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Dave Coles's blog

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Dave Coles was elected as President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) at its 2006 Biennial Convention held in Vancouver. He came to Ottawa after serving for six years as CEP's Western Regional Vice-President. Dave has a long history of labour and community activism and was known as one of the most senior and experienced trade union organizers in Western Canada. He also has a solid reputation as a social activist, having helped to found such progressive national groups as the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute.

Governments should seize Caterpillar assets

| February 3, 2012

“The decision announced today that U.S. Caterpillar Corporation will close its Electro-Motive plant in London instead of negotiating with the Canadian Autoworkers Union requires an immediate response from the Canadian and Ontario governments.” That statement from Dave Coles, President of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP).

 “This decision is a slap in the face to Canada which gave Electro-Motive tax breaks to protect jobs,” continues Coles. 

 “It’s an act of corporate aggression against Canada and we should retaliate with an immediate tariff against Caterpillar products imported to Canada.  The Ontario and federal governments should take the same action in this situation as former Premier Danny Williams did at AbiitiBowater in Newfoundland -- they should seize the Caterpillar assets in London and ensure that all community and worker obligations are fully met.

 “Why do we have governments, if not to protect Canadians against this kind of corporate agression?

 “There will be a strong labour response to Caterpillar's aggression against Canada.  CEP is prepared to throw its full support behind any actions that the CAW and central labour bodies take to achieve justice for these workers,” concludes Coles.

CEP is the largest union in several key sectors of the Canadian economy, including forestry, energy, communications and media.



If this is really Dave Coles's blog, why is he quoting himself in the third person? Who is the real author of this piece?

Coles talks about the government "seizing" Caterpillar's assets, but he doesn't suggest what should be done with them. Is it so far-fetched to suggest that the government seize the assets and continue to operate the plant as a nationalized, publicly-owned enterprise under workers' control?

Why doesn't Coles advocate this obvious way of protecting the jobs of the Electro-Motive workers?

The real question is to whom does Mr. Harper's loyalty belong? Canada, or foreign corporate interests? I think we all know the answer to this question, but it will nevertheless be interesting to see how he responds to Caterpillar Inc. raiding the Canadian tax kitty and then high-tailing it over the border with the cash and the locomotives. Cat did everything but tie a fair maid to the tracks!

You'd think, wouldn't you, that if we're giving loads of cash to a company like Caterpillar, we would have asked them to sign an agreement that would guarantee us a fair return on our investment. The business crowd are always telling us how smart they are, and therefore how they should get to run the country, and always proving that they haven't got a clue. We'd do better to elect common sense trade unionists like Mr. Coles who understand the value of a strong agreement, collective or otherwise.

We can take some comfort from the fact, though, that Caterpiller's hasty retreat to Indiana is evidence of the fact they couldn't defeat Canadian trade unionists with the usual bullying techniques that they've tried to import here from their spiritual home south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

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