CAW study finds job gains aren’t as great as they seem

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.

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Ontario looks beyond the struggling auto sector

Ford Canada St. Thomas Assembly Plant

Ontario’s auto industry is facing ongoing consolidation with the upcoming closing of a Ford Motor Co. plant in St. Thomas in 2011. Last year, General Motors Corp. closed a light truck plant in Oshawa. Auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Richmond Hill, Ont., says Ontario’s auto industry has lost 50,000 jobs since 2006 and has been hurt by long-term structural change as well as cyclical issues related to the economy.

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to compete with lower-cost plants in parts of the U.S. and Mexico that are not unionized, he says. As a result, he expects Canada’s share of total North American auto production — virtually all of which takes place in Ontario — to drop to as low as 12% during the next four to five years from its current perch of 16%.

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Good news for recession-battered St. Thomas

Formet Industries, St. Thomas

Magna International (MGa.TO) said on Monday that it has won a contract to make the third generation of frames for General Motors Co’s [GM.UL] full-size light-duty pickups and sport utility vehicles.

Magna said it would not disclose the amount of the contract. It said the new frames would replace GM’s GMT 900, which is the frame for the big Chevy Suburbans, Tahoes, and Silvarados.

The frames will be built at plants owned by Magna’s Cosma unit in St. Thomas, Ontario, and Saltillo, Mexico, which currently make the GMT 900.

The (Proudly Built in St. Thomas) Police Interceptor Is Dead. Long Live The Police Interceptor!

According to Ford, the new Police Interceptor was developed in conjunction with the automaker’s Police Advisory Board and will exceed the Crown Victoria’s abilities in performance, durability and safety. “We have heard the repeated requests from the law enforcement community to continue uninterrupted support of the law enforcement community,” Ford’s Mark Fields said in a statement. “Ford is answering the call with the new Police Interceptor – engineered and built in America.”

We’re assuming Fields doesn’t mean North America. A “Made in USA” label would differentiate the new Police Interceptor from most of its competitors and even the original Crown Victoria, which was most recently built in St. Thomas, Ontario. Chevy is planning to import the new Caprice from Australia — it’s a rebadged Holden Statesman — and the Dodge Charger is made in Brampton, Ontario.
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A future without Ford – the new reality

By Kyle Rea
St. Thomas Times-Journal
As fallout continues from the news that Ford’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant will shut its doors in fall 2011, three of the biggest casualties locally — Southwold township, the Lear Seating plant and the Elgin-St. Thomas United Way — are taking a look at a future without the plant.
Last Friday, leaders of the Canadian Auto Workers union confirmed what has long been suspected, that the St. Thomas Ford facility will shut its doors in September, 2011, as the company looks to phase out production of the large cars manufactured there — the Crown Victoria, Lincoln Town Car and Grand Marquis. When that happens, 1,400 people will lose their jobs.
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Ford turns up nose at unprecedented offer to save St. Thomas Assembly Plant

In a last-ditch effort to save the St. Thomas assembly plant, the province and Canadian Auto Workers made offers of cash and unprecedented concessions — but Ford Motor Co. said no.

The province offered as much as $150 million and the union told the company to cherry-pick details of any collective agreement and put it on the table, CAW national president Ken Lewenza said yesterday.

“(Ford of Canada vice-president) Joe Hendricks told me directly he could not get a better deal from any government than the one the Ontario government was prepared to put in front of Ford Motor Co. He was clear about that,” Lewenza said. “They were prepared to do more than any jurisdiction in the world. The Ontario government was prepared to be a major player.”

Instead, Ford will close the St. Thomas assembly plant in September 2011, cutting 1,600 jobs.

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80% of CAW Local 1520 membership vote in favour of new deal

TORONTO, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ – Thousands of CAW members working at Ford facilities in Oakville, Windsor, St. Thomas and Bramalea have voted in favour of a new agreement, ratifying the deal by 83 per cent during a series of meetings held over the past two days. The deal was reached on October 30 between the two sides.

“No one should mistake workers’ approval as satisfaction with the new agreement,” said CAW President Ken Lewenza. “Members had faith in the union to negotiate the best agreement possible and protect their interests over the long term, but the problems faced by industry cannot be resolved at the bargaining table.”

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A done deal – Ford to close St. Thomas plant in 2011, shed 1,400 jobs

ford plant

MONTREAL — US automaker Ford Motor Co. will shutter one of its manufacturing plants in Canada in 2011, a move that will cut 1,400 jobs, the Canadian Auto Workers said Friday.

As part of a cost-reduction agreement between the company’s US headquarters and the CAW, the plant in St. Thomas will close in the third quarter of 2011, the powerful union said in a statement.

Some 1,400 employees will be dismissed, CAW spokeswoman Shannon Devine told AFP. Canadian media put the number of jobs eliminated at 1,600.

As part of the tentative agreement the union said it obtained a commitment by the US automaker to keep at least 10 percent of its North American production in Canada.
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St. Thomas Assembly Plant … “it is not looking good”

The future of the St. Thomas assembly plant was discussed yesterday and the automaker repeated there is no product for the local plant after 2011, Lewenza said.

The Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car are produced at the plant.

“We want St. Thomas to be extended, but that product line is being phased out. They have capacity all over the place. It is not looking good today.”

Ford did emphasize in talks yesterday it has made significant investments in Windsor, reopening an engine plant next year, and has added a fourth vehicle to its Oakville assembly plant.

“They indicated to us . . . Canada has been a key player in Ford’s success, but there is no product to allocate.”

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