Union Head Calls for Trump's Politics in Wake of Canadian GM Plant Layoffs

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Workers at General Motors’ CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, are reeling after the automaker announced the loss of more than 600 jobs.

The unexpected move comes after the facility recently gave up production of the next-generation GMC Terrain to focus solely on the Chevrolet Equinox. The 2018 Terrain’s new home? Mexico.

As expected, the autoworkers’ union is livid, having been told nothing about job losses during the changeover.

The CAMI plant began production of the redesigned 2018 Equinox on January 9. Two years ago, the automaker invested $560 million (CAD) to upgrade the plant in preparation for the new Equinox. While losing a model would worry employees at any plant, the move allowed CAMI to build the full complement of Equinoxes, rather than send some of them to GM’s Oshawa assembly plant for finishing.

Union officials were told, even quite recently, the Equinox’s popularity would protect CAMI’s roughly 3,000 workers.

“I’m shocked, it’s an absolute embarrassment on behalf of GM as far as I’m concerned,” Mike Van Boekel, chairperson of Unifor Local 88, told London’s AM980.

Van Boekel claims GM lied to him and workers at CAMI.

“One hundred percent,” he said. “Lying their heads off. We could use some of Trump’s politics up here right now.”

GM Canada Corporate and Internal Communications manager Jennifer Wright confirmed to TTAC 625 workers in Ingersoll will be laid off in July once the plant stops production of the 2017 model year Equinox. The automaker asserts that the death of the previous-generation Equinox, and not the Terrain’s move to Mexico, is behind the layoffs.

That explanation isn’t likely to placate union leadership.

“It’s absolutely embarrassing how you can take the most efficient plant in North America, we’ve been working six days a week for eight years and done everything we can that they’ve asked us to,” said Van Boekel. “They’ve hired about 600 people in the last year and now they’re going to turn around and tell these people you’re laying them off, I’ve got major problems with that.”

Unifor president Jerry Dias told CTV News the job losses are the result of the “negative impact” of moving the Terrain to Mexico. Dias blamed the situation on the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement he has repeatedly denounced. The union boss says he’s all for U.S. President Donald Trump’s plan to renegotiate NAFTA.

Workers at the CAMI plant were not part of last fall’s Detroit Three contract negotiations. While represented by the same union, the Ingersoll employees are covered by a different collective agreement. Labor bargaining for CAMI workers begins later this year.

The shuttle program ferrying unfinished Equinoxes to Oshawa won’t see any layoffs, Wright said, as the service will switch to bringing in GM pickups from the U.S. for final assembly. That plan came about during bargaining talks last year.

[Image: General Motors Canada]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jan 28, 2017

    "Build a vehicle people want to buy, GM." Isn't that what the Germans said when Trump took on M-B and BMW? If America wants to be competitive in Europe's automarket, build better vehicles.

  • Pdl2dmtl Pdl2dmtl on Jan 28, 2017

    Mark Stevenson - time to close the comments section on this article, it has outlived its useful life.

    • Ect Ect on Jan 28, 2017

      pdl, I entirely agree, an intervention is LONG overdue.

  • Bob65688581 We bought zillions of German cars, despite knowing about WWII slave labor. Refusing to buy something for ideological reasons is foolish.Both the US and the EU have imposed tariffs, so the playing field is level. I'll buy the best price/quality, regardless of nationality.Another interesting question would be "Would you buy one of the many new European moderate-price EVs?" but of course they aren't sold here.Third interesting question: "Why won't Stellantis sell its best products in America?"
  • Freshblather No. Worried there will be malicious executable code built into the cars motherboard that could disable the Chinese cars in the event of hostilities between the west and China.
  • Bd2 Absolutely not - do not want to support a fascist, totalitarian regime.
  • SCE to AUX The original Capri was beautiful. The abomination from the 90s was no Capri, and neither is this.It looks good, but too similar to a Polestar. And what's with the whacked price?
  • Rover Sig Absolutely not. Ever.