All this GM assembly plant news dropping today…
Announced Wednesday, GM’s Oshawa Assembly, Canada’s oldest auto plant, will not close permanently come the end of the year. After product disappears from its expansive confines later in 2019, the plant will swap hats, leaving its auto manufacturing role in the past. Unfortunately for employees, while some of the plant’s 2,600 workers stand to retain their employment, most will not.
Ontario Labor Relations Board Chairman Bernard Fishbein recently ruled that Unifor’s actions over the winter were illegal under the province’s Labor Relations Act, stipulating that the union must “cease and desist from engaging in, authorizing or counseling unlawful strikes or engaging in any act that is likely to cause employees at the Inteva, Lear or GM plant (or any other supplier of the GM plant) or any employees having notice of this decision to engage in any unlawful strike.”
However, Unifor President Jerry Dias says the board’s finding that the union engaged in unlawful strikes against General Motors and its suppliers will not stop its workers from walking off the job in the future.
The Ontario government isn’t pleased with Unifor’s handling of General Motors’ decision to close Oshawa Car Assembly. Like the UAW, Canada’s autoworker union has been extremely vocal in its opposition to GM’s restructuring plan. Over the last few months Unifor members have picketed, held multiple rallies, protested the automaker during the North American International Auto Show, called for a boycott, and aired commercials condemning the manufacturer during the Super Bowl.
Todd Smith, Ontario’s minister of economic development, job creation and trade, believes all of this has been detrimental to future business investment. “The Unifor message hasn’t been helpful, not just for General Motors but the auto industry in Ontario,” he said during the Automotive News Canada Congress in Toronto.
General Motors’ decision to stop the flow of product to Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly plant by the end of 2019 has the province’s government promising cash and a slew of measures to keep the auto industry alive north of the border.
Ontario holds the bulk of Canada’s auto-related manufacturing jobs, with the sector adding up to nearly one-fifth of the province’s manufacturing GDP. Vehicles and parts made up 28 percent of its trade exports in 2015. On Thursday, the Ontario government rolled out the first phase of a 10-year plan to firm up the industry and make automakers reconsider Mexican investment.
The faint hope that existed at the end of 2018 in regards to General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant no longer exists, except maybe in the minds of the most optimistic of union brass. On Tuesday, the automaker told Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, that its proposals to save the country’s oldest auto plant weren’t feasible.
GM laid out its reasoning in a letter to Unifor President Jerry Dias. As before, it all came down to cost … and the public’s dislike of cars.
CTV News in Canada is reporting that General Motors is shutting the doors at its Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant.
The plant, located about 37 miles (60 kilometers or so) east of Toronto, hosts about 2,500 union jobs and around 300 salaried jobs. GM has other employees in the Ontario cities of Ingersoll, Markham, and St. Catharines, but it’s not clear if any jobs in those areas will be affected. The population of Oshawa is around 159,000.
As politicians and labor unions in Europe reel from yesterday’s revelation of high-level talks between General Motors and Peugeot over a possible sale of Opel, GM’s most European-infused brand on this side of the Atlantic is operating business as usual.
Buick, which is GM’s second-largest brand globally by volume behind Chevrolet, has product in the wings, including the largely rumored but unconfirmed Buick Regal, based on the recently revealed Opel Insignia.
Buick sees no problem with that.
There’s no hurt feelings like a city council’s hurt feelings.
Oshawa, Ontario, home to TTAC’s managing editor and General Motors Canada headquarters, is feeling a little invisible after an invite delivered last June to GM CEO Mary Barra failed to result in a visit.
The invite came at the onset of tense Detroit Three labor contract negotiations, when it seemed like Oshawa’s assembly plant was living on very borrowed time. Ultimately, the plant was granted a reprieve, though the city remains nervous about the long-term viability of the plant and GM’s commitment to it.
After seven months of being the wallflower at the dance, city councilors want some up close and personal face time.
After a long-fought public relations campaign by General Motors Canada and Unifor, and a collective agreement that sees Unifor-GM temporary workers converted to full-time employment, Oshawa Assembly is on the up as pickup truck final assembly will run alongside Cadillac XTS production in the future.
However, that truck production can’t sustain Oshawa Assembly in the long-term, and sources within the company are saying more product is on the way for the beleaguered plant.
According to two General Motors representatives, one on each side of the border, Oshawa will produce vehicles in addition to the still unannounced pickup final assembly and Cadillac XTS.
General Motors may have committed to its Oshawa assembly facilities, but it’s a different story for the city’s main arena.
General Motors Centre, a 10-year-old facility in Oshawa, will see its name change after another company secured naming rights.
According to DurhamRegion.com, the arena will be renamed Tribute Communities Centre on November 1st.
It looks like the prospect of getting a partial payback for its investment could have hastened the deal reached between General Motors Canada and its autoworkers’ union.
The automaker could have up to 40 percent of the money invested in its Canadian operations handed back by the Ontario and Canadian governments, according to a report in the Globe and Mail.
If the full amount is realized, it means a government cash injection of $56,410 per autoworker.
Trucks are coming back to Oshawa — kinda.
According to The Globe and Mail, a $400-million investment will fund upgrades necessary for Oshawa to perform final assembly of General Motors pickups using bodies manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and shipped to Canada.
Shortly after the stroke of midnight, Jerry Dias and the rest of the Unifor-GM bargaining committee sat down in front of reporters immediately after marathon negotiations. Dias, the president of Unifor, was elated.
“I am pleased to announce to our members … that we have found a solution for your facilities,” he said to Oshawa workers through the media and the press conference live stream.
Indeed, Oshawa was saved.
That’s not to say there won’t be some pain — the Consolidated Line at Oshawa will still close on schedule in 2017 when GM begins production of a redesigned Equinox, and the union made some pension concessions — but, at least for now, the clouds have parted over one of Canada’s longest-standing auto-producing towns.
Yet, the announcement raised more questions as it answered. And there are two major unknowns yet to be revealed: the products allocated to the Oshawa and St. Catharines plants.
After contract negotiations went right down to the midnight deadline, GM Canada and autoworkers union Unifor reached a tentative deal last night, averting a looming strike at Canadian GM plants.
Bargaining teams from the automaker and Unifor, which represents Detroit Three workers in Canada, reached what union boss Jerry Dias called “a framework for a tentative agreement.” Not only does the deal avert a shutdown at three Ontario GM facilities, it saves the threatened century-old Oshawa assembly plant.
No jobs will be lost, and a new (but unnamed) product will go into production in Oshawa.
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