About 75 Canadian Auto Workers union members went on strike at Wescast Industries Inc.’s Strathroy, Ont., plant October 27. In a brief statement, the company confirmed the start of what it termed “a legal strike,” and indicated it has put in place plans to ensure customers’ deliveries will continue.

The CAW represents a reported 75 workers at the plant, which is a machining operation for cast iron manifolds. The same plant was the site of a strike in 2004.

Wescast Industries designs, casts, machines and assembles automotive exhaust systems components, including exhaust manifolds, turbocharger housings, and integrated turbomanifolds for automotive OEMs and Tier One customers worldwide.

In its statement, the union said that Wescast has demonstrated a lack of commitment to labor relations. It said negotiations toward a new labor contract with Wescast began in July, but that earlier this month the company demanded a vote on its “final offer,” which CAW members rejected by 60%. The union contends that Wescast had no intention to reach an agreement, but rather aimed to force acceptance of “an offer that failed to secure work or jobs.”

"The contract offer from Wescast seriously compromised our members' job security," stated CAW national representative Jim Woods. "In the last few days, we've learned that General Motors intends to move the current work performed at Wescast to a facility in China. There is absolutely no reason that our members should agree to a new contract that undercuts their own jobs."

Last September, Wescast agreed to a takeover by China’s Sichuan Bohong Industry Co. Ltd., a move later estimated at approximately $195 million. In September 2012, Bohong received a necessary approval on the acquisition from the People's Republic of China National Development and Reform Commission.