The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “Caterpillar


Posted on February 25, 2012

It’s finally over. What had begun as a labour dispute ended this week in sad resignation.  The workers at ElectroMotive finally reached a severance deal with Caterpillar Inc. There was a touch of grace at the end as the union negotiating team successfully wrestled some benefit from a company that in the end didn’t buckle so much to worker demands as it did to the realization that a community stood behind its own. For those of our beleaguered city who stood with the workers on the line for weeks there is sense of deep and abiding loss that only comes from sharing hardship with others. The workers themselves seized the most opportune of moments and chose to fill it with a kind of dignified…

Labour Pains (6) – Take Protection

Posted on January 9, 2012

When the state of Wisconsin’s Republican-dominated assembly voted to strip the rights of public sector unions earlier this year it laid bare the link between the corporate agenda and the right wing political intent. Few realized how the state had fallen. In 1959, Wisconsin had been one of the first to grant unionization rights to public employees, soon followed by John Kennedy’s 1962 Executive Order providing unionizing rights to federal workers. Soon thereafter the middle-class expanded significantly. By 1970, 22 states had enacted collective bargaining rights. Private sector unions, fighting for similar legislation, found themselves deeply opposed by a rising conservative movement, and by the end of the decade private sector unions were in freefall. That Conservative behemoth, dominant now in the U.S., has…

Labour Pains (4) – Stakeholders and Shareholders

Posted on January 5, 2012

A few months before I was born the locomotive plant in London that Caterpillar now owns opened its door to much fanfare. Like so many other Canadian communities were experiencing, opportunities for employment were expanding rapidly and the middle-class was experiencing its first full flush of excitement. That was 61 years ago – a time when the business culture emphasized its commitment to the communities in which it operated and where business owners were key players in the overall quality of life. Free trade agreements a few decades later began altering that pattern by providing lucrative investments in areas outside of Canada. “But it will bring great wealth to Canada,” we were informed by the federal Progressive Conservative government at the time. Many, perhaps…