Steel Markets

Canadian Autoworkers Target GM as Labor Negotiations Begin

Written by Sandy Williams

Canadian autoworkers selected General Motors as target company as contract negotiations begin for approximately 23,000 union workers

Unifor, which represents autoworkers at GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler NV in Canada, will use negotiations with GM to set the pattern for talks with the other two manufacturers. Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, called General Motors the “biggest bully in the schoolyard.”

Workers are concerned about the scheduled closing of two production lines in 2017 at the Oshawa facility near Toronto. Dias said GM will not commit to scheduling production on new vehicles beyond 2019 until after labor negotiations are completed.

Unifor worries that manufacturers will continue to move production from Canada to the U.S. and Mexico. Canada’s share of auto production in North America has dropped to 13 percent while Mexico’s has increased to 20 percent, according to Ward’s Automotive Yearbook. The union is seeking wage increase as well as investment in Canadian auto facilities to enable more vehicles to be built.

The current contract with GM is set to expire on Sept. 19 and Unifor hopes to be able to sign a new agreement before then. If not, the union has a strike mandate has been approved by Canadian autoworkers.

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