CANADA: CAW remains committed to St Thomas plant fight

By just-auto.com editorial team | 22 October 2008

The Canadian Auto Workers union is to continue to urge Daimler to keep its Sterling Truck plant in St.Thomas, Ontario open, despite the auto company seemingly being committed to closing the facility.

Despite the company's announcement that it plans to cancel the Sterling brand of trucks, CAW president Ken Lewenza said workers remained committed to building medium and heavy duty trucks whatever the brand.

Lewenza described the meeting yesterday (21 October) with senior executives from Daimler Trucks North America - Chris Patterson, CEO, and Dave Carson - and top leadership from the CAW, as a "tough exchange of views".

CAW said in a statement that whilst the company executives outlined their rationale for cancelling the Sterling brand, and closing the St. Thomas plant, Lewenza stressed these are two entirely separate issues.

"Our members in St. Thomas, are not tied to producing any particular name brand," said Lewenza. "They build high-quality medium and heavy duty trucks. They built Freightliners for six years and more recently built Sterlings. Clearly, they are skilled enough to build any brand in the future."

Lewenza also expressed frustration at developments regarding the plant in Saltillo, Mexico.

He said the company reconfirmed with the CAW a previous understanding that this plant was intended originally as an overflow facility.  However CAW says this is now tooled up to produce the Cascadia and has a future, whereas the St. Thomas plant, which was the lead plant, is now facing closure.

"This 'leapfrogging' of our long-standing facility by a brand new plant in Mexico is completely unacceptable," Lewenza said.