Nemak remains open to compromise following discussions with Unifor

Unifor and Nemak leaders held "high level meetings" Wednesday to discuss a possible resolution to ongoing protests outside the company's west Windsor auto parts assembly plant.

John D'Agnolo, president of Unifor Local 200, said union leaders proposed that Nemak stick to the terms of a previously drawn contract which would see the production of three parts programs.

"We just want them to fulfill the contract," said D'Agnolo. "That's the only thing we said and we're waiting for their response."

Nemak responded to Unifor Wednesday afternoon, stating "representatives held a phone conversation with the union, heard their position and already replied."

"Unfortunately, the Union has made it very clear that they are not interested in negotiating anything less than Nemak rescinding the plant closure announcement and keeping the plant open at least until January 2022," Nemak said in a media release.

"This is unfortunate as the company is prepared to discuss some form of closure agreement and fair severance terms."

Nemak said the company has held "several meetings" with Unifor representatives since the closure announcement. 

According to Nemak, Unifor has already been told "the company is not able to continue operation of the Windsor facility until January 2022, given the current volumes that make us operation at less than 10 per cent capacity utilization."

... The company is not able to continue operation of the Windsor facility until January 2022 ... - Nemak

"Nemak has and will continue to fully abide by the collective agreement," the company said. "The company remains open to continue discussions to find a mutually agreeable compromise."

Nemak announced in July plans to shutter its west Windsor assembly plant in 2020, as a result of the "early phase-out of an export program with a customer in China."

In response, Unifor staged a strike outside the company's plant on Labour Day.

Though the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) ordered Unifor leaders to cease the strike — and Windsor judge Terrance Patterson quickly upheld the OLRB's decision — picketers have remained stationed outside the plant since the strike began.

Unifor could be held in contempt

Patterson presided over contempt hearings on Tuesday, with Nemak lawyer David Sundin asking that Unifor be found in contempt of previous rulings.

Sundin also requested a fine of $25,000 levied against the union — as well as a fine of $2,000 levied against Unifor's leaders — for each day that picketing continues.

Patterson choose to delay a decision until this Friday, in favour of allowing Unifor and Nemak to reach a resolution on their own.

D'Agnolo said the union simply wants to help employees return to work.

"I'm hoping we can figure this out in the next few days," he said. 

He added that employees are hopeful, as long as discussions between Unifor and Nemak continue.

"They've been very good in the worst of times, so they're fine right now," D'Agnolo said.