By on December 20, 2012

GM’s announcement that it would move Camaro production out of Oshawa has left one of GM’s best plants in a lurch, and the CAW says that the plant’s very survival is at stake.

Moving the Camaro to GM’s Lansing, Michigan plant makes sense; the Camaro is the sole rear-drive product built at Oshawa, while the Cadillac CTS and ATS are not only built in Lansing, but expected to share a platform with the Camaro in the coming years. But that’s raised questions about what GM will do to keep Oshawa going. Speaking to The Globe and Mail, CAW President Ken Lewenza expressed concerns regarding a possible slow decline for the plant

“A fully utilized plant today is on three shifts,” he said. “If this 100,000 units drops it to two shifts – which I anticipate it does – without any replacement vehicles, then the next move is one shift and [then] gone.”

The Camaro move will not only affect Oshawa, but also GM’s engine plant in St. Catharines, Ontario and a Johnson Controls plant in nearby Whitby. Both plants are nearly entirely dependent on the Camaro and will likely have to close following its departure. Lewenza claimed that during this summer’s negotiations, GM gave no notice that they planned to move the Camaro out of Oshawa. Without it, Oshawa will be left with the Cadillac XTS Buick Regal and the Chevrolet Impala

Complicating matters is the Canadian government’s reluctance to sell their stake in GM. While officials have previously stated that they don’t plan to hang on to their shares for the long term, there’s still the pesky matter of Canada’s $13.7 billion bailout package to GM. As part of the agreement, 16 percent of GM’s production must come from Canada, but it looks like the continued production of the previous generation Impala should help satisfy the requirements until June, 2014. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess. GM recently invested $185 million into the facility, but the figure pales in comparison to the billions it has received from the Canadian government.

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37 Comments on “CAW: Oshawa Needs New Product To Survive...”


  • avatar
    tkewley

    The CAW is pricing itself out of the world labor market. I’m not sure why this is difficult for them to understand.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Just ask the former workers at Electro-Motive in London ONT. Thanks CAW!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Why does every new car I see look pregnant or obese in proportions?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Hwoof…not a flattering angle for the Stretspilon II. Reminds me of the Calvin & Hobbes strip in which the laws of perspective broke down.

  • avatar
    prndlol

    It should be noted that Canada’s near $14 billion in assistance to General Motors is the equivalent of the US spending $120 billion.

    The total US contribution to GM was $50 billion, or 40% of that.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    As the former Maintenance manager of that JCI plant in Whitby it makes me very sad to see the decline of auto assembly in Oshawa. The JCI plant went from over 1.6m sq.ft. of manufactering space to less than 0.5m sq. ft. due to cut backs from GM or the natural death of automotive programs with no replacements. There are dozens of other parts plant, small and large in the same boat. I worked for years in the former Peregrine/Access plant in North Oshawa and had to jump ship there when they went tango uniform! The number of GM employees of every kind has done nothing but decline over the years. Some of this is due to automation and better manufacturing engineering but a lot of it is due to the slow inexorable process of GM exiting from manufacturing in Canada. During all this time of decline both Toyota and Honda keep expanding in Ontario. Well, good for them, they at least know how to build high quality, reliable mass market vehicles.

  • avatar
    rnc

    Wonder if GM Canada (therefore the CAW) is paying the price for GM’s stupid agreement to keep Opel in its current form until 2016. I mean Canada has what 20 million people or so, so if your going to sacrifice a market because of Opel, then Canada is it (Australia would be the better option, as it has about the same population and builds unique vehicles that are almost impossible to export due to currency, but I think GM made a deal with them that lasts until 2022?). So canadian manufacturing will be sacrificed to help cover the guarenteed loses from Opel for 3 more years (and I don’t see how closing one plant really helps, especially when Opel’s last insignia was built to be about 80% of the Mondeo, translation w/o the proper R&D $ and Equiv. Product you can cut and cut, but that won’t get you back to profitability as marketshare disapears, GM played that game once before.

    • 0 avatar
      Redshift

      Current population of Canada is right around 35M.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      ‘Wonder if GM Canada (therefore the CAW) is paying the price for GM’s stupid agreement to keep Opel in its current form until 2016. ‘

      You do realize that Opel is shedding 1000′s of jobs THIS year right? 2600 jobs by the end of the year?

      You won’t read there here of course…but its true.

      http://www.thelocal.de/national/20121101-45921.html

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    Are Toyota and Honda in Ontario union? If so are the contracts similar to GM. contract?

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      It doesn’t matter if the’re union, the killer isn’t the union or wages, it’s trying to pay the pensions and healthcare for retirees of a company that had 50% of the market for decades, with a current business that only has around 17% MS.

      You can also blame Pension rules* that allow companies to pretend that they have a high return on investments, when due to fed rates and investment restrictions the real return is only 2-3%, along with risky bets to try and make up the difference when the bill comes due (they can only pretend up to a certain point).

      *These rules were put in place as American industry started dying in the late 60′s and 70′s (looking at it as an angel, it was done to try and give companies and unions time to work out the issues and make the required adjustments, in reality it was a kick the can down the road policy, because politicians need to be re-elected and it made companies look healthier than they were so people could keep living in a dream.) The PGC was created because as companies were dying, they invested all of thier pension funds in thier own stock to artificially drive up the stock price (executive were compensated with stock and had annuities instead of pensions). One of my great uncles lost his entire pension that way, the company died before the PGC existed and the entire fund was invested in a class of stock that had no voting rights (to make sure that if the workers caught on, they had no ability to change things).

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Even if the wage rates are similar, the union work rules and job classification structure make the plants non-competitive. When only a electrician can screw in a light bulb operations get pretty expensive pretty quickly.

      • 0 avatar
        oboylepr

        Darn right it does. The week before the CAW organised the shop I could pass by an untidy loading dock and ask a fork truck driver who was not busy to take the broken pallets, cardboard or whatever to the compactor. The week after when I did something similer I was told, “not my job” as he slid further down in the seat of his idle fork truck. As a result of this, all the loading docks became untidy, filthy to point of being dangerous. In the end more people had to be hired to get the same work done.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    RNC, I think our population is above the 35m mark at this stage but your point is still valid.

    Toyonda operations in Ontario are non-union.

  • avatar

    Yes both Honda in Alliston in Ontario and Toyota in Cambridge and Woodstock are not Union plants! And these plants have no Pension obiligations either.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Bludgeoning the automakers into accepting unaffordable contracts as the CAW did in the last negotiations is hastening the end of U.S. auto manufacturing in Canada. CAW disinformation touted the short term benefits and the unionistas ate it up.

    The CEOs are not financial nincompoops. Long term they can’t and won’t pay the world’s highest auto assembly wages. Significantly Chrysler refused to institute a third Brampton plant shift. That’s a thousand long term jobs that won’t happen thanks to union shortsightedness and hubris.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Are GM sales higher (percentage of market) in Canada? I’m guessing yes….I feel GM’s obiligation to Canada should reflect that.

    The bailout….and the sentiments attached to it….will be playing out for a long time. But there won’t be a second helping….and I’m afraid that day is not too far away.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I am sympathetic to the workers, but not sympathetic to the CAW. For years they subsidized the leftist thugs at OCAP basically out of spite for the government…and other taxpayers. Maybe they should have focused their attention to keeping the plants open.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Nick……As a former UAW/CAW {36 years} dues paying member. I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Fact of the matter is, the vast majority of the membership are not supporters of the {Loony} left. However this fact is not recognized by the leadership.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    The real problem remains that the Camaro is only good enough for a small niche:

    People who were teens in the eighties who still think fondly of the mullet-wearing hockey-playing ac/dc-blasting disco-dancing cocaine-snorting smoking drunk-driving hairy-chested rockin Camaro drivers of the seventies.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ Scott_314….Small niche? over 88,000 units sold in 2011?

    What kind of people, drive what kind of cars? Do tell. Like,say a Camry, or a Tahoe. How about the BMW driving guy with the staggering loan/payments.

    So the guy that sits behind a keyboard and insults a whole group of people, he doesn’t know? Whats he drive?

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Whoa. If union wages keep declining non union wages will also decline. It will become a race for the bottom for everyone except those at the top who have mismanaged the industry into the ground yet still take home 10′s of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Wages decline because of a surplus of labor. Labor is in surplus because our governments are in the hands of anti-business regimes. Blaming organized crime’s weakness for declining wages is like blaming farmers for a drought. It was their strength that contributed to wiping out the economy and destroying the value of labor.


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