First Heinz, now JD Norman: worker laid off twice due to Windsor-Essex plant shutdowns

·2 min read
Todd Dunford appears in a photo in 2014. He was among the workers affected by the closure of JD Norman last week.
Todd Dunford appears in a photo in 2014. He was among the workers affected by the closure of JD Norman last week.

( - image credit)

Dozens of workers are out of a job after the abrupt closure of JD Norman Industries, an auto parts company in east Windsor.

One of them is Todd Dunford, and as he explained on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning, it's the second time in six years he's been laid off because his employer shut down operations.

Dunford used to work at the Heinz plant in Leamington before it closed its doors in 2014.

The news on Friday came as a shock, he said. When he was let go from Heinz, employees were given six months' notice.

"With this, it was 'we're closing effective immediately — see ya,'" he told host Tony Doucette. "So, it was a completely different situation."

Prior to the closure, the plant was running out of parts and employees weren't getting answers, Dunford said.

On Friday, employees were called into a Skype meeting and handed letters saying JD Norman was ceasing operations in Canada due to a parts supply issue, he said, adding that to his knowledge it wasn't COVID-19 related. There were security guards on site.

"And that was it," he said. "By the time I got back to my desk, my computer access was gone, the phones were disconnected, and everybody packed up and went on their way."

Dunford, who was the facility's tool crib manager, was not in a management position but also wasn't part of the union representing workers, Unifor Local 195. He doesn't know if he'll receive any compensation from JD Norman.

After he lost his job six years ago, Dunford said he did OK for himself. It allowed him to make a career pivot from the food and beverage industry to the automotive sector.

"My windows, I feel, are wider now. My opportunities are wider because I've been able to expand my scope," he said.

Dunford and his wife, who runs a hair salon, are both currently not working, he said, but doing OK for the short term as they await what comes next.

"I'm just going to pound the pavement, as they say, and see what comes up," Dunford said, adding that he's open to work in any industry.

Unifor Local 444/Twitter
Unifor Local 444/Twitter

Roughly 65 people work at the facility, which manufactures parts for General Motors, according to Unifor Local 195 President Emile Nabbout.

He said on Friday that they were caught totally off guard by the closure.

"We were blindsided," he said. "We have no news from the employer whatsoever."

The union has set up a blockade outside the factory.