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GM Is Said to Plan Closure of Canada Plant With 2,200 Workers

Nov. 26, 2018
Oshawa plant was once one of the largest automotive facilities in Canada.

A car plant that General Motors Co. has operated for 65 years in Canada could be on the verge of shutting down, though the union that represents thousands of workers at the factory are still holding out hope.

The company will announce Monday that it’s ending production at its plant in Oshawa, Ontario, two people familiar with the plans said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Unifor, the union representing autoworkers, said it’s been told there is no car production assigned to the factory beyond next year, raising the prospect of talks to preserve jobs.

“We have been informed that, as of now, there is no product allocated to the Oshawa assembly plant past December 2019,” Unifor said in a written statement Sunday night. “Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit” of a contract agreement reached in 2016, the union said.

The Oshawa plant employs about 2,200 people, the union says, and was once one of the largest carmaking facilities in Canada. David Paterson, a spokesman for GM in Canada, declined to comment. The potential plant closure was reported earlier by CTV News, which didn’t say where it got the information.

Any closure would mark the end of more than a century of carmaking in Oshawa, a city about 60 kilometers (36 miles) east of Toronto. Detroit-based GM started operating the massive plant in 1953.

The survival of the factory was a key issue in the automaker’s 2016 labor talks with Unifor, the union that represents tens of thousands of autoworkers in Canada. As part of that settlement, GM had agreed to spend some C$400 million (US$302 million) in the Oshawa operations, Bloomberg News reported at the time. The union hailed the agreement as part of an effort to stem the loss of jobs to Mexico.

Unifor said it received notice Sunday from “General Motors that the company will make a major announcement tomorrow that will impact its global operations.” It said it doesn’t yet have complete details and would speak with company representatives on Monday.

According to GM’s website, it has two lines in Oshawa. One makes the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS cars, while the other builds the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. GM also operates Canadian plants in Ingersoll and St. Catharines, Ontario.

The plant had employed 23,000 workers as recently as 1983. Production in Oshawa and other car centers near Toronto has dwindled in the last few decades as more North American production shifted to lower-cost centers in Mexico and the U.S.

By Josh Wingrove and Kevin Miller

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