WINNIPEG – A new 10-year, $500 million deal has been signed between Winnipeg’s Amsted Rail and Canadian National Railway Co. (CNR) to manufacture train wheels in the city.
The deal is an extension on previous contracts between the companies, and will see the making of one million wheels over the course of a decade, lasting until 2026.
The wheels will be manufactured at the Griffin Wheel Co. on Day Street, and trucked over to the CN Transcona Shop just a few blocks away.
There, the wheels will be mounted into sets before being shipped out and put on rail cars.
The deal secures 85 jobs at the CN Rail shop and about 250 at Griffin.
It also comes just months after a devastating fire closed Griffin Wheel Co. in March.
“This here really solidifies the future,” said Brent Sharron, Local 144 Unifor president.
While the blaze shut down production for 90 days, Sharron said none of the 190 employees he represents were laid off during that time.
“A lot of people were scared, there were a couple days over the past months where we were not knowing if we were going to have the work,” said Nathan Hale, a duty mechanic who has worked at the CN Rail Transcona Shops for seven years.
“This is just the perfect sign to get everybody’s hopes up around this holiday time you know? Guaranteed work. It’s a great feeling.”
Sharron said now that production is back to capacity, employees are working a lot of overtime; six-day work weeks with an optional seventh day.
He said morale is up because of the deal, but down because of the increased workload.
“We’re glad that the future of the plant is good, but they don’t necessarily want to work seven days a week,” he said.
Griffin Wheel Co. has been in operation in Winnipeg for 56 years, and has partnered with CN Rail nearly all that time.
Manitoba Economy Minister Kevin Chief said the move will help keep more young workers in the province.