General Motors has issued a dramatic warning to the Unifor union in Canada: end your strike or we may just close the plant. The feud is taking place as GM’s CAMI assembly plant located in Ingersoll, Ontario, which has been striking since Sept. 17th.
The Unifor Local 88 called for a strike after contract negotiations between it and GM could not reach a deal by the time the existing contract expired. Talks have exhibited little productivity since, with negotiations advancing from Ingersoll to Detroit between Unifor leaders and GM brass. Still, the impasse remains.
The impasse between the two parties appears to be related to job security. Union officials are demanding GM designate CAMI as the “lead producer” of the popular Chevrolet Equinox crossover in the contract, giving CAMI employees some level of job security knowing the crossover is one of GM’s hottest-selling models.
Thus far GM has been unwilling to put such a commitment in writing and is apparently running out of patience with Unifor.
GM already has the ability to produce the Equinox at two of its Mexico assembly plants, which is exactly what the company is threatening to do if Unifor doesn’t end the strike soon, according to a report in Automotive News.
Right now GM’s ability to produce the Equinox in Mexico is fairly limited to one plant, but studies have begun to examine what it will take to ramp up production completely in Mexico and shut down the striking CAMI plant.
“GM just told us today that they are going to ramp up production in Mexico,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said by phone to Automotive News from Washington. “They have declared war on Canada.”
Thus far GM is not responding to Dias’ comment.
In addition to the possibility of moving Equinox production to Mexico, GM also has assembly plants in the U.S. that are underutilized that could produce the popular crossover. The problem for GM right now is that it would be expensive to retool any of these plants for Equinox.
The Unifor officials are likely fighting an up-hill battle at this point. The CAMI plant is the only GM plant in Canada covered by the Unifor agreement, meaning there is a scale factor in their negotiating tactics. Additionally, uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is also top-of-mind to GM officials.