By on September 20, 2012

The Windsor Star is reporting that the CAW “has all but given up” on trying to re-open the Oshawa Consolidated line that was closed earlier this year. The Star quotes CAW President Ken Lewenza as saying

“We’re going to keep raising it until the deal is done…But the reality is vehicle production is based on market and market is based on capacity and GM told us they don’t need the capacity.”

The Consolidated line, which built the Chevrolet Impala, and handled some Chevrolet Equinox production, was shuttered as GM sent production of the two vehicles to the United States, where labor costs are cheap (drastically so, in the case of the Tennessee plant which will now build the Equinox).

The CAW is hoping to secure “restructuring benefits”, such as buyouts, for the 2,000 workers on the line. GM apparently promised to abide by the terms of the 2009 bailout, which states that 16 percent of their North American production must remain in Canada – the closing of the Consolidated line means that GM would only be at 13 percent, leaving open the question of where the extra capacity will come from.

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19 Comments on “Oshawa Consolidated Line Looks Set To Remain Closed As CAW Talks Drag On...”


  • avatar

    From what I understand is that the Impala Car is being moved to where the Saturn used to be made, thus the reason for Oshawa losing that “line”
    Maybe Mikey could bring us all up to date on this?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Given the choice, which “union democracy” doesn’t provide, betcha the permanently laid off consolidated line workers would jump at a chance to go back to work on the same terms as U.S. workers.

    The union bosses prefer lay-offs to wage reductions or freezes so they can regale the surviving mouth-breathers and knuckle-draggers with tales of their negotiating skills.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The pizza has been moved back to US and the CAW is fighting for a few pieces of pepperoni as compensation? In an election year every politician that can have his/her picture taken in from of the US plants will. 3% production being lost? GM will just say “Sue Me”.

  • avatar
    nikita

    A stronger Canadian dollar has got to be a factor in this. Even if wages and benefits were identical in each respective local currency, US labor is cheaper. Pre-NAFTA it didnt matter as much because vehicles sold in Canada at higher prices were mostly built in Canada.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ Gentle Ted.. The “consolidated line” is just that. The line is made of bits and pieces,of the former plants one, and two.

    When the flex line was built,all “W” production went to the consolidated plant. The high volume Impala,while still selling,is long past its best before date. We will get “some” of the new Impala production for Oshawa flex?

    For the last couple of years GM has been sending Equinox bodies from Ingorsoll, to Oshawa consolidated, for assembly and paint. That is gone as of last week,with Springhill coming on line

    As part of the 2009 agreement we were told “the Impala is done in 2013″ so its kind of old news.

    @Gardiner Westbound….If only it was that simple. Keep this in mind. Union leaders, are first and formost. politicians. Politicians of all stripes, tend to tell people,what they want to hear.

    I believe, with your handle, you are from Canada. Can you imagine a Canadian leader taking a stand on our “free” health care system. Like maybe “user pay” or “two tiered” for those that could afford it?….Not a chance.

    Because this is a car site. Find me a politico anywhere,that would push legislation,for mandatory drivers testing at 65….Yeah..good luck getting re-elected.

    Let not beat up union leaders. They may swear more,and they don’t wear $1000 suits. Its still all the same story. Try standing on a stage in a hockey rink in front of 5000 auto workers. Then tell them, they have to take a wage and benifit cut.

    Good luck

  • avatar
    mikey

    @28-Cars-Later As of right now, Oshawa consolidated runs 3 shifts Impala. With the Equinox gone, we lose third shift in October, afternoons is axed in mid January,an the plant closes June?

    Just to put into perspective. It looks like we may get a third on the flex line. That would put Oshawa hourly head count around 3200?

    I started in 1972 head count was 20,000.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I understand the geopolitics behind the decline of Canadian auto manufacturing but it still makes me sad. Being from the Northeast I have always felt an affinity for Canadians, literally the nicest people I meet.

      The other thing is its not as if auto prices will decline if production is outsourced to Timbuktu. I would gladly pay more for an automobile built in Canada vs a third world country, but instead you’ll get third world build quality and pay just as much.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Where does Camaro, Regal, and XTS fit into the mix in Oshawa? A different plant on the same property? A totally different location in the same town?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @sunridge place…Yeah it called the “flex line”, under the same roof as the Consolidated. I spent my last ten years in the material handling world, and we had to fight for floor space.

        I can’t see that being a problem in the future.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      3200 is still a lot of people for a modern Final Assembly plant. Automation and (I’m assuming) the loss of a lot of jobs to suppliers is probably the major culprit.

      I chuckle when I think of GM shipping bodies from Ingersoll. It’s like a throw back to Fisher Body and multi story plants. You have to be desperate for capacity to keep up inefficient logistics such as that. I wish I born 30 years earlier so I could have seen some of the operations North America used to have.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @tresmonos…3200 was my guesstimate. I was figuring, with a third shift, and a thousand a shift,inclucing trades. Oshawa does have a contigous stamping plant.So add a couple of hundred?

        3200 might be a bit high?

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    The thing is that GM isn’t selling these things, thankfully. It would be nice if they would pull the consolidated and put in a flexline. Oshawa’s rep is second to none. We need to keep it going.

  • avatar
    naif

    Not to worry Canada. GM can build it in China with the bailout money and keep the big shots here at home and overpay them.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The CAW, in its usual boneheaded fashion, is determined to have the auto industry’s highest paid unemployed members. Ken Lewenza doesn’t know or won’t acknowledge his world has changed. He can’t bully private sector employers anymore. They’ll keep packing up their stuff and leaving. The money the taxpayers paid to save their butts will be lost.

    Watch for the American brand automakers to transfer more operations to U.S. and Mexican plants until there’s nothing left. In ten years they’ll all be gone.

    When the last unionista walks out of the last unionized Canadian auto plant the union bosses will still have their jobs and perks, and Lewenza will blame Prime Minister Harper.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      Staying away from Canadian politics and Union actions with this question…but I see this often lately..to paraphrase many:

      ‘Everyone is going to move to Mexico for auto production’

      GM used the bankruptcy to move quicker in making their manufacturing footprint smaller and more right-sized to their market share. That was one of a dozen or so reasons why they went under in the first place…they had capacity for a far greater market share than reality over the last decade(s) before 2009. And closing plants and ‘laying off’ UAW workers was very difficult. Especially the ‘laying off’ part when there was a job bank.

      Pretty sure Ford/Chrysler/GM are much closer to the type of factory utilization needed for long term profitability as well.

      From my point of view, the only car companies who might even consider adding factories (after they absolutely max out every ounce of capacity in their existing footprint) in North America are:

      1. Non-Union Japanese companies looking to move production away from Japan
      2. Non-Union Hyundai/Kia who seems production constrained to grow much more
      3. Non-Union VW who has grand plans to grow, grow, grow in the US.

      That said, those companies above aren’t involved with the CAW or UAW. For GM, not giving a replacement product for Oshawa Consolidated is more a matter of sending a potential product to an existing factory in the US or maybe Mexico. But, what sort of new product even is in the pipeline that isn’t spoken for as far as production? There just aren’t a lot of new frontiers in the US market.

      I think GM has some capacity in Mexico since they stopped the HHR and only replaced it with the Captiva (much lower production #’s) but I really don’t know

      I just don’t see Ford/GM/Chrysler building factories anytime soon. Its far smarter for those 3 to work at being profitable within their market share in the fractured (and non-growth) US market than be so bold to build a new factory.

      What segments are the US 2.5 not in that would require a new factory to meet production needs?

      Given that labor is somewhere around 10% of the cost of a vehicle, would it really make sense to mothball an existing factory and spend a few hundred million to build a new factory just to save a bit of money in final assembly?


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