Autoworkers concerned about industry's Canadian future

Some Chrysler workers in Windsor, Ont. are worried about their future after GM announced its moving a plant to Michigan from Oshawa, Ont.

Chrysler workers uneasy after GM moves Camaro plant from Ontario to Michigan

CAW president Ken Lewenza said securing an automotive policy is necessary to ensure automakers don't move production to other countries. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

GM's surprise move last week is sending chills through autoworkers in Windsor, Ont.

Last week the automaker announced it will discontinue production of its next-generation Camaro in Oshawa, Ont. and move to Lansing, Mich. instead.

Lino Lo Medico works for Chrysler in Windsor. He said plant workers worry about more than just their own jobs.

"It's very dismal. Once the automotive industry dies off, you're not just talking direct auto jobs," said Lo Medico. "It's spin off jobs, it's feeder plants, it's suppliers, it's every one and everything in between."

CAW president Ken Lewenza said for every auto assembly job lost, about five spinoff jobs vanish too.

Workers worried Chrysler will move to U.S.

Lo Medico said many of his co-workers are concerned that Chrysler may make a similar move in the future.

"It is a concern there's no question about it. At one point in time, you got a job in one of the Big Three, you were pretty much guaranteed retirement," said Lo Medico. "As far as myself, after 21 years, it raises a question now, are we actually going to make it?"

But Lewenza is confident Chrysler is here to stay, at least for now.

"I have no doubt today if Chrysler was making a decision about the Windsor Assembly Plant, there’s a great deal of confidence, there’s a great deal of enthusiasm about the plant," said Lewenza.

The Windsor Assembly Plant employs nearly 5,000 hourly workers.

Meeting with Chrysler officials on a regular basis is something Lewenza said will help ensure future investment stays in Canada.

CAW wants automotive policy

He said securing an automotive policy in Canada is next on his to-do list now that collective agreements have been reached with the Big Three automakers.

"Long term we absolutely need an automotive policy because these corporations will ultimately move where they get the biggest bang for their buck," said Lewenza "It shouldn’t be about [that], it should be about productivity, efficiency and quality and we have that in Canada."

Lewenza believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper will take a closer look at Canadian auto policies now that GM pulled the plug on Camaro production.

"When a government invests over $10 billion in helping both General Motors and Chryslers, for them to respond this way four years later is quite frankly a betrayal to Canada," said Lewenza.