Unifor Saves Some Canadian Jobs as GM Blinks on Oshawa

AutoInformed.com on Unifor and Oshawa Closing

This fight has international ramifications stretching beyond next year when the Canadian autoworkers and the UAW contracts expire at the Detroit Three.

General Motors Canada and Unifor today announced that they have reached a “Transformation Agreement” that will transition the GM Oshawa Assembly operations to parts manufacturing and advanced vehicle testing. The Agreement saves some 300 jobs out of 2600 with good prospects for growth.

Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, fighting a global war with all automakers and parts suppliers, said “this is a combination of success and failure; there’s not a lot of jobs today, but GM is going to maintain a production footprint.”

Dias, who presents the deal – part of a much bigger overall strategy – to his membership tomorrow. Some of them were openly skeptical on the union’s Facebook page calling it a “sell-out” among other non-printable epithets. They seem to forget that Dias was dealing with “Armageddon” (his word) last November. He’s still fighting.

AutoInformed observes that people should now be aware of what’s going on in the C$80 billion auto business in Canada. And politicians are being held accountable for NAFTA and selling out to rich interests at the expense of workers. It’s part of a longstanding  global trend, one that is exercised with hidden glee by Democrat and Republican politicians bought and paid for by rich special interests in the U.S.  “Mexican autoworkers still can’t buy the cars they help to build,” Dias says, adding “he will never let go of that fundamental belief.”

This fight has international ramifications stretching beyond next year when the Canadian autoworkers and the UAW contracts expire at the Detroit Three. While not official, this makes the beginning of bargaining table battles that will cast a large shadow on the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The Deal:

  • GM plans to invest in excess of C$170 million to support a transition of operations at Oshawa from vehicle assembly to one focused on stamping, related sub-assembly, and other miscellaneous activities for GM and other auto industry customers.
  • GM will convert part of the Oshawa Plant property into a test track for autonomous and advanced technology vehicles – further expanding the capability of GM’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC) in Ontario. **
  • GM Canada will offer special relocations to Oshawa employees for jobs at some of its other Ontario operations.
  • GM will offer enhanced retirement packages to retirement-eligible Oshawa Assembly employees including vouchers toward the purchase of new GM vehicles, a benefit that will support both retiring employees and GM dealerships in Durham Region and surrounding areas.
  • A transition plan for other GM Oshawa Assembly employees. A “Jobs Action Centre” will be opened in June 2019, in Oshawa to enable employees to plan now for future jobs outside GM following the end of Oshawa vehicle production in December 2019. Supported by GM, Unifor and the Ontario government, the Jobs Action Centre will help match employee skills with new employers’ requirements.
  • GM will offer retraining financial support for all qualified Oshawa Assembly hourly employees seeking new employment. GM also intends to donate the three-acre Fenelon Park and the 87-acre McLaughlin Bay wildlife preserve to the City of Oshawa for the permanent benefit of all its citizens with or without jobs.

“By maintaining a footprint in Oshawa, and keeping the plant intact, we save hundreds of jobs and this gives us the ability to build and create new jobs in the future. We are in a much better position than we were five months ago when the plant was closing,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

 ** The Oshawa Transformation Agreement will transform the plant and retain jobs, some of which will support a new Oshawa Test Track that GM plans to build at the southern end of the current Oshawa Assembly plant.  It will support GM Canada’s Canadian Technical Centre (CTC), its Oshawa and Markham campuses where the company now develops software and hardware for Autonomous Vehicle Systems, Embedded Controls, Active Safety Systems and Infotainment. These work streams all require extensive in-vehicle testing in a safe, effective and controlled environment.

Currently, work at GM’s Canadian Technical Centre annually requires more than 4,000 people hours of in-car testing on a GM-controlled vehicle development surface, a demand that is expected to expand as these operations grow to support 1,000 engineers. The new Oshawa Test Track it’s claimed will reduce costs and alleviate the current need to book GM facilities outside Canada for required development testing

General Motors in Canada

General Motors of Canada markets Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles through Canada’s dealer network, as well as OnStar and MAVEN services. Headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario, GM Canada employs more than 7,700 people across the country.


Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

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