Workers at the doomed Heinz plant in Leamington now know when they’re leaving and how much they’ll get when they go.
The plant, a fixture in Southwestern Ontario’s farm belt, and a major employer with 740 workers, will stop operating June 27. Each worker will get two weeks of severance for every year worked with no cap, under a deal announced Thursday.
Each worker also will receive a $2,500 productivity bonus, 52 weeks of benefits and a guarantee of no layoffs until May, said Rob Crawford, head of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 459.
“I think it’s a fair deal,” he said Thursday.
“They could have just ignored us and paid us the U.S.A. standards, which is one week per year of service up to 26 weeks and you have to have five years to get that.”
Owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital, Heinz announced in November that it would close the 104-year-old tomato and vegetable processing plant.
The firm date comes as a relief, Crawford said.
“Now we know what’s ahead of us. The layoffs will start sometime in May and June 27 is the final day,” he said.
But the relief at reaching a good deal is tempered by with the lingering pain of the closing, Crawford said.
“You could get four weeks a year and still, the place is closing.”
The company is also contributing $500,000 to a retraining centre, Crawford said.
“We’re going to be opening up an action centre down here to help everybody with the transition,” he said.