Chrysler Windsor Minivan Plant Crippled By Strike

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
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chrysler windsor minivan plant crippled by strike

Some 175 member of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union employed by the TRW auto supply plant in east Windsor (Ontario) downed tools at three am last night and walked off the job, protesting wages and benefits. The Detroit News reports that Chrysler's Windsor minivan plant– which depends on TRW for its minivans' suspension frames– shut down three hours later. "Talks have broken off," announced CAW Local 444 President Ken Lewenza. "We're digging in our heels for a long one." CAW bargaining rep Mike Renaud told The Windsor Star he's got no regrets. ""It's a major blow to our community, and we're fully cognizant of that. And we remain willing to bargain at any given moment. But we have to have fair wages and benefits here for people," he said. Renaud described the average TRW $11.25 per hour salary as a "poverty level wage." CAW member Ryan Kelly, who works in shipping, said amen to that. "I made more working at Tim Horton's — it's a joke." Surprisingly (or not), this is the first time the TRW workers have attempted to reach a collective agreement with management. But not the first– nor the last– time Chrysler has been whacked by supplier disruptions.

UPDATE: Chrysler currently maintains an inventory of 45,700 minivan: a 57-day supply of Chrysler Town & Countrys and a 77-day supply of Dodge Caravans.

Robert Farago
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  • Boost1976 Boost1976 on Feb 29, 2008

    As a feeder plant for Chrysler and specificly for this new van, which is also a platform shared by VW for their new van. I've been dealing with being laid off alot of times just Chrysler's alone. Chryslers is running a new system (atleast to us) where they only take as many as they order per day. We cannot even stock up just in case. St louis has been rumored to shut shut down for re-tooling for a month after christmas, heard issues with their own union fighting other unions in-house. Hell, they never even reached full production ever with the van. Nobody is working for the people let alone Chrysler. Its Chrysler that is possibly causing issues aswell. They keep making restrictions, cutting costs, and corners. I think it dawned on them after Toyota took a top 3 spot that they are going to have to cut corners to create profit even though the feeder plants keep getting more restricted with their demands. I do point out i am a local 195 member and also know that unions also cause more then they can fix in most cases. Power gets to their head and obviously it snowballs. We used to have over 400 people working at our plant. We went down to literaly a graveyard shift all most 2years ago. Now i just got called back 4 months ago to be laid off again. Instead of having the security of 100 + people over me, it was down 5. Its the unions fault aswell as Chrysler themselves. Both make stupid, decisions for the future. Intern, it screws us all! Most of our GM contracts eventualy went to the US, due to 2million a year suppoedly with over the border shipping costs. So they WILL do it, they WILL leave Canada and put plants in the US, Mexico, or where ever they can produce cheap POS parts and vehicals and still try to label it as canadian/us built. Its already started a while ago. Windsor is going to be in the dump soon enough. This city relies too much on the auto industry, which is going to be its main downfall. Chrysler itself has to pull up their pants and realize all their cuts and maintaining a high profit level is whats going to make the foreign companies more succesful in North America. There are less strikes and issues with those foreign companies than the big3 at any time. Thats why they are growing, and we are not! Its all a big money game where your only a number. Nobody cares about the little guy. That includes the UNIONS! They are only out for power and growth and also pick and choose what, where, how, and who (the reason why dont matter) they dont really want to help, unless its in their benifit. Most of them are out for themselves and pick and choose who they want to "really" help. From little issues to big ones. I have never felt secure with a union, no differant if i was working for a non-unionized business. I myself dont care about this or any other plant feeding Chrysler's, GM, or Ford... If the workers of the big 3 and feeder plants for them dont shape up Windsor will cease to be canada's automotive city just like the Detroit "the motor city" is to the USA. I myself give up, i'm getting another trade to be in thats more realistic and secure. Probably even buy a foreign vehical. Why? The big3 keeps putting out sub standard products while costing more than its competition. And if it doesnt, its due to people cuts, plants being in mexico, cutting corners on the vehicals themselves. The foreign car companies WILL prevail due to the Big 3, the people who work for them, And you in general. They are simply just beating us in all levels of the playing field. And we keep bickering over the little stuff and loose site of the future. Foreign companies arent. They will be the one's laughing in the end, Where the Canadian and Us auto economy will fall on its face.

  • Mel23 Mel23 on Feb 29, 2008

    "If the wage is not enough, DON’T TAKE THE JOB. Don’t give me any crap about going hungry either, I know about going hungry. I know that $11 an hour is plenty to keep from going hungry. Working hard is not enough. The real hard work in this world is making sure that the people you do business with aren’t cheating you. Then standing up to them when they do. Follow that by constantly looking for better opportunities. If you want to “take a job” or “get a degree” and then relax because the world now owes you a comfortable life you are a fool. There are plenty of jobs available in Canada at high wages. They can’t hardly keep people in jobs in Alberta because as soon as they find a better one they all leave. It’s a constant shuffle." $11 an hour is in no way enough to keep even a small family from going hungry and having a place to live. Try it sometime even by just running the numbers. Use the info from a metro area taking into consideration having to live 'far out' to find affordable housing and the cost and time involved in using public transportation since the cost of buying/fueling/parking a private vehicle is not an option. Turning down a poorly paying job is a 'great' idea except then you have no job, and in many areas there are NO jobs available that pay a living wage. Reality can be offensive I know. "Standing up" to someone works only when you have some leverage, and many people don't. Despite the comforting idea that poor people deserve and even choose their situation, it's usually not valid. The book "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich tells the story by someone who tried it in multiple situations. I've read too about the job situation in Alberta; completely irrelevant for 99.999% of the population.

  • Serpico Serpico on Feb 29, 2008

    $11.25 CAD?! Wow. Don't Starbucks baristas make that much? Even McDonalds pays that much. Very sad.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Feb 29, 2008

    Mel, You cleverly missed the point. If you can't do better than 11 an hour, and that is not enough to feed a family then DON'T HAVE THE FAMILY. No one owes you the resources to have a family. It is not in the Bill of Rights to have a family. Certainly in no document in the Canadian law is it guaranteed either. Here is some more info since you bring up more bologne. You don't have to live far out if you share a small apartment with a roommate. There is no guarantee of home ownership. The cost of time to ride the bus to work is irrelevant, there are 24 hours in a day. Most people I know who ever got ahead spent several years without sleeping 8 hours a day (including me). Figure out how to get ahead, or give up and hope the lousy job works out. You make the choice, don't whine to me when it doesn't pan out. The only thing unfair about it is that there are a bunch of idiots taking the deal and depressing wages, or that a cabal has been formed to allow a union to set such a bad deal. Whine to them. Disregarding all the money I have paid to the government to provide welfare, if you just HAVE to take the $11 an hour job, then do it. Then save your money so you can start your own business or go get a degree, or take a job with a future instead of the one without one. Tough world, tough choices. If there are no good jobs in your area, leave. Once again, it's a choice. You are correct. Standing up to people is tough. I have let lot's of money go by refusing to fight. Strangely, because I am a white guy who pays taxes, the government offers me very little help to get a just outcome when a company steals from me. I moved on. You can always move on. Lastly, you can't just say the job situation in Alberta is irrelevant. The jobs are there, go get them. Or, stay where you are. Just don't whine to the rest of us about the outcome of your choices like we should do something about them. I have little sympathy.