Jerry Dias speaks to the crowd at the Nemak Plant in Windsor on September 2, 2019. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

Nemak workers walk out in protest of plant closing

“Nemak is out of business until further notice.”

Those were the words from Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, during a protest at the Nemak Plant in Windsor on Monday morning as he announced that there will be a work stoppage at the plant until an agreement can be met.

This comes after Nemak officials announced back in July that the plant would be closing by mid-2020.

Dias said he met with the CEO of Nemak earlier in the week in Mexico in hopes of coming to a resolution. However, Dias said he was instead met with silence.

“We had a very candid, straightforward conversation where we said that ‘we expect that you are going to live up to the terms and conditions that you signed in 2016. When we left the meeting, it was very clear that they had no intention of doing so,” Dias said. “Therefore, this is the action that we are taking.”

The agreement Dias references was one signed by workers who agreed to a four-year wage freeze in exchange to keep the plant open until at least 2022.

According to John D’Agnolo, Unifor Local 200 President, the dramatic action is not a strike, but a “protest.” About 170 workers will be impacted by the walkout.

Besides the anger over breaking the agreement, D’Agnolo said Unifor officials are upset about Nemak bringing production of an FCA engine to Mexico instead of Windsor. He said the protest is a way to send a message to Nemak that Unifor won’t stand for the closure of the local plant.

“The message is, you need to abide by the agreement, you need to invest in Windsor, you need to keep those programs in Windsor and do what you can to keep future work here.”

Dias said they wanted to do whatever it takes to get Nemak’s attention and will continue the protest on as long as needed. He added that he isn’t concerned about the legality of a work stoppage.

“This is absolutely as legal as what they are doing. The facts are is that Nemak is operating as if there is no collective agreement. So we are now operating under the premise that there is no collective agreement.”

Dias said they are still working on the specifics in terms of what compensation employees will get during the walkout, but said he is going to ensure they are all taken care of.

“We were doing everything we could to avoid this today,” he said. “When you meet with the CEO of a company, you expect he’s going to have an element of principle…They can’t come to us and say ‘extend the deal for three years, freeze your wages and here’s what we’ll do as a result of that’ and then a year later change their minds. It doesn’t work.”

Watch the full announcement below.

 

Windsor Ontario where workers are protesting the closure of the Nemak automotive block supplier plant.Windsor Ontario où les travailleuses et travailleurs protestent la fermeture de l’usine de pièces automobiles des blocs moteurs.

Posted by Unifor Canada on Monday, September 2, 2019