Car manufacturing giant General Motors (GM) Canada says it is ready to bring back production of pickup trucks to its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, if workers there ratify the tentative labour deal reached by the company with Unifor trade union after long negotiations.
GM Canada president and managing director Scott Bell said the company is also ready to make additional investments at its St. Catharines Propulsion Plant and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre.
GM’s planned new investments will include up to $1.3 billion at Oshawa plant with the expected hiring of 1,400 to 1,700 hourly workers; $109 million in St. Catharines to support added engine and transmission production; and $500,000 in operations at the Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre, Bell said in a statement.
“Construction will begin immediately at Oshawa Assembly and will include a new body shop and flexible assembly module, to support a fast response to strong customer demand for GM’s new family of pickup trucks,” Bell said.
Oshawa pickup production is targeted to begin in January 2022, he added.
‘We have never given up on Oshawa’
Unifor national president Jerry Dias welcomed the announcement.
“We have never given up on Oshawa and I am so pleased to announce that up to 1,700 members will be building both Silverados and Sierras on a two-shift operation in Oshawa and we were able to negotiate investments that will stabilize operations in both St. Catharines and Woodstock,” he said.
The union is advising its members to ratify the three-year collective agreement with GM, which follows a deal signed with Ford last month.
“This bargaining team worked very hard and I am grateful for the support and solidarity from members as we bargained during ever changing and difficult conditions during a pandemic. I urge members to support this settlement,” said Tim McKinnon, who headed Unifor’s GM Master Bargaining Committee.
More details of the tentative agreement will be presented to Unifor members during a series of virtual ratification meetings over the weekend, and members will vote on whether to accept the agreement over a 24-hour period, starting at 11 am on Sunday, Unifor officials said in a statement.
Pickups are GM’s largest and most important market segment in Canada and across the continent, GM officials said.
GM CEO Mary Barra told analysts on a conference call discussing earnings on Thursday that demand for profitable models like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra is so strong that the plants that make them are operating “around the clock.”
“The fact is we simply can’t build enough,” she said, “and because we expect demand to remain strong we must increase capacity.”
With files from CBC News