By on August 28, 2017

cami-assembly factory circa 2013

Unifor Local 88 just loaded its strike gun. Workers at General Motors’ Ingersoll, Ontario, assembly plant voted on Sunday to enact a strike if no labor agreement can be reached by next month. The union, which represents the CAMI factory employees, said 99.8 percent of workers at the plant voted for the strike authorization.

Negotiations started in July as GM announced it would lay off about 400 Ingersoll-based workers — resulting from the automaker’s previous decision to shift production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico. Unifor estimates roughly 200 workers took early retirement packages earlier this year.

About 2,450 hourly workers will be employed at the plant following the layoffs, as well as about 300 salaried workers. Now, the strike vote threatens the sole remaining model produced in Ingersoll — a strategically important one for GM.

Workers at the CAMI facility began producing the 2018 Chevrolet Equinox in January. The newly downsized crossover competes in what is perhaps the hottest automotive segment, facing massive competition from every other automaker.

“The membership took an important step today to support the Bargaining Committee,” Unifor Local 88 President Dan Borthwick said in an official statement. “The vote today sends a clear message to GM that the members stand behind the bargaining committee and the proposals that Unifor Local 88 put forward on behalf of the membership.”

In an earlier interview with CTV News, Borthwick also expressed his concerns for the well-being of the small town. “We’re going through a tough time,” he said. “[The layoffs] are a blow to our plant and the community of Ingersoll.”

cami assembly factory

Speaking with Automotive News earlier this month, Unifor President Jerry Dias said the union’s top priority in its negotiations with GM was to secure jobs for the laid off workers. However, Union leaders have also said the bargaining committee will not accept any deals without the company addressing shop floor issues, improved wages with benefits, and new investment at the plant to replace the Terrain.

“GM has done very well in the four years since the last round of negotiations, with both shareholders and executives profiting,” Mike Van Boekel, chair for Local 88, said in an earlier statement. “At the GM Cami facility they have made more than $2 billion per year. It’s time for the workers to be rewarded.”

Boekel added that workers have been on mandatory overtime, working six days a week, since 2009, meeting all production and quality targets of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover. “The current corporate practice of whipsawing one plant against another, one country against another, must stop,” he said.

GM Canada concluded talks with its other Unifor plants in September of 2016. Those workers received pay increases, a higher starting wage for new hires, and a signing bonus. It also pledged a new vehicle for its Oshawa assembly plant, and made 700 temporary jobs permanent.

[Images: General Motors]

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33 Comments on “General Motors Employees Authorize Strike in Ontario, Start Countdown...”

  • avatar

    Why trickle this out,milder by piece, GM and Ford?

    Just move all factories for all vehicles from the U.S. and Canada, whether they assemble passenger cars, CUVs, SUVs or pickup trucks to Mexico, China, Thailand, Cambodia, India, etc. all at once.

    An increasing number of your suppliers that make components for your F150s, Silverados, RAMs, Tahoes, Explorers, Encores, Enclaves, Escalades, Edges, Equinoxes, Escapes, etc are already located in the developing countries, so why even fake it anymore?

  • avatar

    “It’s time for the workers to be rewarded.”

    Did the employees not get paid a salary? That was their reward.

    • 0 avatar

      Further, I assume this “mandatory overtime” (as much as it sucks) was 1.5-2x normal wage. Overtime is its own reward.

      • 0 avatar

        The agreement we have in Oshawa is 1.5 hrs for Saturday, +5% for evening shift..Sunday production is very rare, and it pays 2 X plus %5 shift premium….I once worked 28 days straight.

        I helped pay 2 kids through university with that money..Yes, O.T does have it own rewards. O.T also eats a big chunk of your life…Today, with two successful kids I guess it was worth it.

        • 0 avatar

          Hell, my three kids eat such a big chunk of my life that I seek out overtime just to get away from them. My work is far less stressful than my kids.

          OT is its own reward in more ways than one.

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like they’re looking for a bit of job security to me.

  • avatar

    So…they’re striking to protest Hecho En Mexico.


  • avatar

    In a colossal show of force Unifor also went on strike at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant. Then, just days after Indiana passed the right-to-slave law, the locomotive frame assembly trunnion/fixture was moved – and you can’t build locomotives without that. Bravo Unifor.

  • avatar

    Times have changed..? I know I’m “out of the loop” when need to get Union/GM news from TTAC. Doesn’t seem that long ago when it was the other way around ; )

    • 0 avatar

      You were and are my Canadian Union source , not sure what they are asking for, it seems this plant has been on GM cutting board for sometime mainly due to cost I think but they have always put out a good product, it what they are asking for fair or does it not matter , unless GM gets what it wants they are doomed to a smaller ad smaller piece of the GM pie.

  • avatar

    We don’t have any good models and there’s not much work? Let’s strike!
    We have one of GM’s hottest models and we have tons of OT? Let’s strike!

    GM threatens to pull manufacturing out of Canadia because labor costs are too high?
    Strike for MOAR WAGEZ!
    GM agrees to keep manufacturing in Canadia, make 700 temp. jobs permanent and promise new models for our plant?
    Strike for EVEN MOAR WAGEZ!

    Rightly or wrongly, this move cements is the RenCen Overmind all their perceptions about Unions that make them want to move production to Mexico or to the Southern States.

  • avatar

    Just so everyone is on the same page..The CAMI.. UNIFOR/GM collective agreement is totally separate from the rest of the GM, Ford, FCA, four year agreement signed in 2016. Under Ontario Labour law, Local work stoppages (strike and lockout) are illegal during the life of the collective agreement.

    CAMI Ingersoll …Was set up in a similar package that was created for Saturn Tennessee..I’m not 100 percent sure , but I believe they run about 10-15 percent behind us as far as wages and benefits go.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Mikey is correct. Ontario labour law is quite different from that in the USA. A local/bargaining unit/union cannot go on strike when there is a valid contract.

      Nor can it go on strike unless it has conducted a strike vote.

      So holding an vote and getting a strike mandate from its members is a negotiating tactic for the union. It demonstrates that ‘they mean business’ when entering into negotiations. The union must get approval from 50% +1 of those voting.

      Ingersoll was originally a GM/Suzuki joint operation. Successful enough for GM that they ‘moved Suzuki out’.

      In retrospect Bob White may have won a pyrrhic victory when he created the CAW, removing it from the UAW. That left auto workers in Canada and the USA competing against each other, rather than working with each other.

  • avatar

    My take on the situation ? This is just “Sabre Rattling” . Oh yeah, the usual B.S from both sides will proliferate for a spell..The deadline will be about 45 mins away, and all will settle..No production lost.

    • 0 avatar

      Honest question: How much does the Detroit/Union sabre rattling routine cost, both in terms of actual salaries devoted to it and to ill will and diverted resources etc?

      Who does it help?

      From an outsider perspective it seems like they do this same routine every time because that’s how things have always been done and it’s what people expect; but is there any real practical benefit to it?

      • 0 avatar

        “but is there any real practical benefit to it?”

        Honestly, so much sabre-rattling and knob-polishing in labour, business, or any human organization, that you just have to accept it. Of course it’s counterproductive and wasteful, but there’s more than enough ego around to ensure it keeps happening.

        • 0 avatar

          I have to agree. Its a practice from the dark ages. Maybe if you need to sell tickets or PPV ? The pre hype makes for a pretty good pay day for all concerned.

          Personally I think its a waste of time and resources.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Closing Canadian and Mexican car lines avoids The Donald’s wrath. Carmakers seem unconcerned about Trudeau Junior’s wrath.

    • 0 avatar

      Unless he surprises us by turning muscular, green and clothed in purple shorts, I doubt anyone would be worried about the wrath of Trudeau Jr.

    • 0 avatar

      “Closing Canadian and Mexican car lines avoids The Donald’s wrath. Carmakers seem unconcerned about Trudeau Junior’s wrath.”

      Did you read the article you’re responding to?

      Negotiations started in July as GM announced it would lay off about 400 Ingersoll-based workers — resulting from the automaker’s previous decision to shift production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico.”

      Trump is a snake-oil and bullsh*t peddler, the likes of which we’ve literally not seen since PT Barnum.

      Just like with the transcripts of his call with the Mexican President, wherein he essentially said “[Q]uit publicly saying that Mexico’s not going to pay for the wall,,okay? The wall is the least important thing, but my discussion of it is the most important thing, you know, okay?”

      He’s a 100% through-and-through con artist, and he’ll ultimately lose even much of his rabid, mindless base, whether before or after his and Kushner’s and Manafort’s and the rest of his inner circle’s close, incestuous ties with foreign governments come crashing down on him, once the real facts post-investigation are publicly published

  • avatar

    I know Ingersoll, Ontario. It is a nice little town of about 12,000 – many of the structures are kind of old but attractive. It’s about 150 kms west of Toronto, and it’s the kind of place you wouldn’t mind raising your kids in. Pull 2450 salaries out of the structure and it’s going to go into a coma. The town depends hugely on that plant. They’re taking a big risk of losing everything they have worked to build up. I’m not quite sure I will ever understand the strike mentality. 2450 families without income or medical insurance?

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Regardless of how many concessions Canadian and American auto workers make, they cannot compete on cost with workers in Mexico and Asia.

      So where can the line be drawn?

      Is GM making a profit on each Equinox sold. Most probably.

      Is the assembly quality better than GM’s 3rd world plants? More than likely. Certainly Oshawa was widely recognized for the quality of their assembly this century.

  • avatar

    “….Carmakers seem unconcerned about Trudeau Junior’s wrath.” He’s much too busy walking in pride parades to be exercising any sort of wrath.

  • avatar

    Reading the comments on this thread and the Texas Flood thread makes my avatar look like the correct choice once again.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And yet Unifor and UAW wonder why millions of us shop non-union exclusively. There’s too many high-quality products available to support their bullshit.

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