Speaking to Automotive News Canada, Unifor president Jerry Dias says he plans to push GM to bring the vehicle production line at Oshawa Assembly back online as part of its ongoing contract negotiations with the automaker.
“You’ve got this incredible paint shop there. We should talk about utilizing it,” Dias said this week. “It’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. We’ll see. I’m not making any outlandish predictions. I’m not going to say anything foolish.”
The GM Oshawa Assembly plant shut down in December of 2019 after GM ended production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS sedans. Some of the floor space in the sprawling plant is used to manufacture parts, an operation that employs about 265 hourly workers, but the rest of the plant remains offline.
Contract negotiations between GM and Unifor are expected to resume this week, with the union having set a strike deadline of November 4th at 11:59 p.m. In addition to securing future product at Oshawa Assembly, the union is also hoping to lock down a new product for the GM St, Catharines Powertrain plant in Ontario. The plant currently builds GM’s six-speed automatic transmission, but with the aging six-speed set to go out of production within the next 18 months, Unifor is hoping to lock down a replacement contract.
GM’s only remaining vehicle assembly plant in Canada, the GM CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, has a contract separate to the Unifor one being negotiated currently, which does not expire until 2021. The CAMI plant currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox crossover.
One possibility could be for the CAMI plant to receive a new product that could support production of a new powertrain, transmission or electric motor at the St. Catharines plant, which is situated nearby, Unifor Local president Greg Brady told AN Canada this week.
“Hopefully, CAMI will get some sort of EV or new product and that product will cause some new employment for the St. Catharines facility,” he said.
Unifor has already ratified deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Company, which both have larger workforces in Canada than GM. The union’s deal with Ford made headlines, with the automaker committing to $1.95 billion in Canadian investments to bring battery electric vehicle production to its Oakville assembly plant in the Greater Toronto Area.