By on August 29, 2016

 

President for the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers north of the border says he has learned from past contract battles, and won’t make the same mistake this time.

Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, promises that no contract deal will be ratified without firm product commitments, including at General Motors’ endangered Oshawa assembly plant. If GM intends to shut that operation down, a Canada-wide strike is virtually guaranteed.

Yesterday, Canadian autoworkers voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike action against the Detroit Three automakers “if a fair and reasonable settlement is not reached before the September 19th deadline.”

The slow bleed of products away from Canada, GM especially, has Unifor drawing a line in the sand.

Speaking to GMInsideNews, Dias said, “Four years ago we ratified without striking and they took the Camaro away from Oshawa, three years before that we ratified without striking and they took the truck plant away.”

The loss of the Camaro to Michigan killed 1,000 jobs in Oshawa, and the closure of the truck plant in the depths of the recession saw another 2,500 jobs leave. Now, Unifor faces the potential loss of all GM assembly operations in that city as product dries up.

“Every time we ratify without striking they have taken product away,” Dias said. “I’m not going to play nice in the sandbox this time while they close another one of our assembly plants.”

Next week will see the union decide which automaker offers the best plan before heading into the final stretch of negotiations.

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35 Comments on “No More Mr. Nice Guy, Says Canadian Detroit Three Union Boss on Strike Chances...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Despite the fact I see his logic, methinks Jerry is going to end up with egg on his face.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Instead of striking, Unifor should negotiate the best severance packages they can, given the likelihood that Oshawa will close.

    Inflicting pain through a strike is a pretty hollow victory.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Perhaps this simply is a Hail Mary for Canadian gov’t intervention?

      If GM wants to pull out of Canada then it won’t care much about a strike. GM also doesn’t care much about its competition, or their Canadian presence. This hurts Chrysler the most as they are not in a financial position to pull out of Canada, I suspect Ford is if it had too.

      • 0 avatar

        The Feds don’t seem interested. They’ve been willing to extend the loan based Automotive Innovation Fund, but not rework it into a far more attractive grant based program.

        And even if they were willing, it would take some kind of special lube to ram that through with just 3 weeks to termination.

        Edit: Ford’s bought into Ontario, investing significantly back in ’13, and Oakville’s home to the Edge/Flex/MKX/MKT.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I could see Unifor magically extending its deadline if your gov’t got involved (assuming this is a play for intervention of course).

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Edge and MKX could easily be diverted to Chicago, especially now that MKS is gone (its replacement built in Flat Rock, Mi) and Taurus, Flex and MKT staring down death’s door.

          Chicago could handle Edge/MKX easily, since the only other product it builds is Explorer and its Police version (aside from Taurus, which as I said, may not be long for our market). But, good point about their recent investment in Oakville, who knows what will happen?

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            No they can’t be “easily” diverted to Chicago. 86% of Chicago volume goes to U502 alone, the plant does not have the room or capacity to bring in a high volume vehicle like the Edge. The equipment is already overloaded as it is as well as being completely outdated. The next significant update to Chicago won’t be until 2019 for the 2020 vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I suspect that the day GM decides to close Oshawa altogether is the day they decide that they don’t want to sell vehicles in Canada anymore, either.

      That will drive both GM and Unifor to some sort of compromise. Maybe after a strike, maybe not.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The more I look into it, the more I think you’re right.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Canada

        Save XTS and Regal, most of the other product is also made elsewhere except the Equinox which is apparently only built at CAMI. RenCen might be playing with fire here unless the new Nox is ready to go being assembled in another location.

        If we take the Nox/GMC clone out of the mix, we only have XTS (which can be imported from Shanghai) and Regal (which could be imported from Opel or just not built at all). If RenCen were going to make a move, the time would be about now. CAMI isn’t a very old plant though, it seems odd GM could consider curtailing it.

        • 0 avatar
          scwmcan

          Actually CAMI’s contract doesn’t expire until (I think) next year,a byproduct of the old Suzuki tie-up. As far as I know ir is only Oshawa as St. Catharines power train that are affected by this contract deadline for GM. St. Catharines actually has slightly more leverage than Oshawa at this point ( I would argue that really the only leverage between the two plants is the V8 engine, though it may be hard to make up even the v6 as 6 speed transmission volumes with other plants).

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ 28…Yes indeed . they will extend the contract. I just can’t see GM being picked as target. FCA , and Ford, seem more likely?

    IMHO, yes , of course they’re looking for gov’t intervention.. Why not ? Its not as if every other, state, province , or municipal gov’t , Japanese, German, American, Canadian , French, all, have not subsidized/bailed out, the Auto, and every other major industry. Is such intervention right? Well, thats a matter of great debate.

    My guess, and its only a guess ? After FCA, and Ford have settled, and then after a lot of gnashing of teeth, and brinkmanship GM and Unifor, and the two levels of government, will settle. The “consolidated line” is gone.” Thats a given .Flex” will pick up some sort of SUV..

    This situation is ever fluid. Anything,and I mean anything , is possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      mikey,
      Just because other nations are using tax dollars from more profitable ventures to use in unprofitable ventures doesn’t mean all should do this. Government intervention in a business is not on.

      It will be sad if these auto workers lose out, but the ever changing industrial environment has gone on through out history. It will take time, but in the end things work out.

      These continual short term packages just don’t add up.

      UNIFOR has to come to it’s senses and realise Canada is not a profitable place to make cars, like Australia, and our country has not fallen over ….. yet.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Maybe the little parasite monkey could start its own car company and compete.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Ignoring all the typical fodder associated with parasites, the auto industry has such a high cost of entry that it’s simply not realistic to start a car company.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    This puts GM management in an enviable position. They’ve got little reason to remain in Canada. The costs are high, the regulations are onerous, the currency isn’t as relentlessly diluted as the USD or Yuan, the union is run by delusional time travelers, and their products aren’t particularly popular. Pulling out could collapse their Canadian market share, which is about the only downside. Now, the union is offering to take that risk off the table by greatly hindering the production of their two biggest competitors in the US market, ensuring that they can grow their US market share to more than make up for the loss of Canadian sales. Thanks Jerry!

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I get that you have an anti-union bias, but this is frankly delusional.

      In my years as a senior executive manufacturing companies with operations in both Canada and the US, I didn’t see any significant difference in the overall regulatory burden. Similarly, I didn’t see any significant difference in overall operating costs. Some costs (e.g. health insurance, p&c insurance, environmental compliance)are significantly higher in the US, as is corporate income tax. Real estate is typically more expensive in Canada, along with certain categories of operating costs.

      The decline in the C$ resulting from lower oil prices has also reduced GM’s costs of operating in Canada by about 20% compared to the US.

      Whether or not the C$ is “relentlessly diluted as the USD” suggests some crackpot economic theory we’re likely better of not hearing, or would listen to only for its entertainment value.

      Suggesting that GM has some magical opportunity to grow their US sales in the near term by more than their entire Canadian sales base is…..well, see first sentence above.

      The proof of the pudding is in the eating. In the past few years, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler and Ford have all invested a lot of money in their Canadian manufacturing operations. If GM’s Canadian operations are suffering when those of its competitors are not, that’s more likely to have something to do with GM’s management.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Sweet.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        GM’s perspective on regulatory burdens is grounded in China, not the US or Canada. GM sells less than 10% as many vehicles in Canada as in the US. Increasing US market share as FCA and Ford have supply issues could more than offset that loss.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          GM’s current options for NA vehicle manufacturing are Canada and the US. Your comment is an effort at deflection.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            And a dumb one at that because how likely is it he knows more about the Chinese regulatory environment than you do?

            This is fun.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The Buick Envision stands in conflict with your assertion, being a NA offering made in China. If buyers accept it, look for China to replace additional NA capacity going forward.

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “GM’s perspective on regulatory burdens is a grounded in China, not the US or Canada.”

          With GMNA sales nearly equal to their Chinese sales, either you’re wrong or GM’s stupid (not mutually exclusive).

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            What does NA sales volume have to do with the 3.6 million vehicles GM will make in China over the next twelve months? GM knows how low regulatory costs can be based on their experiences in places like China and Thailand. They’d know it if they built 5,000 cars a year in China and five million a year here.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is great. Until now, I’ve never found anyone else outside of a GM press release who claimed that GM was doing well in Thailand.

            Of course, that may be because it isn’t true.

            http://fortune.com/2015/02/27/after-indonesia-retreat-gm-retrenches-in-thailand-too/

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Does this mean you don’t have any control over your dishonesty? Have you ever participated in an argument with another person, or do you just make up straw-men and argue with yourself?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Just a hint, CJ: If you stopped making comments that were so easily torpedoed with a single link to a legitimate source, then you would be embarrassed less often.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Find where I said GM was doing well in Thailand. Get it? I said they’ve assembled cars there, so they know that not every country requires a regulatory compliance apparatus bigger than some universities.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Thailand does not provide wonderful teachable moments for GM except for the fact that it couldn’t compete against the Japanese there.

            I’m pretty sure that you didn’t know that Thailand has an 80% import tariff on passenger cars, in addition to excise taxes that start at a rate of 25%. Pickup trucks dominate the market because they are taxed at lower rates.

            But sure, you keep on thinking that Thailand is a less regulated market. It’s not as if you need to have facts interfere with your positions.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Is a closed market the same thing as tightly regulated employment or tightly regulated manufacturing? Is that what you think? Your educators failed.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Taxes as usual tell the story, but I thought I read some time ago the 4×4 crew cab trucks were also popular as a do-it-all vehicle for Thai families.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            CJ, I’m pretty sure that you don’t know a damned thing about Thai regulations or how they compare to those of any other nation.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Pch101,
            What about retenchments and plant modernisation?

            As robotics take control you WILL lose jobs. A lot of people blame the Chinese for job losses, but the Chinese have lost over 30 million jobs in the past decade as well.

            If the OECD nations were smart along with those Luddites that control the union movement, they would embrace robotics and plant modernisation and the associated the job losses that improve productivity. Productivity is what makes up competitive, not just wages.

            Competition must be fair. Do you expect the US Olympians to be given a handicap because they are American? I doubt it. So how can other competitive areas be any different.

            You just can’t “keep a job” because it makes you feel bad if it is lost. Jobs and types of jobs have been changing since man first walked the planet.

            Unions must realise they don’t own the company. If unions were that good at business North American car comapanies would be UNIFOR, UAW, etc.

            Unions must keep up with the modernisation of the world.

            Subsidies, handouts, prohibitive import tariffs and other forms of protection don’t really protect at the end of the day.

            No one owns their job. If people want to keep their jobs they must look at how to enhance their abilities to remain an asset for a company, or lose out.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Do people up north really car where their cars are made, most folks down here in the US do not, If GM closed their plant would the regular Joe not buy a GM car, I get it would put a big hurt in the GTA area and maybe their marketshare would take a hit there, and that is a maybe but would folks across Canada buy a Ford truck instead of a GM truck? I hope they can cut a deal that works for everyone and the jobs are saved but not sure I am buying if GM closes the plant their marketshare will be wiped out.

    • 0 avatar
      dash riprock

      For the most part no, people do not really care. An issue like GM closing a plant will bring out the economic nationalists to threaten boycotts etc as suggested by media and politicians.
      I always find it amusing to ask them why boycott manufacturers who have invested in Canada when there are others like Nissan, VW, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi, Mercedes who have never invested in Canada’s manufacturing base. Then to further amuse myself ask them what type of vehicles are parked in their driveways.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      Most folks don’t care, but there are people (my Father included) who will only buy from NA Manufacturers still. I try to point out there’s a lot of “foreign” brands manufactured here as well, but he doesn’t want to listen.

      I suspect the same is true for some south of the border.

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