Kitchener, Ontario – The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) has announced that former workers at an auto parts supply plant in Kitchener, Ontario have received long-awaited severance cheques, after the issue was made a top priority in the last round of bargaining with General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
The 66 workers at the former Ledco Limited received $1,200 for every year on the job, with no cap on minimum or maximum number of years. The facility manufactured tooling equipment and metal parts for the auto industry, mainly for suppliers to the three automakers.
Ledco filed for bankruptcy in January, at which time the union was told that workers would not receive their severance pay. Under current bankruptcy laws, workers only receive severance pay if money remains after all creditors have been paid. Some workers in the plant had 40 years’ seniority.
Workers took over the plant for three days following the notice that they would not be paid. The union pressed the automakers on the grounds that they had a responsibility for the severance pay.
The union also announced that, as a result of bargaining, former auto parts workers at Plastech in Leamington, Ontario will receive a total of $500,000 from Chrysler, representing partial severance pay following the company’s closure in May. The plant produced plastic automotive fascias, rocker panels and other exterior parts for all three domestic automakers, including Chrysler’s Windsor and Brampton assembly facilities.
Ken Lewenza, chair of the Chrysler Master Bargaining Committee for the CAW, said that the news of the paycheques is not reason for celebration, but should serve as a rallying cry to protect the country’s manufacturing jobs. “There’s no way a severance package makes up for the job losses in this community,” Lewenza said. “This plant closure, like those seen in so many other communities, isn’t inevitable, but caused directly by unfair trade practices and government inaction. Globalization can be controlled through legislation.”