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Old September 13th, 2005, 11:57 PM   #1
Jaybird
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Ford to slash 1,100 jobs, close plant in Windsor

Ford to slash 1,100 jobs, close plant in Windsor

By GREG KEENAN
Monday, September 12, 2005 Updated at 7:57 PM EDT
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail

Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. will eliminate 1,100 jobs in Canada during the next three years and close a plant in Windsor, Ont., in a deal with the Canadian Auto Workers that union president Buzz Hargrove says provides the lowest wage increases since the CAW was created in 1987.

"I describe it as a modest agreement, but a good agreement for tough times," Mr. Hargrove told reporters yesterday afternoon after the tentative three-year agreement was signed.

"This was a company that was losing market share and was forced to restructure."

Ford's workers will receive annual wage increases of about 1.5 per cent in the first year of the new contract and roughly 1 per cent in each of the second and third years.

The agreement — which sets a pattern for Ford's competitors DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc. and General Motors of Canada Ltd. to match — is in stark contrast to 2002, when the CAW won annual wage increases of 3 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent, a signing bonus, a Christmas bonus and an extra 28 days off a year.

There's no signing bonus and no increase in time off in this deal, but the Christmas bonus will continue.

Ford will close its Windsor casting plant in 2007, which will wipe out 530 jobs.

x Another 600 jobs will disappear at the nearby Essex engine plant, which is fed by the Windsor casting operation.

Those cuts will reduce Ford's overall CAW employment in Ontario to an estimated 10,500 by 2008 from about 11,600 CAW members today, Mr. Hargrove said.

Stacey Allerton Firth, Ford Canada's vice-president of human resources, would not confirm the specific numbers, but acknowledged there will be job cuts. "We are going to do everything we can to minimize the impact of those job reductions on our employees.

"It's pretty challenging times, and we find ourselves in a fiercely competitive environment particularly in North America. We're in a position where we have to realign our manufacturing capacity with the current marketplace realities that we're facing," she said.

The union won a promise from the company to build a new engine for the threatened Essex engine plant once V6 production is phased out there in 2007-08. But the new engine will provide jobs for only about 400 people, compared with 1,500 now.

Ford also agreed to invest $200-million at its assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ont., to refresh its Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis full-sized cars and to keep that plant open for the next three years.

"That's a major victory for St. Thomas," Mr. Hargrove said, noting that it was rumoured to be on the hit list in a Ford restructuring that will be announced in several weeks and is expected to include the closing of assembly plants in St. Louis, Mo., St. Paul, Minn., and Wixom, Mich.

Union negotiators were able to save both the Essex engine plant in Windsor and the St. Thomas Assembly Plant in St. Thomas, Ont., and its 2,700 jobs.

"He's done very well," said Sean McAlinden, who watches the Canadian talks closely as director of the economics and business group of the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Ann Arbor, Mich. "Ford's in the worst shape of the Big Three."

The union also agreed to a three-year pension deal for the first time ever, an abandonment of a long-standing CAW principle that pension agreements last six years, not three years like the rest of the contract.

All three auto makers insisted on the change, Mr. Hargrove said.

"They've had that demand since 1987 and they were a little more aggressive this time," he said.

Mr. Hargrove wants the CAW to turn its attention now to DaimlerChrysler, which has already notified the union that it wants to close its casting plant in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, Mr. Hargrove told The Globe and Mail's editorial board yesterday.

That move would wipe out about 440 jobs and leave that auto maker with no parts-making operations in Canada.

The union is expected to leave negotiations with GM until last. GM has stated publicly that it needs an agreement that freezes overall labour costs.

The decision on which company to tackle next could come later this week, Mr. Hargrove said.
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Old September 13th, 2005, 11:59 PM   #2
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This is certainly not good news for part of the Windsor economy, but I guess if it has to be done, it has to be done. The auto companies are struggling. But to happen in Windsor, that is even more devastating.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 12:18 AM   #3
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Does that mean Ford will be completely out of Windsor?
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Old September 14th, 2005, 03:16 AM   #4
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^ I don't think so, I think a couple of plants (and test track), and the Aluminum plant will remain.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 04:08 AM   #5
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The Ford Engine plant in Windsor will stay open. Don't be surprised if the St. Thomas plant closes within 10 years. Thankfully Chrysler is doing well these days...they can't pump out the vehicles at their Windsor plant fast enough.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 05:05 AM   #6
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^ or lowers its workforce SEVERELY. It was St. Thomas' plant that was on the bubble to begin with, so their workers get a reprieve right now.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 06:40 PM   #7
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Hey, Windsor made the New York Times!


Once Home to Ford, Canadian City Is Losing Auto Work
By Ian Austen
The New York Times

WINDSOR, Ontario, Sept. 13 - At the foot of Drouillard Road, the main street of what was once the separate municipality of Ford City, a plaque recalls a bitter and often violent 1945 strike at the nearby Ford complex that ultimately changed labor laws and significantly increased the power of unions in Canada.

This week, the Canadian Auto Workers gave tentative acceptance to a contract that will allow the Ford Motor Company of Canada to eliminate about 1,100 jobs in exchange for little more than slight improvements in severance, and minimal wage and benefit increases for the remaining employees. That says much about how the union's power has changed since then.

And while Ford and other automakers will remain significant employers in Windsor, which sits just across a river from Detroit, the additional job losses and the closing of a Ford foundry are yet another sign that Canada's automotive capital is not sharing in the automotive industry upswing that has made Ontario a bigger producer of motor vehicles than Michigan.

"People around here are quite anxious about this and with good reason," said Alan Hall, director of the University of Windsor's labor studies department. "The long and short of it is that these jobs are gone and the contribution they make to the economy is gone. It's nice to soften the impact of that. But the fact is that they will have far less employment."

While DaimlerChrysler Canada long ago eclipsed Ford in terms of employment in this city of about 209,000, it is a sign of the company role in Windsor that locals inevitably refer to it as Ford's. But it has been a relationship with some significant strains.

"The relationship has been good but we've suffered a lot of pain over the years," said Alex Keeney, a former president of the C.A.W. local that represents Ford workers in Windsor, who is now a national representative for the union.

Many elderly Windsor residents still recall with bitterness Ford's decision to move all its Canadian auto assembly operations to a new factory in Oakville, Ontario, in 1953, which cost the city about 6,000 factory jobs. As if to further the insult, the company's Canadian head office left for Toronto a year later.

The latest low point in the story will be the closing in 2007 or 2008 of the Ford Casting Plant, a 71-year-old foundry spiked with chimneys and tubes that is attached to an 82-year-old factory that turns out engines for large S.U.V.'s and pickup trucks.

The casting plant has come back from the dead after being closed for three years starting in 1980. But the increasing substitution of its cast iron parts with others made of aluminum alloys in current engines means that even Mr. Keeney has little hope for a second revival.

The elegant red brick engine plant, which was designed by Henry Ford's favorite architect, Albert Kahn, is in no danger of closing. But under the tentative contract, which union members will vote on this coming weekend, a different engine plant will lose one line. Ford promises a successor, but the union expects that it will add to the 684 jobs that will vanish at the foundry.

While no final numbers have been determined, it appears that Ford will end up directly employing about 3,500 people in Windsor, apart from workers in an aluminum casting joint venture, a fraction of its peak of 15,000 in 1954.

But Ford has not been the only disappointment for Windsor. Fifteen hundred jobs were lost in 2003 when DaimlerChrysler decided to import full-size vans from Germany rather than continue to build them at a plant here, which it shut. Toyota and Honda have built all of their Canadian operations several hundred miles west of Windsor, a move Dr. Hall partly attributes to their desire to avoid the city's strong union culture.

Now even the parts producers, whose growth had offset some of the losses at Ford, Chrysler and a General Motors transmission plant in the city, are looking increasingly to Asian production to reduce costs.

It is a situation that Dr. Hall said defies easy solutions. Windsor has long talked about diversifying its economy to reduce its automotive dependence. But Dr. Hall has little hope of that bringing real relief.

"It's like the effort to cut the dependence Canada generally has on the American market," Dr. Hall said. "Everybody says we have to do it, but it's difficult to see any substantial efforts."
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Old September 14th, 2005, 08:55 PM   #8
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^ too bad it made the paper the way it did.
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