By on October 2, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox - Image: Chevrolet

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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14 Comments on “No Breakthrough in Labor Talks as Chevrolet Equinox Plant Remains Shuttered...”

  • avatar

    Maybe they’ll learn how to install chrome window trim during this downtime.

  • avatar

    I don’t have an ounce of respect for auto unions. This is another example of extortion on behalf of a few – which affects the many. I do my best to avoid purchasing from criminals.

  • avatar

    I don’t see GM giving up too much in these negotiations. One thing that’s impressed me about Barra is her willingness to make tough decisions that none of her predecessors could, e.g. abandoning hopeless markets like Europe, South Africa, and India. Contrast that to guys like Waggoner who just kept the status quo and made the same mistakes time and again, and of course rode GM into the ground.

    So if the union’s demands don’t jibe with her long term vision, then I think she’ll stick to her guns. (Of course it helps somewhat that this is only a single plant on strike, and they can produce at least some Equinoxes in other plants.)

  • avatar

    I don’t know the actual issues at the crux of this dispute and it is not outlined in the article but I do know that any business (service, professional or tech) needs a dependable workforce.

    Your pay and benefits will not be what you ask or what the business can afford it will be what your skills are worth on the open market. Businesses will need decent skills but, in this competitive environment, if they can get the same skills for 80% of the cost they will certainly pursue that option.

    Both GM and the Union workers are in a hard place. A look at Cat and Peoria Il. gives a good idea of where this may eventually end up.

    • 0 avatar

      Or even closer to the Equinox plant, Cat (Progress Rail) in London, ON, just 30 minutes away, where Cat simply closed the plant and moved the jobs down south when they couldn’t come to an agreement. You’d think that would weigh into the CAMI workers’ decision a bit …

    • 0 avatar

      Labor cost in Mexico is more like 80% LOWER than up North. The only problems are transportation, logistics and pissed off Canadian customers.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah. I was thinking cost of labor in right to work USA states but I don’t think that can work for GM due to restrictive contracts in legacy UAW states. So maybe it will be south of the border with even greater savings in labor costs

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If the union sticks to its guns long enough, GM will close the plant and the union can declare victory.

  • avatar

    “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.”

    Oh, I think they’re cementing their future.

  • avatar

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

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.

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