A picket in front of the Rose City Ford dealership on Tecumseh Road East blocked traffic briefly on Wednesday morning, as employees, who have been working without a contract since July 2010, walked off the job.

Police arrived and traffic was moving again by around 10 a.m.

About 75 workers and supporters of the Canadian Auto Workers blocked driveways into the dealership. Some people were carrying strike signs.

Traffic was held up on Tecumseh Road when workers tried to prevent a manager from entering the parking lot in his vehicle. Police were called and the manager was eventually allowed to enter the lot, said Gerry Farnham, CAW Local 195 President.

Farnham said the contract expired last year and negotiations broke off in July 2011. Last Friday a decertification vote was held, but the vote failed with 74% of workers backing the union.

On Tuesday, an 11-year body repair employee was suspended and told he had 60 days to apply for proper job certification or he would be fired. Another 11-year painter was told he had 30 days to apply for a license or he would be let go, Farnham said.

He thought the company's actions were unusual since the employees had worked at the dealership for so long, with both workers having more than 30 years experience in their field. One of the workers was also a union staffer, said Farnham.


An earlier version of the story reported that the employees were terminated when in fact one was suspended and both were given notice to apply for licences in order to keep their employment.

Farnham believes management is trying to provoke the union.

John Chisholm, the president of Rose City Ford Sales, issued a written statement on Wednesday afternoon saying, "It is most unfortunate that this labour dispute commenced at a time when it was known that I would be away from the office for an extended period of time. Please know that since December of 2010 Rose City Ford has been awaiting a response from the CAW to its request for a return to the bargaining table. That response never arrived."

Chisholm said that it was acting legally "in response to certain actions taken by Rose City Ford in respect to some employees."

Chisholm was in Europe on vacation on Wednesday, said Farnham.

At least six dealerships in Windsor are unionized. Rose City Ford has 35 union employees, he said.