Union head to discuss fate of GM Oshawa plant

The Oshawa General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa Ont. on Nov 26 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Eduardo Lima

The Oshawa General Motors car assembly plant is shown in Oshawa Ont. on Nov 26 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS Eduardo Lima

He noted any move to bow to Canadian pressure while closing US plants would be received negatively in the United States. "Our position is clear that we expect GM to allocate product and continue plant operations past 2019".

Last month, Unifor presented the automaker with a number of options to keep the plant open. "We're not going anywhere", he said.

Dias said the US$22-million annual salary of company CEO Mary Barra is greater than the entire payroll of one assembly plant in Mexico.

The options suggested by the union, including extending the life of the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS now produced at the plant or shifting production slated for Mexico to the plant, are not economic, said David Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs at GM Canada. "We argued you can reverse those decisions and bring a vehicle back to Canada".

BMO Capital Markets cited the restructuring as a key factor on Monday when it upgraded GM to outperform and raised its price target to $41 from $38.

The union leader referenced how there has already been some customer backlash in Canada against GM products, following the Oshawa announcement.

Unifor added that Canadians bailed out GM with almost $11 billion when it was on the verge of bankruptcy a decade ago and emphasized that if it wants to sell in Canada, it needs to build in Canada.

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Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the company's rejection of the union proposals presented in late December. "This is not only about jobs in Oshawa, but Canadians as a nation".

"GM today, by reconfirming their decision, has not only picked a fight frankly with Unifor, but they have picked a fight with all of Canada", said Dias. The decision, it said, was made due to a shift in consumer demand towards sports utility vehicles and trucks, and that it was also part of a strategy to have the company focus more on electric and autonomous vehicles.

"Unfortunately, none of them were economically viable", GM Canada vice-president David Paterson said in an interview.

But the company's current stance won't stop Unifor and its leaders from continuing to fight, Dias said.

Unifor president Jerry Dias will update the media at the union hall in Windsor after a meeting with GM in Detroit on the future of the Oshawa assembly plant. "This is General Motors saying to Canadian workers and American workers that it's about profit, it's about Wall Street". But they received a "no" in a meeting at the automaker's headquarters on Tuesday afternoon.

"We understand they're perhaps not ready for that discussion". "This is a daunting time to watch a company which has been in this country for 100 years turn around and do this".

The Mayor would not reveal what's being discussed, but when asked if it could save the Poletown plant, the Mayor said, "Oh, I don't know about that".

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