Canadian Auto Industry Suffers Further Blow as Economy Continues to Struggle

March 5, 2009, 1:54 PM EST

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CAW National President Ken Lewenza said the magnitude of the depressed auto industry is having grave implications right across the economy. Lewenza was responding to the March 4 announcement by Chrysler of the elimination of the third shift from the minivan assembly plant in Windsor, affecting 1,200 workers as of this summer.

"The loss of the third shift at one of the company's most successful operations underscores the urgency for the provincial and federal governments to respond to the auto crisis not only with temporary loans, but with a comprehensive auto sector-specific industrial strategy, that includes balanced trade and incentives to get old vehicles off the road," said Lewenza.

The minivan plant had been a three shift operation since 1993. The workers are represented by CAW Local 444. "For the last 15 years, these workers have produced quality minivans for the North American public and should the demand increase, we will work to ensure these members are brought back on the job, " said CAW Local 444 President Rick Laporte.

"This news is devastating for the Windsor community which already has the highest unemployment rate of any city across the country," said Laporte. "The union is committed to working with the members and the larger community during this very difficult time."

"There are 40 parts plants in the Windsor area directly associated with the minivan plant, all of which will be in jeopardy of losing more jobs," said Laporte. "This means the loss of jobs could reach as many as 5,000 which will have a terrible trickle down effect in the community once that many people are out of work."

Lewenza said the credit crisis and ensuing financial meltdown are taking a huge toll on consumer confidence and Canadian jobs.  "Federal and provincial governments must continue to intervene in the economy," said Lewenza.

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