09/15/2011 07:43 EDT | Updated 11/15/2011 05:12 EST

Ford Motor Company Shuts St. Thomas Plant, Hundreds Out Of Work


ST. THOMAS, Ont. - The Ford assembly plant in the southwestern Ontario community of St. Thomas closes today after four decades.

With the closure, the last of 1,200 hourly-paid employees at the plant will be thrown out of work. A decade ago, there were about 3,600 union members at the factory.

The final sedan will roll out of the 2.6-million-square-foot factory and with it end a 44-year history that included building Fairmonts, Pintos, Mavericks and other vehicles.

The plant has been building full-sized sedans such as the Lincoln Town Car and Crown Victorias, but sales have fallen steadily for years.

The workers have officially known since 2009 that the plant would close, but they had hoped it would stay open.

To help ease the final blow, the union and the automaker have worked out compensation packages that allow for early retirements and a limited number of transfers to other Ford factories.

The roughly 800 remaining employees who need to find new work get a severance package as well as three years of job-search and retraining assistance through an action centre set up by the CAW.

A Ford spokesman says the company remains committed to Ontario, having recently invested in its engine plant in Windsor and its assembly plant in Oakville.