This week, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, and General Motors begin talks with Unifor, Canada’s auto workers union for new agreements. GM will likely have the most contentious talks as workers at GM's Oshawa plant don't know what the future holds after 2018.
The plant has already lost a third shift and about 1,000 jobs when it moved production of the Camaro to Lansing last year. Next year will see the end of production of the Chevrolet Equinox, leaving just the Buick Regal and Cadillac XTS. GM has said time and time again for the past two years that it needs to know labor costs before making any decisions on the plant, only causing the worry to increase.
“The company in the past have had feasibility studies or launch teams if we are going to get product. This year, there’s no feasibility studies going on, no launch teams,” said Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222 to The Detroit News.
“Of course, it’s led to a lot of our members in the plant asking questions. There’s uncertainty: ‘Why is there no launch team?’ ‘Are they planning on closing the facility?’ General Motors is basically not answering that question.”
Yesterday at a news conference in Toronto, Unifor president Jerry Dias said workers at Oshawa will not sign a contract unless there are plans for production.
“We are not going to leave negotiations until we have a firm commitment from General Motors on product,” said Dias.
“We firmly believe General Motors will exit Oshawa unless we have a firm commitment.”
But GM has said that it will not make any commitments on investments until there is an agreement in place.
“We won’t be in a position to make a competitive investment decision until after we are through the negotiations,” said David Paterson, GM Canada’s vice-president of corporate affairs.
“We understand that there is a lot of anxiety about Oshawa," Paterson said. He went onto say that GM's focus during the talks is to work on an agreement that is "mutually beneficial and economically competitive."
Whether or not GM and Unifor are able to work an agreement before September 19th remains to be seen. We'll be keeping a close eye on this.