What Will GM Announce This Friday in Oshawa?
Yesterday, General Motors issued a release stating it will announce big news in Oshawa on Friday. According to The Star, that announcement will include 1,000 new jobs at GM’s engineering center, which now focuses on driverless and connected vehicles.
However, the announcement comes as uncertainty swirls around GM’s Oshawa Car Assembly Plant, a facility that many analysts believe is slated for closure.
Oshawa, once home to a truck plant and Camaro production, now builds the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Impala Limited, Chevrolet Equinox, Buick Regal, and Cadillac XTS. GM Canada refuses to make any commitments to Oshawa until labor negotiations conclude this summer.
It’s been rumored that Regal production will move to Germany when the next-generation model bows in 2017. The XTS is slated to end production in 2019. That leaves just the Chevrolet Impala, which is also built in Hamtramck, Michigan, and Chevrolet Equinox, which is also built in Ingersoll, Ontario and Spring Hill, Tennessee, at Oshawa Car Assembly beyond 2019. Production of the Chevrolet Impala Limited, a previous-generation model only sold to fleets, ends this month.
At a meeting in London, Ontario last week, Unifor, the union that represents employees working at Detroit Three facilities in Ontario, announced its main focus going into this year’s collective bargaining.
“When we get into bargaining, the number one priority will be maintaining and expanding the footprint of the industry in Canada,” said Chris Taylor, Chair of the Auto Council and the President of Local 200 at the Ford engine plant in Windsor.
“That was the unanimous decision of our members here today.”
The 120 union delegates also agreed to focus on “specific investment mandates for Canada for assembly and powertrain operations,” Unifor stated in the release. The union would not elaborate when asked multiple times by TTAC for details.
Oshawa Assembly is one of two main battleground plants going into this year’s collective bargaining. Fiat-Chrysler’s Brampton plant, which produces the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Challenger, is also rumored to close.
That’s not to say General Motors isn’t investing in Ontario in other ways.
In April, GM purchased a parcel of land in downtown Toronto from a film studio. The land is expected to be converted into a multi-use facility that will house Cadillac’s Canadian HQ and the Toronto GM Mobility Campus.
Last August, GM announced a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line to increase Equinox production, though a larger percentage of that investment went to GM’s Ingersoll plant.
GM could be investing in engineering in Oshawa as a way to placate local residents and governments, which bailed out GM to the tune of $10.8 billion, ahead of a future assembly plant closure.
Former Oshawa mayor John Gray encouraged Canadians to boycott GM if the company eliminates more jobs in Oshawa. The current mayor of the city is a bit more optimistic.
“The only thing I can say is that I’ll be attending the announcement on Friday morning,” mayor John Henry told The Star. “And I’m always keen about the excitement of a General Motors announcement in Oshawa.”
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