GM workers called back to Oshawa plant after U.S. union reaches tentative deal
By Ian Bickis
October 21, 2019
By Ian Bickis
General Motors has recalled all workers to its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., after the United Auto Workers union in the U.S. reached a tentative deal earlier this week.
GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright said the company called the roughly 2,000 temporarily laid-off workers at Oshawa back Friday to restart production.
“In Canada we are working hard to get all three GM Canada operations back to normal operations as soon as possible. I can confirm that we called all workers back at Oshawa today and will be resuming car production,” she said by email.
Production is restarting at the plant even though the UAW decided Thursday to keep striking until the roughly 49,000 members vote on the deal, which is not expected until later next week.
The strike forced GM to close Oshawa and cut back at its St. Catharines plant because of a lack of parts coming from the U.S., but Wright says the company has enough parts and capabilities to restart Oshawa.
Production remains restricted at the St. Catharines plant, which is operating only a third of capacity, with about 730 hourly workers temporary laid off.
Greg Brady, president of Unifor Local 199 at the St. Catharines plant, said production would have already been ramped back up if the U.S. union had decided to stop striking after the tentative deal was reached.
“I respect their decision to bring it to the membership to vote on,” said Brady.
“It’s disappointing for our new hires, because they are obviously the junior members of the plant, who are just living off EI 1/8employment insurance 3/8 wages and they’re finding it difficult.”
The month-long strike has also led to temporary layoffs at numerous companies in Ontario that supply and support the GM plants.
The temporary shutdowns come ahead of GM’s plan, announced last November, to permanently end vehicle production in Oshawa at the end of this year.
The Oshawa plant was one of five GM announced at the time that it would close. The UAW had fought during negotiations to save the four U.S. plants slated for closure but the tentative deal with GM has it saving only one, which will be converted to build electric pickup trucks.
Other terms in the tentative deal include a shortened timeline for new hires to reach full wages, early retirement incentives, and no change to the health care plan.
Unifor is set to negotiate a new collective agreement with GM next year as the current agreement is set to expire next September.