Bombardier workers save pension for new hires


THUNDER BAY, ON, Sept. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor members in Thunder Bay, on strike at Bombardier for more than eight weeks, will soon be returning to work having maintained good jobs with good pensions for their community.

"This has been a difficult summer for these workers, but they can return to work knowing that they have stood up for future generations," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

Unifor Local 1075 members ratified a new collective agreement this morning that maintains the plant's defined benefit pension plan for current and future members. New hires will contribute 25 cents an hour to the pension.

"Strong communities are based on good jobs. The Bombardier workers in Thunder Bay understood that," Dias said.

Unifor Local President Dominic Pasqualino said the three-year deal was only made possible thanks to the determination of the members.

"The company came to the bargaining table with a long list of concessions that would hit the next generation of workers very hard," Pasqualino said. "This strike was about the future of Thunder Bay, and standing up for good jobs in our community."

The company had demanded that the defined benefit pension plan be denied to new hires and that retiree benefits be denied to anyone hired after Dec. 31, 2010. That cut would hit almost 500 workers at the plant. Both demands were defeated.

Wages at the plant will remain stable for the first year of the contract, with raises of 10 cents an hour in each of the two following years, plus cost of living adjustments.

The 900 members of Unifor Local 1075 have been on strike since July 14, and last month rejected a "last offer" from the company by 80 per cent in vote ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after an application from Bombardier.

The workers at Bombardier build the new subway and streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission, as well as cars for the GO train commuter train service. The plant got the TTC contract under a Buy Ontario policy that the union helped secure.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.