GM Could Close CAMI if Workers Don’t Get Back to Work

General Motors is warning Canada’s Unifor labor union that it can and will end Equinox production in Ingersoll, Ontario unless workers call off their month-long walk out.  

The union has been trying to secure more job security from GM, demanding the company designate CAMI as the lead producer of the Chevrolet Equinox, guaranteeing production of the popular SUV which also comes out of two plants in Mexico.

A GM official told Automotive News the company is highly frustrated with the situation in which Unifor has “created a problem that doesn’t exist.” Union leader Jerry Dias said that GM has warned it will begin to ramp up production in Mexico if the strike doesn’t come to an end soon.

“GM just told us today that they are going to ramp up production in Mexico,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said by phone from Washington. “They have declared war on Canada.”

At a Chevrolet Equinox event in Toronto on Wednesday, GM officials conspicuously failed to mention CAMI as one of the compact SUV’s producers alongside Ramos Arizpe and San Luis Potosi in Mexico.

The move by GM was an inevitable response to the union holding production of one of North Americas hottest selling crossovers hostage. The automaker says it needs to explore other production options but must first evaluate how quickly key suppliers could accommodate a shift in the Equinox’s geographic production location.

It’s believed the time frame for an agreement between GM and Unifor is quickly narrowing, but Dias refuses to call off the strike,”once we solve this, everything else will fall into place.”

The union wants CAMI designated as the Equinox’s lead producer which would give it more production if Equinox sales rise and lose less if sales fall. But GM says its $800 million investment into retooling the plant last year should be enough of a guarantee as no such language or designation is in any other contract.

The crux of the problem seems to be Unifor’s decision to use CAMI as a real live protest against NAFTA while Canada, the United States, and Mexico work to modernize the trade agreement. Unfortunately, it leaves 2,800 employees and their families hanging in the balance of a multinational political dance.

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