Unifor to meet with GM execs to discuss future of Oshawa plant

Unifor to meet with GM execs to discuss future of Oshawa plant

A top union president representing auto workers with General Motors Canada will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon about the fate of the assembly plant in Oshawa.

"Having completed an analysis of Unifor's proposals, GM has determined that it can not pursue them because they would not combat the declining economic and market factors that must be addressed", the company said in a letter from GM Canada president Travis Hester and labour relations vice president Gerald Johnson.

On Tuesday, Unifor National President, Jerry Dias met with GM officials in Detroit to discuss options the union had submitted last month to keep the plant open.

Auto workers, who were shocked by the news, protested GM's plan by staging sit-ins this week, and industry analysts have warned that other factories could follow.

"It's about corporate greed", said Dias.

GM has also not allocated new products for four US plants, raising the possibility of closure and the elimination of a total of about 15,000 jobs in North America.

An angry Dias spoke to media in Windsor after Tuesday's meeting.

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Resident Kristin Kasinskas told the Star Tribune that a neighbor waking a dog knocked on her door Thursday afternoon. They offered her water and food, but she declined both. "I think it's very unusual for where we are".

Dias said he's not accepting the end of the Oshawa plant and that the company acknowledged in the meeting it would be possible to extend current production at the plant. He added how the Canadian governments and taxpayers also provided $11 billion in subsidies to GM at a time when it faced near bankruptcy a decade ago.

"Though there was an understanding of the importance of the (Canadian) market and the incredible contribution of our members in Oshawa, they weren't reaching for the solution which is at hand". "But at least he's fighting", said Dias.

GM confirmed it has no plans to build vehicles in the Oshawa plant after the end of 2019, which is part of a broad restructuring announced in November.

David Paterson, vice president of corporate affairs at GM Canada, said the union should instead work with the company on timing and transition plans for the workers who are losing their jobs. The union has planned a rally in Windsor, Ont. Friday to coincide with a GM investor update.

The union has said the decision is contrary to commitments made by GM in contract negotiations with Unifor in 2016.

"We know these decisions are challenging for all of us, but GM remains committed to working jointly with Unifor to facilitate and support the transition of the Oshawa Assembly workforce", the company said.

The company responded the suggestions were too expensive and would further deteriorate GM's competitive position.

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