No Breakthrough in Labor Talks as Chevrolet Equinox Plant Remains Shuttered

The sound of workers slapping together 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossovers is not ringing through the streets of Ingersoll, Ontario, this morning.

A strike that began late on September 17th continues today after a weekend labor update that might have heralded good news turned into just another day on the picket line. The workforce at General Motors’ CAMI assembly plant, represented by Unifor Local 88, continue advocating for a new collective agreement that cements the plant’s future in GM’s production roster.

Meanwhile, inventories of the hot-selling crossover are dwindling.

At the beginning of September, GM had a below-average 53-day supply of 2018 Equinoxes, the vast majority of which are assembled at CAMI. While beginning-of-month inventory levels aren’t yet available for October, the quick turnover of new Equinoxes on dealer lots could soon force GM’s hand in the ongoing negotiations.

August sales of 28,245 vehicles in the U.S. was the model’s best showing for that month, and the second-highest monthly tally in two years. Year-to-date, the model is outpacing 2016 sales north and south of the border. (We’ll learn tomorrow whether the upgraded and downsized 2018 model held its popularity in September.)

On the labor front, it’s not looking like either side is prepared to budge. Unifor wants assurances from GM that CAMI, which lost production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico earlier this year, will remain open for years and decades to come. Another product sourced to CAMI, or at least a written promise, would ensure this.

In his update to members over the weekend, Local 88 president Dan Borthwick said talks with GM continue, but “progress remains disappointing.”

In a blog post, Borthwick wrote:

On Thursday, September 28, 2017 Mike Van Boekel and Dan Borthwick from Unifor Local 88, along with Jerry Dias and Shane Wark from Unifor National went to GM Headquarters in Detroit. We met with the heads of North American Manufacturing and Finance. We expressed our concerns around our outstanding issues, such as Job Security, Economics and Contract Language.

GM Detroit understood our issues and made a commitment to respond by late Friday afternoon. The response we received from GM late Friday did not address our issues.

The Master Bargaining Committee, along with our Unifor National Representatives, continue to meet with the company but there is little progress being made.

In a Statement issued Saturday, Unifor president Jerry Dias said, “The successful conclusion of these talks is vital to the future of the entire community.” Dias then joined picketers on the grounds of the CAMI plant, later tweeting “this is about the survival of the community.”

Ingersoll, with a population less than 13,000, employs roughly 2,500 workers at the CAMI plant.

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