End of the line for Navistar’s Chatham plant


The end has finally come.

Nearly a decade after it was first announced Chatham’s Navistar plant would close, it has become a reality.

The final death knell came Tuesday — more than two years after the Richmond Street truck assembly facility has sat idled — when Navistar International Corporation issued a news release announcing its plans to close the plant.

The company blamed the inability to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers union as the reason operations were halted since June of 2009.

However, the union has continually stated it couldn’t get the company to the bargaining table.

CAW Local 127 president Aaron Neaves said, “it’s hard to negotiate, quite frankly, with yourself.”

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It’s another body shot to southwestern Ontario, the province’s manufacturing engine that has been decimated over the past couple of years with the loss of several thousand jobs alone in St. Thomas/ Elgin – which is bracing for the closure of Ford Canada’s St. Thomas Assembly Plant this fall.

The announced closure of Navistar International Truck’s Chatham facility today is a devastating blow to the workers, their families and the entire community, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

“Despite our relentless efforts since 2009 to reopen the idled facility and get our members back to work, Navistar has remained rigid and is now moving ahead with plans to shutter the plant,” Lewenza said, following the company’s formal announcement.
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Future of Navistar’s Chatham plant remains precarious


Navistar International Corp. (NAV) said it could decide by summer whether it will need to restart an idled assembly plant in Canada.

Chairman and Chief Executive Daniel Ustian said the company has sufficient truck-making capacity at the moment, but might need the Chatham, Ont., plant if truck orders continue to trend higher through next year.

“Do we need another manufacturing facility? We don’t know the answer to that,” Ustian said Wednesday during a conference call with analysts. “At least in the short term, likely no. We’re not capacity-limited on making trucks.”

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Ottawa agrees with truck study request


The full article by Bob Boughner of the Chatham Daily News can be found here

Dave Van Kesteren’s request for a comprehensive study of Canada’s medium and heavy-duty truck manufacturing sector has been granted by Ottawa.

Industry Ministry Tony Clement announced the study Tuesday and called for a report to be delivered to government by spring.

Van Kesteren, MP for Chatham-Kent Essex, is “thrilled” his federal counterparts have acted on the recommendation he made earlier this year.
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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.
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CAW Calls for Government Intervention after Fruitless Meeting with Navistar


WINDSOR and TORONTO, Aug. 19 /CNW/ – The CAW is calling for the Ontario government to intervene in the more than year-long stand-off between the union and heavy truck manufacturer Navistar Corporation, after talks today failed to make any progress.

The CAW called the meeting with Navistar in an attempt to resolve the temporary closure of the plant and explore ways to maximize production at the facility, but the discussions failed to produce any resolutions.

The company did not provide any plans for the future of the facility but has pledged to provide a detailed and formal response within two weeks.

“Navistar Corporation has to understand that to manage change in a workplace it must be done in conjunction with the workers. Those who are affected by these changes must be treated with respect and dignity,” said CAW President Ken Lewenza, following the meeting.

“It is unconscionable that this corporation is allowed to send the historic production, supported by Ontario and Canadian tax dollars, to a foreign country like Mexico. The meeting today and all the meetings to this point have been extremely frustrating and now we will wait for the corporation’s response within the next two weeks.”

“This situation cannot be resolved through collective bargaining and requires significant intervention by the government.”

Navistar temporarily closed the facility in June 2009, laying off its entire workforce after a breakdown in negotiations between the two sides.

The company’s latest proposal includes reducing the workforce down to fewer than 100 people and with historic assembly work performed at the plant outsourced to Mexico. The collective agreement expired on June 30, 2009.

For further information: CAW Local 127 President Aaron Neaves, 519-350-1031; Chairpersons Cathy Wiebenga, 519-436-5184 and Sonny Galea, 519-809-2240

Union gets foot in door with Navistar officials


There is a glimmer of hope for the Navistar International Truck and Engine plant in Chatham.

Aaron Neaves, president of CAW Local 127, said the union found out late Monday afternoon the company has finally responded to its request to meet soon for “exploratory discussions.

“That’s all we can tell you right now,” he told reporters outside Chatham-Kent council chambers after hearing a brief report on what economic development has done over the last month to help with the situation.

He added the membership needs to be informed of the date before it’s made public.

Neaves said he is “very cautiously optimistic,” but stressed they’re only exploratory discussions.

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Post script …

Talks regarding the future of Navistar’s Richmond Street truck plant are scheduled for Aug. 19.

“These discussions are in an effort to feel the climate of the company’s intentions for our future,” said Cathy Wiebenga and Sonny Galea, in a joint media release Tuesday.

Wiebenga is plant chairwoman for the CAW Local 127 Navistar unit and Galea represents CAW Local 35 Navistar unit.

The talks are aimed at moving the company back to discussions with locals 127 and 35, the bargaining committees and the national union.

“The committee is committed to all options that exist for both locals,” said the union representatives.

They said an update for the membership will be provided following the meeting.

Company spokesman Roy Wiley has said repeatedly the company is willing to talk provided the talks are productive.

Does Navistar expect to take work out of Chatham and have Canadians continue to purchase its trucks?


Talk about a Mexican stand-off — The CAW wants the Navistar plant in Chatham back up and running, with its members back on the assembly line in numbers; the municipality wants the plant operational, even if it’s not pumping out trucks; and the company wants to run a pared-down operation with one-20th of the workforce that once worked there.

Through it all, 5,000 heavy-duty trucks recently ordered by J.B. Hunt Transportation Services Inc. will likely be built in Mexico because the Chatham facility is idled.

Talk about a mess.

About 150 people marched through Chatham Monday and into council chambers to seek help from council. They want to see pressure on the provincial and federal governments to get involved to help entice Navistar get the plant running again, and give people their jobs back.

Council will let the senior governments, as well as the company and the union, know how important it is for Chatham-Kent to have the truck plant operational once more.
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