Canadian Collins & Aikman workers return to work
Employees are back at work at two Ontario plastic auto parts factories for Collins and Aikman Corporation after an ...
Employees are back at work at two Ontario plastic auto parts factories for Collins and Aikman Corporation after an agreement was reached between company officials and union representatives early Tuesday morning. The employees walked off the job on Monday, and said that they were frustrated with the lack of talks with management over plant closure details.
The Southfield, Mich.-based manufacturer declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, and is currently in the process of liquidating assets and curbing its operations. Approximately 350 workers in Port Hope and 150 workers at the Mississauga facility may be affected by plant closures in the near future. More than 300 employees at the Port Hope facility were laid off in the last month.
Collins and Aikman’s Canadian soft trim operations are currently protected under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), and USW wanted to ensure that the employees at the two plastics facilities would receive their severance pay if they met a similar fate.
“These working people have given years of service to this company and, due to no fault of their own, are facing possible unemployment,” said United Steelworkers (USW) Assistant to the Director Marie Kelly in a statement on Monday. “They deserve to know that the company is capable of sitting down and bargaining a fair deal in the event of closures at these two plants.”
As part of the new agreement, the company will set $11.5 million aside for employees at the two facilities in the event of a closure. According to Kelly, Collins and Aikman has until 5 p.m. today to “create a vehicle” for that $11.5 million to be set aside.
The agreement also does not allow for any discipline or discharge for participating in the work stoppage, and employees will be paid their wages for the duration of the walkout. As well, officials are expected to sit down with the bargaining parties in the near future to work out other terms surrounding closure agreements, such as the company’s pension obligations.
Although Kelly was pleased with the outcome of the negotiations, she noted that the experience has been frustrating for workers at the two facilities.
“I think it’s a sad commentary when workers have to put down their tools and take over a plant in order to secure what the law says is secure for them,” she said.