GM Canada Tells Unvaccinated Workers to Stay Home, Union Unhelpful

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gm canada tells unvaccinated workers to stay home union unhelpful

Unvaccinated workers from General Motors’ CAMI Assembly Plant have been removed from the facility and forced into unpaid leave. The automaker had a deadline set for December 12th to have all employees vaccinated, with Unifor previously having urged the company to postpone the date. The Western world has seen a surge of citizens protesting vaccine mandates this year, with Canadian unions conducting more than a few of their own. Though several organizers have said they’re operating independently due to a shared belief that Unifor was offering insufficient support to members and was effectively siding with automakers.

“Whether you want to get vaccinated or you don’t want to get vaccinated, this should just be a choice, not only for just the auto sector, but for every human being,” said Sebastian Giorgi, a member of Unifor Local 1285 who organized a rally in November.

Despite there being a deluge of protests between August and December, General Motors has adhered to its deadline of December 12th. From now on, automotive workers will need to have proof of vaccination or be sent home — something more than a few people learned about first hand on Monday.

While we don’t have an official tally, Mike Van Boekel (Unifor chairperson for the Ingersoll, Ontario, automotive facility) told Automotive News that he assumed there were at least 100 employees from CAMI that weren’t vaccinated last week.

From Automotive News:

Though the vaccine mandate went forward unaltered for unvaccinated staff, the union secured “quite a few” changes from GM, including a last-minute reprieve for members who have received only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Van Boekel told members in a Dec. 9 update. With the changes, workers with a single dose will be allowed to continue working, but will eventually need to prove they are fully vaccinated, he said.

When introduced in October, GM’s policy required personnel entering any of the automaker’s Canadian facilities to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 12.

GM Canada would not comment on the details of its policy for CAMI or its wider network of Canadian facilities, but said the “overwhelming majority” of the company’s workers have met the requirements.

“For those who are not compliant, GM Canada is working with them individually to develop a reasonable plan to become fully vaccinated, to secure an approved exemption, or to make other employment arrangements,” the company told Automotive News Canada in an email.

As union victories go, that’s about as pathetic as negotiating an extra shake at the urinal for unpaid bathroom brakes. But since Unifor members are now openly claiming the union seems to represent little more than a buffer between automakers and staff, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised here. Van Boekel even goes on to endorse the automaker’s plan later in his interview.

“Don’t get me wrong, I do think the vaccination policy is the correct plan, but there could have been other options that they used,” he said. Then he criticized the “double standard” of GM not enacting a similar policy for thousands of hourly workers in the United States while adding “ likely the biggest slap in the face,” he added.

GM Canada will begin doing random spot checks on employees to ensure their vaccination status is up to date starting in January. Van Boekel said that it’s the union’s assumption that the company will also begin trying to eliminate the Local 88 members that were told to stay home from CAMI, noting that there wouldn’t be much Unifor could do to help. Employees caught falsifying their documents or lying to GM will be terminated right away, however.

“If you falsified your answer, you are going to be terminated and I do not have much of an answer for you in terms of a grievance. So, make sure your answers are correct,” Van Boekel the weasel explained, adding that there would be little hope of Canadian law helping them.

Stellantis’ plans on enforcing similar rules for Canada-based employees starting December 17th, whereas Ford workers are required to be vaccinated by January 3rd.

We’ve certainly come a long way from “ two weeks to slow the spread.” But you should all know my bias on the issue by now, as I’ve been obnoxiously vocal on the matter. This is a grotesque overreach in authority by governments and employers seem more than content to comply. Van Boekel may not be aware of this, but the reason he’s so annoyed that America didn’t follow Canada down this authoritarian rabbit hole was due to states filing legal challenges to similar rules enacted by the Biden administration. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals then ruled against the plan, citing “grave statutory and constitutional” issues.

[Image: General Motors]

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5 of 185 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 14, 2021

    "GM Canada Tells Unvaccinated Workers to Stay Home, Union Unhelpful" I'd say that this should yield over 100 clicks. A Libertarian/Conservative/right wing superfecta fever dream: Big government mandates, Corporate edicts, useless unions, COVID - 19, and vaccines.

  • Ravenuer Ravenuer on Dec 15, 2021

    Just curious, what's an "unpaid bathroom brake"?

    • See 2 previous
    • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Dec 15, 2021

      @FreedMike Hopefully no one had to come in on Saturday to finish those TPS reports.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂