Workers at General Motors Co.’s Canadian plants are on strike, idling key factories in Ontario, after contract negotiations with the union representing about 4,300 employees failed to bring an agreement.
(Bloomberg) — Workers at General Motors Co.’s Canadian plants are on strike, idling key factories in Ontario, after contract negotiations with the union representing about 4,300 employees failed to bring an agreement.
Unifor, which represents auto workers in Canada, had been trying to get GM to match a three-year deal it signed with Ford Motor Co. that includes wage increases, cost of living allowances and pension improvements. The sides couldn’t reach an accord by a Monday night deadline.
The strike raises the pressure on GM, which has already been dealing since mid-September with US strikes by the United Auto Workers. The automaker gave an important concession to that union last week, agreeing to bring battery-plant employees into the UAW’s fold, helping to ease concerns about the transition to electric vehicles.
The Canadian talks cover workers at three GM facilities, including an assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, that produces Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks and a powertrain plant in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Oshawa is the smallest of GM’s plants producing full-size pickup trucks, generating an estimated $50 million of earnings before interest and taxes, Wells Fargo said in a note to investors. But the impact is “likely wider” because the St. Catharines factory makes larger engines used in GM’s line of heavy-duty pickup trucks and large sport-utility vehicles assembled in other locations.
“Given Ford already set a contract pattern, we expect the GM strike to be relatively short-lived,” said the note by analysts including Colin Langan.
In the US, thousands of workers at some GM assembly plants and parts distribution centers remain off the job as the UAW seeks to emerge from its strike with a wage increase of at least 30%, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. GM has offered 20%, along with other sweeteners.
Unlike the UAW, which hit all three Detroit automakers at once with targeted shutdowns, the Canadian union decided to stick with the traditional “pattern bargaining” approach.
It first struck an agreement with Ford that will see base hourly wages rise 20% to 25% over three years, depending on the job, plus bonuses, according to a union statement. Unifor is now trying to get GM to meet those terms, and will demand the same from Chrysler parent Stellantis NV.
“The decision to strike was not taken lightly,” Unifor officials including President Lana Payne 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. We cannot and we will not settle for less than pattern – not today – not ever.”
(Updates with comments from Wells Fargo analysts, union officials.)
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