Ford union employees in Windsor refuse OT
Workers say the automaker should reduce extra hours, bring back layoffs.
By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News
About the complex
Where: Windsor, Ontario
Employees: 5,000; includes workers at three engine plants, and casting and aluminum plants.
Products: 3.8-liter and 4.2-liter V-6 engines, 5.4-liter V-8 Triton engine.; 6.8-liter V-10 Triton engine; aluminum heads and cast-iron engine blocks.
Year Opened: 1923
Plant Size: 3 million square feet
Hourly employees at Ford Motor Co.'s Windsor, Ontario, engine plant have unanimously voted to forgo lucrative overtime in an effort to force the automaker to recall laid-off workers.
Nearly 330 members of Canadian Auto Workers Local 200 are on layoff, and Ford had plans to idle 100 more workers next month. Those plans now are on hold, said Mike Vince, president of Local 200, which represents 5,000 workers at the engine complex.
"We're trying to get the company and some of our members off 12-hour workdays, seven days a week," Vince said.
The vote to refuse voluntary overtime came after laid-off workers made a plea to active workers in a union meeting last week. Even though laid-off employees collect 60 percent of their wages while off work, some are having trouble paying mortgages and other bills as a result of the layoffs that date to May 2004.
Slow sales of the Ford Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans has prompted Ford to cut output at the Windsor plant that supplies V-6 engines for the two models.
And the plant no longer supplies the base V-6 engine for the Ford Mustang coupe. Redesigned for 2005, the car is now equipped with a V-6 engine built in Cologne, Germany.
Yet strong demand for the F-150 pickup has created overtime opportunities for some Local 200 members. Workers at the Windsor Engine plant build the 5.4-liter Triton V-8 that is installed in nearly 70 percent of F-150s sold.
"We've got people in some areas who are working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, constant," Vince said. "And still we have people on layoff, both in production and skilled trades. We've said to the corporation, this is unacceptable."
Ford spokeswoman Lauren More said the automaker regularly taps the layoff pool to fill vacancies created by medical furloughs and vacations.
The practice will continue, and Ford will make adjustments as necessary, she said.
"There's been no significant amount of overtime required at the Windsor operations recently," More said. "We don't have any plans for a major callback."
It's rare for union workers to refuse overtime, but it's not unprecedented. Overtime is a delicate matter for many workers and union leaders.
In some union locals, leaders who have boycotted overtime have been ousted at election time because workers who put in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, can earn as much as $160,000 a year.
But some Local 200 members support a cut in overtime in order to recall workers.
"The bills are piling up on people," said John Mancina, a 51-year-old Ford worker with 21 years' seniority. "Eight hours is enough."
Mancina, who lives in Windsor, has suffered through layoffs in the past.
"When I got laid off in 1989-90, some of the guys were still working overtime," Mancina said. "People are more sympathetic toward the guy who's not working."
According to the local's Web site, www.cawlocal200.org
, two workers who put in 12-hour days eliminate one job.
Vince said the union won't oppose emergency overtime for repairs needed to maintain production.
"It's not that we're trying to stick it to (Ford)," he said. "We're going to keep our plants running. To do otherwise would be foolish."