Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW) is urging the federal government to take immediate steps to ensure the future of the Navistar truck plant in Chatham, Ontario. The union said that the company has opened negotiations with a proposal that would reduce the plant to “a shell of a facility.”
“Despite the fact that our labour costs are cheaper than their U.S. options, it appears that Navistar has no future commitment to Chatham,” said Bob Chernecki, assistant to the CAW president. “The company is telling us in essence, if they are serious about this proposal, they would gut the plant and reduce it to an active workforce of less than 100 people, with no strategy for growth.”
The proposal would eliminate the 35 truck-a-day guarantee in the current collective agreement, and CAW members would need more than 30 years’ seniority to remain employed if the company changes go through.
In a letter to Chatham-Kent-Essex MP David VanKesteren, the union said that the federal government has put in $30 million to maintain the Navistar jobs into the future, and due to changes in the collective agreement, workers took $40 million per year out of the cost of Navistar operating in Chatham. More than 800 unionized workers are on layoff and there is an active workforce in the plant of fewer than 400 people.
The CAW said that without action, such as a tariff, it is clear that Navistar intends to send the work to plants in Mexico or the United States.