CAW Demands GM Retain Shift at Oshawa Truck Plant

    TORONTO, June 3 /CNW/ - The CAW is demanding that GM retain at least one
shift at its Oshawa truck assembly plant, following the shocking announcement
this morning that GM wants to cease production at that facility after the
third quarter of 2009.
    "General Motors has an obligation to our union and its members and to
Canadians in general to retain at least a share of its truck production in
this country," said Buzz Hargrove, president of the CAW. He called today's
announcement by GM "a devastating blow" to Canada's staggering auto industry.
    "We recognize that the overall market for GM's larger vehicles, including
pickups, is enduring a painful adjustment," Hargrove added, "but that does not
give this company the right to violate its recent collective agreement and
turn its back on Canada entirely."
    Until January of this year, the Oshawa plant operated on three shifts of
production. The third shift was laid off in January of this year due to
falling pickup sales. In April GM announced that it planned to lay off the
second shift this fall - but that action was postponed as a result of the
CAW's recent contract talks with the company.
    That agreement committed GM to maintain two shifts of employment at the
truck plant (working on an alternating on-off basis) until at least
September 2009. It also committed GM to allocate production of its
next-generation 10XX version of the pickup to the Oshawa truck facility. That
new generation vehicle was initially forecast to launch in the 2011-2012
    "The CAW has just concluded a collective agreement with GM that was
pro-active and responsible, and which the company itself acknowledged
substantially enhanced the competitiveness of its Canadian facilities,"
Hargrove added. "That agreement will save GM several hundreds of millions of
dollars over the next three years. This announcement is a clear violation of
GM's commitment to our members, their families and the community."
    "The other companies we deal with are enhancing their presence in Canada
through new investments," Hargrove said, mentioning product commitments at
several locations by Ford and Chrysler. "GM enjoys the largest productivity
advantage in Canada of any automaker, its facilities here have won repeated
quality awards, and yet it chooses to cease its Canadian truck production."
    "Times are tough for the North American auto manufacturers, but this
decision is absolutely unwarranted. It is offensive to the contribution which
Canadian workers and Canadian consumers have made to this company," Hargrove
    He noted that GM sold almost 100,000 pickup trucks in Canada last year.
Sales this year are off 15 per cent, but are holding up better than GM's sales
south of the border. "GM clearly sells enough pickups in Canada to justify
retention of one shift of employment at this plant," Hargrove said.
    Hargrove called on the provincial and federal governments to press GM to
retain at least one shift of employment at the plant beyond the third quarter
of 2009, until production of the new version of the truck begins. He pledged
to work closely with both governments and the company to ensure that the new
generation of the truck is allocated to Oshawa as soon as possible.
    He pointed out that GM's proposed action could not have occurred under
the rules of the former Canada-U.S. Auto Pact, which required participating
companies to maintain production of both cars and light trucks in Canada
proportionate to their sales here.
    Hargrove called again on the federal government to play a more active
role in supporting the industry. "The claim that the whole country can just
shrug off the auto industry crisis is being proven wrong every day," Hargrove
said. First-quarter GDP statistics released by Statistics Canada last Friday
confirm that Canada's battered auto industry is pulling the entire national
economy down into negative growth.
    "This is yet another catastrophic event in Jim Flaherty's own backyard -
a region that saw unemployment grow by 18 per cent last month alone - faster
than any other place in Canada. When will he and his colleagues open their
eyes, and recognize that we have a problem?"
    "In contrast to the federal government's inaction, the Ontario government
has been doing its best to support auto investment and employment," Hargrove
added. "Without provincial support (including its participation in GM's Beacon
Project), the situation facing the industry today would be far, far worse. But
we need both levels of government engaged in order to keep our share of future
investment and jobs," Hargrove said.
    The CAW and its members did everything they could in recent bargaining to
cement GM's presence in Oshawa, including a three-year wage freeze and
numerous cost-saving provisions. "This decision proves once again that we
can't solve this industry's problems at the bargaining table," Hargrove

For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications, Shannon Devine, (cell)
(416) 302-1699; or Angelo DiCaro, (cell) (416) 606-6311

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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