Future of Owen Sound Glass Plant in Ruins
September 25, 2008, 11:08 AM EST
CAW Local 248 members working at the PPG plant in Owen Sound, Ontario received news the 41-year old factory will close its doors in 2009. Workers in the plant manufacture flat-glass window panes for the automotive and residential and building construction sectors.
Local 248 members were setting up dates to begin collective bargaining negotiations with PPG later this month just before the news of the closure broke. The collective agreement, which is still in effect, is set to expire on September 30.
"It's heart-wrenching to know that we'll be shifting our focus toward a closure agreement, rather than making gains for members in our next collective agreement," said CAW Local 248 President Jack Cutting. He said the closure was not anticipated and devastating news for the community of Owen Sound.
Cutting noted issues like the high Canadian dollar, rising energy prices and slumping auto and construction sectors had created an unstable business environment with reduced work volumes and falling prices.
The PPG plant is the latest casualty in a long list of major plant closures to hit Canada's manufacturing sector under Stephen Harper's watch, said CAW President Ken Lewenza, one that has already claimed nearly 200,000 jobs with more on the horizon.
"My heart goes out to the Local 248 members in Owen Sound, but plant closures and major layoffs will continue to be an almost daily occurrence as long as Harper's Conservative government is steering Canada's economic ship," said Lewenza.
Local 248 members, formerly represented under the Owen Sound Glass Workers, joined the CAW following a merger in the mid 1990s. In the 1970s, the Owen Sound plant employed more than 600 workers. There are currently 170 workers employed at the facility, 140 of which are CAW members.