Supporting CAT workers, but hurting others

I have supported the Electro-Motive Diesel workers on this blog. I think what Caterpillar did to these workers is atrocious.

I was on the line with the workers and brought food.

Having said that, I’d like to present some facts about the boycott of CAT products locally.

My husband works in the London dealership of Toromont CAT.

Toromont Industries is a Canadian company formed in 1961. It’s first chairperson was a former Bank of Canada governor.

Toromont became a Caterpillar dealer in 1993 with the acquisition of the assets of an Ontario Caterpillar dealership. It acquired Caterpillar franchises in other parts of Canada:1996 (Newfoundland and Labrador), 2001 (Manitoba and Nunavut).

Toromont’s headquarters is in Concord, ON.

These dealerships across the country and here in London are not owned by U.S. CAT.  It has always been a Canadian company. Boycotting products locally hurts another set of employees that are not connected to the lockout and now relocation of EMD in any way.

And yes the dealerships are feeling the pinch.

So how do you support the EMD workers without hurting another set of London employees who are trying to hold on to their jobs in a tough economy?

Have the companies now boycotting CAT thought about this at all? While trying to attack a U.S. company, they are hurting a Canadian company, founded 50 years ago that employs thousands of Canadians.

These workers also have families to support.

It’s a difficult situation all around but find a way to support EMD employees that doesn’t shift the blame and fallout onto another set of workers who are trying to earn an honest living like the rest of us.

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12 thoughts on “Supporting CAT workers, but hurting others

  1. They can always switch suppliers – usually good to have a backup when in the dealer/distributor role, anyway. Komatsu, for example.

  2. Not sure it is do-able Mike. I know they have some long-term contracts with customers that they would lose, plus millions of dollars in inventory.
    But something to consider, as you state, for backup purposes.

  3. Hi Tanya,
    Did the workers have problems with CAT before the strike?
    I didn’t hear anything about this.
    We know how they were treated when it came time to negotiate but how were they treated on the job?

  4. Hi Kathy,
    As you may know, I support the boycott. CAT did not negotiate in good faith. Like many others, I believe CAT knew all along they would leave Canada taking with them the valuable technology and knowledge learned from hardworking Canadian men and women.
    While some may say CAW workers should have sucked it up and taken a 50% pay cut, those same people would have fought to the end if they had been asked to reduce their salaries by that amount or less. In the end, it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway.
    I’m certain those naysayers would be angry, confused and heartbroken to find the intent of the lock out was to close a company they had been loyal to only to move it out of the country. I’m certain they would be appreciative of a community that stood with them in solidarity.
    The boycott is intended to support the EMD workers whose lives have been turned upside down by this. But, it goes well beyond that. It intends to push the government to take action to ensure this never happens again.
    If CAT can simply pull out of London, leaving more than 450 individuals high and dry, it and other corporations can do it in communities from coast to coast across this country.
    People are outraged by the action of CAT. It is CAT that needs to be held accountable, not those who are boycotting CAT.
    Toromont had the ability to make a difference. Toromont could have used its power to intervene with both the government and CAT to save Canadian jobs at EMD. It oversees the purchase of billions of dollars of CAT equipment. Toromont could still intervene with the government to ensure a situation like this never occurs again.
    This boycott can make a difference in ensuring this never happens again. Canadian jobs are important. I hope Toromont understands that and uses its clout with the government.
    We are doing this because of jobs like those you identify.
    Megan

  5. Hi Megan,
    As I stated I am totally in support of the EMD workers. Have been all along, still am.
    And we know what happens here has ramifications now and down the road and across the continent.
    My aim is to point out the difference between the Canadian and U.S. companies.
    Would intervention have made a difference once CAT made up its mind? And it did so a long time ago.
    The government, including the feds who gave this company money, wouldn’t intervene. They should have. Instead, now other innocent workers are taking the heat and those Toromont workers are supportive of EMD employees. They are now caught in a difficult situation.
    People will decide the course of action they want to take on this but I just want them to be aware of the difference between the two companies.

  6. Kathy, I think you are 100% right here. It would be VERY difficult to find a Canadian who does not support the London employees. Of course the immediate reaction is to boycott CAT but we need to think big picture. A significant boycott of all CAT products could very well lead to more Canadians losing jobs, kind of defeats the purpose of the boycott doesn’t it?

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