Former Navistar employees to finally receive information on pension
Almost eight years after the plant closed, workers at the Chatham Navistar truck assembly facility are getting word about their pension plan.
Unifor, which represented workers at the plant, said pension statements will start to be mailed out by March 14.
Navistar was the largest employer in Chatham-Kent at one time.
The pension plan has been a long time coming for about 850 former workers.
“It was a good place to work; it fed our families, helped send our kids to school and we had a good life there,” says Cathy Baker, financial secretary-treasurer of Unifor Local 127.
The plant shut down operations in Chatham in 2009 and officially closed its doors in 2011.
During its heyday, Navistar employed more than 2,400 workers.
Baker says all of the company's appeals over language and other issues have ended and she's glad the ordeal is behind them.
“That should be a relief that'll bring some closure to the folks from the Navistar unit.”
The estimated value of the pension plan is around $300 million so Baker says that should help boost the local economy.
Doug Wright, a spray painter who worked at the plant for 23 years, says it was a significant force within the community.
He says those that have a pension already can have it recalculated, based on their years of work.
“That recalculation will be a part of this option statement being mailed out in March and those people will then receive a lump sum of the monies they've been shortchanged to date," Wright says.
Former employees can review the details of the pension plan during information meetings in March.
Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope still would like something to be developed on the grounds soon.
“It's sad to say that it has taken so long to bring closure to what should have been dealt with a long time ago."
The land which used to house the factory sits vacant, with Navistar still owning the property.
“We're hoping that Navistar will be community minded and work with either private investors or with the local government to revitalize that land to be employment land. So it's not driving by it every day and saying, ‘That's where I used to work and I lost my job there.’"
The next issue up for discussion is severance pay. The company and union will sit down with an arbitrator for those talks at the end of February.
CTV News contacted Navistar for a comment, but did not get a response.