VIDEO: Unifor Won't Let Nemak Plant Go Without a Fight
Nemak workers in Windsor are ready to fight for their jobs.
The Mexican-owned aluminum casting plant is scheduled to close in mid-2020, putting 270 people out of work, and those workers gathered at the Unifor Local 200 Hall on Turner Road Saturday morning to discuss what's next.
"We all work hard every day to bring food home to our families, we bust our butts off. To feel like we're being backstabbed the way we are is heart breaking. There's not many jobs left in Windsor, good jobs at that and I'd hate to see it go," says Nemak worker Sherri Pukay, who's been at the plant for more than four years.
Local 200 President John D'Agnolo says Windsor can't compete with wages in Mexico, but that's what millions of dollars in tax-breaks and grants from all levels of government were supposed to offset.
He says the decision isn't sitting well with workers who accepted wage freezes into 2022 and generated work to keep the plant afloat.
"They recognized the fact that, to fully utilize that plant we needed new programs, they ended up getting one through a Fiat Chrysler Assembly block ... and they chose to move it to Monterey, Mex. We won't tolerate that," he says.
D'Agnolo says city, provincial and federal cash needs more strings attached.
"The problem is, today, corporations are greedy and they'll get up and leave regardless of this," says D'Agnolo. "What we have to do is put some policies in place to protect those jobs because, right now that's not been successful."
He hopes to have more concrete answers in the coming weeks so workers can plan for the future.
"They have families to feed, they have mortgages, these unknowns will drive you absolutely crazy and it's absolutely devastating," he says.
Mayor Drew Dilkens is still hopeful the facility will remain viable after discussions with the building manager earlier this week.
"They're not selling the plant yet, so that gives me some glimmer of hope that there's the prospect that business comes back," says Dilkens. "I'd prefer, as would the members here, to not see the plant close in the first place. The question is, what's it going to take to keep the plant open?"
According to Nemak, the decision to close the facility comes after a client in China decided to phase of their contract early — that's due to a dramatic sales drop in the vehicles that use the engine block made in Windsor.
D'Agnolo says Jerry Diaz will be meeting with Nemak CEO Armando Tamex Martinez as soon as possible.
He hopes to have a date set for that meeting Tuesday.