By on June 16, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Last week’s General Motors announcement in Oshawa, Ontario felt like an olive branch being extended to the worried community, but workers and the city itself are now asking for the full meal.

The threatened Oshawa Car Assembly plant has no mandate to produce vehicles beyond 2017, and the announcement of 700 high-tech engineering jobs scattered around southern Ontario (and some in the north) didn’t do anything to calm fears of its impending closure.

Now, Oshawa is asking GM CEO Mary Barra to visit the city and meet with stakeholders. According to its city council, if the future is going to be electric, they want those vehicle built locally.

The plant recently lost 1,000 jobs when production of the Chevrolet Camaro moved to Lansing, Michigan, with 2,500 more hanging in the balance if all assembly lines shut down.

GM’s June 10 jobs promise concerned software development for autonomous vehicles and infotainment systems, some of which will come from Oshawa’s engineering center. But Oshawa wants to hear about replacement vehicles for the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS.

The workers’ union, Unifor, has threatened to strike if a commitment isn’t made. Contract negotiations begin in late summer, and are expected to be tense.

Councillor Nancy Diamond, quoted in the Oshawa Express, said “(GM’s) presentation actually caused me great concern.” She called on the city to send a message to the automaker.

“Don’t count us out just because a new economy means a different kind of car,” said Diamond.

Council ultimately passed a motion calling on GM to bring electric vehicle production to the Oshawa plant, and for Barra to come meet with them, the workers, and certain political leaders. GM’s Chevrolet Volt and upcoming 2017 Bolt are both produced in Michigan, so any new electric product would likely come with a lengthy wait.

Unifor president Jerry Dias, who was cautiously optimistic in the wake of last week’s announcement, tried to calm fears.

“We lost the Camaro, the truck plant closed several years ago, so people have the right to be nervous, but we are absolutely determined that we are going to find a solution,” Dias told Metroland Media.

The Oshawa plant began producing Chevrolets in 1907, a decade before the company became part of GM.

[Image: General Motors]

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36 Comments on “Oshawa GM Plant Worries Increase; City Demands EV Production and Meeting With CEO...”


  • avatar

    I want to see more EV.
    I want EV buses, trucks and civilian transportation.
    I want city officials to have them instead of cool cars.

    Everyone should have an EV.

    Except me.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    Unifor’s demands for new product to be built in Oshawa, and demands for improvements in their next contract are directly at odds with each other. Which one are you willing to sacrifice to get the other?

    EVs are still marginally profitable vehicles at best, especially for a company just getting into them, like GM. Build it in a country with a weaker currency, plus higher social and labor costs, and they’ll lose money on every one built for sure.

    If Unifor strikes over getting product to build, it’ll probably be the final straw for GM. They’ll just commit to a new plant in Mexico to replace Oshawa for good. Sadly, the workers in Oshawa will probably be caught in the middle.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. And the workers should ask themselves if Unifor truly represents their interests – namely, keeping their jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      > Build it in a country with a weaker currency

      That a point in Oshawa’s favor though. When the Canadian dollar is low with respect to the US dollar, that is good for manufacturing goods in Canada which will be sold in the US. Granted, this is also a point in Mexico’s favor.

      > higher social and labor costs

      You may be mistaken on this, at least relative to manufacturing in the US. Pro-Canada number crunchers say that labor costs in Canada are comparable with US because of lower wages once the exchange rate is factored in plus the government subsidized healthcare. Again a lot of it comes down to the dollar exchange rate.

      Some big unknowns are what the exchange rate will be in the future, what will happen with energy prices and the carbon cap-and-trade scheme in Ontario, additional costs due to ORPP, and whether the TPP is ratified in both countries.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Okay, they are demanding to know that there is a plan to build something in the plant. That’s pretty reasonable.

    But demanding which products GM is going to build there? Seriously? That’s not something that’s up to the union.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Shut ‘er down.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Duke Show what your made of , come out from behind your keyboard , Maybe show up for shift change tomorrow , carry a placard Big lettering “Shuter down !

      I’m guessing you ain’t got the frucken balls

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Mikey, you should probably direct your anger at those responsible for your dad’s job being in danger, as in your dad’s union demanding a buncha BS like they got a leg to stand on. Duke is just stating the obvious.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          @ john , the situation are far more complex , than a greedy union.

          Duke is not stating the obvious . I took his comment , as just another gutless A$$ h—-. Standing on the sidelines cheering on the loss of 2500 jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            it’s the “f*** you, I’ve got mine!” mentality.

            which works for a while, until they’ve no longer got their. Then they scream and whine about how unfair it is.

            It’s basically the thinking of a sociopath. “Everything good that happens to me is something I richly deserve. Anything bad that happens to me is a horrible injustice and someone else’s fault.”

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Maybe show up for shift change tomorrow , carry a placard Big lettering “Shuter down !”

        Now that’s entertainment!

  • avatar
    Joe Btfsplk

    I hear that Toyota is in negotiations with GM to purchase the whole “New” GM farm, turkeys and all. If that indeed comes to pass, the dust-up is just beginning.

    • 0 avatar
      here4aSammich

      bull$hit. Got any source? I’m sure TTAc would love to break the story.

      • 0 avatar
        Joe Btfsplk

        June 16,2016 article in Leverage Equity Research written by Daniel Muraga. Linked thru the investment newsletter Seeking Alpha.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          @Joe Btfsplk –

          I can’t find any such link to any such paper/article but would life to RE ANY rumors being put out that Toyota is considering/planning to even attempt to purchase General Motors.

          Aside from the regulatory issues (massive in U.S. alone), this would be difficult, to say the least.

          Please provide any links to this research paper/rumor/whatever.

          Thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            Joe Btfsplk

            seekingalpha.com is a financial newsletter. Google it or go to their website for particulars. While they deal mainly with the financial ramifications to the investor, they have insight as to what auto company, dept. store etc. offers investment opportunity to the investor willing to pay attention. Article 3982510

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I know what it is.

            Thanks; here it is:

            http://seekingalpha.com/article/3982510-toyota-make-bid-tm

            This guy is on crack, IMHO. Seeking Alpha is also a whore-ish financial tabloid; like gutter slum stuff.

            He also wrote this: “I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in GM over the next 72 hours.”

            Pump Master Powers, activate!

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Turkeys are what GM is very good at producing.

      (And, to be fair, the occasional screaming eagle or two, but plenty of turkeys!)

  • avatar
    Syke

    “The Oshawa plant began producing Chevrolets in 1907, a decade before the company became part of GM.”

    Unless my memory is slipping, the first Chevrolet was built in 1911.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Oshawa produced McLaughlin Buicks from 1907 to 1918 and, starting 1916, McLaughlin Chevrolets. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLaughlin_(automobile)

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    So, they are demanding that GM builds EV cars with an uncertain market (at best) and razor thin profit margins there in Canada.

    Its like they are begging GM to close the plant. Imagine if you’re sitting in a room full of suits trying to decide the fate of the plant, and some lackey walks in with a memo stating the above. “Well, gentlemen, it looks like our decision has been made for us. Get the guys to work up a statement on how we are forced to close Oshowa due to exceptional circumstances.”

  • avatar

    Unifor: build wall (GM will pay for that) and bring jobs back from South. Make Canada great again.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Ha, I giggled. If GM is willing to make high margin flagship products like the new CT6 in China, what makes them think that GM will let them build low margin electric cars with an uncertain demand?

  • avatar
    clem151

    People seem to forget that Canada gave GM a bunch of money during the bankruptcy. You would think GM would keep at least one plant open in Canada.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    There will be no Oshawa. There will be no EV engineering center – if there is, it will be in a former storage locker at CAMI. Canada is a dead burden market to GM. It is not worth their precious resources.

    If they don’t give a damn about Flint, why would they care about a backwater like Oshawa? Besides, it’s hard to pronounce, unlike Hamtramck, or Mishawaka. GM knows Canadians have routinely made a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    For example, the best built Corvairs were said to come from Oshawa. They didn’t trust LaGrange to build locomotives, so they built them in London, ON. In fact, the the first low cost Chevrolet, the Model 490, was built at the Dominion Carriage Company, at the Corner of Perth & Kingsley Avenues in Toronto during WW-I.

    That leaves St. Catherines which makes push rod engines. and CAMI which makes low margin CUVs. So neither of those are long for this world. A leopard can not change its spots, nor can GM change itself. Never has, never will.

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