By on May 8, 2019

Oshawa Assembly, Image: General Motors

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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17 Comments on “GM’s Oshawa Assembly to Stay in Company Hands, Switch Roles...”


  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    This is all promises and nonsense, made up on the fly.

    Autonomous vehicles testing in a parking garage simulator? (The abandoned plant.) Really?

    Saving hundreds of jobs. Not 1000+? Only obligated to 100+?!

    And other uses??

    Where is the outrage?

    Buying TM has never looked so good.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      So, youd be more inclined to buy GM shares if they continued to build products that lose money, and effectively became a charitable organization, employing people because it makes you feel better. What a sound business model. They’d be dead (really dead) in the not-too-distant future, then we’d be talking about 50-100k people losing their jobs instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You may have an inaccurate idea of the size of auto assembly plants. They’re bigger than parking garages: Oshawa covers over 180 acres. That’s more than big enough for a test track without tearing down buildings. It’s bigger than the FCA Windsor plant, and about the size of the GM Hamtramck plant. In fact, it’s bigger than Disneyland in Anaheim, which was originally a 160 acre orange grove.

  • avatar
    RS

    Does Unifor refund workers union dues when a plant closes?

  • avatar
    Tj21

    This isnt a win for unifor or any of the employees. I genuinely believe this is a PR stunt by General Motors to deflect some of the Canadian hate. The consensus in my area seems to be that people are not going to be buying GM products in the future, and I Highly doubt this will encourage them to do so.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    To address some of the above posts.

    1) In Ontario union dues are deducted directly from payroll and remitted to the union by the employer. Retirees generally pay a lower rate that is directly remitted from their pension payment.
    2) Dias and UNIFOR played the cards they were dealt the best way possible. They maintained a ‘manufacturing’ presence in Oshawa and kept at least part of the facilities in place. In theory 300+ workers will remain employed and it is estimated that a significant number of those being laid off are pension eligible. GM also agreed to enhance the payouts for those being laid off.
    3) Autonomous testing may not now or ever amount to much. However it at least provides a hope that more jobs might evolve from new technology/research.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    If GM tried to sell the plant, they would probably have to deal with a lot of environmental liabilities first. It may be cheaper to keep it “in the family” and lose some money maintaining it every year, rather than open a can of worms by trying to divest it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Arthur Daily …..Well said ….!

  • avatar
    mikey

    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

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Things have changed Mikey.

      But to many of us you’ll always be a source of knowledge rooted in decades of actual experience.

      You throw shade at many of these B&B who try to pass themselves off as experts, claiming to be connected to the industry but really are just BS artists that fail to dazzle us with their brilliance, so they baffle us with their BS.

      Like me, many long-time ttac readers going back the the days of Robert Farago, have great respect for your insight and industry knowledge.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      A very strange TTAC crew these days. When Baruth left, not a word of thanks for being editor and contributor for years, either.

      The editor has zero of the common social graces, but then he is a dull man as evidenced by his yawn-inducing prose. Not aware or awake.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @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.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ HDC ….Thank You


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