Navistar Mulls Court Ruling Over Former Factory Workers

TORONTO — A unanimous decision by an Ontario court puts former workers at a now closed Navistar plant in Southwestern Ontario significantly closer to getting millions of dollars in pension money they claim they are owed.

In a decision released Friday, the Divisional Court of Ontario dismissed an appeal by the truck and engine maker of lower court rulings that there should be a broad group of workers participating in the windup of the pension plan.

It ruled members of Unifor union Locals 35 and 127 who left Navistar, for whatever reason, between Feb. 1, 2009 and July 28, 2011, should be in the windup group.

Production at the plant stopped in June 2009, with the company announcing the plant’s permanent closure in July 2011, leading to a partial windup of the pension plan.

“This is an incredible victory for Navistar workers and their families,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

According to the union, this means that all such workers in the windup group aged 55 or older and with at least 10 years of credited service will be entitled to, at a minimum, a special early retirement benefit.

Also any worker in the windup group with a certain level of combined age and service will be able to “grow into” a special early retirement benefit.

The court also determined that all laid off or disabled workers should get a supplementary of nearly a year of credited service.

When contacted by Today’s Trucking for a reaction to the court’s ruling, Navistar Spokesperson Steve Schrier said, “We are reviewing the divisional court decision and will determine next steps in the weeks ahead.”

Despite the ruling, Unifor said the court decision does not resolve all matters, but is a big step forward

Friday’s decision means an estimated $28 million for retirees from the plant, which once employed about 1,000 workers and office staff.

The actual windup of the plan will determine how much each worker gets, and there is still a closure agreement to be negotiated, covering such issues as severance.

“We urge Navistar to return to the table and close all outstanding matters for their employees and our members,” said Unifor National Representative Jim Mitchell.


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