Navistar Makes No Move to Re-Open Plant, Governments Must Step in, CAW says

TORONTO, Jan. 21 /CNW/ – Following months of uncertainty, the bargaining committees from CAW Local 35 and CAW Local 127 met with senior levels of management from Navistar Thursday in Windsor, Ontario. The meeting was requested by the union, as part of its ongoing attempt to have Navistar reopen the Chatham truck facility. The corporation has been demanding massive concessions, significantly reducing the production and jobs at the facility. This facility once employed over 2000 workers and now risks being reduced to less than 100 workers. The corporation maintains that the plant will only be used for cab production, with no trim or paint facilities being utilized. To add insult to injury, the popular Class 8 Prostar and Lonestar which were engineered and built in Chatham will no longer be built there. These were premium trucks that had top quality and were well received by consumers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said that it is an absolute disgrace, given particularly that the corporation received over $63 million from both federal and provincial governments. In addition, it received $40 million of concessions from the workers in the last round of negotiations.

Lewenza said that there was no meaningful discussion yesterday, as the corporation maintained their irresponsible position on all outstanding items. The focus of the bargaining committee continues to be to reach a fair and responsible agreement that includes a long term commitment by the employer for jobs in this facility. The plant has not operated since June 2009 and there continues to be more than 800 workers and their families left out in the cold by this multi-national corporation.

Lewenza was adamant that Navistar, and the federal and provincial governments have an obligation to these workers, their families and the community of Chatham.

“It remains absolutely unacceptable that this corporation received millions of dollars from tax payers and then pulls up stakes and moves the work to Mexico and the United States, leaving the Chatham plant a shell of what it once was,” said Lewenza.

“These issues cannot be resolved at the bargaining table. The federal and provincial governments must also answer to the taxpayers, the workers, the retirees and their families, as to why Navistar is allowed to abandon their commitment to this community. The power of government must be used to force Navistar to live up to their obligations to these workers and the City of Chatham,” said Lewenza.

There are no future dates scheduled for meetings between the parties.

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