The union leadership at Thunder Bay's Bombardier plant says it remains concerned the company will use replacement workers to meet its contract obligations to the Toronto Transit Commission.

Unifor local 1075 president Dominic Pasqualino met Thursday with Maria Augimeri, chair of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Pasqualino said he wanted Augimeri to be aware of what's happening in the plant.

Dominic Pasqualino

Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

“We're upset because some of the management people are trying to finish off these cars to meet the milestone payments,” he said.

“And I'm not happy about that. I don't [think] that parts should be going into the plant. I don't think that the cars should be built while we're on strike.”

The TTC is supposed to launch the next generation of streetcars — built in Thunder Bay — later this month. The TTC has already received several of the new streetcars, Pasqualino said.

Force majeure invoked

A spokesperson for Bombardier told CBC News today that the company is trying to ship as many Rocket subway cars and streetcars to Toronto as it can. However, because of the strike, it has invoked a clause in its contract that provides for extraordinary circumstances such as a labour dispute.

"Prior to the strike Thunder Bay was committed to delivering five Rocket cars as well as three LRV streetcars for Toronto between July and August,” Stephanie Ash said.

However, this has obviously been impeded by the strike, and we have had to invoke what's called a force majeure as part of our contractual obligations to protect the company against some of the contractual requirements.”

Stephanie Ash

Stephanie Ash, spokesperson for Bombardier. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

She noted the company has stated “from day one that production will continue in Thunder Bay.”

Pasqualino said that could prove to be problematic.

“I think it is a possibility that scabs will be there.  I think it would be disgusting if scabs would be there,” he said.

“You're using Ontario funds to actually fund scabs. I think that, if we do have scabs in there, I'm asking the premier of Ontario to put in anti-scab legislation so we put this to bed, once and for all.”

Negotiations stalled

Ash said the company has “said repeatedly there are no plans to bring in replacement workers,” and considers the union’s talk of it to be “a scare tactic.”

Ash added the company's focus is to get its valued Thunder Bay employees back working in the plant.

But Bombardier won't even talk to the union unless it's willing to accept concessions, Pasqualino said.

"I hope they start negotiating soon. We've offered to show them plenty of other ways to save money.  Unfortunately they really seem to be stuck on this pension and benefits.”

Ash addressed the issue, saying the union is "not willing to negotiate any compromises with Bombardier, when we are trying to find those cost efficiencies to be able to bring more work and future contracts to Thunder Bay. The whole point of these negotiations in finding cost efficiencies with pensions and benefits for future employees is so that we can keep this site more cost-competitive and bring more work here."