Unifor Auto Council Statement on NextStar Battery Facility

Canada’s auto industry is an important contributor to the success of our national economy.  The transition to zero emission vehicles presents an opportunity to not only sustain our existing industrial footprint but to grow good, union jobs in a net zero economy. Governments and all stakeholders must continue to view the expansion of this domestic industry and its value chain a strategic priority for Canada.

The public dispute between the Government of Canada and the Stellantis/LG Energy Solution joint venture battery facility, NextStar, in Windsor, Ontario is cause for concern. This facility, heralded as Canada’s first “gigafactory”, is a cornerstone for economic activity among material suppliers and assembly facilities. NextStar will serve as a lynchpin for battery supply to Stellantis’ vehicle assembly plants in Brampton and Windsor, supporting the transition of thousands of Unifor members’ jobs in the coming years.

Considering the extraordinary public incentives provided to battery suppliers by the United States Government after the NextStar facility was first announced in May 2022, it is understandable that Canadian government and company officials have undertaken to review the initially agreed-to public financial supports. Ensuring a fair and competitive level of public support to this facility is paramount. The strategic importance of this facility to Canada cannot be overstated.

On behalf of Unifor’s Auto Council, representing more than 20,000 workers at Stellantis, General Motors and Ford Motor Company, we call on all parties to conclude these negotiations, without further delay. A quick resolve will put to rest rising concerns among Unifor members at Stellantis facilities in Canada.

Further, it is our firm expectation that the final agreement will deliver on all of the company’s publicly announced commitments to the battery facility, its research and development work as well as publicly announced future product allocation and investment commitments for Windsor and Brampton assembly plants.

Lana Payne                                                     James Stewart
National President                                         Chair of Unifor Stellantis Council

John D’Agnolo                                                 Jason Gale
Chair of Unifor Ford Council                          Chair of Unifor General Motors Council

Unifor condemns Wescast Industries for abandoning workers in Wingham

WINGHAM, ON—Wescast Industries’ decision to close its foundry operations will devastate workers, families and the community of Wingham, where the facility has operated for more than a century, Unifor says.

“Wescast and its overseas owners are turning their backs on the foundry’s dedicated workforce and the community that has supported them for generations,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “The Wingham foundry closure announcement must serve as a wake-up call to every level of government that Wingham auto parts workers urgently need support.”

The Wescast Industries foundry in Wingham has been in operation since 1902 and primarily manufactures exhaust manifolds for automakers such as Ford, General Motors, and Volvo. Wescast was acquired by Sichuan Bohong Co. Ltd. in 2013.

Last week, Wescast Industries communicated to Unifor its intention to close the Wingham foundry while continuing to source castings directly from sister operations in China. Approximately 250 Unifor Local 4207 members currently work at the foundry. The union maintains that overseas sourcing of the castings violates program commitment guarantees in the collective agreement and is the subject of a prior grievance filed by the union earlier this year.

“Wingham can’t afford to lose hundreds of good jobs and neither can the industry,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “Maintaining these jobs and the footprint of our auto parts supply chain is crucial to maintaining the skilled workforce and industrial capacity needed for the transition to electric vehicle manufacturing.”

Since Wescast was acquired by Bohong, the union has repeatedly expressed concerns to management regarding the company’s lack of investment in basic maintenance of the historic facility.

“With a complete failure by management to properly invest in this facility, it’s been up to workers to keep this plant running and do more with less,” said Joel Sutton, Unifor Local 4207 plant chair at Wescast. “Wescast has profited from this situation and wants to turn around and reward our hard work and dedication by violating our collective agreement, closing the plant, and moving our work overseas. It’s disgusting.”

While the situation at the Wingham foundry is unfolding, Unifor has warned Ottawa that proposed amendments to the Investment Canada Act aimed at enhancing its scrutiny of foreign investments and strengthening penalties do not go far enough, particularly in light of the ongoing dispute at foreign-owned Windsor Salt. The union also continues to push for comprehensive policy reforms to support the auto and auto parts sectors, particularly at-risk manufacturing plants with investment strategies and workers with transitional supports.

The collective agreement between the union and Wescast is set to expire this year and the parties are in the process of entering negotiations.

BTS Transition to Bell’s – Omniflex Benefits/DC Pension Plan and Savings Plans

Sisters and Brothers, Local 1996-O,

Please review the note below from BTS which was emailed to all members.

Those on WSIB/STD/LTD/LOA or not present in the workplace and do not have access to BTS email should have received a letter from BTS, if you have not received a letter with the information in regards to the Transition please reach out to your manager immediately.


BTS Communication:

Hello everyone,

We are excited to announce that all Bell Technical Solutions team members will be transitioning to Bell’s Omniflex benefits, pension and savings plans effective April 29, 2023.

Some key upcoming dates are as follows:

·        April 28: Last date of your current benefits coverage under the BTS policy with Industrial Alliance (IA)

o   You will have 90 days (up to July 27, 2023) to submit eligible claims expenses with IA.

o   If you have any known medical expenses like an upcoming prescription renewal, for example, you may want to consider filling/refilling your prescriptions before April 29.

·        April 29: Effective date of benefits coverage under the new Omniflex program (insured with Manulife) and enrollment in the Defined Contribution (DC) pension and savings plans

o   You will begin to submit claims expenses with Manulife and be reimbursed according to Bell’s plan provisions. If you have to incur costs for your eligible dependents before Manulife is advised of your enrollment choices, you will have to pay the full cost and then submit your claim to Manulife for reimbursement.

·        May 1: Visit the Benefits site to access detailed information on all new benefits and savings plans.

·        May 4-17: Enrollment period for benefits and savings plans

o   You will receive an email when the enrollment period opens on May 4, with a link to the new Benefits site where you will make your enrollment selections online.

Important – For all unionized staff

·        Automatic enrollment in the DC pension plan occurs at 3 months of service at BTS. You will receive an email from the Benefits Administrator to enroll on the Benefits site.

·        You are entitled to enroll in the Benefits plan at 6 months of service.

o   If you have less than 6 months of service as of the enrollment period, you will receive an email upon reaching the 6-month eligibility date, with details on how to enroll through the Benefits site.

To learn more about the new plans and additional details regarding the transition, stay tuned for video capsules coming next week!

In addition, we have arranged live Q&A sessions during the enrollment period. If you have questions after watching the videos, we encourage you to attend these sessions. The links to register will be sent shortly.
English French
Friday, May 5
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Friday, May 5
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, May 9
8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, May 9
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 11
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, May 11
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Monday, May 15
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, May 16
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
All information regarding your new benefits, pension and savings plans will be accessible on the Benefits site, a comprehensive one-stop resource providing online enrollment and the ability to manage and monitor your accounts.

Note: As part of the transition, disability claims management and medical accommodations will be handled under the Bell Disability Management group beginning May 1. As such, next week we will communicate the new policy and process for employees and leaders if they need to file a disability claim or medical accommodation request.

The Benefits team