Unifor Press Conference
The National Union led by President Jerry Dias and economist Jim Stanford are holding a press conference in Toronto today at Queen’s Park to stress the importance of the Oshawa facility and St Catharines not only to both levels of government but to Ontario taxpayers as well. Although the press conference will be primarily focused on Oshawa due to the critical situation at that facility our message will be heard as well. This will start at 9:30 a.m.
The Message we put forward from St Catharines.
Investing in auto industry benefits all
By Tim McKinnon
The auto industry has brought many benefits to St. Catharines and to Canada as a whole.
First and foremost are the jobs. Most obviously, there are the jobs for 1500 workers at General Motors’ engine and transmission plant in St Catharines right now, making good livings to support both their families and local businesses, and to provide a future for their families. That’s a pretty significant benefit, but there’s more.
We need to also remember that those who have worked at the plant in the past, and are now retired, represent another benefit brought to the Region from having a GM plant here. These 6,000 current retirees continue contributing through their purchasing power, volunteer work and more.
But perhaps the best thing about having a strong auto presence here is the promise of jobs for future generations, giving our children the chance to build lives in the place where they were raised, and giving our community the security it needs to prosper.
That is a special and precious thing, and I am grateful for it.
Throughout Niagara, many others benefit from the auto industry, as well. That’s because every job in an auto plant creates nine more jobs in the broader community. Most of those jobs are found at suppliers to the plant, contractors and other companies serving the plant directly.
Indirectly, jobs are also created throughout Niagara every time a worker at the plant spends his or her wages, buying homes, food, even saving for our children’s’ education at the local bank.
As well, each of these workers pays federal and provincial taxes that help support such things as healthcare and education, as well as local property taxes that pay for such things as local parks and keeping the roads plowed.
These sorts of benefits have been accruing to St. Catharines and the surrounding area for generations, since the plant’s early days as a pioneering transmissions and differential maker – switching nearly a century ago from saddlery and wagon hardware manufacturing to serving the emerging auto industry of the day.
General Motors eventually took over the plant, and has been operating in Canada and providing those good jobs because this is a good place for them to do business. Canadian auto workers provide the highest levels of quality, productivity and innovation in the world.
Unifor has worked with GM and the other Detroit Three auto makers to both ensure Canada remains a good place to invest, and that the auto industry continues to create good jobs. Following the 2008 economic crisis, both the Canadian public and Unifor members helped ensure General Motors and other car companies were able to weather the storm.
Several recent investments and expansions in Ontario’s auto industry are proof that the companies see Canada as a good place to invest, including GM in Ingersoll, Ford in Oakville, Chrysler in Windsor, Honda in Alliston and Linamar in Guelph.
The benefits to all of Canada from having the auto industry here is shown in a study released this week.
The study, Economic Impact of GM Operations in Canada, looks specifically at the economic impact of stopping production at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, but its lessons apply well beyond that city.
Auto manufacturing is a big boost to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product, provides needed tax revenue to support such services as health care and education and bolsters the Canada Pension Plan.
The report found that if the Oshawa plant were to close, the federal and Ontario governments would see both a permanent loss of revenues and an increase in their deficits of more than $1 billion a year. The report also found there would be significant implications for the CPP as a result of the loss of contribution revenue, which would require significant increases in contribution rates or cuts in benefits.
Industry, labour and government came together in 2008 to help ensure the survival of the auto industry in this country. This week’s report provides just one example of how valuable that effort was to Canada.
But around us every day, in St. Catharines and the surrounding area, we see that benefit in the thriving shops and businesses, and in the children with a chance of good jobs with which they can one day build their lives.
It is vital that Canada develop an ongoing and workable plan to encourage growth in the auto industry – as other countries have already done.
This industry is too important to Canada, and our community, to do different.
Thank you. We will keep you updated.
Issued by,Tim McKinnon, GM Unit Chairperson
On behalf of the Bargaining Committee;
Brian Chemnitz, Paul Dortono, Doug Wark, Ron Allen. UNIFOR Local 199