2011, Statistics Canada said.

... Caterpillar has made clear it hopes to avoid any union representation at the Muncie plant. Last year, an online job advertisement published by the company sought human-resources managers with "experience with providing union-free culture and union avoidance." In an effort to attract more union-shy employers, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Wednesday signed a "right-to-work law," barring labor contracts that require all workers to pay union dues. Mr. Julian, the county economic-development official, said site-selection experts for manufacturing plants have told him that about 30% of such projects specify that the factories go to states with right-to-work laws. "We obviously want to compete for those," he said. Indiana this week became the 23rd state with such a law and the first to enact one since Oklahoma did a decade ago.
Comments: Image source. This week Republicans in Minnesota introduced the "right to work" concept as a constitutional amendment. Would be good for Minnesota!

1 comment:

  1. Could be good for Minnesota, too. Kato Engineering here in Mankato does a tremendous amount of business with Caterpillar--not sure whether this includes locomotives, but it could be some really good news for here, too.

    (and right to work could be golden for NW Indiana, too.....let's see how many USW members quit now! I know at least two of my uncles would have if they could have)


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