An auto-parts plant near Windsor, Ont., will close, just months after workers negotiated a new contract, according to Johnson Controls Inc.
The factory in Lakeshore produces overhead components, or headliners, for the Windsor-built Chrysler minivans. But Johnson Controls has lost that contract with Chrysler Group LLC and will shut down the plant by late March and sell the property, a spokesperson from Johnson Controls told CBC News.
Johnson Controls has 130 workers at the plant, with 40 of them currently laid off. The closure will not leave them unemployed, said Rick Laporte, president of Local 144 of the Canadian Auto Workers.
'They'll be the junior people in the Windsor assembly plant.' —Rick Laporte, president, CAW Local 444
"Chrysler is going to hire the Johnson Control workers as new hirees coming into the Windsor assembly plant," said Laporte.
The union negotiated a side agreement with Chrysler during contract talks with Johnson Controls in November. It said if anything happened to the relationship between Chrysler and Johnson Controls, workers would be looked after, Laporte said.
Michigan plant to manufacture parts
Chrysler relies heavily on the supply from Johnson Controls, and when contract talks stalled in November, the union said any work stoppage at Johnson Controls would halt production at the Chrysler Windsor assembly plant within three hours, impacting 4,500 workers.
The union said it never expected to have to cash in on the agreement with Chrysler to absorb the Johnson Controls workers.
"These workers are going to come in as new hirees, so they won't have any opportunity to bump any existing worker in the plant," said Laporte. "They'll be the junior people in the Windsor assembly plant."
Chrysler has not hired any new employees at its Windsor assembly plant in a decade.
It will now get its minivan headliners from a plant in Michigan.
The 2009 fourth-quarter sales of Johnson Controls dropped 15 per cent, from $9.3 billion US in 2008 to $7.9 billion US in 2009, forcing the Milwaukee, Wis.-based company to find new ways to cut costs.