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GM, Union Reach Tentative Agreement At Striking Canadian Plant

GM, Union Reach Tentative Agreement At Striking Canadian Plant

Union officials representing workers at General Motors’ CAMI Assembly say they’ve reached a tentative deal with GM brass. If ratified through a vote, the deal will end the current labor strike that started nearly a month ago on Sept. 17th.

Workers at the plant are represented by Unifor Local 88. Unifor’s website made the announcement of the deal late Friday night. The statement says the union will vote Monday morning on the deal and, if approved, workers will report back to work Monday at 11 p.m.

GM subsequently confirmed the deal, conditional on ratification by the labor force, via a written statement.

So far neither party is discussing details of the agreement. The union’s chairman at CAMI, Mike Van Boekel, is only saying to CBC News that the memberships’ concerns are addressed in the agreement. A primary concern of union leadership has been job security; the union aspired to have GM designate the CAMI facility as the primary producer of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, minimizing the risk the company will move production of it to Mexico.

“We have addressed job security which will be in this deal. I think it’s a fair agreement  … and everybody is looking forward to going back to work and making vehicles their customers want, knowing there will be some sort of job security there.”

In recent weeks the negotiations between GM and Unifor had grown intense, with GM ultimately saying this week that it could ramp up Equinox production in Mexico and “wind down” the CAMI facility. The heated rhetoric was echoed with Unifor saying GM was “declaring war” on Canada.

Given the Chevrolet Equinox is one of GM’s best-selling vehicles in today’s market, the company will likely be very glad to get it back into production. GM has less than a 50 day supply of Equinox’s as of the end of Sept. A 70-80 day supply is considered a normal inventory level.



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
    According to the National Post, the tentative agreement does not provide the 'lead plant' status the union sought, but does make it more expensive for GM to close the plant.

    What's interesting is the wages GM workers are getting, according to the article. Average hourly wages will go to $36.12 per hour. That's over $75,000 per year, which is a pretty good wage, even in Canada. For reference, that would put a male CAMI worker in the top quarter of all wage earners. To me, that's a pretty impressive salary for what is still unskilled or semi-skilled work. For context, middle class in Canada -- defined as the middle quintile of the income spectrum -- would be an annual salary of $24,420 to $42,314 in 2015. So, CAMI workers are among the upper-middle class.

    To be clear, the plant is located in Ingersoll, Ontario -- not exactly the most expensive place in Ontario to live. While I get the desire to lock in job security -- it's a great gig -- perhaps thinking about what GM could get from Canada's high-paid workers that they simply can't get elsewhere would be a more successful place to start. Because, if you are among this country's better paid workers and you can't offer something that a fellow making a fraction of your salary elsewhere can offer, you have a fundamental problem that no union is going to be able to solve. That's not just true for GM workers -- it's a fact for all workers in this increasingly-globalized world.
    I'm really curious how the union will save face as I suspect there is pretty much zero chance GM would designate CAMI the lead plant while NAFTA is being renegotiated. That said, given the 'Nox and variants are produced in Mexico and Canada, the outcome of the NAFTA talks impacts all those plants. Maybe GM basically agreed to revisit 'lead plant' status, with a set of criteria the plant would need to meet, contingent on a specific set of outcomes on NAFTA as a good-will gesture? It would demonstrate a commitment on GM's part, cost them nothing now and turn the focus back on NAFTA negotiations.

    They are voting today, so if the contract is ratified, there should be more news soon.
    I'm guessing so as well. GM's talk of winding down the plant worked.

    Yep I agree. Like I said before it would be easy for them to move shop so really it was a losing battle for them.
    I'm guessing so as well. GM's talk of winding down the plant worked.

    Better to have any check vs no check.
    I'm willing to bet the Union caved.

    I'm guessing so as well. GM's talk of winding down the plant worked.
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