Unifor Optimistic about Future of GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant


The mood at Friday's Unifor rally at Windsor's riverfront will be determined Monday according to National President Jerry Dias.

Dias has been in talks with General Motors since mid-December and after Friday's discussion he says there's a real chance of saving Oshawa's century-old production facility.

The union boss is expecting a phone call from the automaker sometime on Monday about the future of the assembly plant.

He says thousands of Unifor members could flood Windsor's riverfront Friday morning at the same time as a GM investor event at its world headquarters in Detroit — if it's a celebration or a protest is entirely up to GM.

"Listen, I'm the world's biggest optimist. General Motors is going to understand that abandoning Canada doesn't make any sense because we're a huge market," he says. "I expect there's going to be a positive resolution but we're just going to wait to see how this unfolds."

According to a report by Bloomberg, GM's stock was under-performed despite turning a profit in 2018, the stock rebounded after they announced 14,000 jobs would be cut and the company would restructure.

Dias tells AM800 News GM may have underestimated the potential back-lash on both sides of the border.

"They expected that they'd be able to build a million vehicles a year in Mexico while only selling about 230,000 vehicles a year in Mexico but 90% of the $6-billion in the first nine months of 2018 were sold in Canada and the United States," says Dias. "I don't think they want to tinker with that, they wouldn't if they were smart."

The move has become a talking point for all Canadians, not just autoworkers, according to Dias.

"General Motors has to decide how much anger they're going to absorb from Canadians," he says. "Canadians gave GM $11-billion 10-years-ago, Mexico didn't give them one nickel so people are feeling betrayed."

Dias says, depending how Monday's discussion goes, the union could meet with GM to finalize or continue working on a resolution Tuesday.

The rally is set to begin at 10:30am at Windsor's Dieppe Gardens — the second rally held by Unifor that Dias says will be much larger.

Oshawa's Local 222 presidents and Dias are set to speak at an event that will see members bussed in from all over the region, including Oshawa.