CAW Workers Take Over Plant - Win Severance Pay Fight
March 31, 2007
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The quick action of Canadian Auto Workers union Local 303 in occupying the Collins & Aikman plant in Toronto's east end Friday night, has secured the workers' severance pay when the plant closes later this spring.
The take-over was sparked by the company which reneged on their agreement to pay $6 million in severance according to CAW rep. Brian Stevens.
CAW National Rep.
"We negotiate a settlement with Collins & Aikman. They put their name to a document, they committed to paying the severance. They committed to paying the vacation pay and continuing the benefits. And those rats bailed on us this week and they were trying to steal our work and steal our molds out of this plant and that was to leave you folks with no money at all."
The workers took over the plant and by sun-up had barricaded the doors and formed a wall of fellow workers at the front gate.
"What do you want? Severance Pay! When do you want it? Right Now!"
During the occupation, Bob Chernecki, assistant to CAW national president Buzz Hargrove kept the pressure on DaimlerChrysler, one of Collins & Aikman's major creditors and customers. Throughout the weekend the workers barricaded the front gate.
Plant Chair Mustaq Mohammed summed up the workers' determination to win.
"We had negotiated fairly with them. We had done a good job by trying to leave here fairly. They didn't listen to us so now we are not going to leave here until we get our money."
CAW members at the Collins & Aikman plant in Guelph walked off the job in support of the Toronto workers.
Tom Collins, assistant to the president in charge of the auto parts sector said that threatened to shut down the DaimlerChrysler Brampton assembly plant.
Assist to National President
"We're holding them all accountable for this as part of the process. And as the customers are still here and as the company is still here in Canada we're going to hold their feet to the fire until such time as they put the appropriate money in trust, to look after our people."
The solidarity of the workers at Toronto, Guelph and Ingersoll, coupled with the national union's backing, won the day. The pressure worked. DaimlerChrysler has guaranteed to pay 1.8 million of the severance pay, Ford will pay 1.54 million and the CAW is pressuring GM to guarantee the remainder or face possible parts disruptions from the Collins & Aikman Ingersoll plant.
CAW "Fighting Back Makes a Difference."