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Union locals back on job at Canada’s Wescast, Lear

Keywords: Tags  Canadian Auto Workers, labor contracts, strike, Wescast Industries, cast iron exhaust manifold, stainless steel, Lear, Lear Seating General Motors

CHICAGO — Members of the Canadian Auto Workers union have agreed to new contracts at two Ontario-based auto parts companies in recent days, ending independent strikes at both locations.

Members of CAW Local 504 on Friday voted 98 percent in favor of a new collective bargaining agreement with auto parts maker Wescast Industries Inc., ending a three-week strike at the company’s Strathroy, Ontario, operations. CAW Local 504 represents 65 workers at Wescast.

Workers at the plant, which makes cast iron exhaust manifolds for passenger cars and light trucks, had been on strike since Oct. 27.

"The agreement resists concessions and extends a commitment on the life of the plant for at least another year," according to Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president. "In addition, the company has agreed to a process that will hopefully transition the plant from iron to stainless steel production."

The Brantford, Ontario-based company posted net losses of Canadian $3.96 million ($3.97 million) and C$4.88 million ($4.89 million) for the third quarter and nine months ended Sept. 30, respectively, despite revenue that rose 7.6 percent and 6.5 percent year on year during the periods.

Meanwhile, Wescast said the expansion of its stainless steel exhaust parts facility in Stratford, Ontario, is progressing well, with additional programs continuing to launch. At the end of the third quarter, Wescast had 80 parts in launch phase.

Separately, CAW members at the Whitby, Ontario, operations of seating manufacturer Lear Corp. ratified a new collective bargaining agreement after a two-day strike also resulted in a brief shutdown of a General Motors of Canada Ltd. plant in Oshawa, Ontario, where the company is based.

The union says it was successful in resisting $20 million in concessions tabled by Southfield, Mich.-based Lear and made gains in time off the job, retirement incentives, lump-sum payments and skilled trades improvements.

The Lear seating contract also positions the Whitby plant for future investment. The union obtained a commitment from Lear whereby seats will be built at Whitby for contracts acquired for any of GM’s future models. CAW Local 222 represents 400 workers at the plant.

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