Unifor says GM rejected plan to keep Oshawa plant open beyond 2019

Unifor says GM rejected plan to keep Oshawa plant open beyond 2019

Unifor president Jerry Dias met with GM in December and he has another face-to-face meeting scheduled to take place in Detroit Tuesday afternoon.

Colin James, head of the Unifor union at the plant, said he was "devastated" by the confirmation of the shutdown.

"Hold on, we're not backing down" said Dias. "But we're having broader conversations with General Motors and I'll leave it at that".

"The reality is General Motors will only understand if Canadians push them in the decisions they are making", Dias said. One such vehicle is the Chevy Blazer, made in Mexico.

Unifor's national auto director Dino Chiodo, former president of Local 444 in Windsor, also expressed his frustration with GM executives following Tuesday's meeting.

The union is also considering its legal options, Dias said. "Our position is clear that we expect GM to allocate product and continue plant operations past 2019". The GM shutdowns include assembly plants in Warren, Ohio, and Detroit, and parts factories in Maryland and Warren, Michigan.

No other details are being released about GM and future plans.

BMO also credited the upgrade to GM's self-driving unit, Cruise, which BMO will include in its valuation of the company for the first time.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias says the decision to close the plant is about “corporate greed”
Unifor National President Jerry Dias says the decision to close the plant is about “corporate greed”

The Oshawa plant east of Toronto employs about 3,000 people and produces the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS, poorly selling sedans that are to be discontinued. The plant also finishes two older GM pickups, the Silverado and GMC Sierra, which are being updated and are made in the US and Mexico. He stopped short of calling for a boycott, but said Canadians are furious that GM wants to close the plant after Canada bailed out GM with almost $11 billion in 2008.

The options suggested by the union, including extending the life of the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS now produced at the plant or shifting production slated for Mexico to the plant, are not economic, said David Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs at GM Canada.

"At some point in time, these vehicle companies are all going to make all these cars in Mexico", he said in an interview.

The union leader referenced how there has already been some customer backlash in Canada against GM products, following the Oshawa announcement.

GM announced in November that work at the plant would end by December 2019, a decision that Unifor has forcefully challenged.

Mr. Paterson said the government bailout helped prop up the economy of Southern Ontario, ensured GM could pay up the pension plan and helped it develop a software and technology centre in the province.

The ongoing shift of auto manufacturing by GM away from Canada and USA has helped boost profits for the automaker to what the union leader said reached US$6 billion over the first nine months of 2018.

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