No Breakthrough in Labor Talks as Chevrolet Equinox Plant Remains Shuttered

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
no breakthrough in labor talks as chevrolet equinox plant remains shuttered

The sound of workers slapping together 2018 Chevrolet Equinox crossovers is not ringing through the streets of Ingersoll, Ontario, this morning.

A strike that began late on September 17th continues today after a weekend labor update that might have heralded good news turned into just another day on the picket line. The workforce at General Motors’ CAMI assembly plant, represented by Unifor Local 88, continue advocating for a new collective agreement that cements the plant’s future in GM’s production roster.

Meanwhile, inventories of the hot-selling crossover are dwindling.

At the beginning of September, GM had a below-average 53-day supply of 2018 Equinoxes, the vast majority of which are assembled at CAMI. While beginning-of-month inventory levels aren’t yet available for October, the quick turnover of new Equinoxes on dealer lots could soon force GM’s hand in the ongoing negotiations.

August sales of 28,245 vehicles in the U.S. was the model’s best showing for that month, and the second-highest monthly tally in two years. Year-to-date, the model is outpacing 2016 sales north and south of the border. (We’ll learn tomorrow whether the upgraded and downsized 2018 model held its popularity in September.)

On the labor front, it’s not looking like either side is prepared to budge. Unifor wants assurances from GM that CAMI, which lost production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico earlier this year, will remain open for years and decades to come. Another product sourced to CAMI, or at least a written promise, would ensure this.

In his update to members over the weekend, Local 88 president Dan Borthwick said talks with GM continue, but “progress remains disappointing.”

In a blog post, Borthwick wrote:

On Thursday, September 28, 2017 Mike Van Boekel and Dan Borthwick from Unifor Local 88, along with Jerry Dias and Shane Wark from Unifor National went to GM Headquarters in Detroit. We met with the heads of North American Manufacturing and Finance. We expressed our concerns around our outstanding issues, such as Job Security, Economics and Contract Language.

GM Detroit understood our issues and made a commitment to respond by late Friday afternoon. The response we received from GM late Friday did not address our issues.

The Master Bargaining Committee, along with our Unifor National Representatives, continue to meet with the company but there is little progress being made.

In a Statement issued Saturday, Unifor president Jerry Dias said, “The successful conclusion of these talks is vital to the future of the entire community.” Dias then joined picketers on the grounds of the CAMI plant, later tweeting “this is about the survival of the community.”

Ingersoll, with a population less than 13,000, employs roughly 2,500 workers at the CAMI plant.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Seanx37 Seanx37 on Oct 02, 2017

    I stopped to look at Equinox's today. And only one of the 12 or so on the lot had poor trim allignment.

    • Sceptic Sceptic on Oct 03, 2017

      20% defective product ready for customer delivery. They are great looking cars when new. But as a customer I would be very suspicious of this type of product. If they allow such visible in your face kind of defect then what lurks beneath? There could be some serious problems under the hood.

  • Mikey Mikey on Oct 03, 2017

    I had a bad feeling about this when it started . I predicted it may get ugly, and it may get uglier . GM Canada has two locations. Cami running at full capacity. Oshawa running at about 60 percent..Oshawa has a contagious stamping plant. With Cami down Oshawa's biggest most modern transfer press sits just about idle. Oshawa "Flex" runs some Impalas, and the ATX Caddy, on a two shift basis. Not exactly hot models .Flex easily has the capacity to run 500 Equinox units a day..Oshawa ran the overflow flex production for 2 years. At the tine they were shunting Cami bodys down the 401 to Oshawa for final assembly. You can bet your bottom dollar that Mary B has a plan. I hope it doesn't come to this..However I can see GM moving Equinox production to Oshawa. GM offers all displaced workers preferential hiring, at second tier wages. For the sake of the workers I hope it doesn't happen this way..Such action would cause huge dissent within UNIFOR...I don't suppose an internal war within the union would bother Mary B. a bit.