New product for Essex Engine Plant in tentative Unifor, Ford deal

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

CBC News


Program heralded as being 'top of the food chain'

A long-awaited new engine program is set for Ford Motor Co.'s Essex Engine Plant, Unifor announced early Tuesday as it reached a tentative agreement with the automaker.

Just before 12:30 a.m. E.T. the union's bargaining committee announced it is unanimously recommending the deal, which includes $700 million, largely for Windsor.
"This new engine will be the highest technology, will be the most fuel efficient, will have incredible torque, horsepower and will be put into Ford's No. 1 selling vehicles throughout the North American chain," said Jerry Dias, Unifor's national president.

That program is heralded as being at "the top of the food chain."

'I'm feeling pretty good' 

Workers filed into work as usual at the Essex Engine Plant Tuesday, with some expressing relief that a deal had been reached. 

"I'm feeling pretty good. I'm feeling pretty optimistic," said Norman Russette, who's been building engines at the plant for 33 years. 

"A $700-million investment is nothing to sneeze at, we do need the work here in Windsor. A lot of us were in the plant the last couple of weeks [feeling] kind of hot and cold," he said. "What it seems to me, and to most of the majority, is this is a good contract to ratify." 

Local Unifor leadership expressed similar optimism about the tentative deal. 

"What this is going to mean is the future," Chris Taylor, the president of Unifor Local 200 told Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette. "We've been quite clear for some time ... that our Windsor operations are in jeopardy."

Taylor said he knows what the new engine program will be, but he will be telling Unifor members the news first. But he did say the new engine could mean more jobs at the Essex Engine Plant.

In Windsor, Essex Engine builds 5.0-litre V-8 engines for Ford Mustang and the F-150. Nearby Windsor Assembly Plant builds the 6.8-litre V-10 in the Ford F-Series and E-Series, and Ford also operates a casting plant that provides parts to those facilities on Drouillard Road. 
With the future of those products uncertain, Unifor officials said finding a replacement for those products was the top demand entering negotiations. Taylor said Tuesday that demand had been met. 

"The impact of potentially closing out the engine at Windsor Engine will be met and surpassed by the new program," he said "We convinced Ford we earned the opportunity for a new program. It will mean our plants in Windsor have a great future."

Windsor Assembly will continue producing 6.8-litre engines, Taylor said, with the expectation that will occur through the life of the agreement before that program is phased out.

The voting process on the new deal is expected to begin on the weekend.