Canadian Manufacturing

Workers at Thunder Bay, Ont., Bombardier plant ratify new deal

Unifor said contract maintains Thunder Bay plant's defined benefit pension plan for current, future members

THUNDER BAY, Ont.—Hundreds of striking workers at a Bombardier Inc. light rail plant in Thunder Bay, Ont., are expected to be back on the job soon after ratifying a new three-year collective agreement.

The Thunder Bay plant builds subway cars and streetcars for the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), as well as cars for the GO train regional commuter train service.

Their union says the contract avoided “a long list of concessions” originally demanded by Montreal-based Bombardier.

Among other things, Unifor says the contract maintains the plant’s defined benefit pension plan for both current and future members.

Wages at the Thunder Bay plant in northwestern Ontario 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.

They voted 80 per cent last month against a “last offer” from the company in a ballot ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Labour after an application from Bombardier.

“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 in a statement after the ratification vote.

“Strong communities are based on good jobs. The Bombardier workers in Thunder Bay understood that.”

Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075, 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 union said 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, in moves that would have hit almost 500 workers at the plant.

“Both demands were defeated,” it said.

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