Unifor standing up for workers at Whitby parts plant


WHITBY, ON, June 3, 2016 /CNW/ - With the unexpected announcement of some 270 auto parts jobs being lost at Johnson Controls Inc. in Whitby, Unifor is advocating for good jobs to be maintained in the plant or in the local area, and its members to stay with the work.

"We cannot stand by and let good jobs continue to be lost in the Durham Region," said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. "The workers with the skills to make these parts are here in Whitby, so it makes sense for the parts to continue to be made here."

The work at the Whitby location making door panels and floor consoles for the Impala is being moved after GM and JCI were unable to come to terms to extend their commercial sourcing agreement.  The move would leave 200 active employees without work and another approximately 70 on layoff with no reasonable chance of recall.

The work had been expected to stay at JCI in Whitby until the end of the current Unifor-JCI collective agreement, which expires in August 2017. 

GM will transfer the work to a new supplier who will continue to send the parts to the GM operations in Oshawa. Unifor is advocating for the new supplier to locate the work in the Durham Region, near Oshawa. The closure has been announced to take place on July 1.

One year ago, JCI entered into a joint venture with China's Yanfeng Automotive to form a new company, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, based in Shanghai, and is the world's largest supplier of automotive interiors, with annual sales of $8.5 billion (US).

"Unifor's first priority is to stand up for good jobs, which benefits the entire economy," said Dean Baumhauer, the JCI Unit Chair with Unifor Local 222. "This is why in 2014 Unifor bargained the opportunity for my members to build these parts until at least August 2017, the expiry of the Collective Agreement"

"These workers are a critical influence in supporting the local economy spending money in local stores, and the taxes they pay go to support such things as hospitals and schools. We all need to make sure good jobs are maintained."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including more than 40,000 in the auto industry. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.