Ford workers have voted to accept wage concessions in a bid to keep the Nemak Essex Aluminum Plant open.
The plant is likely to close November 2011 unless it gets a new contract to produce engine components.
The Nemak plant currently has 124 people working on the Ford engine while another 50 are working on 3.6-litre engine blocks for GM. Ford has been subsidizing Nemak with the work since 2001 but that 10-year agreement expires next November, placing the jobs in jeopardy.
Production workers Sunday voted 84 per cent in favour of cutting wages from the $30-an-hour-plus range to $19.50 an hour. Skilled trades workers voted for a wage of $26.33 an hour.
"Nemak has to stand alone now," said Dan Cassady, president of Canadian Auto Workers Local 200.
"The only reason that plant is still there now is because Ford is subsidizing one of the products. So Ford is paying the extra so to speak. Once Ford is out of the equation the plant has to stand alone."
University of Windsor marketing professor Tony Faria said wage concessions were necessary to keep Nemak competitive.
"There just is really no way that a supplier of parts, which essentially what Nemak is doing: cylinder heads, engine blocks, transmission parts, can pay assembly-line wages and compete for contracts."
The offer to cut wages will allow Nemak to compete for another product and if successful, laid-off Ford workers could be recalled. Current employees would be eligible to bump into other Ford jobs.