GM Faces Strike Deadline in Canada

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19 September, 2017

Union workers at Ingersoll's GM auto plant are now on strike as a tentative agreement has yet to be agreed upon.

Despite weeks of negotiations, GM and Unifor Local 88, the union representing plant workers, failed to come to an agreement on a new contract, resulting in the strike.

This is the first strike at a Canadian assembly plant since 1996 when Unifor's forerunner, the Canadian Auto Workers, held a three-week walkout at GM.

The existing labor contract expired Sunday evening at 10:00 p.m., which is when the strike was authorized.

Unifor wants GM to designate the facility as the lead producer for the Equinox, which is now manufactured in Canada and Mexico, according to Bloomberg.

Unifor was in talks with GM following its decision in January to cut 625 jobs at the plant and shift part of its production to Mexico.

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Dias said GM was unwilling to designate CAMI as the lead North American producer of the Equinox, stoking concerns that GM could eventually shift production out of Canada and into Mexico.

Jerry Dias, the national president of Unifor, says both the TPP and NAFTA are bad for Canadian workers.

GM says in a statement the two sides made progress on several issues over the past week and it wants to return to the bargaining table. "We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement", GM said.

Dias has emerged as the face for labor during renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, pushing for higher working standards in both the USA and Mexico. GM dealers had about 53 days' worth of Equinox crossovers in stock as of September 1, down from 74 days a month earlier, according to data from Automotive News.

Equinox sales so far this year are up 16.9% to 28,245 from 23,524 in the same period last year amid a seemingly insatiable appetite from USA buyers craving the car-like ride and SUV-like styling and cargo room CUVs provide.

The company spent 800 million Canadian dollars (about $660 million) on new facilities and tooling at Ingersoll for the current version of the Equinox. Like the U.S., Canada has lost automotive manufacturing jobs to Mexico in recent decades. Take note: Workers are on strike at the assembly plant that reportedly builds the lion's share of them. The Equinox is also produced in Mexico and CAMI workers fear for the plant's future in Canada.


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