CAW Local 1001 Members Approve Closure Agreement at St. Thomas Truck Plant

January 19, 2009, 2:07 PM EST


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CAW Local 1001 members who work at the Sterling truck plant in St. Thomas, Ontario, overwhelmingly voted Sunday in favour of a closure agreement that provides enhanced severance, extended benefits for those who qualify and funding for a job action centre.

Workers voted 97 per cent in favour of the closure agreement. The Freightliner plant, which produces heavy duty Sterling Transport trucks, is slated to close March 27. At its peak when production was running on three shifts it employed 2,200 workers.

CAW President Ken Lewenza said a solid agreement was negotiated despite the tough circumstances.

"Our committee worked extremely hard to get the best 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 jobs crisis in Canada, which continues to mean the loss of skilled, good paying jobs. The federal Conservative government of Stephen Harper must pay more attention to this crisis and outline a strategy to deal with it in its upcoming budget," Lewenza said.  

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 who were laid off in November 2008 receive two weeks of severance for each year of service, a $3,500 bonus and six months extension of benefits.

Workers laid off in April 2007 receive a $1000 lump sum payment.

Sterling workers also receive preferential hiring at the Freightliner parts depot in Mississauga. In addition the agreement provides $100,000 toward the establishment of a job placement centre and $50,000 in tuition assistance funding.

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