Shots Fired: GM Sics Lawyers on Autoworkers Union Over 'Misleading' Ad

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
shots fired gm sics lawyers on autoworkers union over 8216 misleading ad

There’s no love lost between General Motors and Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers union Unifor. The former plans to shutter the historic Oshawa Assembly plant in Ontario this year, the latter would prefer it didn’t. It would also prefer some product to build there.

Amid the turmoil surrounding GM’s wide-ranging cost-cutting efforts, Unifor released a commercial Sunday slamming GM for abandoning both its workforce and consumers. The title of the ad? “GM leaves Canadians Out In the Cold.”

GM’s message to Unifor? Cool it.

In the ad, aired during the Super Bowl simulcast and on various other mediums, Unifor talks up the multi-billion dollar 2009 bailout, stating that GM Canada’s continued existence is only due to the $300 it took from every Canadian. Meanwhile, the ad continues, GM is expanding production in Mexico — “A move that’s as un-Canadian as the vehicles they now want to sell us.”

The spot ends with a verbal and written statement: “You may have forgotten out generosity, but we’ll never forget your greed.”

Unifor’s prickly ad comes on the heels of a boycott campaign designed to reduce sales of Mexican-made GM vehicles in Canada, with the new Chevrolet Blazer (a vehicle Unifor president Jerry Dias wanted for Oshawa) being top of mind.

In a statement posted Sunday, Dias said GM made attempts to stop the airing of the ad, claiming, “Clearly General Motors doesn’t want Canadians to see this ad. To see its actions and the damage that GM plans to inflict on workers, communities and our national economy if it closes Oshawa.”

“We stand by the belief that if GM wants to sell here then it needs to build here and we will not be intimidated from sharing that message with Canadians in this ad.”

GM Canada confirmed the legal subtext of Dias’ statement in a release of its own, issued the same day:

While GM respects Unifor’s rights to protest, we cannot condone purposely misleading the Canadian public. The new Unifor advertisement scheduled to air during the Super Bowl is misleading and inaccurate. In response, GM can confirm its lawyers lodged a formal demand to Unifor to cease any and all publication of the ad.

Unifor knows that GM Canada repaid its 2009 loans in full, and that the restructured GM fulfilled all the terms of its agreements with the Canadian government many years ago. Since 2009, GM Canada has contributed over $100 billion to the Canadian economy including $8 billion invested into worker pensions.

A decade ago, the Canadian government ponied up $13.7 million to save GM and Chrysler, with some of the funds used to wind down the old companies; other cash was used to create new entities for the two automakers. As of 2017, the country still had $1.2 billion in bailout era auto sector loans on its books, with Chrysler believed to be responsible for most or all of the sum.

[Image: Unifor/ YouTube]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 04, 2019

    What's done is done concerning the bailout. If GM goes bankrupt again then the Government should not give them any support. Let them fail and be done with them. Just like Studebaker and AMC they can either go out of business or be acquired by someone else. If Barra and team's actions do lead to the long term survival of GM then I will be the first to admit I was wrong but for now I am a skeptic.

  • Jatz Jatz on Feb 04, 2019

    So much drama. There are plenty of other car makers.

  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.
  • Jeff S Got to give credit to Chrysler for putting the 300 as a rear wheel drive back on the market. This will be a future classic.