About 2,800 unionized autoworkers at a GM plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, went on strike late Sunday night. Jerry Dias, the union’s president, said Monday it could be awhile before they get back to work.
Dias is president of Unifor, the union representing the workers at CAMI Assembly, which builds most Chevy Equinoxes. The plant also used to build GMC Terrains, though GM shifted that work to Mexico earlier this year, laying off 400 workers at CAMI Assembly and forcing around 200 more into early retirement as a result.
From Automotive News:
“This is one of GM’s most profitable plants,” Dias said. “They can’t make a unilateral decision to take away the Terrain and lay off hundreds of people and be naive enough to think we won’t have a reaction.”
In a statement, GM Canada urged Unifor to “resume negotiations” to secure a “competitive agreement” at the plant.
“While General Motors of Canada and our Unifor partners have made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks, the Company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement,” the statement said.
What does the union want? New investments at CAMI Assembly and an official designation from GM that the plant is the lead manufacturer of the Equinox, among other things. The fight is less about wages and benefits and more about long-term job security—a battle that Dias recognizes his union is fighting uphill.
As he told Automotive News:
“No wonder we’re digging in. This plant is the poster child for what’s wrong with NAFTA, even when you’re the best plant in the world,” Dias said. “As long as they can build in Mexico for $2 an hour or less, they’ll do that.”
CAMI Assembly is located halfway between Toronto and Detroit, about two-and-a-half hours east of GM’s Motor City headquarters.