BREAKING: GM Canada, Unifor Reach Tentative Deal, Stay away from Strike Oshawa Plant Saved

Jerry Dias, Unifor President, Image: OFL Communications Department (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Soon after contract negotiations went correct down to the midnight deadline, GM Canada and autoworkers union Unifor reached a tentative deal final night, averting a looming strike at Canadian GM plants.

Bargaining teams from the automaker and Unifor, which represents Detroit 3 workers in Canada, reached what union boss Jerry Dias called “a framework for a tentative agreement.” Not only does the deal avert a shutdown at 3 Ontario GM facilities, it saves the threatened century-old Oshawa assembly plant.

No jobs will be lost, and a new (but unnamed) product will go into production in Oshawa.

“Did we accomplish our objective? I would say to you that the answer is yes,” mentioned Dias, adding that the agreement was unanimously supported by both sides.

The objective of this round of contract talks was to safe investment and new solution from all three automakers. With GM as its target firm, Unifor sought the salvation of the Oshawa plant and improved solution for its St. Catharines engine and transmission plant.

It seems that GM Canada handed over each. Specifics are scarce, as Dias wanted to flesh out the finer points with his members, but he did say that Oshawa will turn out to be the very first North American GM assembly plant capable of creating both vehicles and trucks. A new product is on the way, he added.

In a statement, GM Canada mentioned the agreement “will enable important new item, technologies and method investments at GM’s Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock facilities, putting these operations at the forefront of sophisticated manufacturing flexibility, innovation and environmental sustainability.”

No jobs will be lost at Oshawa, and short-term workers at all GM Canada facilities — about 700 in all — will be converted to complete time. Current members didn’t concede a issue to reach the deal, Dias mentioned. The tentative deal, which must nevertheless be ratified by all members, contains pay increases for employees, seemingly across the board.

“This agreement gives increases for our members, it gives — most importantly — job safety in an market that has been lacking safety for years,” mentioned Dias, adding that there was nevertheless “some things” that each bargaining committees required to tie down.

In a reversal of recent trends, the St. Catharines plant will see the addition of product as soon as allocated to Mexico.

What solution will come to Oshawa? Presently, the only solution leaving the plant is the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS. Overflow Chevrolet Equinox production from GM’s CAMI plant is handled by Oshawa’s Consolidated Line, but that will end as the line is scrapped and Chevrolet downsizes the model.

Dias’ phrasing — “cars and trucks” — leaves the door open for a truck, SUV or crossover model to join the plant. After the Consolidated Line is mothballed in 2017, the plant’s Flex Line will continue operations till the solution switchover is completed. Oshawa lost its GM truck plant in 2009.

Unifor members at all 3 GM Canada facilities will meet to ratify the agreement this Sunday. As for its bargaining dates with Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Dias said the nature of the GM agreement “is going to help us in some respects and trigger grief in other situations.”

[Image: OFL Communications Division (Flickr) [CC BY two.], through Wikimedia Commons]

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