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Ledco Auto Workers To Get Severance From Big Three

Six months after the Ledco auto parts plant in Ontario closed, workers are finally getting their severance, but their paychecks will come from GM, Ford and Chrysler.

KITCHENER, Ontario (CP) -- Unionized workers at the former Ledco Ltd. auto-parts plant in Kitchener, Ont., which closed abruptly in January, will get severance pay after all.

But instead of receiving the money from their bankrupt former employer, the cash is coming from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

The automakers agreed to contribute $1.2 million in severance payments to the Ledco workers during the last round of bargaining with the Canadian Auto Workers.

Ledco manufactured tooling and metal parts for the auto industry, primarily for suppliers to GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Sixty-six members of Local 1524 of the auto workers union, which represented Ledco workers, will be presented with severance checks in Kitchener Friday morning.

Ford, GM and Chrysler officials will attend the ceremony along with local and national CAW leaders, including Ken Lewenza, who is slated to succeed Buzz Hargrove as CAW national president this fall.

Fred Stein, who worked at Ledco for 12 years as a machinist, was pleased to finally be getting some cash in recognition of his service at the company.

"It's a little disappointing that other companies had to step up and get the money for us," he said. "At the end of the day, though, it's nice."

Stein didn't know Thursday how much he will be receiving, but he noted that it could mean he and others who collected unemployment benefits in the interim may now have to pay some of that money back. He has since found another job.

The amount of severance each worker will receive will be based on his or her years of service.

Ledco, which began operations in Kitchener in 1932, closed its plant on Jan. 24 and filed for bankruptcy, citing the high Canadian dollar and intense foreign competition. About 90 people lost their jobs, including about 30 non-unionized office staff.

Workers occupied the plant from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27 to protest the sudden closure and the fact that they received no severance pay. Some had up to 40 years of service with the company.

Current legislation doesn't ensure workers will receive severance payments in the case of sudden plant closures or layoffs. Non-unionized workers at the plant did not receive any severance pay.

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