By on September 18, 2019


Plenty of workers at General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant soon won’t have much to do, as the UAW’s strike against GM impacts pickup production in Canada. The facility, due to stop producing vehicles by the end of the year, will temporarily lay off over a thousand workers, the automaker’s Canadian arm announced Wednesday. That’s more than half the plant’s workforce.

Elsewhere in the province of Ontario, the strike has stemmed the flow of components and could soon lead to other layoffs. Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three auto workers in the country, added its voice to the fray this week, hinting that next year’s Canadian bargaining talks could end with the same outcome.

By that time, of course, there won’t be much product emerging from Oshawa. But for now, previous-generation Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras will continue rolling out of Oshawa, just at half-speed. The Chevrolet Equinox calls Ingersoll, Ontario home.

CBC reports that 1,200 Oshawa workers were told to go home Tuesday afternoon, with this morning bringing news that 650 additional workers were not needed at the plant.

A spokesperson for GM Canada told CNBC Wednesday that the strike thus far isn’t impacting other operations north of the border. If things drag on, that picture could change. Citigroup analysts cite Magna, Lear, and American Axle as the suppliers most likely to feel the impact of the UAW labor action.

Unifor president Jerry Dias said GM’s St. Catharines, Ontario propulsion plant could go dark within days if the strike drags on. In a Monday release, Unifor pledged solidarity with the UAW. “Canadian workers and American autoworkers feel the exact same way. They feel betrayed,” Dias told CTV, adding that a strike “may very well” come to GM on Canadian soil next year.

While GM later pulled back from a full closure of Oshawa Assembly, the vast majority of its 2,600 workers will have to find other jobs once the facility converts into a parts and test center operation. This decision will loom large during upcoming bargaining talks.

On Monday, a far smaller group of workers were temporarily let go from Martin Transportation Systems in Windsor, Ontario. Without goods to haul across the border between GM plants, there’s not much for truckers on those routes to do.

[Image: General Motors]

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18 Comments on “GM Strike Sends Ripples Across the Border, Canadian Union Prez Hints at Labor Action to Come...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    They *have* to stand together – they have no parts to build.

    GM will feel no pain for many weeks, so I can’t see any serious movement being made until maybe November.

  • avatar

    As much as I hate to say it Oshawa was already a dead factory walking so in the grand scheme of things this isn’t much of a ripple.

    The way I see this strike playing out I’d honestly be surprised if those workers ever get back on the job.

  • avatar

    It looks as if Canada will strike as well in 2020. Barra must go.

  • avatar
    Rich Fitzwell

    Kind of hard to negotiate from a postie of strength when this is going on:

  • avatar

    This bears repeating:

    Note to self – avoid GM vehicles built by disgruntled UAW workers.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick Astley

      Wouldn’t that be any GM product made over the last 30-something years?

      Full disclosure: My grandfather was a chemical sciences engineer working at Boeing and the only brand of automobile he refused to own was any GM product. He didn’t go too deeply into it, but the history of corruption, mismanagement and UAW were his most common talking points.

      Me? They just haven’t made a car that looks appealing inside and out since about 1964 in my eyes, PLUS their inept corporate culture keep me away.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    I have a genuine question here, why isn’t UAW Canada furious with their counterparts south of the border?

    Surely when toddlers squabble in the sandbox over the same toy, there is some blame on both sides and the end result will be that neither gets the toy.

    Obviously UAW management is as corrupt as GM management, but they can’t be so dense as to pin 100% of the blame on GM. Their “solidarity” should be to tell their gun-toting American cousins to grow up and get back to work. Not try to lynch their employer (again) and put he burden on taxpayers (again).

  • avatar

    @Rick Astley…The CAW was created in 1984 ..over just that reason…At that time the U.S had settled We in Canada stayed out for 15 days disrupting the entire U.S GM production.

    An old but excellent documentary called “Final Offer”is on You tube and tells the whole story.

  • avatar

    Based on how slow the new GM pickups are selling, GM has plenty of inventory of these hideous and professional grade hideous products to last several months. I love how unions care about their workers; those not their workers can rot for all they care.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Every autumn GM has a fire sale on its trucks (and some other vehicles), and there are TTAC articles about plant shutdowns accordingly.

      This is why I think GM can wait a fairly long time, and essentially starve the union into compliance later this year.

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