GM Strike Sends Ripples Across the Border, Canadian Union Prez Hints at Labor Action to Come

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm strike sends ripples across the border canadian union prez hints at labor action

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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5 of 18 comments
  • Mikey Mikey on Sep 19, 2019

    @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.

  • Cprescott Cprescott on Sep 19, 2019

    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.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Sep 19, 2019

      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.

  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
  • Zipper69 Does it REALLY have to be a four door?Surely a truly compact vehicle could stick with the half-door access with jump seats for short term passengers.
  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.
  • ToolGuy MUAWGA