Armstrong closure in Montreal - Reclassification committee to be launched

    MONTREAL, Feb. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - On Monday, the 150 members of the United
Steelworkers (FTQ) employed at Armstrong's Montreal operation learned that the
employer would be shutting the plant down indefinitely as of May 1. Today,
members of the United Steelworkers (FTQ) are meeting with the Urgence-emploi
group of the Conseil régional du Montréal Métropolitain - the FTQ's regional
council - in order to launch a reclassification committee as quickly as
possible. "The average seniority in this plant is 25 years," said Mario Denis,
spokesman for the United Steelworkers (FTQ). "Our members are worried. They
know that it will be very difficult for them to find new jobs in the current
labour market. That's why we are getting down to work right away, even though
the closure is only scheduled for May."
    Armstrong's management has indicated that it will maintain the plant in
order to be ready to restart operations if market conditions pick up again,
and four or five unionized workers will remain employed for this purpose. "The
company's spokespersons are not currently talking about a permanent closure.
There is a possibility that operations may resume in 2010, or even later in
2009, if the market recovers," Denis added.
    The Montreal operation is profitable. It is well-located, and its workers
have a high level of expertise. In addition to the plant located here, the
company owns three factories in the United States, including one in California
that manufactures the same products as in Montreal. "We know that our plant is
the more productive of the two. Lancaster, which owns Armstrong, has decided
to sacrifice the Montreal factory. It is clear that the company is privileging
its US employees over those here in Quebec," Denis said.
    Armstrong has been producing commercial and residential tiles in Montreal
for more than 40 years. The average wage is $19 per hour. Under the terms of
the collective agreement, workers retain an employment relationship with the
company for 30 months. Denis said, "We believe there is still a possibility
that the plant's doors will re-open, because we have the expertise, the
productivity, and the flexibility. We'll have to wait for the economy to pick
up again. In the meantime, we will work tirelessly to help our members and
their families through this difficult time."

For further information:

For further information: Mario Denis, United Steelworkers (FTQ), (514)

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