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Nearly 200 jobs lost after Adient Tillsonburg, Ont. plant suddenly closes Tuesday

Adient Seating Company / Facebook

An auto manufacturing plant in Tillsonburg, Ont., suddenly closed its doors on Tuesday, leaving nearly 200 workers without a job.

Adient Seating Canada, formally known in the town as Johnson Controls Ltd., had been making polyurethane seating foam for the auto industry for at least 50 years.

The 192 workers, including management and salaried employees, were informed at 11 a.m. on Tuesday that Monday’s shift was their last and that the facility would be shutting down.

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“All of us are shocked, angry and devastated to head into the holidays with a pink slip instead of a Christmas bonus,” read a statement from Lorraine Sinclair of Unifor Local 1859.

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Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, said that it “condemns Adient management’s decision” as workers were also informed that jobs would be moved to Adient facilities in Tennessee and Kentucky, “both right-to-work states.”

In a statement, Lana Payne, Unifor national president, said that “it is clear that Adient managers have no decency or respect for the workers who made them a very wealthy and successful multinational corporation,” adding that “a closure like this is completely unacceptable.”

A spokesperson for Adient wrote in an email that after evaluating their foam plant footprint, the company decided to close their operations in Tillsonburg.

“Adient continually re-evaluates our facilities footprint to ensure our operations are most efficient and meet the needs of our customers,” said the email. “The plant, which opened in 1969, manufactured foam for automotive seats. Foam production will be moved to several different plants in the U.S.”

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According to the company’s website, Adient employs more than 150,000 workers in 33 countries across the world.

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Unifor, which represents 315,000 general trade workers, said that they too learned of the manufacturing plants’ sudden closure on Tuesday morning.

“This is a plant who had extraordinarily good safety records and productivity numbers,” Luis Domingues, London and area region director for Unifor, told Global News. “There was no sort of inkling that any of this was going to happen.”

In 2019, the plant hired more than 100 employees after winning a contract to manufacture foam seats for the Ford F-150. Aside from those newly hired workers, Domingues said that many of the employees had at least 30 years at the plant.

“Probably half of the plant is 20-plus years of service,” he said. “It’s a community icon that these folks, unfortunately, have decided to take away at this point unless we can change their minds due to the negotiations we have coming up.”

Domingues said that talks between the union and Adient are ongoing with meetings scheduled with local management on Friday and with corporate representatives on Dec. 5.

“Obviously, our goal would be to have the jobs come back. If that’s possible at all, that’ll be part of our discussion,” he said. “But failing that, we obviously want (to) bargain extension of benefits, severances, pension stuff with them to make sure our folks are looked after.”

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Unifor also represents some Corus Entertainment workers in markets across Canada.

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