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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Please, allow me to answer Joe Fontana's EMD questions

I checked out Mayor Joe Fontana's website today. I discovered a post titled: Statement regarding EMD – February 3, 2012.


Screen grab from Mayor Joe Fontana's website.

In his post Mayor Fontana tells us:

  • I cannot understand why Caterpillar has chosen to announce the permanent closure of the EDM facility . . .
  • I cannot understand why Caterpillar would not return to the table and negotiate . . .
  • I cannot understand why Caterpillar has not stepped up and acted in good faith and demonstrated respect for its employees.

Please don't take this wrong, Mr. Fontana, but the answers are as close as the Internet. Since you and your staff seem to have a problem using Google, let me be so bold as to supply you with the answers and some links.

When Caterpillar bought EMD the closure of the London assembly plant was already well into the planning stage.

Electro-Motive Diesel president and chief executive officer John S. Hamilton appeared before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Hearing, on April 20, 2010. At that time, he bragged a great deal but he never got around to mentioning London. [Note: Caterpillar and Progress Rail signed the agreement to purchase EMD on June 1, 2010. This is months after CEO Hamilton made his appearance.]

Concerning high speed rail, Hamilton said if given the chance EMD "would make most all of the critical technologies [in La Grange, Indiana]. We have the equipment. We have 1,600 American workers ready to do this work and we would recall workers currently on lay-off to meet the additional workload. In accordance with Buy America, we announced last week a search for a facility in which to perform final assembly. [This would be the Muncie plant that is now in limited operation.]

With these words the death knell was sounded for the London operation.


Caterpillar did not return to the table because there was nothing to negotiate. Keeping the London plant open while the U.S. operation was being brought up to speed was appealing ---  but only if it could be done at a bargain basement price.

When the London workers didn't go along with the hefty cuts proposed by Caterpillar, the plant closed. No one should feign surprise or claim to not understand what just happened and why. It wasn't hard to fathom. I blogged on the eventual shut-down almost a full month before the closure was officially announced.

If you'd like to have links to my relevant EMD posts, here are a couple:

You wonder why Caterpillar acted as it did. You ask, why didn't it "demonstrate respect for its employees?"

Mayor Fonatana claims ignorance.
Companies like Progress Rail and its parent, Caterpillar, are bringing third world employment to North America. David Olive, of The Toronto Star, looked at this development in an article: America, the world's sweatshop. Why would you expect London workers to be treated any differently than their American counterparts?

As I suggested in early January, the locked out workers in London were given a Hobson's choice. No matter what decision they made, in the end they were going to find themselves out of jobs.

I believe it is important that you understand what went down at EMD. Your ability to turn around the economy in London may well depend on it. I do hope I have been able to help and that you no longer are puzzled by the EMD closure.

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