GM Unit Chairperson’s Report

Plant population 890 production active, 380 skilled trade’s active and 221 New Hires active, for a total population of 1491 active members

Volumes in GEN 5 V8 / HFV6 / GF6 Transmission

The V8 engine volumes in St. Catharines are extraordinarily strong. This summer we will be working full out during the two weeks of shutdown.
The HFV6 engine is slated to lose a shift of production in the August time frame, this is tied to the loss of the Camaro in Oshawa. The Local Union is continuing to seek new capacity in the HFV6.
The Company has also informed the Union that the GF6 Transmission schedule shows strong demand in the 2015 calendar year.
Agile Block is steady with production scheduled during the shutdown period. There is also a possible extension as we continue to supply Holden in Australia which is not scheduled to close until sometime in 2017.

In our facility we currently machine parts for and assemble parts to produce:

HFV6 Engines-1500/day on 3 shifts
V8 Generation 5 Engines-968/day on 2 shifts
GF6 Transmissions-1200/day on 3 shifts
Agile Block- 260/day on 2 shifts

The State of Auto in Ontario

To put things in perspective. Since 2001 43,000 automotive jobs have disappeared from Ontario and 7 billion dollars in potential revenue has been forgone due to the loss of automotive industry jobs in automotive dependent communities in Southern Ontario.

Without the decline in automotive employment since 2001 in Southern Ontario, enough revenue would have been generated at the Federal and Provincial level to invest in up to 39 additional assembly operations. Mexico has received the majority of “New” investment since the 2009 meltdown even though they contributed no money towards General Motors recovery. Unfortunately the Governments of the day are not paying attention to the protectionist auto policies around the world excluding Canada.

To date GM has failed to allocate future product to St Catharines. The Canadian manufacturing footprint commitment that the government negotiated with GM as part of the 2009 rescue, is set to expire at the end of 2016. We all know our future is in jeopardy without new product.

Despite the fact that Governments still depend on the auto industry and the spin-off jobs created and the billions in tax revenues paid by autoworkers, parts workers and suppliers, they have made the appalling choice of selling all their remaining shares both Provincially and Federally. Once again we are left to fend for ourselves without Government support or for that matter public support.

The auto industry brings with it many benefits, jobs that provide for raising a family and advanced education. Jobs that sustain local businesses and communities from direct and indirect auto industry employment- jobs that offer opportunities for future employment and prosperity. Our priority going forward is to seek and secure “New Product Allocation”. We owe it to the New Hires, the Retirees and ourselves and we owe it to the community in general.

Plan “A” Our plan is as simple in design as it will be hard to attain.

1. We must get the SWE’s hired fulltime and start them on their progression to full wages and benefits.
2. To accomplish this we MUST obtain a commitment to new product so that our first objective is sustainable. Not sell our souls to achieve this aim.
3. Pensions. If we succeed in our first two aims it will make securing our pension obligations from GM easier as there will be a presence in Canada and funding for our pensions. New investment/products/ leads to stability for the existing pension plans.

Or go with..

Plan “B” Do nothing. Face the possibility of closing. Hope for the best.

If the Company does not seek new opportunities in St Catharines with the Union before 2016 it will be too late and there will only be scraps left at the table after UAW bargaining is concluded. We have continually expressed an interest in dialogue for new work both “Nationally” and “Locally”. If we don’t get a timely response it could become an uncertain future for everyone.

Pension & Healthcare Information

The next question, looking at worst case scenarios, is “What if GM went bankrupt?” There is no indication that this is at all a possibility. GM in Canada and the head corporations are profitable and financially strong. GM sales are growing. Nevertheless, if this happened, Unifor, and the Ontario government (that contributed $4 billion to the GM pension fund), would seek payments from the US parent to fully fund the Canadian pension plan. There are a number of cases where the Ontario government has successfully forced a US parent to honour their Canadian operations’ pension agreements.

Today the GM Canada pension plan is 84% funded on a continuing basis. However, if the plan were to wind up, it is 67% funded. The funded status of the plan has improved each year since 2009 when it was only 45% funded on a wind up basis. It is very important to keep the company operating in Canada and funding the pension plan.

In a worst-case scenario, with no additional payments from the US parent at all and no special assistance from government, all active members and retirees in the GM pension plan would be paid 67% of their benefit. This would be a painful reduction in pensions.

Another concern is the new option for GM retirees to take the lump sum or commuted value of their pension at retirement (rather than a monthly pension). Almost 80% of the GM pension liabilities rest with the pensioners, so the commuted value option for current actives retiring does not have a significant impact on the pension fund. Even so, there is a protection in place: if the sum of commuted value transfers reduces the funded status of the pension by 10%, the Ontario pension regulator will order a review of the plan which could halt the transfers or require special GM funding.

The union reluctantly agreed to the lump sum option in the 2012 Detroit 3 negotiations in order to get an agreement. However, Unifor continues to have serious concerns about the wisdom of members taking their lump sum pensions upon retirement. There are significant investment risks as well as a high rate of tax on the lump sum for most members.

Unifor will continue to work to enhance GM’s presence in Canada, to ensure that GM lives up to its regulatory commitments, and to push government to leverage a strong commitment from the company to its Canadian operations, its Canadian workers, and its Canadian retirees.

Health care is an important retirement benefit. Fortunately, the ASR Trust for health benefits for GM retirees and their families is very securely funded. Its funds are entirely separate from GM as a result of the 2009 restructuring. Current retirees and their families as well as active members eligible to retire in a closure can rely on the ASR Trust for their retiree health care benefits.

Where did they go?

Starting this month, Retiree’s names will now be posted on the Local 199 website after they have retired.

Sunday May 3rd, 2015
Merritton Community Center
11:00 am.

(This meeting is for all members Production, Trades and New Hires)

Issued by,Tim McKinnon, GM Unit Chairperson

On behalf of the Bargaining Committee;
Brian Chemnitz, Paul Dortono, Doug Wark, Ron Allen. UNIFOR Local 199