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Canadian Workers Ratify New Pact with GM

Longest strike in nearly two decades over.

by on Oct.16, 2017

The strike by Unifor workers at GM's plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, ended with a new four-year deal.

This story contains updated information.

Striking workers at the General Motors plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, have ratified a new four-year contract with the automaker, ending the longest walkout at a GM plant in nearly two decades.

Unifor Local 88 announced the results of the ratification vote Monday afternoon and said workers would begin returning to work begin immediately. The agreement was passed by 85.9% members and 78.7% of trades, the local said.

Union News!

“The ratification of a new four-year agreement between GM Canada and Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Assembly is welcome news for our company, employees and the community,” Steve Carlisle, president and managing director, General Motors Canada, in a statement.

“We have an outstanding new product at CAMI with the Chevrolet Equinox and I am confident that we will quickly pull together to continue to demonstrate to the world the outstanding productivity, innovation and quality that is synonymous with the CAMI workforce.”

The tentative agreement came late Friday after GM had warned Unifor Local 88, the union representing some 2,750 workers employed at the plant, the company was prepared to shift more production of the popular Chevrolet Equinox from Canada to Mexico if the four-week-old strike continued.

(GM reaches deal with Canadian workers. For the story, Click Here.)

The threat had appeared to lead to a deadlock in the talks, which had stalled out the previous week.

Local 88 employees were angry about GM's decision to move production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico.

Details of the tentative agreement are being withheld pending ratification, but one of the union’s key demands was a commitment from GM that the Ingersoll plant would remain the lead plant for production of the Equinox, a compact sport utility vehicle that is one of the most popular vehicles sold by GM in North America.

The union wanted a written commitment from GM that Ingersoll would be the lead plant, meaning production would be reduced at factories in Mexico if production of the Equinox need to be reduced because of a decline in sales.

(Click Here for details about Unifor’s demand for new product in Ingersoll.)

Inventories on dealer lots had dwindled to less than 40 days and GM faces stiff competition for sales in the segment from competitors such as the Toyota RAV4, Honda CRV and Ford Escape.

The dispute over the merits of the North American Free Trade Agreement. GM has long-favored NAFTA, which allows it to build vehicles and components in Mexico duty free, while Unifor, like its counterpart in the U.S., the United Auto Workers, has criticized the trade pact claiming it’s destroying jobs in the U.S. and Canada.

The dispute in Ingersoll intensified in July after GM laid off 600 employees and shifted production of the GMC Terrain to Mexico. GM countered that it had already invested $800 million in the remodeling the plant but layoffs led directly to the strike union representatives said when the strike began Sept. 17.

(To see more about the negotiations between GM and Unifor, Click Here.)

“This strike has shown all of Canada why a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement must address the needs of working people first,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias in a statement after the tentative settlement was reached.

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