During the 1005 lockout I would try to go out to the picket line as often as work and family would allow. One story I heard from several different people was how the senior executives of US Steel would arrive in Hamilton by private jet. What made the story even funnier was that the 3 to 4 executives would arrive separately, each in their own jet. The Executives would then show up at the bargaining table and demand that the workers accept cuts to their pension plan because the company could no longer afford them.
We all had a good laugh and it helped us to pass the time while we froze our butts off on the picket line.
What is interesting about the story is how it illustrates the unreal, bubble like, world these senior executives live in.
We talk about politicians who campaign in a bubble, never meeting real voters; these guys are the same.
They are the new royalty of old. They move from one city to another in their private jets and big black cars. Surrounded by private security and personal assistants, these people never see or hear the workers. Nanticoke, Hamilton, London, Curitiba or Xuzhou; these are just numbers on a map.
Given the size of these companies and the new technologies that allow products to be manufactured anywhere in the world, a labour dispute simply becomes a facility that has gone off-line for a time. We have a problem in London; let’s get Munice up and running. If Munice doesn’t work then we use Mexico etc.
So how do you pierce the bubble? I think that is the challenge we face.