Members of Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, ratified a new three-year labor agreement with General Motors that will bring truck production back to the GM manufacturing complex in Oshawa, Ontario, just outside Toronto.
Unifor said in a statement that union members by a margin of 85% voted to ratify a new three-year collective agreement that includes significant investments, job security and economic gains.
“This contract solidifies and boldly builds on GM’s Canadian footprint, with a $1.3-billion investment that brings 1,700 jobs to Oshawa plus more than $109 million to in-source new transmission work for the Corvette and support continued V8 engine production in St. Catharines,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president.
“Jobs at all three Canadian sites are secure for the life of this agreement, including at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre, which will also see upgrades,” added Dias.
By reopening the Oshawa to produce trucks – it last built vehicles there in 2019 when it was helping to finish up full-size pickups – the site will be the only GM plant capable of producing light- and heavy-duty trucks. The union noted that the St. Catharines site will produce the engines for the pickups produced in Oshawa.
For now, the Oshawa plant will build heavy-duty pickups initially because, as GM CEO Mary Barra noted last week, the company is struggling to keep up with demand for those vehicles. Barra and Dias noted that plans to get the plant ready to produce the trucks will begin almost immediately.
GM said it will begin construction of a new body shop and flexible assembly module, which is what will make the plant the only one able to build both types of trucks. The goal is to begin production in January 2022. Under the terms of the contract Unifor expects GM to hire 2,000 employees by summer 2022 to staff the plant, which will build heavy-duty and regular pickup trucks.
In addition to getting Oshawa back into production mode – something Dias was very vocal about – the employees also got 5% hourly wage increases, a $7,250 productivity and quality bonus, plus $4,000 in other related benefits.
The agreement was the final one for the union which had struck earlier deals with GM’s Detroit-area rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Dias, who has become very fond of sports analogies during the talks, used another to describe the results of this set of negotiations.
“After Ford and FCA, this amounts to a hat trick worth almost $5 billion dollars,” he said. Ford’s deal secured $1.95 billion in new investment while FCA’s agreement netted $1.5 billion. All investment numbers are in Canadian dollars.