Thunder Bay

Bombardier union rep hopes Alstom sale means more work in Thunder Bay

Dominic Pasqualino says local work force is skilled and productive, and the French transportation giant "would be wise to use our assets."

'I'm hopeful that they will be able to fill the plant up with orders,' says Dominic Pasqualino

Dominic Pasqualino, president of Unifor Local 1075, says the Bombardier plant in Thunder Bay, which was just sold to French transporation giant Alstom as part of the sale of Bombardier's transportation division, will be a great asset for its new owners. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The head of the union local representing Thunder Bay Bombardier workers says he hopes the sale of the company's transportation division to French transportation giant Alstom will result in more work for Thunder Bay workers. 

"I'm hopeful that they will be able to fill the plant up with orders," said Dominic Pasqualino, the president of Unifor Local 1075. 

"In the past … we were the most profitable when the plant was running a full three lines, and hopefully we will be able to do that once again.…  It remains to be seen how much Alstom will want to utilize our plant and what their business practices are, but at the end of the day, it was clear that Bombardier was not able to fill our plant at this time, so hopefully Alstom will be able to do that."

Workers are naturally concerned that Alstom could move production out of Thunder Bay, Pasqualino conceded, but he said the local plant has much to offer Alstom. 

"As far as I know, they don't have a plant in Ontario, or if they do, it's a very small one, so we have a large footprint and then we have very skilled employees," Pasqualino said. "We have some that have been here 40 years, plenty of them that have been here 30, and that experience is hard to come by. I think that's a very valuable asset. We've been very productive, and sometimes we were always doing the jobs that other plants had difficulty with, so I think Alstom would be wise to use our assets." 

Pasqualino said he anticipates the actual transfer of control of the business will take time to complete, and for now, it will be business as usual at the Thunder Bay plant. 

"We do have contracts right now, and it's important that we complete them in order to be able to stand [on] our reputation," he said.

"I think our plant has always stood on its own reputation whoever had owned it.  We'd been owned by CanCar, which was a Hawker Siddeley division. We were owned by Lavalin, and also we were an arm of the government, which was UTDC, so we always had to stand on our own feet, and I think we'll continue to do that in the future."