Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) are headed for a showdown over the company's planned closure of the Oakville, Ontario, light-truck plant,The Toronto Star reported today.
The plant closure, announced in January, is "the most troubling issue facing our union today," CAW president Buzz Hargrove said. Contract talks between Ford and CAW began yesterday.
Ford said earlier this year that it will close its F-series pickup truck plant as part of a broad plan to eliminate almost 10,000 jobs over two years, Automotive News reported. The company said on Wednesday it might have to cut even more jobs than originally planned as it struggles to meet its targets. Forcing a reversal of the plan or finding new work for the 1,500-employee plant that makes F-series pickups is the priority in the negotiations, Hargrove said. The Oakville plant is one of five North American plants Ford is closing.
While the union has not yet selected a strike target among the Big Three automakers, a walkout at Ford would quickly cripple the company's U.S. operations because so many plants are supplied with engines made at Ford's operations in Windsor.
"If we do shut down Ford Canada we do have an almost immediate impact on the U.S.," Hargrove said.
Ford's lead negotiator said the company hopes to reach a deal without a strike but is limited in what it can give up.
"Clearly we are not out of the woods as a company and we need to maintain our strong focus on our North American restructuring plan," said Tim Hartmann, vp of human resources at Ford Canada. Contracts for the roughly 46,000 members of the CAW expire on September 17.