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GM/Unifor Deal Brings New Life to Canadian Automotive Manufacturing

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For a long time, tension has been rising in Canada’s auto manufacturing plants, as more and more vehicle production has been transferred away to other countries where it is less expensive—in total, this has led to a loss of more than 53,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2014, according to Ontario’s Automotive Policy Research Centre.

Tensions have been especially high as General Motors entered into negotiations with Unifor, Canada’s auto workers’ union, with the discussion centered on the at-risk Oshawa Assembly Plant near Toronto.

The stakes couldn’t have been higher—Dimitry Anastakis, professor of Canadian history at Trent University, summed up the situation to The Detroit News, saying that, “If you lose GM in Oshawa, you’ve really struck at the heart of the Canadian auto industry.”

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However, Canadian plant workers can now breathe a sigh of relief, as GM and Unifor have come to a tentative contract agreement that would bring new life to the Oshawa Plant. Specifically, the deal would secure a $520 million (Canadian, that is—it’s a bit under 395 million to us Americans) investment in two assembly plants in Canada, promise new products to be assembled there, increase wages, and convert temporary employees to full employees.

$400 million of that investment would go to the flex line at Oshawa and the remaining $120 million would go to the St. Catherine’s Propulsion Plant. Unifor President Jerry Dias didn’t mention specifically which vehicles GM would produce once the current line producing the Chevy Equinox closes next year, but told The Detroit News, “I expect we’ll be able to build pretty well anything within the General Motors portfolio.”

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News Source: The Detroit News