We treated them like royalty.
We rolled out the tax-cut red carpet.
In fact our Prime Minister made a special stop at the London, Ontario Electro-Motive (EMD) plant in 2008, touting the $5 million in tax cuts we gave EMD.
It was all part of the "tax cuts create jobs" rhetoric that Canadian politicians rhyme off by rote.
And EMD, part of the American industrial giant Caterpillar, has been revelling in financial glory.
Last month, Caterpillar reported annual profits rose 83 per cent to a record $4.9 billion.
Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman enjoyed a cool $10.5 million in pay last year.
But on January 1, EMD locked out the 460 workers at its London, Ont. plant and said: we'll pay you half of what you used to earn or we will leave the country. Happy New Year.
Today, EMD has announced it is closing the London plant and is headed for America, to exploit workers there.
It is a dark day for those 460 London workers who have families to feed, mortgages to pay, and who did the only self-respecting thing a worker could do in that situation: attempt to negotiate a fair deal with their highly profitable employer.
They got no help from their senior governments. The corporate tax cuts were no help.
But Canadians -- and, through international media interest, the world -- have been watching with shock and disgust.
Brutish. Arrogance. Greed. These are some of the words Canadians are using on social media sites today.
EMD's bully tactics expose the corporate tax agenda for what it is: a flimsy political promise that Canadians can ill afford to keep bankrolling.
And, so, perhaps today -- dark as it is -- represents a tipping point for Canadians.
Perhaps this is the day we say to ourselves: it is time we demand of our governments a job creation and retention program that secures our middle class rather than institutionalizes working poverty.
Perhaps today is the day we stop rewarding cheap political gimmicks and demand more substantive interventions on behalf of, in Occupy parlance, the 99 per cent.
Dr. Dawg's excellent blog reminds me today of this proverb: Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. Caterpillar, the corporation, may be trying to be the Monarch butterfly who takes flight but this kind of corporate bullying has no good end. (Actually, the Monarch butterfly population is in jeopardy.)
It may have taken flight, but today Caterpillar, the corporation, looks more like a moth that is flying far too close to the flame. Unfortunately, a lot of good people are getting burned in the process.
This article was first posted on Behind the Numbers.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.