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Navistar shutters Chatham plant

Truck-maker shuts Ontario facility after idling production for two years, laying off 1100 workers


August 3, 2011
by The Canadian Press

CHATHAM—Navistar International Corp. is closing its truck manufacturing plant in Chatham for good – a “devastating blow” to the 1,100 workers who have been out of work for at least two years according to the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

The plant has been idle since 2009, when 300 workers were handed pink slips, in addition to the 800 who had already been laid off.

The Warrenville, Ill.,-based company says it was unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the CAW and that production in Chatham has already been absorbed by Navistar plants elsewhere.

Navistar also plans to significantly scale back operations at its headquarters and motor coach manufacturing plant in Oregon. One of its subsidiaries is also closing a plant in Indiana.

The closure is “a devastating blow to the workers, their families and the entire community,” says CAW president Ken Lewenza. “Despite our relentless efforts since 2009 to reopen the idled facility and get our members back to work, Navistar has remained rigid and is now moving ahead with plans to shutter the plant.”

The plant has been in the Chatham community for more than 60 years, and had been one of the largest employers in the area, CAW says.

The union says it plans to meet with Navistar in the coming weeks to bargain a fair closure agreement on behalf of its laid-off members.

In 2009, the German-based Daimler AG medium- and heavy-duty truck maker announced the shutdown of its Sterling Truck assembly plant in St. Thomas, Ont., just south of London – a move that affected 1,300 jobs.