Even though I'm very new to the Occupy movement, I think it's important to circulate an idea about an issue that can link Occupy actions across Canada, into the US and in connection with unions in both countries.
As you probably know, ElectroMotive Diesel in London, Ontario has locked out some 500 employees this week, demanding that they take a 55% pay cut. This is the same factory where Prime Minister Harper, in 2008, offered $5 million in tax breaks to locomotive buyers. The background to ElectroMotive's action is that they have built a new factory in Muncie, Indiana where wage levels are already at the level they demand Canadian workers accept. Clearly, they figure they can just shut down the London plant if the workers don't cave in.
Occupy London is already on this issue, joining the Canadian Auto Workers in protest at the London factory. Not surprising: this is a "poster child" issue for the Occupy movement, illustrating so much of what Occupy is upset about: government tax breaks for the rich and powerful, corporations using their international power to break unions and reduce workers to subsistence wages or less (Electromotive also has a plant in Mexico, so if the Muncie workers get any ideas...), corporate power working, with government compliance, to eliminate the middle class and further stratify society into a powerful, obscenely rich 1% and a struggling 99%.
I think there are strategic reasons to focus on this particular issue, therefore. It's an ideal way to link up Occupy groups and the labour movement across the border and accomplish a lot of public education about the way our current capitalist system functions.
Electromotive Diesel is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Caterpillar, Inc. which has offices, plants or service centres in 7 Canadian cities: Lachine, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Surrey, BC. Each of these cities has an Occupy group. Electromotive's international headquarters is in LaGrange, Indiana. This is 60 miles northeast of St. Louis - which also has an Occupy group. The new plant at Muncie is halfway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne - both of which have Occupy groups.
So, I'd like to explore the idea of coordinating actions, at the very least at all the Caterpillar locations in Canada, and maybe at Electromotive's US headquarters as well. I plan to attend the Direct Action committee meeting on January 11th to raise this idea, but it would be good to know before then if anyone is interested.
Thanks for reading,