Workers occupying a closed auto parts plant in Ontario ended their sit-in after agreeing a compensation deal with former customer Chrysler which had earlier in the day won a court injunction giving police power to break up a union blockade.
A local paper, the Windsor Star, said Canadian Auto Workers (CAW ) union president Ken Lewenza announced the deal was announced from the back of a Dodge pickup truck by as he addressed a crowd of about 500 gathered for a workers’ rights rally outside the Aradco factory, which closed suddenly last week.
About 80 workers at Aradco and a sister plant, Aramco , were told not to report to work a week ago last Monday after Chrysler terminated its contracts with the suppliers, effectively closing the two plants, which supplied metal parts to the automaker, the paper said. Workers set up blockades in a bid to prevent Chrysler from removing tooling from the plants, saying the equipment was their only leverage in the battle to secure severance and termination pay from the US-based owner of the plants.
The Windsor Star said a blockade of about 100 union members, including union representatives of workers at Chrysler’s Windsor assembly plant, turned a truck away from Aradco on Tuesday even as Chrysler warned the impasse could stall production at multiple North American plants. Workers entered the plant a few hours later and occupied it overnight.
The eventual deal ended the blockade and paves the way for Chrysler to begin removing the equipment, but its impact on Aradco and Aramco workers was unclear, the report added. Terms were due to be announced to workers later on Thursday (EST).
The report added that the tooling would be moved out of the plants to another Windsor plant, Narmco, which is represented by the same local union branch. Chrysler had attempted to end the blockade last Monday when it offered workers the equivalent of about four weeks holiday pay each.
Workers voted 64% against the deal because they claimed they were owed nearly C$1.5m in termination pay and severance pay under Canadian law, the paper said.
According to the Windsor Star, Catalina Precision Products, the owner of the two plants, is legally responsible for those severance monies. It hasn’t declared bankruptcy, but its manufacturing presence in Canada is limited to the two closed plants. Catalina lawyer Dave Domzal told the paper Chrysler owed Catalina $2m for an “inventory of parts” that had recently been shipped and that Catalina could not pay the severance. A Chrysler spokesman countered that Catalina owed Chrysler money for steel.