Talks between General Motors and the union representing its employees are set to begin this week. And as Joe Scarpelli reports, this round of talks is crucial as the Oshawa plant’s future is up in the air.
“When I was an employee there we had our contracts and they never gave us a raise for nine years.”
Gary Smith worked at Oshawa’s GM plant for 31 years. He says he didn’t always get the raise he was hoping for… but that wasn’t his main priority.
“In the meantime my concern every three years was job security.”
Gary retired from GM two years ago. These days he’s watching what Unifor Local 222 President Colin James calls a scary time.
“Usually in past years, we’ve always seen some sort of sign of new product coming into the facility… this year we have seen no movement whatsoever which leaves us with lots of concern, especially for the younger people in the plant.”
Formal contract talks between Unifor and the Detroit Three automakers begin this week, starting with General Motors on Wednesday, followed by formal openings with Ford and Fiat Chrysler Canada on Thursday. James says how this plays out could shape the future of the auto industry across the country.
“Not just Oshawa but the auto industry in Canada. We have issues with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors slowly leaving and investing in places like China and Mexico.”
Under current plans, Oshawa has nothing to produce past 2019. And this has Oshawa MPP Jennifer French concerned.
“The next chapter affects all of us.”
She says a portion of GM’s financial accomplishment is due to its success in Oshawa… and that should not be forgotten.
“We know we have a rich automotive history but we could have a rich automotive future.”
Contracts with the Detroit Three companies expire at 11:59pm on September 19, at which time they’re in a legal strike/lockout position.
“I just wish them luck. If GM wants to pick up and leave Oshawa I think they’re making a big mistake.”