VIDEO: Nemak Workers Demanding Extension from Company
A protest is underway at the Nemak plant in west-Windsor.
Workers walked off the job Monday morning and assembled at the entrance to the facility off Ojibway Pkwy., vowing not to allow anything in or out of the plant until Nemak reverses its decision to shut down the operation.
Unifor National President Jerry Diaz hosted a rally at the plant alongside Unifor Local 200 President John D'Agnolo. In July, Nemak announced it planned to move production to its facilities in Mexico — a move Diaz says calls a clear violation of an extension agreement signed with the union in 2016.
Diaz says Nemak agreed in writing to keep the plant open until 2022 and workers expect them to live up to that agreement, especially since Nemak has received $4.5-million from the provincial and federal governments to support the company's production in Windsor.
"This is a company that has made billions of dollars, this is a company that has received millions and millions of dollars from both levels of government," says Diaz. "You would think that they would have the class to live up to the terms of the agreement, but if they don't have the class, then we're going to force them to."
D'Agnolo says officials just returned from Monterrey Mexico where they met with Nemak's CEO. That's where it became clear shutting down the plant in protest is the only move more than 170 workers have left.
"Can't get any hire than him, to say listen, you signed an agreement and you need to abide by that agreement," says D'Agnolo. "He was silent, so we left that room saying we have to do what we have to do to keep that work here in Windsor."
Moving work to Mexico is insulting to workers who took a wage freeze in their last collective agreement to guarantee projects would stay in Windsor, according to D'Agnolo.
"It's not like they make a ton of money here. They've been here for a long time and they've put their blood sweat and tears into this site," says D'Agnolo. "They thought they had a future until the end of 2022 and these new programs coming. This is devastating for them and that's why we're here."
D'Agnolo says workers will maintain the protest 24 hours a day until the company backs down on the closure.
With Nemak producing engine blocks for General Motors, Diaz says the protest could entice the automaker to push for a resolution.
— with files from AM800's Gord Bacon and Zander Broeckel.