St. Thomas Closure Devastating News, CAW President Says

November 9, 2009, 1:30 PM EST

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Ford's formal announcement today that it plans to close the St. Thomas, Ontario car assembly plant in 2011 is devastating news for workers, their families and the community, CAW President Ken Lewenza said.

In 2008 Ford first indicated it wanted to close the plant in 2010, but the CAW negotiated an extension to the life of the plant to 2011 in bargaining at that time.

"Despite the CAW's continuing efforts to keep this facility open, the company has officially announced today the closure of St. Thomas, resulting in the elimination of 1,500 jobs in 2011 in this already hard hit community," Lewenza said. "The company made it clear in recent contract talks that they planned to close St. Thomas, but that doesn't make today's announcement any easier. This is very tough news."

The CAW negotiated enhanced severance and retirement packages for workers at the St. Thomas facility. The company has also committed to providing funds for an action centre to help workers who are unemployed as a result of the closure.

In addition the CAW negotiated a new retirement and separation canvas in early 2011 in Oakville and Bramalea in an effort to create openings for employees at the St. Thomas assembly plant who agree to relocate.

Despite the closure announcement, the CAW is committed to working with Ford to find an alternate manufacturing use for the St. Thomas plant, Lewenza said.

"This plant has provided good jobs and has been an economic mainstay in the community supporting thousands of spin off jobs in supplier plants and other services for more than four decades," Lewenza said. "We are determined to keep searching for an alternate use for this facility that will continue to provide jobs."

CAW Plant Chairperson Scott Smith said union members and their families have faced incredible insecurity regarding the future of the plant. "Our members have remained dedicated to their work and to the union, despite the uncertainty and frustration that this closure announcement creates. I want to thank them for their support and continuing determination," said Smith.

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