March 20, 2008 / 12:11 AM / in 10 years

Union calls off Canadian Toyota plant vote bid

TORONTO (Reuters) - A union seeking to organize a Toyota Motor Co (7203.T) plant in Canada withdrew its bid for certification on Wednesday saying it did not have enough signatures.

“Based on a bargaining unit employee list with over 900 new additional names submitted by Toyota late was clear we didn’t have enough signed membership cards,” said Ian Morland, an organizer for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Canadian law requires a union to have the signatures of at least 40 percent of the total work force to hold a vote on unionizing.

The union said it was “well over” that threshold when it filed for a vote for 3,100 of the plant’s employees with Ontario’s Ministry of Labor last week. But on Friday, Toyota Canada filed a modified list of employees, putting the number of workers at 4,025.

The IAW said it would continue its efforts to try to organize the plant.

“The workers here approached us for union representation and we intend to honor that request,” said Morland.

Global Insight automotive analyst Aaron Bragman said, “It would not be in Toyota’s interests for the plant to unionize.”

Detroit-based Bragman said that if the Toyota plant were to unionize, it could affect future investments in Canada by Toyota or any of the Asian auto manufacturers.

The Canadian auto industry has been struggling recently as a stronger Canadian dollar has increased costs and the downturn in the U.S. market has hurt demand.

Also, a new contract between U.S.-based automakers and the United Auto Workers union has made Canadian plants less competitive.

Toyota’s Cambridge plant builds the Corolla, Matrix and Lexus RX 350 models for North America and assembles 4-cylinder, 1.8-liter engines for the Corolla and Matrix.

Toyota, which said it is not giving interviews on the subject, released a statement on Tuesday saying it encourages all its members to take part in the vote.

Additional reporting by David Bailey in Detroit, editing by Leslie Gevirtz

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