Nemak must negotiate remedy with union over Windsor plant closure, arbitrator says

A labour relations arbitrator has ruled that Nemak and Unifor Local 200 must come to the table to negotiate a settlement over the closure of the Windsor aluminum plant.

Aluminum plant closure put 270 people out of work

Nemak's Windsor facility is shown in a file photo. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

A labour arbitrator has ruled that Nemak must negotiate a remedy with Unifor Local 200 over the closure of the Windsor aluminum plant.

Arbitrator Norm Jesin dismissed the union's grievance over the issue in 2019. An Ontario court quashed that decision and the matter was referred back to Jesin, who issued another decision on Thursday.

Jesin said it wasn't clear to him how the damages should be calculated, but said he would step in if an agreement wasn't reached.

"I remain seized to determine an appropriate remedy if the parties cannot agree," he wrote.

Roughly 270 people were employed at the west Windsor facility when the closure announcement was made in 2019.

Unifor Local 200 argued that Nemak violated a collective agreement with the union that included a provision on producing two General Motors engine blocks at the plant.

After the deal was inked, the work volumes were drastically reduced due to design issues and facing the possibility of losses between $22 and $30 million from 2019 to the end of 2021, Nemak opted to close the plant and relocate the work to Mexico, according to a summary of the case facts.

Nemak did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The union is embracing the decision as a victory.

"This is the decision we were hoping for. It proves what we've been saying all along: that the company violated the work commitment provisions of the collective agreement," John D'Agnolo, Unifor Local 200 president said in a media release.

"Now we can roll up our sleeves and get appropriate remedies for our members after this nearly two-year long dispute."


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