Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Economy | By

Unifor rallying union members to protest GM's Oshawa factory closing

Unifor rallying union members to protest GM's Oshawa factory closing

Workers at the General Motors plant in Oshawa won't be on the job Wednesday as they stage another sit-in, as the company moves ahead with plans to close operations by the end of the year.

"We're going to continue to have discussions with them about solutions", Jerry Dias, national president of Unifor, the union that represents workers at the plant, told Reuters after a meeting he had with GM officials at the No. 1 USA automaker's Detroit headquarters.

"It's about corporate greed", said Dias.

GM announced in November the Oshawa plant will close this year, part of cuts in the USA and Canada that will see 14,000 workers in North America out of work and five plants closed.

After he returned from the meeting with GM, Dias told reporters in a press conference in Windsor, Ontario, that the union was looking at its legal options regarding whether the Detroit company violated the labor contract. "Mexico did not put up a penny", said Wilkes.

GM and Unifor representatives met Tuesday at GM's corporate headquarters in Detroit to discuss the union's seven proposals to keep the Oshawa plant operating after GM announced in November it would stop allocating production to the facility in 2019 as part of a larger restructuring that will shutter eight facilities, including four in the U.S. GM expects the cuts will save $6 billion annually, money it intends to invest in "future technologies" such as self-driving cars and electric vehicles.

"GM acknowledged the importance of the Canadian (car-buying) market".

The union leader referenced how there has already been some customer backlash in Canada against GM products, following the Oshawa announcement. "The reality is that GM can reverse its decision". He added how the Canadian governments and taxpayers also provided $11 billion in subsidies to GM at a time when it faced near bankruptcy a decade ago. "The auto sector needs to be retained", said Joe Graves, president of Unifor Local 88 which represents 2,800 workers at Cami.

"GM has not only picked a fight with Unifor but they have picked a fight with all of Canada", said Dias.

In a statement issued Tuesday, GM said the Unifor proposals "would involve substantial incremental costs and a further deterioration of GM's competitive position".

He vowed Unifor would step up its current ad campaign urging the company to reconsider.

Unifor, the national union representing auto workers, is organizing a rally Friday, within view of GM headquarters in Detroit and a meeting with investors.

Dias previously promised "one hell of a fight" to prevent the Oshawa plant's closure.

Hundreds of workers walked off the job at the Oshawa plant in protest on the day GM announced its plans.

"Unifor presented General Motors with solid options to maintain production in Oshawa last month", Dias said in a release.

David Paterson, spokesman for General Motors, said the proposals had already been considered and rejected by the automaker.

Photo of the sit-down protest at GM Oshawa courtesy of Unifor.

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