Nemak Officials Hope Fines Motivate End to Protest


Officials at Nemak are hoping fines will be enough motivation to end a blockade by workers in Windsor.

A Windsor judge found Unifor Local 200 and four senior members of the union in contempt of court Friday.

That's in an attempt to end a blockade at the plant that began Sept. 2.

The Ontario Labour Relations Board declared the move an "illegal strike action" on Sept. 4 and Justice Terry Petterson backed that decision with a court order the following day.

But after the union ignored that decision and didn't come to an agreement to end the blockade Friday, he imposed a $75,000 fine on the Union for contempt of court.

If the union chooses not to end the blockade by 12:01am Sunday morning, it will also be on the hook for $10,000 every day with the four named union heads paying $1,000 each day.

Nemak Plant Manager Brad Boutros says nothing will change the fact the facility is no longer financially sustainable.

He hopes hitting the union's pocketbook will motivate the group back to work.

"We want to get back to making parts, that's been our intent all along. It was never meant to be punitive to Unifor," he says. "We've worked with a lot of them for more than 20-year and we've had a very good working relationship."


Nemak workers continue to protest infront of their plant on September 4, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Boutros tells AM800 News the protest is just delaying a transition that's already going to be hard on workers.

"We're looking to get back to work, we're looking to get the best for employees and that's really our only focus moving forward," says Boutros. "Hopefully from this we'll be able to move to a transition plan for all of our people and continue to give them the best experience possible in the most difficult time they're going to have."

He says the company will keep the fight in the courts if the union continues the protest past the deadline.

"We've chosen not to try and exercise the court order to get in. A lot of these people we work with each and every day, I know them, I know their families. The last thing we're going to do is cause some type of incident that put any of their safety at risk," he says. "That's not acceptable to anyone from the highest levels at Nemak and below."

Unifor Local 200 President John D'Agnolo tells AM800 News the union has launched an arbitration motion against Nemak, but it may not come soon enough.

There will be a meeting of union officials Saturday afternoon to decide the next step.

— with files from AM800's Peter Langille