Mark’s Work Wearhouse pulls Caterpillar-brand boots
London, ON - Mark's Work Wearhouse has pulled Caterpillar-brand boots from its London, ON., stores after the heavy-equipment giant shut down a local locomotive plant.
London, ON – Mark’s Work Wearhouse has pulled Caterpillar-brand boots from its London, ON., stores after the heavy-equipment giant shut down a local locomotive plant.
The national work-wear chain says it is showing support for the 420 workers who lost their jobs at Electro-Motive, Canada’s last manufacturer of locomotives.
The retailer announced the move on its Facebook page Saturday, a day after US-based Caterpillar revealed its plans to close the plant following what it had called a labour dispute.
Cat demanded workers take a 50% pay cut to keep Electro-Motive open.
The CAW union members rejected the proposal, prompting the company to lock them out Jan. 1.
Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services insists the cost structure at the London plant was unsustainable.
The agreement would have cut wages from an average of $34 per hour to $18.50 to mirror wages earned by the company’s employees at its facility in Larange, IL.
It is expected the company will move its London operations to its facility in Illinois.
Canadian Auto Workers president Ken Lewenza says the closure is a “callous move” by Caterpillar. But, the union says the closure doesn’t come as a total surprise.
“Caterpillar had no intention of keeping this plant open,” says Lewenza. “From day one, we believed that Caterpillar was trying to provoke a crisis, by forcing deep cuts that were not possible.”
“Our members would have happily continued working under the previous conditions, but that wasn’t enough for this incredibly profitable company.”
Lewenza has also pointed the finger at government inaction in allowing the closure.
He says the 465 workers and another 1,700 workers employed in spin-off jobs are now the casualties of an outdated and dysfunctional Investment Canada Act that attaches no commitment to Canadian jobs to corporate takeovers.