Unifor will focus on GM in talks with Big Three: Dias
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, September 6, 2016 11:28AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 6, 2016 12:25PM EDT
Unifor President Jerry Dias says the union will focus on General Motors and the future of two of its plants as it starts talks to secure new contracts for Canadian employees of the Detroit Three automakers.
Dias echoed union local leaders who have said that without new products to build, the GM Oshawa Assembly Plant and the St. Catharines Engine plant could close in coming years.
He said that the union will move to secure a deal with GM first before moving to Chrysler and Ford.
“We are not going to sign an agreement without a commitment about products,” Dias said. “People might interpret that as a threat, I’m saying that is a promise.”
Back in June, workers at GM in Oshawa told CP24 the factory could have only two of the four vehicles it builds in production after next summer. Production on the third vehicle may be moved to Ingersoll, Ont. and production on the fourth could move out of the country.
They called on the provincial and federal governments to intervene. About 2,600 unionized employees work at the Oshawa plant.
Dias bemoaned the trend in automotive manufacturing on the continent, which he called the potential for an “exodus from Canada to Mexico and to a lesser extent the southern United States.”
Dias said the three companies have done quite well financially in the past few years and workers deserve to benefit from their success.
"This bargaining isn't about making (the companies) unprofitable, but this set of negotiations is about ensuring they understand our members have given a lot over the years."
Wages in Mexican factories averaged between $2 to $3 USD per hour excluding benefits in early 2016, according to Mexico’s national statistical agency.
In Ontario, the average manufacturing worker made $16.25 USD per hour excluding benefits in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.
Unifor’s current deal with GM, Ford and Chrysler, covering 22,000 workers , expires on Sept. 16.