Ford Motor Co. intends to follow through with the closure of its St. Thomas, Ontario, assembly plant and commit to new investments under concessionary contract amendments agreed to today by the Canadian Auto Workers union.
CAW President Ken Lewenza said the givebacks were necessary to align Ford's contract with givebacks provided to General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group earlier this year. Rank-and-file workers will finish voting on the deal by Sunday, he said.
As part of the accord, Ford agreed to put an undisclosed new global platform in the Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant at a later date, Lewenza said. Today, Oakville builds the Ford Edge and Flex and Lincoln MKX and MKT crossover vehicles.
St. Thomas will cease production at the end of 2011 as previously announced. The plant builds the Ford Crown Victoria sedan, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car.
“There no getting around it: We're losing about 1,400 jobs at St. Thomas, and we won't be able to make that up,” said Lewenza in a phone interview following a press briefing today.
Lewenza said the union and Ford would look to make room for some displaced St. Thomas workers through retirement incentives offered at Ford's other operations.
Ford also operates an engine plant in Windsor, Ontario, and a parts depot and some technical offices in Canada. Ford employs about 8,000 CAW-represented workers, Lewenza said.
Lewenza said the CAW bargaining committee unanimously approved the contract changes as did local plant CAW leadership brought in to review the details.
A Ford spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.
Lewenza said the new Ford-CAW agreement mirrors those of GM and Chrysler. Concessions include a wage freeze through September 2012, the elimination of one week of vacation, a freeze on cost-of-living until the fourth quarter of 2012 and higher health care co-pays for active workers and retirees.