International Truck Layoffs Betray Agreement & Government Funding

November 12, 2008, 2:34 PM EST


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International Truck's November 5 decision to layoff 470 CAW Local 127 members in Chatham, Ontario is devastating news for the workers, families and the entire community and a betrayal of the 2004 extension agreement.

In addition the company is laying off 29 office workers, who are represented by CAW Local 35.

With the latest cutbacks in production and the office about 400 jobs will be left at the Chatham facility.

CAW National President Ken Lewenza said this latest blow comes as the company ramps up production at its Escobedo plant in Mexico to 30 Pro Star trucks a day. The Mexican plant makes the same vehicle as the Chatham plant.

The 2004 extension agreement was reached based on the premise of the ProStar product being built in Chatham, not Mexico. To keep these 30 units per day in Chatham would mean keeping approximately 190 jobs.  There would still be a lay-off of approximately 280, but the devastation to the community would be less.

Lewenza said the federal and provincial governments helped bail out the company in 2003 with $65 million and the workers agreed to $44 million a year in cut backs to help ensure a strong future for the facility.

He said the federal and provincial governments must make an issue of the transfer of this work.

In July the company told the union the Mexican plant would only be handling overflow work that Chatham could not handle, CAW unit chairperson Cathy Botterill said.

Botterill said workers at the Chatham plant feel betrayed by the company.

The spin-off jobs at suppliers will also be affected tremendously in Chatham-Kent, Botterill said.

Sonny Galea, Local 35 chairperson at Navistar said: "At our high point, technical and clerical workers totalled 199 members at Nabistar in Chatham and we're now at 102 members. A further cutback in our membership only means increased hardship for the office workers who depend on these jobs and who give back so much to the community."

"Our committee will continue to have strong talks withthe company," Galea said.

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