Oshawa Workers Blockade GM Offices

Samir Syed
by Samir Syed
oshawa workers blockade gm offices

One knee-jerk reaction begets another. As reported yesterday, the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) wasn't over the moon over the announced closure of GM's Oshawa truck plant. Note: Oshawa IS General Motors. Chevrolet's had a plant in the city since the early 1900s, before Oshawa itself was incorporated as a city. The local hockey team is named for GM. GM-Oshawa employed 2600 direct workers, and no doubt accounted for thousands of other peripheral jobs. So when GM CEO Rick Wagoner sounded the plant's death knell, the CAW's members immediately declared war. Today, CTVNews reports that defiant CAW members, fueled by a desperation that only comes when one has nothing to lose, are blockading the offices until further notice. There's no news of reactions from workers at the other Oshawa plant where they build Chevy Impalas and Buick Lacrosses/Allures. Meanwhile, Toyota and Honda, just as recently as last month, announced billion-dollar investments in Ontario. Hyundai/Kia is also considering moving in. Of course, we all know this story, don't we? Soon, Ontario will be another theatre of war that The General will cede to the Asians, during its long, tragic descent into oblivion.

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  • George Labrador George Labrador on Jun 04, 2008

    A lot of writers to the Canadian press seem to have a hate on for Auto Workers, such a shame as these people cant see the Forest for all the trees in the way.I keep reading the Globe and Mail sections about all the turmoil in Oshawa and what do most writers do is too blame the GM Workers whereas when two parties sign a collective agreement, it the law of the land, so I also feel that the CAW members have been shafted by GM Management who must have known about this upcoming shut down as they where sitting there signing this agreement, therefore the CAW could fight this in Court. Menno when you visit Alberta, try and see where a lot of your Oil comes from ie Fort McMurray! Thats my old Union there who represents these Petrol workers, so therefore I know a lot about collective aggrements from my Union days! And in my opinion GM Canada bargained in bad faith, nothing worse than maybe a "Scab"!

  • Jckirlan11 Jckirlan11 on Jun 04, 2008

    Sorry my bad, Brendon in Canada, as I misunderstood. I have to agree completely with your last post. Now let's get back to the main love of my life CARS!

  • Menno Menno on Jun 04, 2008

    BTW I will be going to B&Bs in Alberta. Yes, I know about the oil sands, a very intriguing and profitable thing for Canada, good on ya as the Aussies say. Here's a constructive thought for the CAW and GM. What do you guys think of this one? CAW has a contract with GM, so doesn't need to strike (and use strike fund monies), GM can't sell trucks and wants to lay off the workforce at 1/2 of Oshawa. OK CAW, now it's time to consider putting money where mouth is. GM, it's time to look at the workforce represented by the CAW as an asset. CAW - take your strike fund monies - all of them - and sit down with GM, a dying company, and try to save your men's jobs by offering the money to help re-tool the truck plant in Oshawa to build something they think they can sell. How about setting up Opel Zafira production and selling them as Chevrolet Zafira's, as GM does in Brazil? A worthy competitor to the Kia Rhondo, which seems to be a pretty good success story and selling well. The Zafira is a good choice because the already-in-production Ecotech four cylinder engine can be used; the vehicle is considered a "truck" so should be relatively easy to "federalize" for sale in the US; it's considered a modern crashworthy vehicle and has passed the Euro-NCAP crash tests with good results. Well, that's my constructive suggestion. What say you, TTAC'ers? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Any alternative ideas?

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jun 05, 2008

    menno: I think that is a good idea. It's that or GM will die before our eyes and come back a leaner company without the unions if they can help it. I figure after they go bankrupt and take alot of paychecks and suppliers down with them, they'll lobby the gov'ts to remove union-shop rules blaming their failure on the unions (which is partially true but far most of their problems). The problem, at least in the USA, is that too many Americans don't know a good vehicle when it runs over their toe and thus the reason Saturn has competitive vehicles but fewer customers than I would have expected. If the Zafira could be a best seller here I would expect the Mazda5 to be a bigger player than it is. FWIW I think high gas prices will be good for us in the long run b/c the American consumer is getting an education in needs vs wants vs blind consumerism. I just wish some of the huge profits were financing something enduring like alt.energy. Still wondering if the rising price and big profits don't represent big oil's last big profit grab as gasoline becomes obsolete in the next 10-15 years replaced by electric commuter cars.