The EMD lockout of members from CAW Local 27 is about more than one plant and one union in London, Ontario – it is about the relationships in our society, it is about the obligations and responsibilities we should expect from each other.
Hamilton has just gone through a very painful experience with US Steel and USW Local 1005. Our citizens and our community are poorer today because of a decision that was made in another country. Essentially, that profits matter more than people or communities, and corporations have no responsibilities to the workers, the community and the country that allow them to earn those profits.
As a CAW member, I can’t express to you how frustrating it is to walk the picket line with 1005 members and to know that almost all their efforts within the local community didn’t matter a hill of beans to the guys down in the United States. We first saw this with Nanticoke and then with US Steel; and now we are seeing it with Rio Tinto and Caterpillar.
As labour activists, I believe we need to develop new tools to fight global corporations that wish to rewrite the social compact between business and society. I believe the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring uprisings point the direction with the use of social media. The focus of the struggle can no longer be one community and one plant gate.
However, as we explore and develop new tactics we should also remember some of the tried and true methods of today and yesterday. Workers relations with corporations are governed by rules created by government. And these rules are created by politicians who need to be elected every few years.
While Harper may think he is safe with a majority government, he still faces the NDP that is ready and able to become the government with policies opposed to the conservative agenda. Every conservative MP must be very aware of this fact. Will they be the one to go down in the next election, even one 4 years from now?
Just look at the situation with Susan Truppe, the Conservative MP for London North Centre. She has the former Liberal MP for the riding blogging very effective articles about the lockout. The MP has got to be worried about the past MP returning to claim the job or some other Liberal successfully challenging her in the next election.
At the provincial level, things are even more promising because the Ontario Liberals could be