GM Canada Workers Threaten Strike if Oshawa Doesn’t Get More Work

Unifor, the union representing manufacturing workers said they will strike if GM doesn’t allocate new product to the Oshawa Assembly Plant. 

The timing coincides with GM Canada’s announcing 1,000 new engineering jobs spread across their Ontario research facilities as part of an $850 million deal between General Motors, Canada’s Federal government and the province of Ontario.

But Unifor is pissed–2,500 manufacturing jobs are at risk if GM doesn’t allocate new product to Oshawa, which currently has nothing slotted for production past 2017.

So pissed is the union that they’re now threatening to strike unless GM allocates more product to Oshawa.

“The reality is that unless we have a solution for Oshawa, there will not be an agreement,” said Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, told the Financial Post.

When prodded on the possibility of a strike, Dias said, “Oh, there will be.”

“There is going to be a dispute with General Motors if we do not have a solution for Oshawa and the solution includes having a product.”

It seems a foregone conclusion that Oshawa will lose manufacturing, just look at the facts: Oshawa has been holding on for dear life since 2005; GM Canada’s agreement with the Federal and Provincial governments outlines investments into research and development. After losing Camaro, the products Oshawa does produce– Impala, Equinox, Regal and XTS– are slated to either move facilities or end production.

But the crux of the issue is quite simply the cost of doing business in Ontario. Astronomical electricity prices in Ontario are chasing manufacturers from all walks to life to Mexico, while the Provinces long-term electricity plan places egregious costs on Ontario’s manufacturers.

Speaking to Jerry Dias on the phone earlier today, he said he fully expects GM to come to an agreement with Unifor on the back of Oshawa’s impeccable manufacturing record.

However, for GM, this may be a case of what have you done for me lately, and Mexico is calling with promises of cheap partying and pretty girls.

Regardless, it’s a good sign that GM is interested in investing in Ontario– and one that likely points to how GM views it’s future here in the Great White North, as an innovator not a manufacturer.