Unifor, the Canadian workers union, not only lost a legal battle today against General Motors but was also hit with a cease and desist, according to the Detroit Free Press. GM filed a grievance with the Ontario Labour Relations Board asking if union workers engaged in illegal strikes to protest the closing of GM’s Oshawa, Ontario factory. The board ruled in favor of GM. The ruling also slapped Unifor with a cease and desist from any future unlawful strikes.
The board said members of Unifor and Locals 222 and 1090 engaged in unlawful strikes, noting the strikes that occurred at GM, Inteva, and Lear, the last of which resulted in a production halt at the Oshawa factory. The ruling also called to Unifor’s leadership, including Unifor President Jerry Dias for authorizing and encouraging the unlawful strikes.
Since November, when GM announced its restructuring plan, Unifor has been quite vocal about its displeasure with the automaker’s decision. Unifor met with GM in January in hopes of working out a deal to keep the Oshawa factory opening until September 2020, as a contract agreement between the two spells out; however, the automaker rejected the union’s plan.
After that, Unifor has aggressively attacked the automaker, holding sit-in protests, walking off the line, and staging protests. The union even went as far as blocking access to GM’s Canadian headquarters and airing a commercial during Super Bowl LIII that drew a curt rebuttal from GM’s lawyers. Everything the union is doing to keep the Oshawa plant open isn’t working, and drastic action could hurt workers more than GM in the end.
Support for a general strike is mixed, according to Dias earlier this month. The union does not represent everyone working at Oshawa or its suppliers. Often those non-union workers earn less and have fewer job protections in the event of a strike. Some non-union employees are living paycheck-to-paycheck. A strike could hurt those workers financially.
Dias said the union would continue to fight General Motors and fight to save the 2,500 jobs that are at risk at Oshawa. GM, on the other hand, says the contract allows them to change its production plans at Oshawa if there’s a significant change in the car market. GM noted the decline of sedan sales, which builds the Cadillac XTS and the Chevrolet Impala, as the reason why it’s changing the plant’s status to “unallocated” in 2019.