Owner Heligear Canada Acquisition blames poor management before it purchased the plant on 2012.
August 11, 2017
by CP STAFF
MILTON, Ont. — The union representing workers at an aerospace plant in Milton, Ont., says its members have occupied the facility and stopped production in protest of pension cuts.
Scott McIlmoyle, president of Unifor Local 112, says they entered the Northstar Aerospace west of Toronto at about 4 a.m. on Aug. 10.
He says the shutdown is in response to Northstar refusing to fund a 24% shortfall in workers’ pensions at the plant.
The union says the company has announced the relocation of the Milton facility’s equipment to Chicago and Windsor, Ont., but will not meet the pension shortfall for workers facing job loss.
McIlmoyle says the company hasn’t budged in meetings on the subject and the pension shortfall means workers – both newly and soon-to-be retired – will receive about $200 less a month.
Heligear Canada Acquisition Co. says in a statement that the pension was underfunded due to poor management before the company purchased the plant in 2012, and it does not control the pension design or its investments.
“Heligear has made every payment required in its negotiated collective agreement with the union which also requires the company to make a final lump sum payment,” said Greg Harper, vice-president of human resources. “Heligear has not proposed any reduction of pension benefits. Any reduction or shortfall is a function of the plan management and design, which are not within Heligear’s control.”
Harper said the company is pursuing legal remedies to recover control of the facility and resume production of vital products needed by its aerospace and defence customers.
“Unifor bears responsibility for the current condition of the pension plan but refuses to acknowledge and accept that responsibility,” Harper said in a statement. “Unifor does not have a legal basis to hold Heligear responsible and its illegal action to seize control of the Milton facility is a desperate attempt to shift responsibility from Unifor to Heligear, through force, instead.”
In a statement, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said the occupation of the plant is to send a message to the company that it “cannot short-change workers and the pension of retirees.”
“There is no financial reason for refusing to fund the plan. The only excuse is corporate greed,” Dias said.
The union said about 200 workers, union members and recent retirees were involved in the demonstration and about 150 of them had set up a picket line in front of the plant.
The plant manufactures gears for Apache helicopters developed by Boeing Aerospace, along with other aerospace components.