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Machinists Agree to End Strike at Wescast Industries

Nov. 18, 2012
Agreement “resists concessions,” secures plant operation for one year No disruption to shipments

The three-week-long strike at Wescast Industries’ machining plant in Strathroy, Ont., has been resolved, the auto parts manufacturer confirmed. According to a statement by the Canadian Auto Workers’ union, members of its Local 504 voted with a 98% margin in favor of a new collective-bargaining agreement.

The length and terms of the agreement were not announced. Wescast’s announcement of the development stated simply that there had been “no disruptions to customer shipments during the work stoppage.”

An assistant to the CAW president, Jerry Dias, stated the agreement “resists concessions” and gained a Wescast commitment on continuing activity at the plant for at least one year.

"In addition, the company has agreed to a process that will hopefully transition the plant from iron to stainless steel production," according to Dias.

Another CAW representative, Jim Woods, said the new agreement also includes an increase in the severance entitlement to 2.4 weeks per year of service for any permanent layoff.

"The activism of CAW area local unions as well as other unions and community members in providing support to the picket line was critical in maintaining the membership's spirits in Strathroy, as they walked in bitter cold conditions many days," according to CAW Local 504 president Dave Reston.

About 75 CAW members went on strike at the Strathroy plant on October 27. Wescastmachines cast iron manifolds there, part of a global organization that designs, casts, machines and assembles automotive exhaust systems components, including exhaust manifolds, turbocharger housings, and integrated turbomanifolds for automotive OEMs and Tier One customers. The same plant was the site of a strike in 2004.

Theunion said that Wescast had demonstrated a lack of commitment to labor relations. Negotiations toward a new labor contract began in July, but reportedly broke down in October when the company demanded a vote on its “final offer” and CAW members rejected it by 60%. Last September, Wescast agreed to a takeover by China’s Sichuan Bohong Industry Co. Ltd., a move later estimated at approximately $195 million. In September 2012, Bohong received a necessary approval on the acquisition from the People's Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)