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/CAW talks at an impasse

Posted by Ian:
Drive along South Edgeware Road to get a first-hand look at the absolute economic devastation in St. Thomas, the result of the loss of up to 4,000 manufacturing and related jobs. Now with the pending closure of the St. Thomas Ford Assembly Plant in 2011, the fallout will be more than the 1,500 or so remaining jobs at the sprawling complex. Start with Lear, and the list of victims grows from there, as noted in this Globe and Mail story from Sept. 24/09 …

Closing the plant would be a serious blow to St. Thomas, which has already sustained the shutdown of a Sterling truck factory by Daimler AG, said Scott Smith, unit chair of CAW local 1520, which represents workers at the Ford plant.

If the Ford plant closes, suppliers are also likely to close, Mr. Smith noted, pointing to Lear Corp., which is operating in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has a plant in St. Thomas that supplies seats to the Ford plant.

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Lear Corp. preparing to file for bankruptcy

Automotive parts supplier Lear Corp. (LEA-N0.48-0.02-4.00%)said yesterday that it is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has lined up financing to fund its operations while under court protection.

Lear, which makes automotive seating systems and electronics, said it is still negotiating with lenders and bondholders for additional support for its restructuring plan. In the meantime, the company said it has a commitment for $500-million in loans to finance its bankruptcy from a group of lenders, led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc.

Lear operates three plants in Ontario, including seat-making operations in Whitby and St. Thomas that supply General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. respectively. A third plant in Kitchener manufactures seat components.

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