Reality check: despite desperate spin, BC aerospace sector is in crisis

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Written by Unifor Western Director Joie Warnock in response to a news release issued on July 28th

In a news release issued on July 28, trade minister Ed Fast and BC Finance Minister Mike DeJong struggled to put a positive spin on an increasingly ugly situation at Cascade Aerospace.

Once considered the jewel of BC’s aerospace sector, the Cascade facility has been idle now for more than two months since its new owners, Halifax-based IMP Group, have undertaken an aggressive campaign to cut the benefits of young workers. 400 skilled technicians at Unifor Local 114 have walked off the job rather than see good jobs disappear.

Perhaps oblivious to what’s happening at his riding’s largest private sector employer, DeJong declares in the July 28 news release that the aerospace industry is a source of “many high-paying jobs”.

If IMP Group get their way, DeJong will have to eat his words.

In an awkward twist for Fast and DeJong, Abbotsford is scheduled to play host to the Aerospace, Defense, and Security Expo (ADSE) during August 7 and 8. During a time when BC should be celebrating the accomplishments of Cascade employees, hundreds of them will be protesting on the sidewalk outside.

The solution to the longest labour dispute in recent Abbotsford history is straightforward. Cascade and IMP Group benefit immensely from Government of Canada military contracts and provincial training dollars. Those who have been elected to oversee those public funds (Fast, DeJong for starters) should use that leverage to get IMP Group back to the bargaining table and encourage IMP Group to drop demands for inferior benefits for young Cascade Aerospace employees.