GM's Oshawa Assembly to Stay in Company Hands, Switch Roles

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gms oshawa assembly to stay in company hands switch roles

All this GM assembly plant news dropping today…

Announced Wednesday, GM’s Oshawa Assembly, Canada’s oldest auto plant, will not close permanently come the end of the year. After product disappears from its expansive confines later in 2019, the plant will swap hats, leaving its auto manufacturing role in the past. Unfortunately for employees, while some of the plant’s 2,600 workers stand to retain their employment, most will not.

Earlier today, GM Canada and autoworkers’ union Unifor announced a “Transformation Agreement” aimed at retaining some employment at the plant and converting the facility for other uses. There’s $170 million (CAD) in company cash backing up the plan.

Oshawa Assembly, like Lordstown and Detroit-Hamtramck, found itself free of future product after GM announced cost-cutting measures last last year. Since then, Unifor has thrown every tactic it can muster at the situation, leading to walkouts and a boycott of Mexican-made GM vehicles.

So, what does this metamorphosis entail? Once the old-generation GM pickups dry up, along with the Cadillac XTS, the plant’s role will switch to “one focused on stamping, related sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers,” the automaker said.

As well, “GM will convert part of the Oshawa Plant property into a test track for autonomous and advanced technology vehicles – further expanding the capability of GM’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) in Ontario.”

Through these changes, GM Canada expects to save 300 jobs at the plant, though Unifor President Jerry Dias sees it as a door to additional hiring.

“By maintaining a footprint in Oshawa, and keeping the plant intact, we save hundreds of jobs and this gives us the ability to build and create new jobs in the future,” Dias said in a statement. “We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing.”

In addition to the plant switcharoo, the automaker announced “enhanced” retirement packages to the plant’s workers, special relocations for some workers to other GM operations in the province, and a retraining program for Oshawa employees unable to land work within the company.

“A ‘Jobs Action Centre’ will be opened in June 2019, in Oshawa to enable employees to plan now for future career opportunities outside GM following the end of Oshawa vehicle production in December 2019,” the automaker stated. The program draws financial support from the automaker, Unifor, and the Ontario government.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Mikey Mikey on May 08, 2019

    To the editors at TTAC Every TTAC editor back to Robert Farago ..even Bertal acknowledged my tips...!! You'll never get another one from me.! Mikey

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    • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on May 09, 2019

      @Mikey, I have also greatly appreciated your insight and comments. As to the current 'leadership' at TTAC, when the Humboldt tragedy occurred, which was/is a major story in Canada and has resulted in changes to licensing regulations and intersection design TTAC 'leadership' generally ignored it. I contacted the E-I-C remarking on this and recommending that it should at least lead to articles on a) the viability of roundabouts b) driver licensing. Nothing resulted. And what happened to all of the requests for reader reviews of owned/rental vehicles? Also nothing. I may have disliked JB's public persona but he at least 'connected' with the readers.

  • Mikey Mikey on May 08, 2019

    @ HDC ....Thank You

  • Jeff S I did not know Plymouth had a full size van prior to the mini vans. I did know about the Plymouth pickups and the Trail Duster.
  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.