By on July 31, 2016

The enduring popularity of the Chevrolet Equinox has led General Motors to some creative manufacturing approaches to keep up with demand. In addition to the crossoverÕs assembly home in Ingersoll, Ontario, GM runs a shuttle system that takes Equinox bodies to Oshawa, Ont., for painting and final production, Image: General Motors Canada

There might be some light at the end of the assembly line for Oshawa — but it will come with a price.

According to the Windsor Star, the plant’s Consolidated Line, which produces the Chevrolet Equinox in an overflow capacity using bodies shuttled from CAMI, won’t get another stay of execution and will certainly close in 2017.

However, a General Motors Canada executive familiar with the negotiations says that closing the Flex Line is not a “foregone conclusion.”

“The line is due to end production sometime in 2017,” said the source who spoke on condition of anonymity with the Windsor Star. “We haven’t said exactly when, but likely mid-year when we end production of the current generation of the Equinox”

GM Canada has postponed closing the Consolidated Line five times during the last eleven years. It was most recently scheduled to shut down in 2016. An announcement last year kept the line open into 2017.

Closing the Consolidated Line will take 750 jobs with it. In total, the Oshawa Assembly facility employs 2,400 hourly workers. The end of Camaro production on the Flex Line in November 2015 resulted in approximately 1,000 layoffs.

GM Canada has openly stated it will make no decisions on its Oshawa Flex Line until union negotiations conclude later this summer. Unifor, the union that represents hourly employees at Oshawa and other Detroit Three plants in Ontario, has promised to make product allocation a strike issue during labor negotiations. Unifor also believes the Consolidated Line can be saved.

“The life of that plant has been extended a few times and I don’t expect that to change,” Unifor president Jerry Dias told the Windsor Star. “There will be overflow from CAMI for several years.”

However, dumping the Consolidated Line to get production allocation for the Flex Line might be the best outcome for hourly employees.

“(The Flex Line) has the ability to come up with amazing solutions; we’re not ruling anything out, but we’ve clearly said that we’re going to end production on the consolidated line next year,” said Windsor Star’s source.

The current four-year contract between Unifor and General Motors expires September 19. Negotiations begin August 10.

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50 Comments on “Oshawa Will Lose ‘Doomed’ Consolidated Line in 2017: Report...”


  • avatar
    Michael McDonald

    Hopefully as many jobs as possible can be spared. Seeing as this is GM… I have my doubts.

    ^^ Sorry if I’m out of line, but is that necessary? We have a great community on the board and lost two great members of it. Annoying as they were it was something almost to look forward to. End rant.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      But what a fool believes he sees
      No wise man has the power to reason away
      What seems to be
      Is always better than nothing
      There’s nothing at all.

    • 0 avatar

      I deleted it.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        What happened?

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t know what happened but I can tell ya this… Most of the fun of hanging out around here has dissipated.

          I regular about six different websites daily. Some days I’m too busy to get to the whole list and I miss a few. If I’m busy enough, I might not get to #5 or #6 for a week. TTAC has been #2 on my list for a long time, right after I get done with Matt Drudge. But coming here is not #2 any more. More like #4 and headed towards #5. It’s just not a lot of fun to be here right now.

          • 0 avatar
            Paragon

            For me, a really busy day means I have to take care of many other things and I don’t even get on the ‘net once. My thought is this. We until recently had a few regular posters with their own unique style, who I feel the need to point out, never offended nor irritated me once over all the years I’ve been coming here. I’ll admit there may have been a few serious transgressions that I was unaware of. But it appears somebody, or more than one somebody, by virtue of complaining to management, was able to silence one or more voices I used to – usually- enjoy hearing from. And, now, all of us are subject to more stringent guidelines we must follow or else. What bothers me about all this is that it ends up being the complainers who are able to wield more power over all of us than those of us who never complained and didn’t feel a need for increased censorship. We now have to deal with the changed online experience brought about by the complainer(s). This is almost sort of a political or societal commentary. I’ll go so far as to say I wonder if perhaps the complainer or complainers need to identified so we all can be aware of who is perhaps a little bit TOO sensitive to sharing from others that they don’t like. Somebody anonymous wielding enormous power over all of us GREATLY BOTHERS ME! At the same time, I acknowledge that the guidelines for participation on this site have recently been published for all to see and follow. If infractions occur, then I do understand that.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            I completely disagree. After Mark established a policy of *enforced* standards I saw interesting and informed commenters who had been sitting it out return. (Looking at danio and tres in particular.) If the main cost of that is loosing out on dog whistle political comments interspersed with self promotion, I’m calling it a HUGE win. Jack gets a pass, because he only seasons enormously entertaining and informative well written storys with the whistles and self blown horns.

          • 0 avatar
            cornellier

            Last I checked Drudge was a gossip monger and conservative populist. TTAC isn’t great but it’s not that. Please elaborate on how your opinion might be of interest to intelligent folk.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I have no problems with anyone wanting to discuss any topic.
            Politics are a hot button item for many but we can discuss it without personal attacks.
            Hijacking a thread for personal gain can not happen.

            We have had a few “high profile” incidents were rules of order have been posted. They have been discussed and I doubt there are many that disagree.

            Freedom and free speech comes with responsibility. I can’t impinge on another persons rights when exercising mine.

            We tend to forget that this site isn’t “free”. We are all granted the privilege of posting here.

          • 0 avatar

            05lgt:

            “I completely disagree. After Mark established a policy of *enforced* standards I saw interesting and informed commenters who had been sitting it out return. (Looking at danio and tres in particular.)”

            Well, here’s a quote from a post tresmonos left back on May 11th about jobs returning to the old Jeep factory site in Toledo:

            “Superdessucke, your facts are all jacked up. ‘Your’ OEM’s employ more Americans than Honda and Toyota. All OEM’s leverage global supply bases and manufacturing footprints.

            You’re a f*cking idiot and clearly don’t understand economics.”

            And that’s what you’re happy to have back. When was the last time BTSR called someone a fing idiot?

            And I hope that wasn’t what got him banned. I’d be both surprised and greatly disappointed.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            WhiskeyRiver:
            I apologized for that unwarranted attack / rant. You and Superdessucke had the penchant to fellate donald trump on this site. Thank god for Mark’s new set of guidelines or you two would continue to pollute the comment section with political opinion.

            You appear incapable of letting bygones be bygones. In that spirit, I’m going to go back to trolling you for your lack of contribution. Every time I make the mistake of reading your tripe, I’m going to counter it. Fair is fair, right? You just trolled me, now you’ve opened the door for equal treatment.

            Your posts bring little value added content; only off color sexist remarks and vapid opinions.

            You’re lucky I skim over your posts most of the time.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            Politics is relevant, at times. TTAC even had a column about Trump and Hillary and what the election’s impact will be on automobile industry. When you’re talking about auto manufacturing, politics often dove tails into the discussion.

            It is unfortunate that some people seem to be unable to have a civilized discussion about that.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Nothing too exciting, just someone doing a BigTruck-style “HELLCAT” comment.

          I tend to agree with Mark and MM on this one. The HELLCAT!!! jokes got old two months ago and now that BigTruck is gone there is no need to dance on his grave.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not sure what happened but some of the most inflammatory things over the past few years have been left posted (after being officially condemned) for the sake of posterity and dialog.

        • 0 avatar

          But doesn’t this kinda reek of the Bertel era where anybody that got under his skin was just gone in a flash?

          It feels like history is repeating itself here.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Unfortunately I have to agree. I suppose if whatever went on was extremely offensive but ehhh…

            …slippery slope and all…

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Bertel was capricious and random. He ruled TTAC like his personal sandbox.

            Mark, on the other hand, laid out a set of rules which we all agreed was fair. Then he appointed 2 moderators, whom everyone agreed were strong choices.

            I didn’t see what BTSR posted, but I assume he went over the line. BTSR was pretty belligerent of late, and especially disrespectful to Mark and the site.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            If this was the case so be it, but unless it was riddled with expletives or otherwise extremely offensive I see no reason to delete the posts in question (even then I wouldn’t delete but I could see the logic). No need to remove problem -> resolution when doing what you promised.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            no, because under the Reign of Bertel bannings were capricious and often arbitrary. The people who have recently been shown the door were given multiple notices that they were on thin ice.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      It’s an election year everyone; and it is only going to get worst before November comes and goes, and things somewhat return to what is normal around here.

      I used to be an active participant on a local history board. There was a sub-forum for Technology and History; and that was basically my area. We had a wide range of folks of various political strips, many with something to add to the discussion, just like we have here.

      Unfortunately, there was a politics sub-forum as well; and along came the first Obama election, followed by the second. Everyone lost their minds; I could go through the forum list and pretty much tell you who was going to pull the “D” lever and who was going to pull the “R” lever, but everyone acted like the world was going to come to an end if you did not vote their way.

      The vitriol destroyed the entire board. Nobody who was involved wanted to log on to be insulted, while it was no longer fun for the other participants. Everyone walked away; what little activity there was died with the second Obama election. A few folks included myself tried to half-heartedly get the board going again, to no avail; the mojo and most of the participants were gone. It was a freeforum.org board, and they finally dropped it this year due to lack of activity.

      I can through the active members of this forum, and for the most part guess who is going to vote how. There is nothing I or anyone else can say to change anyone’s mind; not to mention they have probably already heard it 100,000 before, on Facebook, in their e-mail, etc.

      So I don’t talk politics here or much on Facebook, and I try to show at least some moderation when it comes to religion. I wish everyone would see things that way, but they don’t. So just hang in there everyone (moderators included), November will be here soon enough. The world won’t end no matter who gets elected; and life will return to the craziness that is normal here and elsewhere.

  • avatar
    here4aSammich

    Sadly, the higher cost of building cars in Canada combined with the current value of the Canadian dollar means Oshawa is in a tough spot. Production at Oshawa can be moved just about anywhere else and produce a better ROI. Then throw in the coming contract talks and Unifor’s refusal to see reality, and it’s even bleaker for the employees there.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Thank you for returning the discussion to the article at hand. All this talk about an annoying someone who got himself banned is not particularly relevant.
      I have relatives in Ontario and other parts of Canada. A cousin’s husband used to build the “new” Camaros and Firebirds, or perhaps parts for them, around 1980 or so. He was always worried about the economy and whether his fairly well-paying job would last or not. That’s just the nature of the business; the workers know that when they get hired. They just have to do their job well and hope for the best.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Sad to hear about Oshawa

  • avatar
    redapple

    My comment was so bad it had to be zapped.
    But, BTSR goes on and on over and over again for 200 different comments that were published.

    OK. You got me. I ll straighten up.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “BTSR goes on and on over and over again for 200 different comments that were published.”

      BTSR is banned now.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        How do you know that? Serious question. I am assuming CJinSD was banned as well awhile ago. BTSR was a blowhard but I kind of like having him here…

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        Likewise, I was late to read this article so I’m unaware of what I missed. Apparent violation of newly instituted policy and procedures.

      • 0 avatar
        redliner

        “BTSR is banned now”

        How did I miss that? Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen his comments durring the last few days.

        I think this is for the best. I want TTAC to be the kind of place where highly informed, intelligent industry insiders share knowledge and expertise that I can’t get from mainstream outlets. Political or highly divisive speech does not attract those people. I can get self promotion and boasting anywhere.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Canadian dollar is low which reduced production costs in Ontario. Also Oshawa has a reputation for high quality assembly.

    However there are some strikes against it.
    1) The fact that although there is a surplus of electricity in Ontario and the Oshawa plant is positioned in between two local nuclear power stations, the provincial government has increased electricity costs to the point that they are among the highest in North America. A ludicrous position and a costly one for manufacturers.
    2) Once GM reduced legacy costs for its workers and retirees in the USA the production costs in the US became nearly equal to those in Ontario. Previously the Ontario plants had a serious cost advantage because the employer was not responsible for health care costs. In Ontario (and Canada) there is universal health care and the cost to the employer is generally limited to a small mandatory payroll deduction.
    3) The Canadian Auto Workers (CAW and now Unifor) made a serious miscalculation when under the egomaniacal, publicity hound Bob White and his equally obtuse successor Buzz Hargrove they split and remained split from the UAW. This put them into a position of competing for jobs with the UAW. Naturally US politicians assisted the UAW in putting pressure on to have jobs transferred from Canada to the USA. This would not have happened if the Canadian Auto Workers had remained part of the UAW.

    hEllCAt?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Good analysis.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @Arthur Daily…..Your pont 1) ….Agreed 100 percent . Point 2) ?? I think we still have a significant Health care cost advantage. As an hourly retiree , my health care benefits are covered under a similar plan to the UAW “VEBA”., and yes ,i pay a monthly premium, as do the active employees…

      Point 30) in 82 when Bob White won us Costly Of Living Allowance, as opposed to the profits sharing plan that our UAW brothers settled for, Bob was a hero. In 84 when Bob went toe, toe with GM, and the UAW, and settled after 3 weeks, it was rumoured that Bob could walk on water. {if you have never seen “Final Offer” its available on You Tube, it is quite interesting )

      Bob went off to form the CAW, and yes it turned out to big a big mistake. Classic case of “short term gain for long term pain” For the first 22 years ,or so ,it was very lucrative to us.After that ?? not so much. I believe in 2012 the CAW should have gone back to the UAW, hat in hand, and tail between their legs, and ask to be let back in.

      But i’m old retired guy, and my opinion means squat.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        mikey, your opinion carries a lot of weight here. this post alone taught me a bit about the UAW/CAW split.

        it has been interesting to see some of the new hires in my shop. During the first 30 days, most were just thankful to be employed at a wage above their previous employers (even at the tier 2 wage rate). Now most are seething with anger that they aren’t making as much as the person next to them with seniority.

        Sometimes I struggle to remain positive about my workforce. I think everyone needs to hold onto their perspective. I don’t think our economy is healthy enough for short sighted mindsets.

        Skilled trades wise, my local does have a few work rules that are surprisingly favorable for efficiency. That and I have done a large amount of work during shutdowns that I would have been grieved in a heart beat up north. So it’s not all doom and gloom. I think underneath it all everyone is more cognizant that we’re all in this fight together. Especially those who were working 15 years ago.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          a long time ago I was one of those who joked about union work rules, until I worked for a company which put on displays at trade shows. It was then that I learned why many of those work rules exist. like, “*snerk* stupid union says I need an electrician to plug my display into an outlet.”

          Me: “Because if you plug in your barely-working piece of s**t prototype display and trip the breaker feeding that branch, the electricians have to stop working on setup and now go troubleshoot why it went down. If the electricians plug it in and it goes down, they know it’s your equipment.”

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Arthur –
      I totally agree with you on points 1 and 2. As for Ontario energy costs, we are talking 18 cents (Ontario) / kWh vs 7 cents (Southern USA).

      When you have a body and paint shop that suck down enough energy to power up a 60,000 population town, energy can burden your variable/fixed cost per unit (mixed CPU). In terms of straight up variable CPU, Ontario isn’t too far off. The one advantage USA big 2.5 OEM plant’s gained is the buying off the healthcare costs of the rank and file.

      Is the costs due to taxes or energy production? I have edited this post as I am obtuse when it comes to Canadian politics.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      Ontario auto plants are straight-jacketed by high taxes, crippling energy and environmental costs with more to come, and an intransigent union that enjoys favorable labor laws and enforcement. With no prospect of relief from self-serving governments they are fleeing to Worker Choice jurisdictions. GM has closed several local facilities. The Oshawa plant is a shadow of its former greatness and will undoubtedly shrink again. Ford has closed several factories including the St. Thomas plant and refused to locate a new engine plant in Windsor. Chrysler is a big question mark. How long will Honda and Toyota tolerate the nonsense?

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Oshawa has been in the limelight for some time now about the the money thrown at it to keep it open and its demise.

    I do believe there comes a point when taxpayer handouts and subsidies just don’t deliver enough value. This is the case with some types of manufacturing, read auto industry.

    Even though the Canadians are on a lower income, it still costs more to produce in Canada.

    There will be many battles in the near to mid term to protect unskilled and semi skilled jobs in manufacturing. Many of these jobs are going to be redundant. People had better start to look for alternative education and job opportunties.

    From what I’m reading most jobs will be significantly different over the next two decades. Get used to it.

    The world is changing, strike action and other forms of anxiety will not alter the course we are heading in.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Where is the new Equinox scheduled to be built?

    With the plethora of vehicles within GM that are built on iterations of similar platforms I think there would be value in a flex line of some kind that could build the Lambda successor or the Impala and LaCrosse or something.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I’d like to, respectfully of course; hear what Mikey has to say about all this.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Okay. I’ll , I’ve been following. First off., as others have mentioned , Mark made the rules, and the consequences perfectly clear. As far as i am concerned, thats that, and, we’ll move on.

    So, an executive at GM leaked to the press, that shutting.,down Oshawa Flex, was not a given. Right?… I call B.S. “the leak” is all part of GM’s game plan. Preliminary talks “tire kicking” as they call it, start on the 10th of August. No way, is someone at a senior level at GM going to risk his career , to talk to the Windsor Star. As late as January 2016, when asked by Prime Minister Trudeau “what the plan was for GM Oshawa,” Mary Barra, wasn’t willing to show her hand. However, now its August, and GM just threw that little nugget out there, to test the water.

    The” consolidated line ” ,just as the name suggests, was cobbled together, back in 2007-08 out of the remnants of plant #2..”W” car. …# 1 “W” car plant was gutted, back to the studs, while they put the Flex Plant together. At the time, it was figured, maybe we will get 3 years out of it ? It would be a gross under
    statement , to say that a “few things ” might have changed at GM since the 2007-2008 era. When the last”W” fleet Impala rolled of the line in June of 16, that was the beginning of the end. Shuttling Equinox bodys, down the 401, as the sole product of an assembly line, just does nor make economic sense. So news of Consolidated being axed, is hardly earth shattering.

    The Flex, as once again, the name suggests , is indeed “flexible” all new and modern, with a contagious stamping plant next door. Some new, some older, retrofitted presses . The stamping plant at one point, was feeding “outer metal” fenders, doors , body sides, roofs , hoods etc, enough to run plant #1 and Plant #2, and a good percentage of Truck metal, fenders , hoods, floor pans, doors and box sides. Lots of stamping capacity, with a fairly modern automated ,storage and retrieval system.

    That all being said, while the Flex can produce just about anything, its not as easy as pulling a lever, and churning out a whole new configuration. A lot preliminary work involving Die sets , tooling adjustments etc requires a fair bit of lead time.

    Right ,so this great secret as to “is GM going to close Oshawa, or not” isn’t such a great secret anymore. I’m hearing from many sources , that the activity level ,re- new product , is turning up a notch or two ????. When more than one party, knows a secret, it ain’t a secret for too much longer.

    Wth all the behind the scenes activity going on, its stands to reason, that GM might just let a little leak out, before the Dam bursts, and all the info comes spewing out.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Was the Flex named after its level of body rigidity?

      If so, previous Ford models could have been according to their quality characteristics: the Squeak GT, Backfire RS, EngineFire, Rollover or simply the Ford Rattler.

      (That last one would be good on a Southwest Desert version of the Raptor.)

    • 0 avatar
      Paragon

      Mikey, in case I hadn’t yet said so to you, I have enjoyed hearing your own personal industry observations for quite some time – as in many years. Have only recently chosen to register and comment. Personally, I applied to one or more Detroit automakers back in 1976, as being an auto enthusiast I wanted to work in the industry. But, perhaps because of an Ohio address and phone number, I never heard back from them. Prior to that seems like I got a plant tour at Ford and also at Buick. I went on to join the military within the year, and put in 4 years of Active Duty followed by 6 years of weekend-warrior Reserve Duty. And, went on to work in retail and other industries.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      mikey – thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      than you, mikey.

      So all that is really missing on site is body shop capacity. It sounds like the stamping plant has had open capacity for close to a decade.

      One thing that I always keep in mind is how quickly facilities can be overshadowed by variable and fixed costs. I’ve seen two plants get bulldozed with new body and paint shops. Norfolk’s body shop hadn’t even been completely commissioned.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Thanks for posting mikey. I, and I know countless others, appreciate your insights on manufacturing, Oshawa, and CAW/UAW/Unifor topics.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Thanks….I’ve been working,on punctuation, grammar , and sentence structure. It was getting late last night, and I just hit the submit button….Should have proof read, a little more carefully .

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      My approach is to write the post and hit “submit” and then go back and “click to edit” to proofread my comment.

      Regardless, Mikey, your comments are consistently worth wading through a little grammatical license.


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