CAW Local 27 president Tim Carrie.
Credits: (CRAIG GLOVER/QMI AGENCY)
The union occupied a Caterpillar front-end loader plant in Brampton in 1991 to get the company to the table after it announced it was closing that factory.
It worked then, and the workers are prepared to do it again, Carrie said on the weekend.
"They have put these workers through hell. If they want to be reasonable, we will talk. But if they think they can walk away from London without paying for what they have done here, they are wrong," he said.
"If that is what has to happen, then that is what we will do. Our members will decide that," he said of occupying the Oxford Street plant.
There are several locomotives in the plant ready to be shipped and Progress Rail, Caterpillar's subsidiary, wants them out as soon as possible, Carrie said.
"We are prepared to do what is necessary. Our members made it clear they wanted to be treated fairly here . . . they have to atone."
Caterpillar Inc. announced Friday it will shut down the Electro-Motive plant, cutting about 700 jobs, after it locked out the workers Jan. 1 in a bid to slash wages and benefits about 50%.
Talks begin Tuesday on a severance package for the plant and the bargaining committee will meet Monday to hammer out its requests.
Charlotte Yates, a labour professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, said she believes the severance talks could also prove difficult.
Caterpillar has a history of trying to get by paying as little as it can, she said.
"In Brampton they offered them the absolute legal minimum, and workers said no," Yates said.
If they try that again, the province should "actively intervene," she said.
"I will tell you this -- it better be substantially better than minimum standards," as required under labour law, said Carrie.
"They have trains in there now, they want them out. The impression I am getting is they are willing to bargain."
Carrie declined comment on what the might seek.