$400,000 deal to end plant blockade
By Donald McArthur, The Windsor Star [Ontario]
March 19, 2009
Aradco and Aramco workers received $400,000 from Chrysler to end their blockade of two shuttered auto parts plants in Windsor and will go after the plants’ U.S.-based owners for outstanding severance monies.
The offer from Chrysler amounts to eight weeks vacation pay for each of 80 laid off workers and doubles the offer workers rejected by a margin of 64 per cent Monday. The amount falls far short of the $1.5 million in severance and termination pay legally owed workers by Catalina Precision Products, which closed the plants abruptly last Tuesday.
“It’s a victory that we ended up getting something for them more than what they had from day one when they first walked out, which was nothing,” said CAW Local 195 President Gerry Farnham.
“We ended up getting them $400,000 that they wouldn’t have normally been entitled to. Unfortunately, we had to get that through a third employer, which really bothers me.”
Should Catalina end up declaring bankruptcy, workers should receive an additional four weeks pay under the federal government’s wage protection program.
Aradco and Aramco workers, who now have no jobs and face a bleak job market, said the Chrysler money was better than nothing. They called on Catalina to provide them severance and termination pay and urged the government to introduce legislation to protect workers.
“We go what we could get,” said Joel Elschner, 38, an 11-year employee at Aramco. “It’s not all we’re entitled to but it’s certainly more than Catalina was going to give us.”
The deal with Chrysler ended a union blockade outside the two shuttered plants, which had prevented the automaker from retrieving tooling vital to vehicle production at multiple North American plants. Trucks were seen removing Chrysler tooling from the plants on Thursday.
Catalina maintains it has no money to pay the severance to the workers and that Chrysler owes it money. Workers expressed fears that any money paid to Catalina would be paid to banks and creditors and dry up long before workers saw even a penny.
Workers occupy Aradco factory
By Donald McArthur and Chris Thompson, Windsor Star
March 18, 2009
A handful of workers intent on stopping Chrysler from removing parts and tooling until they receive termination and severance pay occupied the Windsor Aradco plant Tuesday.
“Their resolve is pretty strong,” said CAW Local 195 president Gerry Farnham.
“It’s a shame we have to do this.”
Shortly before 6 p.m. about half a dozen workers appeared on the roof of the Charles Street plant, which shut down last week. One planted a CAW Local 195 flag near the front of the roof.
The workers managed to gain entry to the secured plant, setting off the alarm system and thereby notifying police.
A dozen officers arrived but workers gathered outside managed to keep them from entering the plant.
A call was made to CAW president Ken Lewenza and, with the assistance of other senior CAW leadership, a lawyer for parent company Catalina Precision Products was convinced to contact Windsor police.
“The lawyer for Catalina didn’t want us to cross the line either,” said Sgt. Tony Garro.
“We are just going to stay back and make sure nothing further develops. If there is something blatant we’ll deal with it.”
Farnham climbed on top of a pile of wooden pallets and delivered the news to workers, who responded with cheers.
Earlier in the day Rick Laporte, president of CAW Local 444, which represents workers at Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant, was among a blockade numbering more than 100 that stopped a flatbed truck, which was backed up by Chrysler security vehicles, from entering Aradco, one of two Chrysler suppliers that abruptly closed last Tuesday.
“It’s a delicate situation,” said Laporte. “This is not a good situation for either side.”
Complicating matters for the union is that Chrysler wants to move the tooling equipment from two plants represented by CAW Local 195 to another plant, Narmco, represented by the same local.
The truck was denied entry about 2 p.m. as Chrysler sought in a Toronto courtroom to add teeth to an injunction it obtained last week. The injunction stipulated the company owned and had a legal right to retrieve parts and tooling from Aradco and Aramco on Walker Road.
The impasse could stall production at several North American Chrysler plants by next week and as early as today at the Wrangler plant in Toledo, said Chrysler spokesman Dave Elshoff.
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