Union Won’t Let GM Leave Canada Without a Fight

It’s been roughly a month since General Motors announced it would be shuttering Oshawa Assembly, leaving the facility’s nearly 3,000 employees and Canada’s auto union more than a little annoyed. Unifor leadership has said it intends to meet with GM executives on December 20th and discuss the automaker’s plans for the Oshawa facility in Detroit. However, the rhetoric coming from union head Jerry Dias makes the upcoming meeting sound more like a mafia hit than a labor negotiation.

“GM is leaving Canada, and we’re not going to let them,” Dias told reporters. “We are going to waste General Motors over the next year. Waste them.” 

Unifor has launched the “Save Oshawa GM” campaign in an effort to use social pressure to keep the plant operating through next year’s intended shuttering. If it fails, Dias says he’s prepared for a prolonged and direct battle with the automaker through 2019 with Unifor’s Local 222 leading the charge.

The union claims that GM has a legal obligation to keep the Oshawa plant open until September 21st, 2020 as part of their existing agreement. It’s currently seeking help from federal and Ontario governments to convince the automaker to adhere to the “no closure” policy until then. However, GM is officially “idling” the plant, not closing it — though the affected workers probably aren’t all that concerned with semantics.

Oshawa Assembly is currently responsible for the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS, two models which General Motors plans to remove from its lineup soon. It also does final assembly on the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra bodies shipped in from Indiana. But that program is scheduled to end late next year.

Meanwhile, UAW bosses have said they’re similarly outraged with the automaker’s restructuring strategy and would likewise oppose GM’s plan to idle numerous U.S. facilities.

“This callous decision by GM to reduce or cease operations in American plants, while opening or increasing production in Mexico and China plants for sales to American consumers, is, in its implementation, profoundly damaging to our American workforce,” said Terry Dittes, UAW Vice President, Director GM Department. “GM’s production decisions, in light of employee concessions during the economic downturn and a taxpayer bailout from bankruptcy, puts profits before the working families of this country whose personal sacrifices stood with GM during those dark days. These decisions are a slap in the face to the memory and recall of that historical American made bailout.”

[Source: Automotive News]

a version of this post first appeared on TTAC

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