Windsor’s battery plant job drama

Windsor’s new electric vehicle (EV) battery plant promised a plethora of jobs for Canadian workers, but that may have been a tad overhyped. 

Driving the news: The hiring of 900 temporary foreign workers at Stellantis-LG’s NextStar EV battery plant—which prompted a political brouhaha—will cost Canadian workers and contractors ~$300 million in lost wages, per the leader of Canada’s Building Trades Unions. 

  • Officials called an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, where several MPs called for the public release of Stellantis and LG’s contracts for building the factory.

Catch-up: Last week, NextStar confirmed 900 workers from South Korea and Japan will work with 700 Canadians to install equipment and set up the multi-billion dollar plant. Some will stay in town to work alongside the 2,500 Canadians projected to be hired full-time. 

Why it matters: New EV plants are viewed as a lifeline for regions of the country that saw once-prevalent manufacturing jobs disappear. For new jobs—temporary or not—with wages directly subsidized by the government to go elsewhere feels, for some, like a rug pull.  

  • This sentiment is acutely felt in Windsor, which currently has the country’s highest unemployment rate for a city—clocking in at a startling 7.1% just last month.

Yes, but: Businesses bringing in their own workers to install proprietary equipment is standard practice, as it often requires company-specific expertise. Plus, there’s doubt whether areas with new plants will have enough workers with the right skills.—QH