NO DEAL AT FLEX-N-GATE
Union says strike could impact FCA production
Workers at a company that supplies door rails for Chrysler minivans are on strike and if an agreement isn’t reached by Tuesday, operations at the Windsor Assembly Plant could be affected, according to a union representative.
Fifty-five per cent of Flex-NGate workers voted Friday to reject the tentative deal that was reached between Unifor Local 195 and the company, said union president Gerry Farnham.
“The reality of it is, at the end of the day, membership wasn’t happy with (the tentative agreement),” Farnham said. “They felt that the Flex-N-Gate chain as a whole makes a lot of money, and they felt they could have offered up more.”
The strike at the Flex-N- Gate facility is expected to “have a direct effect” on FCA Canada’s Windsor Assembly Plant, according to Farnham.
“Our statement in regards to the Flex-N- Gate situation is that we’re continuing to monitor the situation and hope that the two sides can come to an agreement,” said Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson.
Tinson declined to speculate on how quickly the FCA facility would be affected.
Farnham said the long weekend might prevent an immediate impact at the FCA plant, but the pressure will likely be felt on Tuesday, within six to 10 hours after opening.
Dino Chiodo, president of Unifor Local 444 representing more than 6,000 workers at the FCA plant in Windsor, said a count of current inventory was underway Friday evening. The final number, which would indicate how long the FCA facility could operate without a supply of new parts from Flex-NGate, was not available.
The ratification vote for a tentative deal, reached on Tuesday between the bargaining committee and Flex-N-Gate management, was voted down by membership during a meeting Friday afternoon. By 2 p.m., workers were out on the picket line.
“We brought the tentative agreement forward that the bargaining committee, along with the national union and the local union, were recommending,” Farnham said.
“Upon the rejection, we immediately sent the workers to the picket lines. So they are on strike as I am speaking.”
Outstanding issues were across the board, but included wage increases and vacation entitlement.
The rejected tentative agreement included a $2 an hour wage increase for skilled trade employees and a $1 an hour wage increase for all other employees. Skilled trade employees currently make $30.33 an hour and all other employee classifications make between $21 to $28.75 an hour.
“Other people felt that the wage we received — a dollar (an hour) over the life of the agreement — that should be higher,” Farnham said.
“There was a mixed feeling out there of what the issues are and were. Bottom line is that the Flex-N-Gate Lakeshore facility had over the last, at least 10 years, have not received a wage increase.”
About 210 workers are directly affected by the strike.
There are no current talks scheduled at this time.
“We’ve notified the employer that there was a rejection,” Farnham said.
“If the employer contacts the union and has interest in talking, we would certainly go back to the bargaining table. Anytime you have talks going on, there’s a chance of resolve; if there are no talks going on, obviously there’s no chance of resolve. So if they get a hold of us, that’s fantastic and we would get back to the bargaining table with them.
“If they choose not to call us, we’re on strike.”
Unifor Local 195 president Gerry Farnham, left, and vice-president John Toth make pickets signs at the union hall Friday after staff at Flex-N-Gate Lakeshore rejected their contract offer.