Toronto, Ontario – Members of the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) who work at a Sterling truck plant in St. Thomas, Ontario have voted in favour of a closure agreement. The Freightliner plant, which produces heavy-duty Sterling Transport trucks, is slated to close March 27, 2009.
At its peak, the plant ran on three shifts and employed 2,200 workers. The closure agreement provides enhanced severance, extended benefits for those who qualify, and funding for a job action centre.
“Our committee worked extremely hard to get the possible agreement for our members, but this remains a tough time for these skilled workers, their families and the St. Thomas community and the surrounding area,” said CAW president Ken Lewenza. “This Sterling truck plant closure underlines again the need for the federal government to take immediate action to deal with the manufacturing job crisis in Canada, which continues to mean the loss of skilled, good-paying jobs.”
Under the agreement, the 750 workers currently employed at the plant receive two weeks of severance for each year of service, a $5,000 lump sum payment, and six months’ extension of benefits after the closure. Their wages are also guaranteed until March 27. Workers laid off in November 2008 receive severance and benefits, but with a $3,500 bonus, while workers laid off in April 2007 receive only a lump sum payment of $1,000.
Sterling workers will also receive preferential hiring at Freightliner’s parts depot in Mississauga, Ontario, about 180 km away.