By on November 6, 2020

GM Canada

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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