Caterpillar lock-out

The Electro-Motive Lockout and Non-Occupation:
What did we lose? What can we learn?

Herman Rosenfeld

Along with everything else, the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath created new openings and potentials for working people in the struggle against neoliberalism. A number of struggles initially opened up, including
factory occupations, efforts to defend pensions and the rights of younger workers. There were important political struggles, as well, as in
Wisconsin, along with newer projects to link labour and communities, in the Occupy movement.

But this has to be placed in the context of the dramatic and ongoing pressure of restructuring, concessions bargaining and slack job markets in
the private sector. While this has been an ongoing characteristic of the neoliberal period, the state-guided restructuring in auto, steel and other sectors have deepened a process which is still working itself through.

Austerity budgets at all levels of government and political attacks have targeted public sector works, as well. The current moment is a rather bleak one for unionized workers in Canada.

This is the political setting that has driven a number of recent conflicts in Canada, most notably the Caterpillar (CAT) owned Electro-Motive Diesel(EMD) lockout and closure. This experience is particular to the changes in
the larger transportation sector in North America. But it is also
characteristic of the pressures facing the manufacturing industries, and
therefore its unions and workers.

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