NO DEAL AT FLEX-N-GATE

Union says strike could im­pact FCA pro­duc­tion

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - TA­MAR HAR­RIS thar­ris@post­media.com

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.”

DAN JANISSE

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.

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