By on September 23, 2017

[Image: GM]

The Chevrolet Equinox assembly line at General Motors’ CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, remains shuttered, and the impact from the dried-up flow of crossovers now extends across the border.

Unionized workers at the plant walked off the job Sunday night after their Unifor Local 88 bargaining team failed to reach a contract agreement with GM. Though the week began with marching and signs in Ingersoll, it ended with layoffs at an Ontario transmission plant and the promise of more in Michigan and Tennessee.

At least 255 of the 350 workers at GM’s St. Catharines, Ontario, transmission plant, which produces about 90 percent of CAMI’s transmissions, have been told not to show up at work Monday.

“We’re off until they get it settled,” Unifor 199 chairman Tim McKinnon told Automotive News. “Every time they sneeze, we catch a cold. If they pick up more volume, we pick up more volume.”

McKinnon claims the plant ran all week on the assumption that Unifor and GM might strike an agreement. It’s now left with a stockpile of transmissions. The Equinox’s 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines are sourced from plants in Flint, Michigan and Spring Hill, Tennessee. Those plants are now anticipating short-term layoffs, but components used by other models aren’t affected, GM claims.

Auto parts supplier Magna International has also turned off the taps headed to CAMI.

Sales of the newly downsized and fuel efficient Equinox soared in August — a month where GM’s industry-bucking sales climb can be laid solely at the feet of its extensive crossover lineup. Equinox sales rose 85 percent, year-over-year. No doubt the automaker has concerns about inventory drying up during the strike, impacting future sales sheets.

Not surprisingly, the top concerns are a little different over at the union bargaining committee. In addition to the usual pay and benefits demands, Unifor Local 88 wants assurances from GM that the CAMI plant will remain the lead Equinox assembly location. Smaller numbers of Equinoxes roll out of Mexico, which is where the recently-departed-from-CAMI GMC Terrain went for a permanent vacation earlier in the year. The union also wants another product in order to safeguard the plant.

On Wednesday, the union reached out to GM in the hopes of re-starting negotiations. So far, there’s no word on any scheduled meetings.

Speaking to CBC, Unifor Local 88 president Dan Borthwick said, “We’re just trying to be responsible and see if there’s any way we can bring a quick resolution to the work stoppage and minimize the effects on our members and the suppliers and the surrounding community.”

[Image: General Motors]

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30 Comments on “Ripples from Chevrolet Equinox Strike Force Slowdowns, Layoffs...”


  • avatar
    mason

    Quick resolution?

    Bring in the scabs.

    • 0 avatar
      orenwolf

      You really want YOUR transmission built by temporary labour?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Scab labour ? The logistics alone would make that impossible..That and there is the fact that attempting Scab labour would mobilize every union within 200 miles, up to and including the UAW located just down the road in Michigan.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        “The logistics alone would make that impossible”

        Please explain this further.

        Is this not an assembly plant for the Equinox? Where much of the work is automated or done with machines. It’s not rocket science. If it can be done at a Titanium tetrachloride and titanium dioxide manufacturing plant where the operators play chemist with large quantities of pure chlorine, toluene, hydrochloric acid, and ticl4 for 6 months AND (the scabs) proceed to break monthly and quality production records set by the union operators, surely it can be done on an assembly line. All it takes is a little leadership on the inside level willing to step in as temporary supervisors, wether it be engineers, lab technicians, etc. Very plausible given management is almost never tied in with the union and still likely reporting for work at some level.

        If these guys and gals want to go sit in timeout to try and prove their first world problems are relevant, that’s on them. When it begins affecting other people and their families with no involvement in the situation that’s a bum deal. Get the plant up and moving and people working, let them figure it out.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Automated machinery requires highly skilled , experienced tradesmen. Where do you find such people that are willing to cross picket lines ?

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            “Automated machinery requires highly skilled , experienced tradesmen. ”

            Are you referring to the design, implementation and repair? If so then I would agree with that assessment.

            As to finding people, I assure you there are alot of unemployed people that posses the “skill” to learn how to work on an assembly line. Just offer the same wages the union is currently making and watch out. The tio2 facility I mentioned above ran the plant on a skeleton crew of about 350. They worked 7 days a week for nearly 6 months, first one shift a day then 2-12 hour shifts as they got more people acclimated to the process. The maintenance crew was filled with non union iron workers, pipe fitter, and other tradesmen so that transition went much smoother.
            This isn’t the 30’s and 40’s where people get shot for crossing a picket line. It happens more than most realize.

          • 0 avatar
            Whittaker

            “Automated machinery requires highly skilled , experienced tradesmen. Where do you find such people that are willing to cross picket lines ?”

            Its rare but it can be done. as PATCO Air Traffic Controllers found out in 1981.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          I’m not saying its impossible. What I am saying, would it be logistically , and financially viable ? I suppose it could be done ?

          Building a modern vehicle from a pile of parts is a lot more complex than what you might think.

          Right, Im confident no one will get shot. Having spent a good part of my life in automotive manufacturing I just can’t see how Scab labour could possibly work..With good training, production people would take month to get up to speed. Your talking thousands of people.

          In stamping alone the tradesmen outnumber production. Make a mistake with a transfer press ? That press can be down for a week.

          Yes, you could use engineers. Those same engineers work very closely with the tradesmen..So if, and when, it ever settles there’s going to be some bitterness…I’ve personally witnessed conflicts between tradesman, and engineers ..The tradesman generally wins.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          I wouldn’t want one of the first couple of hundred vehicles assembled by the scabs.

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            As opposed to the current warranty rates and recalls GM is capable of, I doubt it could be much worse.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Obvious troll is obvious.

            I may not like any of the current GM offerings, but vehicle reliability (across the entire sector) is higher than its ever been in history.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @mason …Right because Honda, and Toyota ,never have recalls, or warranty work done. I don’t even know why they need service bays.

            So Toyota had to change a few Tacoma frames ? Big deal, minor problem. Hondas extensive use of Takata air bags ? Whats the big deal a few people killed, or scarred for life.

            How could I forget VW ? Nothing like cheating the system, executives in jail, and a half million or so, polluting vehicles.

            Hey,’ they even used Takata air bags.. I suppose thats the “superior German engineering “

  • avatar
    Joss

    Heatwave in Ontario. Can you see how EV’s are gonna impact this prehistoric way of building cars? With their 1-gear transmissions as starters.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Oh, come on. They still have wheels, steering mechanisms, suspension and brakes, along with heaters/AC, and have to meet performance and safety/crash standards. A different propulsion system doesn’t revolutionize design or assembly.

  • avatar
    WalterRohrl

    “On Wednesday, the union reached out to GM in the hopes of re-starting negotiations. So far, there’s no word on any scheduled meetings.”

    Only three days? Shows weakness on the part of the union. First one to blink loses.

    I’d like to know if production has ramped up any at the other manufacturing locations to make up for the loss of volume here. Properly managing Terrain and Equinox mix down there, inventory may get low(er) but won’t dry up completely.

  • avatar
    mikey

    When this story broke on Monday, I had a feeling it might get ugly.

    I’m not sure if it still works the same as it used to. In my day, a labour dispute in our own country, resulting in lay offs within the corporation meant no lay off benefits for those workers impacted.

    The big 6 week strike of 98 at Flint, shut the corporation down . After about 2 weeks of arguments , we in Canada received E.I and S.U.B benefits. The ruling came down that it was a US dispute, not ours.

    In that particular strike GM had the UAW on the run. Solidarity started to crack. Another 2 weeks and the UAW would have caved. Red ink Rick saw his precious market share slipping and blinked first. The rest is history .

  • avatar
    hamish42

    Il live in Ingersoll, Ontario. There are about 12,000 of us here. Nearly everybody in this tow, from doctors and dentists to the kids in the donut shop, benefit from the business generated by these 2,500 workers and their families. I regret extremely that they have chosen to strike – it represents a major challenge for their families, and declining business for our professionals. However I may want to support my neighbors, I believe that they are striking for an issue which they cannot win. Auto workers in Canada receive generous salaries, benefits, and pensions. But, the cost per worker hour is extremely high. The auto makers are in the business only to make profit. If they can drastically reduce the cost per worker hour by moving the jobs elsewhere, then that’s what they are going to do. It is in fact their duty to their shareholders. Your President Trump has indicated he will put in measures to reverse that. I wonder if he can? Certainly there has been no initiate from any level of government up here which will reverse out workers situation. Sooner or later, there will be no auto industry in Canada. Some towns such as Windsor, Ingersoll, and Oshawa in the Province of Ontario will be hard hit. But the old-fashioned model which nearly bankrupted the manufacturer is no longer supportable by them. I am very sorry for my neighbors, but I don’t see that plant being there in a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      JerseyRon

      I fear you are correct. New Jersey once had Ford and GM assembly plants. As with most manufactures here, high costs of doing business drove them away.

    • 0 avatar
      starskeptic

      Shareholders are parasites, f*ck ’em.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s unfortunate that this has to be explained. Without people willing to invest money in a business, nobody will get a job there.

        Why should the people who supply a business with labor be treated preferentially to the people who supply other goods and services, including capital, for that business?

        “The greatest crime an employer can perpetrate on his employees is to fail to operate at a profit.” – Sam Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Another feel good story that makes me want to buy vehicles made by a non-union workforce.

    • 0 avatar
      JonBoy470

      The unions have historically, and continue to serve as an important check to maintain good working conditions and worker safety. The worker safety shitshow that exists in right-to-work states (cough Alabama) points for continuing need for unions to act as a check in this regard. The problem is the unions have operated in an adversarial role to the employer. They’re so focused on making gains for their members that they lose sight of the fact that the true long term gain is making sure GM continues to view the factory as a desirable and valuable place to build cars.

  • avatar
    redapple

    People who have never been in a big 3 car plant, should really refrain from commenting how the big 3 should staff a plant during a strike.

    You look quite foolish.

    -queue the storm of mail calling me the idiot.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @redapple ..No Sir, your not an idiot…

    I’m fairly confident that over the last 50 years or so the big 3 management have studied ways to run scab labour….If there was a good chance that scab worked, they would have least tried by now.

  • avatar
    RHD

    For some reason, contract negotiations bring out the worst in people. Companies have increasingly used professional “representatives” who offer ridiculous takeaways, onerous workplace rules and subpar salary increases, then stonewall and postpone meetings until labor either gives in or strikes. A reasonable, common-sense offer is never on the table.
    When the strike finally happens, the workers get blamed, and the know-it-alls on the internet post their pre-formed opinions.
    Unless you are in the 1%, unions are a force for you, not against you. Don’t let the AM radio shills convince you otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      mason

      Unions were created to ensure they work in a safe environment and work for a reasonable wage. In today’s day and age none of those are an issue. We’re at the top of the proverbial food chain regarding wages, benefits, and safety. Unions have effectively become a boat anchor around the employees necks. Filling their heads with the notion that they deserve more when in reality they already make more than any place else in the world that manufactures the same thing. As unfortunate as it is, these guys are nailing their own coffin shut.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I wonder how many who voted Trump are out there slamming unions? They don’t seem to get it through their pea brains those “good jobs” they’re so vocal about losing to Mexico and China were the union jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      There are many reasons why people voted for Trump, in an election in which most people were appalled at the choice they were given. There were coin flips involved in many votes, along with lesser evil considerations, time for a change calculations, and incredible incompetence in running a major party campaign. Trying to divine motivations from Trump votes is a dead end exercise.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>They don’t seem to get it through their pea brains those “good jobs” they’re so vocal about losing to Mexico and China were the union jobs.<<

      More likely the pea brains didn't realize that – outside of gov – it was unions that destroyed whole industries and sent the jobs overseas or to non-union states. Until it was too late.

      GE’s Jack Welch famously stated that every major industry that was heavily unionized was destroyed by the unions. It was part of his job to unload those businesses. He never found a buyer for GE MAGAP – it took 30 years but finally the Chinese – Haier – took it.

      Good wages – yes. Unions – no.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        What does MAGAP stand for? We bought a replacement GE over the range microwave recently and I came across the fact that it’s a Haier rebadged as a GE. It was surprising, but Haier seems to make a lot of stuff.

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