Navistar's Canadian plant employees hit picket line

| 6/4/2002

Workers at Navistar International Corp.'s Chatham, Ontario, truck plant threw up picket lines on Saturday after the OEM and its union failed to reach a new contract agreement for the 600 Chatham workers.

According to news service reports, the more than 600 active members of Canadian Auto Workers Local 127 who build heavy trucks at the plant went on strike after Warrenville, IL-based Navistar and its Canadian union could not hammer out an agreement before the May 31 midnight deadline.

The company closure is over "cost savings," said company spokesman Roy Wiley. "It's $14 million that we need and a way to make the plant competitive."

The company notified the CAW on April 5 that it might close the plant, which makes 39 heavy trucks a day if major cost savings are not found. Navistar, which also builds trucks at factories in Escobedo, Mexico, and Garland, TX, said they could move operations there if necessary.

Navistar employs about 15,000 people worldwide, down from 18,000 less than three years ago. At its peak in 1999, the Chatham plant employed about 2,400 people.