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Strike Appears Imminent At Chevrolet Equinox Assembly Plant

Strike Appears Imminent At Chevrolet Equinox Assembly Plant

General Motors is likely facing a strike from its workforce at its CAMI assembly plant in Ontario, Canada. The plant is the sole producer of the hot-selling Chevrolet Equinox crossover, which means it is a critical assembly plant for the company.

Automotive News is reporting that Unifor Local 88 is telling its membership that a “fair and responsible agreement” does not appear likely before the current contract expires tonight at 10:59 p.m. The two parties have been in talks for the last several weeks, but talks have been contentious as GM laid off some of its workforce at the Ingersoll, Ontario  just prior to the commencement of negotiations.

Unifor members have also been dissatisfied that GM opted to move production of the GMC Terrain from the CAMI plant to an assembly plant in Mexico. The membership feels GM is not adequately utilizing the production capacity of CAMI, which led to the recent layoff.

Unifor has scheduled a strike information meeting with its members Sunday. The meeting previously scheduled for today was a ratification meeting to discuss a proposed new agreement.

The CAMI plant has about 2,750 employees that fall under the Unifor contract. A long term strike of these employees could have serious ramifications on GM’s sales numbers. Automotive News reports GM has a 53-day supply of the quick-selling Equinox, which is light inventory for a popular model.

 

 





 

About Nick Saporito

AutoVerdict Senior Editor Nick Saporito began writing about cars at age 13. Nick ran a couple of automotive enthusiast sites for several years, before taking some time off to focus on his career and education. By day he's a marketing executive in the telecom world and by night he hangs out here at AV. You'll find him focusing on tech, design and the industry's future.
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  1. Tone
    Dequindre
    Coming from the Rust Belt, I can feel your pain. Like you mentioned, the non-unionized plants in the U.S. seem to be more successful as well. It leaves the older, unionized plants in a vulnerable state, especially when it is far less expensive to do business in Mexico. This is why I'm glad NAFTA is currently being renegotiated (or dropped, if the renegotiations fall through).


    Maybe. We have a probably much different view of the NAFTA renegotiations in Canada :-). One thing we've learned is the attractiveness of Mexico isn't solely the low cost of labour. They also have a pretty sophisticated set of programs and policies to make is really easy for manufacturers to set up shop in Mexico without having to navigate a lot of bureaucracy. And, they have a lot of free-trade agreements, making it a great place to build global products. In terms of 'business climate' they are winning by hard work and smart policies.

    If NAFTA gets cancelled, Mexico will still be a great place to build global products. Canada will probably cease to be a car-building nation. And, the US plants will be stuck with servicing a slow-growth domestic market without the cost pressures associated with competing globally, which might be awesome for autoworkers but may not be so great for car buyers.

    Ideally, to me, NAFTA will get renegotiated with some incentives for Mexican working conditions (wages, worker protections, environmental protections, etc) to rise to meet US/Canadian levels, which would leave us all competing on 'business fundamentals'. But, I'm not holding my breath on that one.
    Dequindre
    Tone
    Living in Ontario, I'd only partially agree with you. We have non-union assembly (Toyota and Honda) that isn't part of the labour unrest and seems reasonably successful. In fact, Toyota has expanded its presence here, opening a second plant in Woodstock, Ontario and producing RAV-4s and Lexus models. Most of the recent labour issues seem focused on GM, who seems to be looking for ways to shrink or close their Oshawa plant that currently produces the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS — two models with uncertain futures.

    As far as this strike goes: GM pulled GMC Terrain production to Mexico at CAMI, leaving the still-hot Equinox. I think the union is taking advantage of the fact that there is a strong product in CAMI to try and leverage further product and (ideally) expansion. The ideal world for Unifor would probably be a commitment for new viable product in Oshawa and expansion in CAMI. Reality is probably some assurance of small growth in CAMI and a slower shrinking of Oshawa.

    A LOT of this will come down (as it does elsewhere) to how much the government (meaning -- us taxpayers) are willing to give carmakers like GM to shift jobs here. My read is that as fewer people work in the auto sector, it's getting harder to build political support for increased support for the sector. Given others continually offer more, I do think the industry here will continue to shrink over time. Right now, the focus is on moving plants here to higher-margin product (Toyota move Corolla production to Mexico from Cambridge, for example). Canada is also working to build trade agreements that make us more attractive as a global manufacturing base, but Mexico already has a lot of that in place. Over the long-term, you are probably right ... more and more, you'll see production happen in places where there is significant government support, access to global markets and lower labour costs.


    Coming from the Rust Belt, I can feel your pain. Like you mentioned, the non-unionized plants in the U.S. seem to be more successful as well. It leaves the older, unionized plants in a vulnerable state, especially when it is far less expensive to do business in Mexico. This is why I'm glad NAFTA is currently being renegotiated (or dropped, if the renegotiations fall through).
    Tone
    Dequindre
    I wouldn't be surprised to see GM pull out of Canada for manufacturing completely within the next decade or so. It seems like their Canada plants are always in some sort of labor turmoil.


    Living in Ontario, I'd only partially agree with you. We have non-union assembly (Toyota and Honda) that isn't part of the labour unrest and seems reasonably successful. In fact, Toyota has expanded its presence here, opening a second plant in Woodstock, Ontario and producing RAV-4s and Lexus models. Most of the recent labour issues seem focused on GM, who seems to be looking for ways to shrink or close their Oshawa plant that currently produces the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS — two models with uncertain futures.

    As far as this strike goes: GM pulled GMC Terrain production to Mexico at CAMI, leaving the still-hot Equinox. I think the union is taking advantage of the fact that there is a strong product in CAMI to try and leverage further product and (ideally) expansion. The ideal world for Unifor would probably be a commitment for new viable product in Oshawa and expansion in CAMI. Reality is probably some assurance of small growth in CAMI and a slower shrinking of Oshawa.

    A LOT of this will come down (as it does elsewhere) to how much the government (meaning -- us taxpayers) are willing to give carmakers like GM to shift jobs here. My read is that as fewer people work in the auto sector, it's getting harder to build political support for increased support for the sector. Given others continually offer more, I do think the industry here will continue to shrink over time. Right now, the focus is on moving plants here to higher-margin product (Toyota move Corolla production to Mexico from Cambridge, for example). Canada is also working to build trade agreements that make us more attractive as a global manufacturing base, but Mexico already has a lot of that in place. Over the long-term, you are probably right ... more and more, you'll see production happen in places where there is significant government support, access to global markets and lower labour costs.
    Dequindre
    I wouldn't be surprised to see GM pull out of Canada for manufacturing completely within the next decade or so. It seems like their Canada plants are always in some sort of labor turmoil.
    nsaporito
    I'd say Unifor has GM by the balls here.
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