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

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Mikey Mikey on Aug 29, 2016

    @ 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.

    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Aug 30, 2016

      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.

  • JD321 JD321 on Aug 30, 2016

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

    • Redav Redav on Aug 30, 2016

      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.

  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Aug 30, 2016

    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!

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    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Aug 30, 2016

      @Old Man Pants 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.

  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Aug 30, 2016

    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.

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    • Orenwolf Orenwolf on Aug 30, 2016

      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.