Unifor Gets Something Done, Oshawa to Reopen

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
unifor gets something done oshawa to reopen

The closed General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ontario, will be reopening after the automaker reached a deal with Canadian workers. GM says that it will invest up to $1.3 billion in its facility and hire up to 2,000 workers. It’s an impressive outcome for a region that looked fated to struggle at maintaining automotive jobs for years to come. While the tentative three-year deal with Unifor has yet to be approved by workers, we’re doubtful they’ll be anything but supportive.

Despite being the victim of GM’s restructuring program and closing shop in 2019, the historic Oshawa Car Assembly (est. 1907) appears poised to once again begin churning out Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups for the masses.

“During this process, we had numerous critics — and when I say numerous, it’s a dramatic understatement — those that never thought we did enough, those who thought we should have pushed harder,” Unifor president Jerry Dias told The Toronto Star. “We never gave up hope, and frankly, neither did General Motors.”

We were definitely among those doubting. After GM downsized Oshawa’s workforce to just a few hundred employees and started talking about turning it into a hub for autonomous vehicle testing, we figured that would be it for the plant for the foreseeable future. Imagine our surprise to learn that it would be reopening less than a year from closure and hunting down former employees to fill its ranks.

From The Star:

“GM agreed that we’d maintain the integrity of the plant, a plant that has a world-class paint shop. But the key thing was that we maintain the ability to build vehicles in the future. And that in itself was the key piece of what we were able to accomplish in May of 2019,” Dias said.

Several Ontario auto parts and service companies also closed after GM’s Oshawa downsizing last year. Dias said he expects many jobs to return for making “bulky” parts, such as seats, that are hard to ship from elsewhere.

Dias also said he believes GM union jobs in Woodstock and St. Catharines, Ont., are secure under the tentative three-year deal. While up to half of St. Catharines workers were on track to be laid off prior to bargaining, GM has agreed to invest $109 million there, as well as about half a million dollars in Woodstock to secure 74 jobs.

The first round of jobs will be coming as production restarts in January 2022. A second shift to be added in March 2022 as new product is added. That should account for roughly 2,000 jobs but Dias said another few hundred jobs could be added if the manufacturer opens the facility up for a third shift. GM Canada President Scott Bell has said construction at the plant would begin immediately and incorporate a new body shop and flexible assembly modules for pickups.

[Image: General Motors]

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6 of 17 comments
  • 3800FAN 3800FAN on Nov 07, 2020

    Good. Gm's most reliable vehicles were built there. The most reliable car Ive had (94 regal 3800) was built there.

    • See 2 previous
    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Nov 08, 2020

      @NoID Hah, NoID. I have six spawn and have trouble remembering their names at times. You could be one of 'em...

  • Whynotaztec Whynotaztec on Nov 07, 2020

    So I guess GM plans on making and selling more pickups? Or they will be making less elsewhere?

    • MoDo MoDo on Nov 09, 2020

      Probably EV's elsewhere and gassers in Canada

  • Tassos Now as for the Z specifically, Car and Driver had a comparison test of the new Z400, a car that looks good on paper, with plenty of HP etc, but, despite the fact that the cars that win in those tests are usually brand new models that are more up to date than their aging rivals, the Z finished DEAD LAST in the test, to my ovbious surprise.
  • Arthur Dailey Sorry but compare that spartan interior to the Marks that Corey is writing about. 'A cigarette lighter'. Every Mark had 4 cigarette lighters and ashtrays. And these came standard with 'a 3.4-liter, 182-horsepower straight-six in the engine compartment and a five-speed manual transmission'. Those do not tick off many of the luxury boxes aspired to by 'the greatest generation'.Not sure about the 7 series but one of My Old Man's associates showed up once with a brand new 5 series circa 1977 and they gave him such a bad time that he traded it for a Fleetwood within a week.
  • Tassos I clearly have no sentimental attachment to any cars from the 80s. I myself drove a Dasher (passat) wagon with horrible reliability, and then a Pontiac 2000, very fuel efficient for its time with its 1.8 lt and 5 speed, but a small econobox crudely made, with no luxuries inside. But most other cars of the era were really CRAPPY, unsafe, both in terms of passive AND active safety, had very few options modern cars have, etc etc. The best car I owned then was a 1991 Honda Civic 5-sp hatch, but that was also an 80s design that was on sale from 1987-1991. Not just the domestics were crappy then, but so were m ost of the imports. As you can see, I have ZERO "nostalgia" for any of these, especially not for the unreliable, poorly made JUNK from DATSUN-NISSAN, which is widely reviled overseas as a maker of small pickup trucks that are the favorites of Gypsies selling watermelons from their bed.
  • Tassos While Acura was the first Japanese attempt to sell 'luxury' (or "premium") vehicles in the US market, and despite its original good success in the near-luxury segment with the Legend and the far smaller and less expensive Itegra (a glorified Civic), it later lost its momentum and offered a series of underwhelming vehicles. It sure is not a LUXURY maker, and as long as it offers FWD or AWD and NOT RWD vehicles, it will never be taken seriously as a serious sports cars maker. Infiniti is much worse, and if both of them go under, few will notice. Lexus was more successful, offering pimped up TOyotas for 10,000s more, but there is NO vehicle in their lineup, esp now that they scewed up the only serious entry (the LS), that I would care to consider. AND I say all this as a very satisfied owner of 5-speed Honda coupes and hatchbacks (a 1991 Civic hatch and a 1990 Accord Coupe).
  • Mike Beranek Yet another reason to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles charged with energy from wind & solar with modern, non-Monty Burns nuclear as a backup.