Before General Motors’ scheduled 10:00 am official announcement on the morning of November 26, that it will close its plant in Oshawa, Ontario, the workers’ union, Unifor, told its members to go home in the morning and for the afternoon shift “to be with their families.” They were informed that a press conference would be held at the union hall in the afternoon and asked to attend in force. That afternoon, the hall was filled to overflowing, with many workers outside the building unable to hear.
During question period, President of Unifor Jerry Dias said the Unifor 222 contract has a “no closures” clause for the duration of the four-year collective agreement which is in force until 2020 and Unifor would hold the company to this. There was a $500 million retooling of the plant in 2017 to allow the production of trucks. The union stated it would meet with the “decision-makers” of General Motors (GM) and then have their own internal discussion to decide a course of action. Workers would return to the production lines on Tuesday, November 27, but “there was no way the workers would passively continue to make trucks and get screwed in the end,” Dias said.
The plant is the undisputed leader in quality, productivity and cost efficiency, Dias stated. Oshawa GM workers are the best on the continent. The Oshawa community made GM not the other way around. Unifor is not giving up. There are options and the union will make the company aware of those options; if production can be reallocated to Mexico it can be reallocated to Canada, he said. He rejected Premier Ford’s talk of asking the federal government to extend EI benefits for the workers an additional five weeks. “We’re not talking about EI,” Dias said, “we’re talking about maintaining production in Oshawa.”
Greg Moffat, Plant Chair with Local 222, spoke to the press after the press conference and repeated Dias’ commitment to get the company to reverse its decision. He said the union is not against the company. We’re a community and the union’s interest is in keeping production at the site.
(Photos: TML, C. McLardie)
Unifor Calls on General Motors to Allocate Product to Oshawa
Workers at GM plant in Oshawa walk out and picket at plant gates Monday, November 26, 2018 prior to GM’s announcement in the plant of the plant closing.
Unifor is calling on General Motors Canada to allocate product to the Oshawa Assembly Plant past its current run date of December 2019.
“Oshawa Assembly is GM’s most decorated plant with a highly skilled, committed workforce,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “Additionally, the [United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade Agreement] provides the Canadian auto industry with firm footing so walking away after a hundred year history of manufacturing makes no sense.”
General Motors announced restructuring of its North American operations today [November 26], reporting that no product is currently allocated to Oshawa Assembly after December 2019.
In February, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra truck lines successfully launched following a $500 million transformation that made Oshawa the only plant in North America capable of building both cars and trucks.
“Unifor does not accept the closure of the plant as a foregone conclusion,” said Dias. “Oshawa has been in this situation before with no product on the horizon and we were able to successfully make the case for continued operations. We will vigorously fight again to maintain these good-paying auto jobs.”
GM registered $6 billion U.S. in profits in the first three quarters of this year and North America is responsible for 90 per cent of GM’s global profits. For each direct job, it’s estimated that there are seven spin off jobs that are key to the local economy.
(Unifor media release, November 26, 2018)