By on October 16, 2017

cami-assembly factory circa 2013

General Motors and Unifor representation at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, announced a tentative agreement on Friday. Today, that deal proved amicable to both parties, as union employees voted to approve a new four-year contract with the automaker — ending a month-long strike at a factory producing the incredibly popular Chevrolet Equinox crossover.

While the deal includes a salary increase of four percent over four years and $8,000 in lump sum payments over the lifespan of the proposal, it lacks Unifor’s primary demand of a written assurance that CAMI will remain the lead producer of the Equinox. GM proved unwilling to give way on that issue, which is likely due to the ongoing and uncertain nature of NAFTA renegotiations.

“Despite our every effort, General Motors steadfastly refused to accept our members’ reasonable demand to designate the CAMI plant as General Motors lead producer for the Chevy Equinox,” Unifor president Jerry Dias wrote to local union members prior to the factory vote. 

Leading up to the weekend, Dias also addressed the potential problems autoworkers could face without a carefully crafted trade agreement. “This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,” he said in a statement.

Unifor said it expects CAMI employees to return to their respective stations Monday evening. All current employees will receive a $6,000 bonus once the deal is ratified and new hires will be fast-tracked to the full wage of $34.15 per hour, according to the union.

The deal wasn’t a moment too soon, either. Despite GM’s best efforts to bolster SUV production in Mexico, Equinox inventory dwindled to a 41-day supply by the beginning of October. Meanwhile U.S. sales rose to 27,512 units in September, pushing year-to-date sales up 22 percent over last year.

“The ratification of a new 4-year agreement between GM Canada and Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Assembly is welcome news for our company, employees and the community,” said Steve Carlisle, president and managing director of General Motors Canada.

“We have an outstanding new product at CAMI with the Chevrolet Equinox and I am confident that we will quickly pull together to continue to demonstrate to the world the outstanding productivity, innovation and quality that is synonymous with the CAMI workforce.”

[Image: General Motors]

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18 Comments on “Unifor Approves Contract at GM’s Canadian Equinox Factory, Strike Ends Tonight...”

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Actually the terms are, as posted in The Star, your parent organization:

    “He said workers will receive two per cent wage increases in the first and fourth year of the deal, a $6,000 signing bonus and annual payments of $2,000 each Christmas.”

    So $6k signing bonus to offset the wages they lost during the strike, plus an annual bonus of $2k which represents about $1.10 per hour in extra income, but does not increase the ‘hourly wage rate’. Which is crucial for management in future negotiations.

    As an aside, but very relevant to wages/costs, watching these ‘home renovation/home flipping/real estate investment’ shows on TV, the difference between the cost of housing in the USA and Canada is startling.

    Recently saw a couple looking at a 3 bed, 2 bath, 2,000sq ft town home in the Denver area for $300k. In central Toronto a 400 sq ft condo costs over $400k and a single family home in ‘the hood’ (Malvern or Jane-Finch areas) would cost in excess of $700k. Yet Canada has more land per person and building codes are not much different than in the northernmost states. So just what is the reason for this disparity???????

    • 0 avatar

      @ Arthur…. Marketing 101… supply and demand.

    • 0 avatar

      “Yet Canada has more land per person and building codes are not much different than in the northernmost states.”

      Toronto is also ‘the city’, and all of that open land is a bit of a commute. From an American perspective, I could afford to rent a tiny, miserable room in an inconvenient part of Brooklyn, or for similar money, I could hold down a mortgage on a well-kept mobile home on a couple of acres in Tioga County… but then I’d be ten miles from work or the grocery store, hundreds of miles from NYC.

      (Similarly, I live in southwestern New Hampshire. You can buy a lovely farm up here for the price of a tear-down in parts of Greater Boston… and housing in NH isn’t particularly cheap, since municipalities have to lean hard on property taxes, given that there’s no general sales or income tax.)

      Canada seems to have a higher cost of living in general, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Vancouver has had its housing market pushed to insane levels partially due to wealthy Orientals offshoring wealth. Vancouver has also run out of space. Surrey geographically is bigger than Vancouver and will soon have a larger population due to more space for housing. I assume that some of the factors at play in Vancouver apply to Toronto. Toronto is a favoured destination for immigrants which adds to the housing shortage.
      As an aside, 400k buys you a monstrous McMansion in my town. The smaller towns in my region are hurting. My inlaw’s house is nicer than mine and was appraised around 130k and my house appraised at 240k.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Arthur Dailey… What are the 3 most important factors in the price of real estate? Location, location, and location.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of Canada is not priced like Toronto…just look at Montreal real estate if you want something more reasonably priced in a relatively large city.
      Toronto is much more like NYC in terms of real estate and Vancouver much like SF…comparing them to Denver is very silly.

      They’re both very nice cities btw, and despite all the whining people do about the new Chinese immigrants driving up real estate prices I don’t think I’d have liked either city as much if it wasn’t for the very good Chinese food as well as Japanese food in Vancover. I had the best dim sum I’ve ever had in Vancouver in the extra Chinese part of the city and I’ve trekked to Hong Kong before and had dim sum there.

      I really ought to take another trip out there soon

  • avatar

    So let me get this straight. They went on strike for a month and did receive some promised compensation increases, but no assurance of CAMI being the lead production facility – which was the primary reason they went on strike.

    Any guesses as to how long until GM moves all Equinox production to Mexico?

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t the contract run out? That’s always the number one concern, getting a new contract. It was just a bad time for the main push for assurances of future work, with NAFTA being renegotiated.

    • 0 avatar

      “Any guesses as to how long until GM moves all Equinox production to Mexico?”

      All depends on the MAGAmoron.

      • 0 avatar

        The president is the only hope for the US and Canadian union plants. And union rank and file understand ithat.They are not stupid. So far Mr. Trump has been great for the average American, truly the people’s president.

  • avatar

    Production voted 85.9 in favour, with the trades at 78.9.. Thats big ratification numbers, considering they didn’t win the major issue.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…our members’ reasonable demand to designate the CAMI plant as General Motors lead producer for the Chevy Equinox”

    That’s not a reasonable demand. I predict a rerun of this movie in 4 years, but “Hecho en Mexico” as the outcome.

  • avatar

    The uncertainty of NAFTA, certainly had an impact on both sides of the table…The union was aware that GM could play the Mexico card..GM was aware that playing that card could be a little risky.

    I’m glad its all put to bed, for now anyway..I’m at the point where nothing would surprise me anymore.

  • avatar

    UNIFOR didn’t win new product for CAMI and didn’t win designation as the primary Equinox plant. And only won a 1% cost of living increase per year.

    Yeah, this is a black eye. If NAFTA remains largely as it is in 4 years, CAMI might not be around much longer.

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