Here is a man bites dog story. The Caterpillar Company has closed a Canadian plant and has moved back to the United States.
The union in Canada refused to take a 50% pay cut. So, it will now take a 100% pay cut.
This is great for American workers. It is fitting for union members in Canada. “We won’t budge,” they said. “We will stand firm.” They will stand firm, holding their picket signs, permanently.
This is how freedom works. A group of workers in the USA are willing to work for the pay that Canadian union members refused to accept. The union was underbid. The liberty of American workers to underbid Canadian workers is the essence of economic liberty.
This of course is seen as an outage by Canadian workers. “Unfair labor practices” they will scream. “Scabs!” Let them scream. No one in the USA is listening.
Despite the layoffs, picketing has continued into the weekend as the now former employees call for a closure agreement from the company. The head of the Canadian Auto Workers is also calling for a public inquiry.
The collective agreement between EMD – which is owned by Caterpillar through its Progress Rail subsidiary – and the Canadian Auto Workers Local 27 ran out at the end of 2011. Over 450 workers were forced off the job at the beginning of the year after they refused a 50 per cent pay cut.
The company’s position is that labour costs were too high, an explanation that is not sitting well with critics.
The critics thought they had the company by the throat. They didn’t.
But what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If a worker in China or Vietnam makes a better offer to an American-owned business, and the business opens a plant in Asia, American workers should not complain. That is the price of freedom. Sometimes you get underbid.