(CHATHAM, ON) – Unifor is planning a celebration on Saturday after what it calls a major victory for Chatham workers who once were employed by Navistar. The former plant workers expect to receive $35 million in severance and related payments.
“This was an eight-year struggle for justice for not only these workers, but their families as well,” said Unifor president Jerry Dias. “It is only appropriate, then, that we celebrate it.”
Unifor says it played a vital role in achieving justice for working people, their families, and their communities, as well as the victory at Navistar.
“It is only unions that stand up for workers and fight for justice through thick and thin, as we did with Navistar,” Dias said.
To celebrate the Navistar win the union will hold a barbeque on Saturday at its Local 127 hall at 280 Merritt Avenue in Chatham, from 1pm until 4pm.
Production at the Navistar plant in Chatham stopped in June 2009 when the company announced the plant’s permanent closure scheduled for July 2011. After the closure, Unifor claimed the company refused to pay its workers, members of Unifor Locals 35 and 127, the severance required by Ontario law.
An arbitrated decision earlier this year awarded all entitled workers their outstanding payments under the Employment Standards Act.
An earlier decision by the Divisional Court of Ontario ruled Navistar workers aged 55 or older and with at least 10 years of service were entitled to a special early retirement benefit. Additionally, workers with at least 55 points of combined age and service could “grow into” a special early retirement benefit.
The court also ruled that all laid off or disabled workers should get a supplementary 0.9 years of credited service.
After the win for Navistar workers, Dias said he is now turning his attention to talks to renew NAFTA. He was in Washington for the first round, on hand as a stakeholder to offer advice to the Canadian negotiators. Dias will continue this role at the second round of talks in Mexico in early September.