The settling of a short strike by Chrysler workers in
the United States on Wednesday was good news for the auto company's
two Canadian assembly plants, which could have been shut down later
this week because of a supply shortage.
The United Auto Workers union reached a tentative four-year
contract agreement with Chrysler LLC just hours after 49,000 U.S.
workers went to the picket lines.
``This is obviously good news,'' Canadian Auto Workers president
Buzz Hargrove told The Canadian Press in a phone interview.
``Had this strike lasted for another 48 hours, they would've shut
down the Canadian operations and over 9,000 people who worked for
Chrysler (Canada) would've been impacted and laid off.''
He added that thousands of other workers at auto parts
manufactuerers in Canada would also have been laid off if Chrysler's
U.S. plants remained idle for long.
With workers expected to go back to their jobs immediately, the
stoppage was likely to have little impact on the auto producer's
Canadian operations in Ontario.
Earlier Wednesday, before the strike was settled, Chrysler Canada
spokesman Ed Saenz said a lack of U.S.-sourced parts would likely
hit the 5,000-worker minivan plant in Windsor, Ont., within 24 hours
and the 4,000-employee sedan plant in Brampton, Ont., within 48
hours if the UAW strike continued.
``We take axles, engines, transmissions from the U.S., and when
those stop coming because the employees at those plants are not
building them, it'll force us to stop production on the vehicles
here,'' Saenz said.
He added that the U.S. job action would not affect Chrysler's
300-worker Etobicoke casting plant in Toronto ``in the near
future.'' That site produces pistons and other pieces for engines
After the settlement agreement was announced, Saenz said ``we
don't expect production will have to stop at either of the two major
plants (or in Etobicoke).''
A two-day UAW strike against General Motors in the United States
late last month forced GM Canada to briefly close its two sedan
assembly plants in Oshawa, east of Toronto, affecting 5,600 workers,
and a 1,300-employee transmission factory in Windsor. GM's Oshawa
pickup-truck plant, with 3,900 employees, kept operating.
Even if a long strike had happened, retailers would havve been
prepared, according to Chrysler's Saenz. He said Canadian dealers
still have abundant inventory to offer prospective buyers.
``We've got a fair amount of most products on the ground,'' he
``It's going to depend on how long this thing goes, and that's
something I really can't estimate.''