Windsor judge sets deadline for Unifor and Nemak to settle differences
Published Tuesday, September 10, 2019 5:50PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 10, 2019 8:01PM EDT
A Windsor judge has issued a stern warning to Nemak and Unifor.
Justice Terry Patterson is asking both sides to settle their differences or he'll consider laying stiff fines against Unifor and its local leadership.
Nemak is asking for daily fines totaling in the thousands of dollars, for the blockade at the Windsor plant for the last eight days.
Last Wednesday, the Ontario Labour Relations Board ordered Unifor to tear down the Nemak barricades and send their members back to work. They ignored it.
The next day, Nemak Canada was awareded a court-ordered injunction to have the union and its members stop their unlawful strike. It too was ignored.
On Tuesday, Nemak took the union to court for contempt of court.
Justice Patterson appeared very angry in court when he discussed Unifor's unlawful strike, saying "the union is playing with fire."
The union and its workers are protesting the plant's closure next year and the loss of jobs to Mexico.
If the dispute puts Nemak out of business, Patterson argued their jobs will be gone anyways.
Nemak lawyers wanted the judge to find national Unifor president Jerry Dias, Local 200 president John D'Agnolo and leaders Mike Jobin and Tim Little guilty of contempt.
They also wanted the judge to approve fines of $25,000 per day against Unifor and $2,000 per day against the individuals if they don’t clear the barricades by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Patterson was reluctant to do that, arguing it would make their rift wider and not bring the parties closer together.
He urged both sides to get down to discussions and find a settlement quickly, saying this has gone on "long enough."
One of Nemak's lawyers took exception, calling it court sanctioned extortion, expecting the company to negotiate with the people who were barricading their factory.
“We continually keep in contact with the company,” says D’Agnolo. “First thing in the morning we usually call the plant manager and we have discussions and not once has he come to us let’s sit down and talk, because we’re ready to talk.”
Company officials issued a statement on Monday, saying they were open to dialogue with Unifor about their grievance over closing the plant before the end of their collective agreement in 2022.
Patterson has given the two sides until 2 p.m. Friday to settle this dispute.
If the barricades are still in place at that time, Patterson says he will hear arguments about contempt and could consider penalties.