Toronto, Ontario – Ford will close its automotive assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ontario but add new products to its facilities in Oakville and Windsor, part of a new agreement reached with the Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW).

The new agreement follows the pattern established between the union and General Motors and Chrysler last spring, while maintaining Ford’s manufacturing base in Canada. The new agreement expires in 2012.

“During the negotiations, Ford threatened that if we didn’t come to an agreement, the company would begin shifting investment out of Canada,” said CAW president Ken Lewenza. “In today’s globalized economy where companies attempt to bypass community commitments, it’s crucial that we don’t allow this to happen. Ford sells hundreds of thousands of vehicles in Canada each year and we must ensure that they continue to employ Canadians in the production of just as many vehicles.”

As part of the agreement, Ford has made a series of production and investment commitments at its Canadian facilities, including any potential derivative engines from its base design architecture in Windsor, Ontario, and new vehicles, to be produced off a new global vehicle platform, in Oakville. Under these commitments, Canada will account for 10 per cent of Ford’s total North American manufacturing output over the term of the new agreement.

For the Oakville plant, Ford committed to allocating a new global platform to the flexible plant, which will produce at least two new-generation vehicles in the next product cycle. During the course of the agreement, the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX will also get a major refresh.

In Windsor, Ford committed to a new premium engine in the Essex Engine plant, as well as the sole source for all variants of the engine. Additionally, the plant will continue to be the sole source for the 5.4-litre engine for the life of the product, as well as the 6.8-litre engine.

The automaker confirmed that it will close its St. Thomas plant in the third quarter of 2011. The plant produces the rear-wheel drive Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car for fleet sales. As part of the closure, workers will receive enhanced severance and retirement packages. Ford has also committed to providing funds to set up an action centre to assist workers unemployed as a result of the closure.

The CAW represents approximately 7,000 Ford employees across Canada.

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