Crippling strike at auto parts supplier ends

Almost 200 workers at a parts supplier to Chrysler's Windsor, Ont., minivan assembly plant are voted again on an offer they rejected Sunday

Windsor Assembly Plant to resume operation immediately

Chrysler's assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., has been stalled by a strike at Dakkota Integrated Systems, which builds instrument panels for minivans. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

A strike at an auto parts manufacturer that brought minivan production to a halt in Windsor, Ont., has ended.

Approximately 160 CAW members at Dakkota Integrated Systems in Lakeshore, Ont., recast their votes on a new collective agreement they first rejected Sunday.

After more than 60 per cent rejected the original contract, 74 per cent of the employees approved a tweaked version Monday.

The change came after the union and Dakkota reached an agreement about "short-shifting."

Short shifting happens when Windsor Assembly Plant shuts down and doesn't need as many parts from Dakkota. The supplier then sends its employees home, without pay.

The newest vote came after local CAW officials met with union members for 40 minutes Monday.

The unexpected strike by the nearly 200 CAW workers at the auto parts supplier east of Windsor was predicted to affect 30,000 others working in the auto industry Monday, according to union officials.

Rick Laporte, president of CAW Local 444, said the strike at Dakkota Integrated Systems in Lakeshore, Ont., had already stopped work at four other supply plants where the union represents workers.

The parts supplier produces instrument panels for minivans built at the Windsor Assembly Plant, and production of the vehicles halted Monday without just-in-time delivery of the components.

A Dakkota employee casts a ballot Monday after the CAW met with workers for 40 minutes. (CBC News)

Almost 200 workers at Dakkota began strike action after voting to reject a three-year contract, putting the brakes on the Chrysler plant employing nearly 4,900 hourly workers.

Production at the plant was to resume Monday.

"Please be advised that effective immediately, the Windsor Assembly Plant will resume production on the afternoon shift t[Monday]," said Chrysler spokeswoman Lou Ann Gosselin. "In addition, employees on all shifts are expected to report for their regularly scheduled shift."

The workers at Dakkota Integrated Systems in Lakeshore, Ont., voted more than 60 per cent on Sunday against the proposed three-year deal, which included a wage increase of $1.50 an hour over the life of the agreement.

The original contract rejected by the Dakkota plant workers had been recommended by the union.

"Absolutely I was surprised. That word might be mild. It’s a little bit of a shocker," Laporte said of the members' collective decision to strike. "To me it’s like committing suicide. Chrysler isn’t going to stay down a whole lot longer before they look elsewhere for a supplier."

Laporte and Local 444 vice president thought the contract did enough for their members.

"We thought it was an excellent contract," Chiodo said. "We endorsed it unanimously from the bargaining committee, and we presented it to our membership and they resoundingly said that they are not interested. They voted 38.9 per cent in favour of it, which basically puts us out on strike."

Wages were the issue, said Local 444 vice president Dave Larue.

"The 50 cents, 50 cents and 50 cents — their expectations were a lot higher," he said of the members.

Workers at Dakkota currently make $17.50/hr.