By on June 21, 2016

GM Oshawa. Photo courtesy TTAC.

General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant is bleeding vehicles and in danger of closing, but the city and its workers aren’t going down without a fight.

GM employees, their union, and local government representatives want a new mandate to produce vehicles beyond 2017, invoking images of Flint, Michigan in their battle with the automaker. The recent announcement of 700 new provincewide engineering jobs doesn’t cut it, they say.

To them, GM’s silence reeks of an exit strategy.

Because it’s 2016, a hashtag is one of the weapons in the duffel bag. Unifor Local 222, the union representing GM employees in Oshawa, launched a #GMOshawaMatters Twitter campaign this morning, supported by the city’s mayor and member of provincial parliament.

Oshawa’s dilemma is simple: all of its vehicles could easily be assembled somewhere else. Chevrolet Camaro production went Stateside last year, and production of the Buick Regal, Chevy Impala and Equinox and Cadillac XTS could easily go elsewhere.

As the birthplace of GM’s Canadian manufacturing presence, Oshawa’s economy depends on the plant’s existence. Unifor 222 president told the assembled media, “We don’t want GM to turn Oshawa into another Flint, Michigan,” referring to the economic hit that city took after GM closed plants in the 1980s.

With bargaining talks scheduled later this summer, Unifor president Jerry Dias has said his members are prepared to strike.

Greg Moffat, head of the bargaining team, said GM plans to move assembly of the next-generation Regal to China. The Equinox could go to the Ingersoll, Ontario plant, he added, and the Impala is already built in Detroit. That leaves the slow-selling XTS, which wouldn’t be enough “for one shift,” Moffat said.

The protests led GM Canada president Steve Carlisle to weigh in on the thorny issue. Pledging his support for innovation and a continued assembly presence, Carlisle’s remarks didn’t amount to much more than platitudes. He implicitly called for the company’s partners to play nice, but not much else.

“As much as some would like to simplify that task, there is no one factor that goes into winning auto assembly investments,” Carlisle stated on GM Canada’s webpage. “Each investment is founded upon a complex business case that considers people, plants, policy, partners and competitive economics.”

Don’t expect much sound sleep in Oshawa tonight after that remark.

[Sources: 680News, CP24]

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84 Comments on “GM Workers, Union Aren’t About to Let Oshawa Become the Next Flint...”


  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Having lived up the street from Service Parts Operations just inside the Creek:

    They refused to bend on a lot of things in Flint – they have a monument to such intransigence. Sometimes, it worked out. It stopped working out as much.

    Some places exist to serve as an object lesson. Good luck to Oshawa.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The reaction of the union fairly begs for a plant closure. “Hmm…We don’t need this plant, and the workforce thinks a work stoppage is a bargaining tactic to keep the plant open.” “Maybe we should see how things work out while the plant is closed.” “If it isn’t a huge imposition, we can make it permanent.”

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Well, a similar thing happened at the Kenworth assembly plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec back in the 1990s. The workers went on strike, and Kenworth closed the plant in 1996.

        However, they reopened the plant a few years later in 1999, after getting some loans from the Canadian government and investing over $100M to modernize it.

  • avatar
    obijuan

    Ummm, I’m having trouble with this –
    On one hand: Unifor 222 president told the assembled media, “We don’t want GM to turn Oshawa into another Flint, Michigan,”
    And then the other hand:
    With bargaining talks scheduled later this summer, Unifor president Jerry Dias has said his members are prepared to strike.

    Keep going Jerry….last guy out be sure to turn off the lights…..

  • avatar
    carveman

    Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Ever notice how many GM products cant seem to get all of their front lights working at the same time.?

  • avatar
    FOG

    I watched the UAW dismantle the Flint/GM relationship with demands, strikes, Michael Moore. I grew up just north of Flint and it was horrid to see and even more horrid to watch the media blame everything on the corporation and not hold the union accountable. The UAW used Flint as their first plant to strike during every single negotiation. I am truly concerned for the people of Oshawa. GM survived Flint and it will move on without you.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      GM can’t lose. GM has the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury behind it.

      Oshawa, not so much.

      That said, I do believe there will be more R&D and production moved to Mexico and China in the very near future.

      That would be in the best interest of GM, and a prudent business move to benefit the shareholders.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I think a strike is a good idea. It will teach GM a lesson.

    Then GM will teach Unifor a lesson.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I doubt GM will be able to resist closing Oshawa thereby ending decades of poisonous relations with CAW/UNIFOR.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The kind of reactionary Reagan-era rhetoric posted is ironically outdated in the era of Trump and Sanders. Most of the Western world is coming around to the realization that corporate and government elites have screwed over the average joe. Touching that some of you are still clutching Maggie Thatcher to your breast and blaming the working man for corporate greed. Buicks built in China, can’t wait to see those JD Power ratings!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      Whatnext – there is truth to what you say. Everyone blames the unions for plant closures. I do believe that auto unions have contributed to problems by inflexibility and unrealistic wage demands. Unskilled labour is just that, unskilled.
      We do tend to forget all of the good that unionization has brought such as safer workplaces and a stable work force. Stable incomes translate to stable economies. Unfortunately the cold war rhetoric has brainwashed generations to believe that anything remotely socialist is a bad thing. Mixed economies fair better than totally “free” or totalitarian.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Mixed economies are what are failing everyone. Mixed is just a euphemism for corrupted.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          ToddAtlasF1 – corruption is what ails every system whether it be Democratic, Socialist, Communist etc.

          As the saying goes, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Worker safety? Let’t also thank our federal government and OSHA for that.

        Yes, unions did some good for a time, but in the end, they utterly and completely failed to stop the forces of globalism from eliminating their jobs.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Worker safety? Let’t also thank our federal government and OSHA for that.”

          LOL.

          OSHA only prevents things so long as they’re looking. And they’re usually only looking after something has happened.

    • 0 avatar
      ferdburful

      Reality is a hard thing. The Union is threatening a strike unless more cars/vehicles are assembled at the plant. The plant may shut down because GM has moved production elsewhere. Striking is counterproductive.I grew up in Northern Ohio – I can give you a tour of all the shuttered steel, auto, tire and glass plants. Some of the closures were a result of bad business decisions by the company. Steel and rubber was a combination of really bad Union decisions and stupid strikes and off shoring. The jobs are gone. Pretending otherwise is foolish.

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      When I worked at a General Electric refrigerator factory, the union always started every strike/wildcat walkout at the only compressor plant, located in Tennessee. That always idled every other refrigerator plant because they couldn’t assemble anything without compressors.
      So what happened ? The company closed the compressor plant and bought from Sanyo.
      More union tactics ensued until they sold the entire Appliance Division to the Chinese last year.
      Who knows how the union will get along with their new owners, who are NOT as soft.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Yes, GE stopped being an American company a long time ago. For a long time it was the Koreans who were building GE-branded appliances, but you just can’t out-cheap the Chinese for cheap consumer goods.

  • avatar

    hit them as hard as you can and as quick as you can. otherwise, most all of it goes to China.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Okay, of those that don’t know me. I’ve been a regular reader, and posting comments at TTAC since Robert Farago wrote “GM Death watch” number three. I spent 36 plus years on the plant floor, GM Oshawa assembly. A proud member of the UAW and the CAW…I’ve been referred to as a trained monkey, a fat drunk, a parasite, a thug,a welfare recipient , a commie., a leach I believe those may be some of the kinder names.

    So fire away guys , with all the vile , hate , you can muster up. I’ve heard it all before. In fairness i can’t blame all of the B&B. Some of the guys have been fairly decent, about it all, and i give thanks to those folks, that put the “B” {both B’s} ..in B&B

    Now its, been nearly 8 years since i last set foot in the plant. December 19, 2008, the very day, the George W wrote the first “bail out” check. What i’m going to try and do here is list, just what the CAW gave up, since mid 2006. My memory is just not as sharp as it used to be, so i don’t think i can supply an accurate chronological order.

    The CAW opened the contract three times in the 2006-2010 period.

    Concessions
    11 vacation days gone
    Benefits were slashed , Drugs, Dental and Eye Care frozen at 2009 rates, increased in 2013 to 2011 rates. A $300 deductible on Meds, and a monthly $30 premium added, in 2008.
    All in ,and outside, unskilled ,plant maintenance , sweepers, cleaners, etc ….contracted out. All Shunt drivers , contracted out. Over one thousand jobs , gone
    Skilled trade classifications, combined , or contracted out. Four hundred more jobs gone.
    Complicated work rules, as in “not my job” all gone
    Allowing , outside vendors, into the plant, to do work previously done by GM employees
    Cost of living allowance , and wages frozen for 3 years,
    Not two, but a three Tier wage and benefit package , all agreed to by the CAW
    Pensions frozen, and still frozen at 2008 rates.
    No more benefits for all Pensioners {a fund similar to the VEBA was set up} A one shot cheque, from GM, and thats it for funding.

    Ive probably missed a few things, not the least of which , would be the 15000 or so jobs that vanished since the early 90’s

    Our we going to lose Oshawa ? Like the man said, its a “business decision”. Will UNIFOR strike ?….Not a chance .

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      All of these ‘concessions’ -are paying for untenable wages and benefits which were negotiated during the time when GM owned 50% of the market. Certainly, the factory workers didn’t make all of those bad executive decisions- neither did we at GE, but no matter whose fault, reality must rule. In my opinion, we lost out when the bean counters and MBAs pushed the engineers, factory managers, and marketing men out of the power loop. The new executives only cared about short-term profits and stock options and drove the company into the ground. Hence the loss of manufacturing.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        That is part of the picture. Robots don’t threaten to strike and don’t get paid OT.

        Global Economy means companies will shack up in the whore house with the cheapest wenches (wrenches).

        China is starting to learn that lesson.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      You know, mikey, I’ve really come to respect your perspective on the autoworkers union(s), despite my opposition to them.

      Referring to some comments above, nobody disagrees on the historic role unions played in securing better pay, safer working conditions, and fair bargaining.

      But I think those days are gone. Consumers don’t want to pay for those things, as evidenced by the West’s off-shoring of everything from shoes to electronics to cars, and even spacecraft. People blame companies for the so-called ‘race to the bottom’, but in fact it’s consumers who demand it. Companies would gladly pay for cherry jobs if consumers would pay top dollar for their products – but they won’t anymore.

      As an engineer, my last company happily off-shored high tech jobs to Asia because they could get 3 or 4 engineers there for the price of one in the US. We were treated as commodities to be bought at the lowest price. Unpaid hours went up, and the cost of my health care benefits tripled in one year. Our mfg went to Mexico, and possibly China. I could go on. I left recently due to job uncertainty.

      So I’m afraid the concessions you describe are going to continue – or worsen – until the plant closes.

      One thing could help Oshawa – higher fuel prices. If it becomes too expensive to ship cars from another far-away country, it may remain worth it to just keep building them domestically.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Loom at the Baltic Dry Index, the utterly efficient way ports are set up, and the oversupply in ships and glut of global shipping rates.

        Shipping costs have never been cheaper in real $$$, and are only headed lower.

        The Wal-Martinization of fabrication of auto parts/components in China/Vietnam/Thailand/etc., auto assembly and auto retailing (mega dealerships with massive manufacturer volume incentives) has only just begun.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @SCE to AUX…..Higher fuel prices, are a double edge sword ,for us up here in Canuckistan …Higher oil translates to a stronger Loony, A strong Loony, moving closer to Par against the Green Back, does not bode well for manufacturing . Higher priced oil, hits the sale of Trucks.. Trucks mean so much to the domestics..

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        SCE to AUX,
        I do think it’s odd that most point their fingers at China for the reduction in manufacturing. But yet who are the Chinese pointing their fingers at? They have lost over 30 million manufacturing jobs in the past decade. 30 million!

        We are at the forefront of a massive change in the way we work, what we do for employment and how we live.

        I think it’s this change and the uncertainty that people are afraid of. We must change our ways to be competitive. Jobs will go, millions of them, but new opportunities will arise.

        Just subsidising jobs will not work in many cases, as we just don’t have the resources to do this. Sooner or later we will realise this.

        As people do, they don’t want change. They will blame all and expect all around them to make changes so they don’t need to change.

        Blame Mexicans, blame Chinese, blame the EU, blame all, but not me.

        Like children, these immature types in our society must grow up and hold themselves to account.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      mikey,

      For starters, let me tell you that *your* commentary, perspective, and knowledge over the years is what but the “B” in B&B. Thank you for both sharing your thoughts with us, and, for your long, illustrious tenure as a commenter here.

      I’m completely torn about this. On one side, we know without question that, even today, corporations couldn’t give a shit about their workforce. If the labour laws of today didn’t exist (and the unions have a huge role to play there), we’d all be suffering.

      On the other hand, most of the hand-wringing (in Canada, at least) I see about unions is envy: “I *wish* I could have even half of these perks that auto workers have in my job” being a common refrain, backed up by cherry-picking of agreement details by the media that make these contracts sound like they are full of fluffy, unreasonable demands by the workforce.

      I personally believe strongly that if you’re going to give even half a decade of your life (let alone 36!) to a corporation, day in and day out, you are entitled to more than just the cheapest wage they can get away with and legally mandated benefits. Why shouldn’t the company help pay for your child’s education, your new home, or other QoL benefits unions have fought for? The fact that others don’t get these luxuries (or only get them in industries where the workforce is lacking and incentives are needed) is all the more reason unions are important.

      However.

      At the same time, most Canadians (or, even more so, Americans) either cannot, or will not, pay more than they absolutely have to for goods. I think a lot of Americans fail to realize how strong national pride is up here. We have a lot of people who “buy Canadian” when they can. This is why brands like Target, AT&T, and others have aborted their expansions here. They’re seen as “foreign” operators. A nontrivial part of the population purchases Vehicles made in Canada for the same reason. Look how long blackberry was a thing up here after it was clear they couldn’t compete with iphones! But they will not do so if the price gap is too large. and cheaper, smaller cars are increasingly part of the mix here.

      Increasingly, people would rather get their furniture from Ikea than Leons or the Brick or other Canadian companies. The cheaper the car, too, the more likely it will sell. There’s a reason the Honda civic, mazda 3, and Toyota carolla sell in such vast quantity here. This is even why, for many years, BMW and Acura had cheaper, Canadian-only models for sale.

      As these prices drop, and as people move to smaller vehicles, all while raw material costs go up, something has to give. wages seems to be it, and the fact that it’s cheaper to build cars elsewhere, means the car manufacturing business is going to go through the same transition almost all other manufacturing has – moving to cheaper countries.

      I try to buy local, and Canadian where I can. I try to buy “Fair trade” products so that workers get a fair shake. I pay more for these products, but I know most wouldn’t be willing to do that. But I own a Mazda because there’s nothing that comes out of the Canadian auto manufacturing system that interests me personally. There’s a limit to my patriotism. And yet mine is much greater than most people I know. Because of that fact, I think all auto manufacturing in Canada is doomed. :/

      • 0 avatar
        Waterloo

        Orenwolf,
        I appreciate what you are saying and mostly agree. There are a few points I do disagree with. I own and run a small unionized Canadian manufacturer of building products. In our industry (therefore my experience) Canadians were far quicker to jump to the lowest cost product and source overseas. The Americans (again, in my industry) on the other hand still value “made in America” and over the years we have been able to convince them that Canada is virtually “domestic”. Another point is “buy Canadian” doesn’t mean Leon’s vs Ikea. They are both retailers employing Canadian’s in the service sector. The real value added jobs are the manufacturing jobs that produce the furniture and at least 90% of those jobs are overseas. Canadian Tire and Home Hardware are both Canadian companies that have no loyalty whatsoever to Canadian manufacturers, but they certainly play up the fact that they themselves are Canadian.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Waterloo – agree. I have a hard time finding anything Canadian at Canadian Tire.

          • 0 avatar
            redmondjp

            Sad, isn’t it? Just like the imported tool brands with Americanized names to hide their true origins:

            – Chicago Electric
            – Pittsburgh Forge
            – (a bunch of other similar names that I can’t recall)

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Milwaukee Tools used to be made in the US. They closed all the US plants by 2008. Now they are just the same old garbage from China. I have some older, US built, Milwaukee Tools. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they eventually wear out.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @redmondjp

            Sir James called it in 1994.

            youtu.be/wwmOkaKh3-s?t=1732

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    Close it down! Make Mexico Great Again.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Who cares if a few foreigners lose their jobs. They likely deserve it.

    • 0 avatar
      scwmcan

      First off if this trend continues, it will soon be who cares if a few American lose their jobs, as they will all be going to Mexico and China (along with all the parts support, iers etc, that go with the major plants).
      Secondly the Oshawa plant was (may still be) consistently one of the highest quality and most productive plants in the world (not just GM, and esily the best of GM), so yeah they deserve to lose their jobs for doing their jobs well, great attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I’m sure that his post was sent from his device on his way to Wallmart to buy new Zubaz pants and a white tank top.

      That used Crown Vic was a nice find.

      Still feels strange to ride in the front of one.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      jimbob457,
      Wow!

      I do realise what you wrote is most likely the view of most 7 billion people who live outside of Canada, but that’s harsh.

      The world is changing, a new world is coming.

      Those who don’t change will be left behind. Sort of like what happened to Europe at the end of the 19th Century. But back then it was the US that started out with the huge production of consumer goods using the new technology.

      The electric motor, along with the massive unused resources just sitting in the NE. The left overs from the Civil War.

      Did the US care what it was doing to jobs in Europe?

      This is life. New countries are giving us a run for our money, literally. We whine and complain about how tough things are whilst we sit in front of our 65″ TVs, driving cars that have never been cheaper and powerful in history. With cheap food, housing, cheap everything.

      Go back to the “Good Ole Days” we keep on hearing about in the 50s and 60s. Look at the size of the average home and the contents in that home and what sat in the driveway. Yup, the middle class. I do believe we are far better off now. But the grass is always greener somewhere else and someone always doing better than me. That existed in the 50s and 60s as well.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    As far as I can tell, GM sells about 275,000 cars and light trucks in Canada, about 15% of the market there, see-sawing with FCA & Ford for sales leadership. The citizens of Canada should make clear to GM that if they want to sell 275,000 vehicles in Canada, they are expected to make 275,000 vehicles in Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Unrealistic expectations given what the market demands. My feeling is that Canada seems to love cheap compacts and subcompacts… these cars are best made in Asian countries, or Mexico.

      I have a lot of sympathy for auto workers but the reality is that if a company does not make a car the public wants then why make workers build a car that doesnt sell… or worse still like the above, make workers assemble a car that is not economic to build in that country?

      We all know FCA and GM are making cars that the public doesnt want. So if they cant sell them, why make them?

    • 0 avatar
      scwmcan

      The auto pact used to say exactly that, the Japanese and European manufactures complained to the WTO and it was declared illegal, the Canadian government of the time didn’t appeal it, and since then we have lost a large part of our auto industry.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        scwmcan – The Auto Pact favoured US manufacturers so the same rules were extended to other companies. If you want to sell X number of cars in Canada then you have to build Y number here.

        The Auto Pact was replaced by NAFTA at the time it was ruled illegal.

        • 0 avatar
          scwmcan

          Except NAFTA did not have the same requirements for production in Canada, leading to the loss of manufacturing. The Japanese and European manufacturers already had a favorable imbalance to their trade, not this doesn’t mean that the tariffs were charged were not uNair, I have nothing against fair trade, “free” trade is another matter, as there is no way a country of 39 million can compete with one of several billion, especially when the one with several billion has low wages due to being an emerging industrial nation. I know our workers compare favorably in productivity and quality, but when one group is making 20 US Dollars per hour and the other is making 20 a week (probably and exaggeration but the point remains) and the companies (and apparently consumers) don’t care as much about quality as they should it is hrd to maintain an industry. It isn’t like the companies are sharing the savings with the consumer either.
          My question is who buys the products when no one is earning more than minimum wage?

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            scwmcan – I agree with you. Free trade has to be balanced by fair trade. Pure open market economies only benefit those with money. The middle class gets bumped into the lower class. There has to be some sort of balance.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ Tony…Very true, in the Urban areas, the compacts , and subcompacts, dominate the market. However step into rural, and semi rural Canada, pick ups, big CUV’s Acadia, Tahoe , Explorer’s, rule. The domestics own a big chunk of that market.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @mikey – beat me too it. Small vehicles are extremely popular in the large metropolitan centres. Canada has most of its population within 100 km (60 miles) of the US border and that just happens to be where most of the big cities are. It tends to be expensive for parking and any open space is at a premium.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Oshawa never was and never will be what Flint was to General Motors. 82,000 people worked for GM in the city if Flint at its peak. It’ll be sad whenever GM shutters Oshawa, but it won’t bring about the long lasting economic armageddon that has destroyed Flint.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @bball40dtw…..Right ,20 years ago when we had 22000 hourly, and salary it would have killed us. A GM closing will hurt. The economic impact, will ripple through the surrounding area, but we will recover.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        mikey,
        I do like your comments and read them.

        I do think there is an over reaction if the Oshawa plants closes.

        The reality is from all the articles just here on TTAC you could see the writing on the wall for Oshawa’s demise. It will happen.

        The workers, well, they will survive.

        Many people have an attitude of the “what the world owes me”. This I don’t believe in. Yes people have worked there for years and years, and I’d bet they have been institutionalised in the ways of GM.

        They are scared and insecure. But, does GM really owe them anything? Isn’t paying them for years of work enough?

        It sounds harsh what I’m stating, but how many poor slobs work for small family businesses in Canada that go under and lose their jobs. What protection do they have, welfare? These same people working for small businesses most likely don’t have the income, conditions, benefits that are offered to a GM employee at Oshawa. You can make statements on what you’ve lost, but at the end of the day I’d say an Oshawa worker outstrips many who work in Canada.

        I really don’t support the people who whine whilst they work for large corporations with the income and conditions of service they receive, not much different than a public/civil servant.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          “I really don’t support the people who whine whilst they work for large corporations with the income and conditions of service they receive, not much different than a public/civil servant.”

          Coming from an alleged career military man I’d say that one’s comments are hypocritical.

          Some one like Mikey or anyone for that matter who has been loyal to one employer for their entire lives “deserves” a better fate. Please note the word “deserves”. I did not say ‘entitled”.

          Too many people deride unions carte blanche but like any politicized organization member apathy tends to run rampant until something affects the member directly.

          Does GM owe the Canadian tax paying workers anything?

          In my opinion:

          Pre-bailout – NO.

          Post bailout – YES.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      It’s a global race to the bottom for labor, IT, engineering – whatever.

      Just because some U.S. engineers and IT workers are doing well now ensures nothing in the future.

      If there’s one thing that anyone who’s been paying attention to the last two decades should be aware of, it’s that labor, unskilled, semi-skilled an even skilled, gets to be pressured more and more with time, until it ends up being the cheapest “commodity” of all in the race for upper management and executives, who’s senior execs now make 160x (Germany) to 340x (U.S., UK) what the average employee at their companies make, to try and fatten their compensation and drive wage inequality even more.

      Even in Germany, labor, which traditionally was very strong and deemed a co-partner with management in the past, has seen dramatic losses in the last decade as German automakers outsource component manufacturing and assembly of vehicles to much lower wage nations such as Turkey, Romania, Poland, Algeria, the Czech Republic, etc.

      Mary Barra made 18 million in total annual compensation last year while the average Tier II UAW line worker made a salary of $16 to $22 an hour, plus benefits of maybe an additional $18/hour.

      The head of Honda made 1 million USD in total compensation, by contrast, and I’m pretty sure that Akio Toyoda made around 2.84 million USD.

      The trends in the west are leading up to a genuine societal problem that will ultimately culminate in a break down in what people used to rely upon as a good faith social contract, and a total loss of faith in the basic fairness of the economic system on a very fundamental level.

      The growing financialization of the economy whereby bankers and Wall Street receive greater and greater state ic protection and appropriated tax subsidies as a % of total GDP is only hastening/worsening this loss of faith.

      The use of marginally attached workers, who are “contract” at-will workers, H1-B Visa “imported” workers, and other independent do tractors to supplant traditional full time, full benefit employees makes the situation even worse.

      Whether one is liberal, conservative, independent, etc., there should be a general recognition that labor is losing ground in the new economy, and that the top 1/10th of 1% (it’s not the top 1% as popularly broadcasted) is disproportionately growing its wealth at the most rapid rate since literally the 1900s (before the Great Depression, during the era of the true monopolies and collusion of the Standard Oil, Carnegie Steel, etc. era – just prior to Hoovervilles).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Mary Barra made 18 million in total annual compensation last year while the average Tier II UAW line worker made a salary of $16 to $22 an hour, plus benefits of maybe an additional $18/hour.”

        People get paid what they are worth within an organization. Management and shareholders always come first.

        Labor is labor. Labor is where you find it. If there isn’t enough of it, you import it from elsewhere. All labor is owed is a fair day’s wage for a fair days’ work. If they don’t like it, they are free to leave.

        This may not seem “fair” to some, but it is the way of the world. Been that way since Christ was a Corporal.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You’ve been hitting the crack pipe (Grover Nordquist brand), hard.

          1) Mary Barra isn’t that bright.

          2) Mary Barra essentially makes $75,000 per workday, PLUS the enormous pension, golden parachute and other massive retirement benefits NO MATTER HKW HORRID A JOB SHE DOES when all iis said and done.

          3) Akio Toyoda is much brighter and competent than Mary Barra, works much harder, and is in charge of a larger, much more successful automaker, yet makes 1/8th of what Mary makes, and won’t receive even a fraction of Mary’s golden parachute.

          4) Back in the 1960s, the last time the U.S. Government ran balanced annual deficits, and GM and a 50% market share, GM’s CEO made 40x what the average GM employee made.

          Even hard-core, Hannity-rambling alleged “conservatives” need to come to grips with the fact that the system is fundamentally broken due to pure , unfettered greed, gross excesses, massive inefficiencies, & incredibly short-term thinking brought about by a flawed corporate governance system, flawed tax system and financialization swallowing true value added work/production.

          The banksters and Wall Street/High Street have inherited the world yet again.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            I did not set forth these rules of ownership and employment, but they are the way of the world.

            I agree with your observations and analyses, but that doesn’t change a thing. Nor will it.

            That’s why landlords keep raising the rent, just in case their tenants get a raise.

            That’s why employers cut back on the number of employees every time a pay raise is mandated. The owners are not going to take a cut in pay. Neither will shareholders or management.

            The name of the game is to get edumacated to advance to one of those highly-paid positions.

            Or, become self-employed.

            (I chose the latter for the 30 years prior to my retirement and promotion to the leisure-class in Jan 2015)

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            DW,
            What you state is sort of true, but much has changed on 50 years.

            Look at the difference in industrial relations.

            Look at the difference in technology.

            Look at the difference in where the US now stands within the world. As you stated in the 60s regarding GMs position. Even the US in the 60s had near on half the worlds GDP. What is it now, 20%.

            Canada proportionally is similar to the US.

            This leaves the US and in this Canadians one thing to do. Find a way to be more competitive. It’s pointless just dumping taxpayer money into a hole.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Wow, my bad!

            Mary Barra is pulling down a cool 28.6 million USD annually!

            I previously said 18 million. I’m embarrassed.

            So, Mary isn’t clearing $75,000 per workday, but actually $120,000 per workday ($14,300 per hour).

            Not a bad gig, Mary!

            “GENERAL MOTORS
            Compensation for GM’s Mary Barra up 77% to $28.6M

            Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press
            Apr 22, 2016

            http://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/general-motors/2016/04/22/general-motors-mary-barra-compensation/83381312/

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @DW…I remember attending a series of mandatory attendance meetings during down weeks. This was way back in the 80’s…The bottom line was we needed to adopt “the Toyota way”.

        As i recall, one of the hourly guys had done his homework. He had the figures ,re- Management-worker ratio at Toyota as compared to GM. He also had the senior management compensation figures , Toyota compared to GM. His question was is that all part of the “Toyota way”….?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @DeadWeight:

        The ‘race to the bottom’ is consumer-driven. Nobody brags to their friends about how they paid more for a product. Companies are trying to stay in business, and this is what they do to survive.

        As an engineer working for a big multinational, I hope I make it to retirement before my own job goes overseas.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          SCE to AUX – in many respects what you say is true.
          One will drive one’s domestic badged foreign made truck to Wallmart to buy that Chinese made Stars and Stripes to hang from the flag pole made from Canadian lumber in front of our mostly Asian content home and agree whole heartedly with Trump about Making America Great again on the newscast viewed on our Japanese TV.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          SCE to AUX,
          What kind of engineering job do you have?

          Aero, Elec, Mech, Structural, Civil ….. Sanitary (joke).

          There is much literature on where our jobs are heading in the next decade or so.

          Production line workers I would deem semi skilled, with some skilled (incl professional).

          Essentially, it reads this way. Those of us who have skilled jobs will be lucky enough to benefit from Robotics/AI. The higher your skill level to more you will benefit.

          The unskilled will reap negative benefits from Robotics/AI technology. Semi skilled workers will see a neutral benefit.

          The comments in the link are quite general. But they can’t crystal ball the future.

          I suppose those out there with little ones nothing has really changed. If you want a future for your kids, educate them. If you don’t they’ll end up not much different than today’s unskilled.

          Nothing will change other than technology replacing jobs and new, unkown jobs will become reality.

          Look at the current trends in employment. More part time work, more unskilled jobs, etc.

          I don’t believe this is the future. We still need to realise what opportunities will be available from Robotics/AI. What new industries and services will come from it.

          Farriers, candlestick makers, blacksmiths, tinkers, cobbler, etc are all gone and they were the middle class jobs of their era. Mass production killed them, just like Robotic and AI will kill of many current jobs.

          When mass production started out big time in the late 19th Century no one back then new what the future held. Our future is the same. I’d bet it will work itself out ….. if you are competitive, innovative and enterprising.

          http://voxeu.org/article/artificial-intelligence-and-employment

          • 0 avatar
            Zackman

            “Farriers, candlestick makers, blacksmiths, tinkers, cobbler, etc are all gone and they were the middle class jobs of their era. Mass production killed them, just like Robotic and AI will kill of many current jobs.”

            I wholeheartedly disagree:

            Some of them can find jobs at Silver Dollar City, Dollywood, Gatlinburg, Lake of the Ozarks, many theme parks and a few state parks and other places that feature crafts from the “good old days”. Ha ha ha…

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            In my town there were two “old school” shoe makers. The one tried to get his son interested and did for a time but he left the business. His abilities unfortunately died with him.
            The other fellow has managed to get one of his son’s into the business. They do very well and even get clients coming up from Vancouver over 800 km away. These type of occupations will always find small scale success. Unfortunately we tend to define success as Bill Gates level of income.

            We need to accept the fact that not all of us are destined to be in the 1% let alone the 0.1%. The “American Dream” has been perverted to mean: Success at any cost”

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Zackman,
            Yup, I see many jobs advertised for them.

            Seriously????

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Lou_BC,
            As usual you are making comments with little knowledge. I’ll highlight the significant difference between us and the public/civil service.

            1. We can’t strike. It’s called mutiny.

            2. We don’t get overtime, shift allowances, loadings, etc.

            3. I must be under a certain BMI. I must use my time to achieve this. Pass a physical test, ie, running, pushups, chin ups, etc every year. I must also, not have high cholesterol, blood pressure, certain dental requirements, hearing, ie no hearing aids, vision, and on and on. The military does try to fix what they can medically.

            4. We don’t have any say in our work conditions, pay, medical standards, physical standards, etc.

            5. Believe it or not rationalisation is occurring. My guys must take on other technical trades, jobs, etc, with no additional pay rise. This is huge.

            6. My income would rise significantly if I was not in the military.

            7. We do occasionally work under conditions that many at this Oshawa plant would cry over or for that matter any public/civil servant.

            8. There is no room for any of the bullsh!t public/civil servant work related problems, ie, he swore at me when I refused to do a job my boss asked me to do. Less liberty.

            9. Holidays/vacations. We have less input to when and even where we can go.

            10. We cannot be politically active, we can only vote.

            You see Lou we are professional, not only towards our chosen musterings/disciplines, ie, engineers, technicians, cooks, whatever.

            But, we are also professional as military people.

            By reading many comments, even regarding many unionised workers, they lack a decent code of ethics in the way they operate.

            The methods employed by unions goes against my life, the way I think and operate.

            My answer to many of public/civil servants, union workers, etc, is “toughen the fnck up” and get on with it.

            Like me be happy you get a pay check. Isn’t that why we work? If you want more than that do like most of us and build your future, ie, buy a home to rent, drive a sh!t car to save money. It’s not the taxpayers problem to make up for people who work for years and don’t set themselves up.

            Greed is what unions are about, associated with not wanting to hold themselves to account.

            If you want something in life earn it.

            So, Lou before you ever dengrate or attempt to degrade a professional military understand how and what they do and under what conditions.

            It’s not all peachy and sweet. Were you abused as a child? Do you only approach people as you do on the web with a plethora under a plethora or names. You can hide, are you that insecure?

            You’d have to be the weakest individual I’ve ever met.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @BARFO – not out to degrade anyone in the military. Did I say that?

            I know a lot of career military and ex-career military.

            Not a bad gig unless you happen to be a front line gravel technician. (Canadian military slang for infantry)

            You on the other hand impress me as being a chairborne ranger.
            (Canadian military slang for desk jockey)

            But hey, I love your replies.

            I almost don’t need to put any effort into rebuttals.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            “We can’t strike. It’s called mutiny.

            We don’t get overtime, shift allowances, loadings, etc.

            We don’t have any say in our work conditions, pay, medical standards, physical standards, etc.

            My income would rise significantly if I was not in the military.

            We do occasionally work under conditions that many at this Oshawa plant would cry over or for that matter any public/civil servant.

            Holidays/vacations. We have less input to when and even where we can go.”

            Sounds like you need a union :)

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            bball40dtw – LOL

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @DW

        When I was in Czech Republic I had two interesting conversations with locals, one a part time bartender whose 9-5 was with Exxon, the other the limo driver back to the airport. Ironically they were on the same topic, how jobs which came to Prague because it was “cheap” are now slowly leaving for India and the Far East.

        In the first man’s case, Exxon moved its back office to Prague some time before but was moving some operations to India. He hoped because of the multi-lingual nature of Europe, Exxon would keep some staff there (he apparently also spoke French as well as English and Czech). The second man said something to the effect of, after communism we invested all of this money but now the good jobs are leaving. I asked to where, his response was “east”. Evidently also the Czechs are upset about some trade treaty “the Americans are pushing on them” to buy our wheat instead of growing their own, but Czechs don’t want our quote “GMO crops”.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Similarly, and I promise that what I am to report I heard is an accurate summary, and that the source is highly credible, factories in China are being closed in particular development zones (maybe built within the last 5 to 7 years) because labor rates are 1/2 the prevailing Chinese rates in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I was reading about the industrial opportunities in Cambodia three years ago, and predicted a move toward SE Asia by my firm’s multinational partners. Of course nobody cared about what the guy in IT thought ’round the office…

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Even the Thais will insource cheaper Cambodian labor. Last time I visited a seafood plant, most of the workers were imported Cambodians.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I don’t understand GM’s strategy here. Okay,with the “W” Impala gone , the Consolidated plant is history. Thats a given. The Flex plant, on the other hand , is relatively new , all robotic, and high tech. Its all bolted together, so it can be taken apart.

    If GM’s master plan, is to shut Oshawa down, why not just announce it, and do it ? Why go through all the b.s with UNIFOR and the various levels of government ? What if UNIFOR just caves, and agrees to whatever deal GM is offering? Does GM at that point say “sorry Canada/Ontaro and UNIFOR we were just frucking with ya?

    Sounds like pretty crappy P.R.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My guess would be that GM is not at all interested in the PR aspect of this.

      I gravitate toward the reality that GM is in transition to being a more lean and mean automaking machine, from the bloated, unwieldy, waddling giant that GM used to be when GM owned 50% of the market.

      Maybe GM is waiting for Canada and the union to give GM a sweetheart deal. I mean, look at what a sweetheart deal the US gov’t gave GM with the bailouts, handouts and nationalization in 2009.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @mikey – they might be trolling for government handouts. The bait just happens to be UNIFOR jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      The same will they won’t they play was done in Australia by GM as regards Holden. Australian Metal Workers Union, had a huge problem nailing them down on anything.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      You assume GM has a strategy, internally they might be having the same discussions we are having without a consensus.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @HDC…I was at the ratification meeting in 2009. The U.SA. had already bailed GM out. No way was the USA going to let Canada have a free ride. Rightfully so.

    GM at the time made it perfectly clear to Canada, that you guys “pony up” or we take our ball, and go home. Again , rightfully so. The Canadian, and Ontario government , in turn said to the CAW “agree to more concessions, or we don’t write the cheque”

    We agreed begrudgingly so

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Yeah, I remember some of that. It seems like a lifetime ago and yet it has only been 7 years.

      But a lot of things have changed in those 7 years, and not all of them have been good for GM’s shareholders.

      Back in 2007/2008 ttac’s B&B were discussing the upcoming great shakeout of the US auto market.

      It appears now that we’re coming to the end of the great shakeout and we’re witnessing the last standing pieces getting ready to fall.

      Fiatsler’s Sergio is also trolling for all sorts of extra, new perks, so it should come as no surprise that GM is doing the same.

      A lot of this means downsizing, cutting, consolidating and redirection of GM resources.

      I doubt that GM has a firm plan right now. I think GM is throwing pasta against the wall to see what sticks. And whatever sticks, GM will play to the max.

      My guess is more infusion of Canadian funds and a smaller union workforce at a lower pay scale with fewer bennies.

  • avatar
    Whittaker

    Whether or not Oshawa closes is a huge deal for 1000’s of Canadians.
    Thing is…its not a big decision at all for GM honchos.

    Like someone said, GM is backstopped by the US Govt.
    The suits essentially have their salaries guaranteed no matter which way they decide.
    Their reality is…reap the big bonuses during the good times, take govt. money and discard debt during the bad times.
    Not closing/closing Oshawa is on their decision list right after blonde/brunette hooker and Filipino/Latino housekeeper.

    A GM exec only has two big decisions.
    Which bosses to kiss up to and which pols to grease.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    GM didn’t turn Oshawa into Flint; Oshawa did.

  • avatar
    clem151

    GM: “Dear Canada: Thanks for that $3B you gave us when we sucked so bad we had to go bankrupt. We don’t need you anymore, sorry about Oshawa.”

    Sure you can blame the union a bit, but shame on GM.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    I think GM has all but decided that they will close Oshawa, unless a few things happen: (1) UNIFOR comes through with major concessions and (2) governments pony up more funds. (If these 2 conditions are met, they will continue with a small presence in Oshawa beyond 2017.) As a Canadian, I believe our former Prime Minister “screwed up” by only locking in agreement to manufacture in Oshawa for 8 years, based on significant bailouts provided . I’m not currently in automotive industry or a union position, but would like to see GM Oshawa continue, as I believe it is important element to our economy . (I hope that UNIFOR seriously negotiates, as if they don’t, then the plant is definitely done — and threatening a strike will NOT help )


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