CAW strikes at TRW Automotive plant in Windsor

Thu Feb 28, 2008 6:33pm EST
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Canadian Auto Workers called a strike on Thursday at a TRW Automotive Holdings Corp plant that supplies parts for Chrysler minivans, the second walkout by union workers at a North American parts maker this week.

Chrysler said production has not yet been affected by the strike, which includes about 175 CAW-represented workers at a TRW plant in Windsor, Ontario.

The parts supplier planned to maintain production at the plant using salaried workers and hoped to resume talks with the CAW as soon as possible, TRW spokesman John Wilkerson said.

The CAW had set a strike deadline of 3 p.m. on Thursday for reaching a settlement with TRW, according to a posting on CAW Local 444's Web site. A union representative could not be reached immediately for comment.

TRW's plant supplies suspension modules and safety systems to a Chrysler plant in Windsor that assembles the automaker's top-selling pair of minivans, the Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Caravan.

Chrysler's Windsor assembly plant employed about 4,475 hourly workers as of the end of 2007, Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson said.

Chrysler also builds the minivans in a St. Louis assembly plant represented by the United Auto Workers union. That plant does not use the Canadian supplier, Tinson said.

Chrysler has been counting on a full-year of the redesigned minivans to help shore up its retail sales at a time when it is cutting costs, revamping its vehicle line-up and pushing its dealers to merge franchise operations.

As of the start of the month, Chrysler had an inventory equivalent to 57 days supply of sales of the Town & Country and 77 days supply for the Caravan, according to data compiled by Automotive News.

Early on Tuesday, the UAW called a strike for more than 3,600 workers at American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc after contract talks broke down. No new talks are scheduled between the UAW and American Axle.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Chicago and Kevin Krolicki in Detroit; editing by Carol Bishopric/Andre Grenon)