• Jun 4, 2008

The dust hasn't settled yet on General Motors' announcement that it will be closing an additional four plants, but the Canadian Auto Workers union is already foaming at the mouth. The CAW organized 30 trucks to block GM Canada's headquarters in response to the company's decision to close its Oshawa truck plant. The Oshawa plant produces the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups, production of which the General has reduced sharply in response to slow sales. The Canadian union says it won't move the trucks, which is blocking all vehicular traffic, until it meets with GM officials. While the CAW is letting pedestrians on foot through the blockade, we wouldn't be surprised if bipedal passage comes accompanied by a few colorful words that would make a sailor blush.

While the CAW would never want to lose a plant under any circumstances, the rank and file are particularly angry this time because the news came only two weeks after GM promised to keep the plant open through most of 2009. GM also promised that the plant would build its next generation light-duty pickup. In the automaker's defense, GM needs to make tough decisions quickly because of this rapidly changing market, and unions don't really react as the wind blows.

Other unions affected by the four plant closings are also miffed, but none went so far as those crazy Canadians. The union at GM's Moraine, Ohio plant, for instance, expressed its displeasure with being closed and has stated publicly that it plans to fight the closings, but considering that it builds the Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7x, we'd say there isn't much hope for union workers in Moraine, OH.

[Source: CBC]




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  • 47 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Somebody call the WHAAAAAAAmbulance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        everyone beating on GM needs to look at the dates again.

        GM's announcement is that 4 plants will be closed by 2010.

        GM's promise 2 weeks ago to Oshawa is to keep it open through most of 2009.

        There is no breach in those statements. BOTH can co-exist without contradiction. Heck, if someone told me they promise to keep it open through most of 09, I would take that as after 2009 I'm likely on my own, otherwise they would say the foreseeable future.

        CAW and the other unions need to realize they are NOT entitled to a job more than anyone else. There are layoffs left and right. Its a fact fo life.

        As has been mentioned, there have been enough layoffs to start another motor company and compete. They would be unencumbered by union legacies, outdated plants, and all kinds of baggage. Smaller, more flexible, and able to start fresh. WOW. but no, then they couldnt blame someone else
          • 6 Years Ago
          @geo.stewart

          Your point is valid however using the modifier "by 2010" does not preclude GM from closing the plants earlier which happens to be the case for the Oshawa plant which GM has said will be closed next year (i.e. 2009) and as such flies in the face of the agreement reached with the CAW.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I dig your bowl cut.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The blockade should be at the White House!
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's Loraine, Ohio. Not Moraine. Not that it matters, it's a freakin' dump anyway.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sorry, Canada, commodities and manufacturing don't go hand-in-hand.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Perhaps you want to apply your knowledge of geography and economy a little further. Exploring correlations between ballooning commodity price, Canada and commodities, Canadian dollar appreciation, higher Canadian taxes you may have to arrive to the same conclusion as GM - it makes no sense to build vehicles in Canada. Especially vehicles that don't sell.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Have you actually been to Ontario. Can you even find it on a map? No commodities here. Just a huge manufacturing economy mostly based around this little hamlet of 5.5 million people you might have heard of before called Toronto.

        GM is in the wrong this time. They signed on in good faith two weeks ago saying they would continue to build at this plant including a new product. They used the whole idea that they wouldn't close any plants as the carrot to get a better deal from the union. Then they turn around two weeks later and close a plant anyway. Plus at the same time they have also received a ton of money from the province of Ontario with the idea that it was supposed to create jobs and instead they keep making cuts and have now closed a plant. Even GM's spokesperson today admitted that they may have no choice but to give Ontario back some of the money they were given.

        It is one thing when you need to close a plant because times have changed. It is something different altogether when you go signing agreements with governments and unions based on a promise not to close a plant and then do it anyway two weeks later.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So much anger directed to the workers.
      Why are there no complaints about the taxes they pay?
      Yea I know unions are old, union workers overpaid blah blah.
      Ever notice how many IT workers are over paid to sit around and do nothing? Or create a monstrosity of software for a company? Or overpaid execs who just make one bad decision after another?
      Seen it all, heard it all.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All this animosity towards the CAW is a bit much, guys. What most of you fail to realize is the Oshawa plants have been ranked #1 in North America many, MANY times. And I'm sure they didn't hesitate in reaping all the profit from the low CDN dollar. Now, with the sharp rise in oil and GM's lack of predicting ANYTHING, they have gone and done their atypical move: dump the whole shebang without considering the ramifications, aside from costs.

      The CAW has every right to strike as hard as they are against GM for pulling such a underhanded move. The only way to get your point across to GM, apparently, is through their pocket book. This will send a message straight to it, and is the only thing the company understands in this changing market.

      Instead of firing all those people, why not investigate new truck designs that are much more fuel efficient and get construction on them started ASAP? They even mentioned they were apparently going to build a next-gen light-duty pickup there. GM pulled a snap-decision on this, and they're going to suffer the consequences. Just because Canadians are the only ones standing up for themselves, doesn't mean you should hate them for it. Maybe you should be more disappointed with the workers in Ohio that seem to be taking it on the back.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Rogue: You need to face reality.

        It takes 3 years to design a new vehicle, and that is without doing anything radical. Investigating new technologies to make trucks significantly more fuel efficient will take even longer than that. So they CAN'T start building the replacements immediately.

        Did GM management screw the pooch again? Sure. But that doesn't change the fact that GM has way too much capacity for building trucks. Some of that capacity has to be cut.

        GM should have started cutting that capacity 3 years ago. If they don't start cutting it now, GM will go under.

        If you think the closing those plants would be bad for the CAW, how do you think it would be the CAW if GM went bankrupt?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Peter: The sales numbers for trucks and SUVs have dropped of a cliff in May. From today's NY Times:

      "“At the peak in 2002, G.M. sold 600,000 full-size S.U.V.’s, but they’re on pace this year to sell less than 250,000 of them,” said David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities. “And the nails in the coffin are getting screwed down a little tighter.”"

      You can argue that GM should have foreseen $4/gallon gas and the effect it would have on consumers. I'd argue that they should have made the shift to cars a couple years ago. You can argue that they should have been building flexible factories like Honda that can quickly shift from one model to another. But they didn't. Was this a "shocking lack of foresight", to quote Peter De Lorenzo? Sure. But that, and $3.50, will get you a latte.

      So here they are with way too much capacity for trucks that they can't sell. And their mainstream small car is the POS Cobalt.

      GM lost a billion dollars last year. Trucks and SUV's were their most profitable vehicles. If they don't shut down the unneeded plants, GM will go broke.

      It sucks to be the CAW, but it is time for them to face reality. It will be better for the CAW if GM is able to stay afloat and save some jobs, then for GM to continue to lose money and go bankrupt.

      GM is fighting for its very existence. CAW needs to wake up to that fact.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just so I'm clear, the thought process of the CAW is: "wait, you are going to close the plant you said you were going to keep open? Then I'll just not work today."

      What is keeping GM from closing the plant today, then? It's like dealing with toddlers...
      • 6 Years Ago
      - Blocking entrances is illegal. Not only can the people who drove the trucks up be charged, but anyone even tangentially involved can be charged with conspiracy.

      - The plant is GM property. GM are well within their rights to have the trucks towed and their owners charged with trespassing.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ahh, but they also said that the plant would be open through most of 09, so depending on when they close, it could be accurate. Ultimately, the CAW may need to sit down and shut up for the good of everyone. If GM doesn't close these plants down, they may go under completely, or atleast have to close down several other plants and thus put MORE people out of work. Maybe they should talk to GM and see about maybe getting them to retool the plant and give the current employee's first stab at their old positions when it comes on line?

        Wait...that was compromise for the good of the workers and the company...not the union. Nevermind.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Breaking contracts is illegal too. BTY It's the head office, not the plant they are blockading; and if it WAS illegal to do that, the police would be doing something about it. Get Real
      • 6 Years Ago
      LOL...good observation.

      It's going to be a painful couple of years for the NA auto makers. The top management is to dumb and stubborn to realize that markets change. It would seem to me that anticipating the markets is a rather critical skill when you have multi year product cycles.

      I'm glad I work in a place where work strikes are grounds for automatic job termination.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I didn't say there was a work stoppage. I'm stating in general that here the unions are far weaker, thankfully.
        • 6 Years Ago
        There is no work stoppage at all. Get your information together before coming to a conclusion.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ok I am no fan of CAW or UAW and so forth but I do feel for them in this single and only case.

      Just recently they signed a brand new three year deal that included several shift cuts but no plant closings. Now GM has done an about face and is planning on closing it. Silverado sales dropped 30% in March and April as well so its not like sales only dropped last month. Im betting GM just said whatever it could to get the CAW to agree to a new contract. Therefore the negotiations were not done in good faith.

      Secondly, GM sells 100,000 silverados a year in Canada and CAW is arguing that they should build them locally. Thats not too much to ask. They already have the plant and every shift can make 50,000 a year. Two shifts is enough.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i don't get it. if a union illegally blocks the entrance to a business, it's called 'negotiations'. if the mob illegally blocks the entrance to a business, it's called 'racketeering'.
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