Unifor begins strike at 3 GM facilities in Canada

About 4,300 unionized workers went on strike at three General Motors plants in Canada on Tuesday, boosting pressure on the automaker grappling with a U.S. union work stoppage now in its fourth week.

The walkout by workers came after Canadian union Unifor said GM was “stubbornly refusing” to match the three-year contract the labour union reached with Ford Motor, which offered wage increases of up to 25 per cent in Canada.

Unifor said it would go on strike at GM’s Oshawa assembly complex, St. Catharines powertrain plant and the Woodstock parts distribution centre, but members at the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ont., will work as they are covered by a separate agreement.

Pattern bargaining

“The decision to strike was not taken lightly,” Unifor said in a statement. “After working throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and into the final hours before the deadline, General Motors made it clear that they would not agree to meet the conditions of the pattern agreement.”

Unifor has used the “pattern bargaining” approach in its talks, reaching a deal first with Ford and then expecting GM and Stellantis to match. The UAW, on the other hand, broke with that approach under its new leadership.

“We cannot and we will not settle for less than pattern — not today — not ever,” Unifor said.

The union said it is looking for improvements for part-time workers seeking a path to full-time employment and on pensions, as well as support for retiring workers.

Production impact

GM now faces a likely disruption in production as workers at the St. Catharines plant make engines for a variety of vehicles, powertrains for the Chevrolet Equinox and Corvette, as well as engine component parts.

At the Oshawa plant, workers build Chevrolet Silverado trucks, one of GM’s most profitable models, while the plant’s stamping operations supply various parts for GM North America. GM did not immediately say Tuesday when it expects disruptions from the Canadian strike to affect U.S. auto production.

LISTEN | GM workers walk off the job: 

Metro Morning7:19More than 4,000 General Motors Canada workers have walked off the job after failing to reach an agreement with automaker

Featured VideoLana Payne is national president for Unifor — the union behind these labour negotiations.

Wells Fargo said in a research note that Oshawa was the smallest of GM’s pickup plants, producing about 2,800 trucks per week, but added the impact was likely wider at St. Catharines since the “majority of GM’s large SUVs and heavy-duty full-size pickups use the V8 engines. Also, about half of standard full-size pickups use V8 engines, so engine options on these vehicles could be limited if the strike drags on.”

In U.S., 25,000 autoworkers are on strike

GM was disappointed about being unable to reach a deal at this time but will continue to negotiate with Unifor, the automaker said in a statement.

Unifor represents about 18,000 workers at the Canadian facilities of the Detroit Three automakers, which also include Ford…

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