Johnson Controls workers ratify contract saving plant

TORONTO, Aug. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Unifor members at auto parts maker Johnson Controls Inc. in Whitby, Ont., have ratified a new contract at the plant once marked for closure - accepting a deal that not only keeps the facility open, but gives them $1,500 each in a signing bonus.

"This deal shows what can happen when workers stand together and think creatively about keeping good jobs in their community," Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.

In a rousing speech to the United Auto Workers convention in June, Dias said the announced closure of the Whitby facility would be a strike issue during negotiations with Johnson Controls (JCI). A strike at JCI would have shut down assembly operations at General Motors in Oshawa. GM Oshawa relies on JCI for interiors and seats on several of its vehicles.

Shortly after Dias's comments, Unifor, GM and JCI began three-party discussions in an effort to find a solution. As a result of these negotiations, the Whitby plant will remain open and JCI will continue to supply components for current GM Oshawa vehicle programs.

In addition, the three-year deal maintains current wages and gives each of the approximately 300 workers, members of Unifor Local 222, a $1,500 signing bonus. JCI had been demanding wage rollbacks. The number of job categories in the collective agreement has been reduced.

"We went into these talks being told the plant would close. We came out with a good deal that preserves good jobs in Whitby. That's thanks to our strong bargaining team and the support of our members," JCI Unit Chair Dean Baumhauer said.

Dias said the new contract showed what can be done with creativity and determination.

"These workers sat down at the bargaining table and found practical, workable solutions to the issues facing them and the employer. That kept good jobs in their community, something that can be done at bargaining tables across this country," Dias said.

"And, more than that, we can sit down with all stakeholders from across the economy and work out a national strategy that provides good jobs in communities across Canada," he said.

Unifor will host a Good Jobs Summit the first weekend of October in the former Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, bringing together Unifor activists with students, politicians, academics and business people to begin a discussion about creating good jobs in Canada.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.

SOURCE Unifor

For further information:

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Director Sarah Blackstock at Sarah.Blackstock@Unifor.org or (cell) 416-949-1072, or Unifor Communications National Representative Stuart Laidlaw at Stuart.Laidlaw@Unifor.org or (cell) 647-385-4054.