(Adds JCI response, update on Unifor's efforts at Toyota
By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT, June 4 Unifor, which represents
Canadian auto workers, will strike at Johnson Controls Inc's
Whitby, Ontario, plant if the parts maker does not
reverse its plan to close the facility in a couple of years, the
head of the union said on Wednesday.
Unifor President Jerry Dias said at the United Auto Workers
convention in Detroit that the Canadian union would "shut down
GM" at its Oshawa plant, which gets interiors and seats from
Whitby, unless JCI changes its plans.
Dias said the deadline for JCI to act is August, when the
current contract for 300 workers at Whitby expires. Unifor-JCI
contract talks at Whitby will probably begin late this month, he
JCI officials said the company did not comment on labor
GM said the issue was between JCI and Unifor. "We are not
able to comment on labor issues facing an independent business,"
Dias said he had met with JCI officials near Detroit on
Tuesday to warn them that the union would strike. He said there
was no immediate reaction from the company.
JCI has not made any physical moves to shut the Whitby
plant, Dias said.
"They have given us official notification, but I'm telling
you, our plant does not close," Dias told reporters on the
sidelines of the UAW convention in downtown Detroit. "We will
strike the operations unless they reverse their decisions. That
is crystal clear."
Dias said JCI's current project to supply interiors to GM at
Oshawa runs for about two more years. JCI has said the plant
will close after that, he said, and the jobs would move outside
Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union, has
individual contracts with the JCI plants in Whitby and at
At its sprawling Oshawa facilities, GM assembles the
Chevrolet Camaro and Impala, as well as the Cadillac XTS and
Buick Regal. JCI produces door pads and floor consoles for the
Impala, as well as seats for the Camaro.
Shares of JCI were up 1.1 percent at $49.08 in afternoon New
York Stock Exchange trading, while GM rose 4.3 percent to
TOYOTA ONTARIO PLANTS
Dias said Unifor was progressing slowly in its effort to
organize workers at Toyota Motor Corp's Ontario plants.
He said the union had collected more than 3,000 signatures
of Toyota workers at two plants in Cambridge and one in
In April, Unifor delayed plans for workers at the Toyota
plants to vote on whether to unionize. The company had said
7,500 employees were eligible to be in the bargaining unit and
to vote, about 1,000 more than Unifor had expected.
Dias on Wednesday said the union was checking a list of the
names of the 7,500 to make sure that all of them are indeed
eligible to be in the bargaining unit.
A majority of workers must vote "yes" for a union to be
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit and Solarina Ho
in Toronto; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)