The Navistar assembly plant in Chatham, which received about $62 million in taxpayers’ money to stay open, has hit the one-year mark without making a heavy truck.
The plant reached the dubious anniversary for non-production today as more workers drift away and their union renews efforts for a reopening.
“It’s sombre,” said Aaron Neaves, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 127, about the mood of employees. “But it’s still somewhat cautiously optimistic.”
Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant
The economic recovery is leaving workers behind, while others are toiling in “survivor” jobs with low pay and little security, states a report released Monday by the Canadian Auto Workers union.
The study, called the Workers Adjustment Tracking Project, followed a group of laid-off workers in three communities — Kitchener, Toronto and Brampton — for one year and concludes they’re struggling to find work.
Navistar workers in Chatham are only asking for decency, respect and a job. And, they’re at a point in their battle where they need the power of the government to step up to the plate.
“For the last 10 years, International Truck was the top employer in Chatham-Kent,” said CAW president Ken Lewenza. “And for the last 10 years, those employees gave back to their community.”
Now, those workers need that same community to support them, he said.
“This is not a fight for CAW. This is a fight for our jobs. This is a fight for the future,” he said.
The federal and provincial governments are to blame for the closure of a local truck assembly plant by not insisting on job guarantees when they turned over millions to Navistar, says Bob Chernecki.
The top CAW official said Tuesday the two levels of government gave Chicago-based Navistar more than $63 million to keep the doors open at Chatham-Kent’s major employer but failed to ensure job guarantees as part of the deal.
Chernecki, in a telephone interview, said CAW employees at the facility also provided the company with more than $40 million in concessions.
“The company has turned around and slapped all of us in the face — CAW members, the community and the governments — by tabling a new deal that would provide less than 100 jobs in the plant,” he said.
Chernecki said the CAW and the company are at a “clear impasse.”
Posted by Ian:
With no clearly defined picture as to what Canada’s agri-industry should look like in the coming decades, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture is taking a lead role in devising a national food strategy. OFA vice-president Mark Wales, who farms near Copenhagen in east Elgin, is a vocal advocate for a clear, defining agricultural template that can be adopted on a national scale.
City Scope conducted a lengthy interview with Mark on March 9 of this year. What follows is the entire unedited version of the phone interview with Mark in Toronto that delved into a national food strategy, a similar undertaking in the U.K., GM foods and other agri-industry topics on the radar.
City Scope: Mark, define for us what has led up to the push for a national food policy.
Mark Wales: There never has been any clear defining, overarching national or even provincial food strategy in this country. Some municipalities, like Vancouver, have a food strategy and I think Manitoba has a bit of one, but those are mainly focused around very local food. But there is nothing overall to say what should Canadian agriculture look like, whom should we be trying to feed, what should we be trying to produce and who should be doing it and under what standards and so on.
There is a myriad of policies but none of them with any overarching vision or strategy. So, that’s what we’re working on here, both in Ontario at the OFA level, and at the national level through the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
Posted by Ian:
A feel good story from Navistar in the heart of Dixie. So why are Chatham employees pounding the pavement for months on end with no future in sight? A whole different approach in Alabama …
Like many companies in these tough times, Navistar Diesel of Alabama, faced severe layoffs this January, but unlike other companies, it devised a way to keep employees on the payroll. Instead of laying off workers, plant manager Chuck Sibley kept them on, and loaned them out to local charities — saving the jobs of 50 people, who would have been laid off.
“We knew last July we were going to have a problem, that we’re going to have too many people and we weren’t going to have work for them in January,” Sibley told ABC News. “I woke up at 3 a.m. in the morning, trying to figure out what I am going to do with everybody, and it just popped into my head that I could get them to do community work because we knew this was going to be a temporary thing.” He approached the president of the engine group, and the ball began rolling.
Top Navistar officials talked about brighter profit prospects Wednesday but offered no new insight on the future of the company’s idle truck assembly plant in Chatham that has kept employees off the job for almost 8 1/2 months.
Many Navistar employees, who earned an average of about $24 an hour, have started to look for new work or careers because of the lengthy shutdown and no sign of a resumption of operations, according to union officials.