From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Squeezing the last ounce of blood from their victims

Upon returning from the labour day weekend in 2008 my coworkers and I were called to an assembly where we were informed that the facility we toiled at was to be closed and the work moved to Mexico, Happy Labour Day folks. The thing is while this was not a total surprise there was hope that we would be spared as our plant was highly profitable, known for it's high quality and innovation, beating out the competition time and time again securing preferred supplier status from our biggest costumers such as Peterbilt and Freightliner. Alas none of that matters in todays neo-liberal hell.

The process took more than a year to complete,over that time I watched more than 500 friends and co-workers be shunted out the door complete with enough tears to fill a lake.These were good folks hard working family people who toiled in an extremely hot and noisy environment in order to feed and house their families, they did their jobs well and took pride in the product they manufactured. They did not deserve this, nor did they deserve what was to come.

Our group was particularly vulnerable as it had a lot of older workers stemming from the fact that some twenty years ago we almost suffered the same fate due to inefficient methods and a poisonous labour management relationship after a series of rancorous and violent strikes. Realizing that if we didn't change we would all be out of a job both sides sat down and came up with a plan for survival, it took some years to effect the necessary culture change and it was not easy but we went from the deathbed to become the crown jewel of our division.So when the end  came ours was not a story of greedy intractable unions.

Starting in 1994 we saw a hiring boom doubling the size of our work force over the next couple of years, the fruit of our efforts. This group consisted of mainly recent immigrants hence they were just as vulnerable as those who came before them.

When I get news of my former coworkers it is invariably bad, broken relationships, lost homes and bankruptcy. You see more than three years on many have still not found stable long term employment, some in their fifties have never worked again. These are the people Harper is re-victimizing with his changes to EI. Good hard working people who would love nothing more that to have a good paying long term job instead of what they have been forced to accept. Changing the EI rules will not change this reality for them,it will only punish them for being victims of the system Harper champions

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