Ford's global troubles have affected this facility - known alternately as Ford Talbotville or Ford St. Thomas - and, by extension, the community that relies on it. Last Monday's announcement cut the plant back to one shift and resulted in the loss of some 1,200 jobs. In response, the union reps who represent the workers there have released their usual "they owe us" response.
My perspective is simple: the next round of layoffs could be the last for this plant. Being reduced to one shift is often the last step before permanent closure - unless you wise up and work cooperatively to find a creative solution (remember, I'm an idealist.)
It's time for the unionistas to sing a new tune. I doubt they will, and I doubt this column is going to secure my invitation to this year's Christmas party.
Purging the notion of entitlementYour turn: My perspective - that the powerful unions of yesteryear need to adapt to a very new and much colder economic reality - is pretty clear to anyone who reads me over time. Do you think an enlightened labor movement will be enough to help the American auto manufacturers survive? Do unions belong in the automotive landscape of tomorrow?
Published Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The London Free Press
There’s a right way and a wrong way to respond when your livelihood is threatened.
Whitey MacDonald is chairperson of Local 1520 of the Canadian Auto Workers union, which represents the Ford workers at the St. Thomas assembly plant. Ford’s reduction of the plant to one shift, part of a global restructuring to ensure the company’s survival, will eliminate up to 1,200 jobs at the facility.
Following the announcement, MacDonald said, “We are entitled to some new investment, given our track record.”
Entitlement no longer holds water in an increasingly competitive automotive market that is too small for Ford’s current size. Ford can no longer guarantee its workers anything as it battles for its very life. Ford is no different from any other manufacturer.
So what is the right way? The CAW must work creatively with Ford to figure out how St. Thomas can become a “flex” facility that can make more than one model. And its leaders must dispense with the dreams of entitlement. Times have changed.