Unifor Approves Contract at GM's Canadian Equinox Factory, Strike Ends Tonight
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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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.
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.