GM CHAIR REPORT, January 3rd 2019
Happy New Year
I would like to welcome all our members back to the plant and hope you enjoyed the break from General Motors. On behalf of the Bargaining Committee we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
Unfortunately, 2019 looks like it’s going to be a tough year for autoworkers, despite GM making record profits. They announced that they would be idling five plants in Oshawa, Warren, Maryland, Detroit and Baltimore. This was devastating news for the workers that will be impacted. The National Union, Local 222 and the UAW have initiated fightback campaigns to keep their plants open.
Our leadership supports these workers and any campaign that highlights the importance of the Auto Sector to the Canadian Economy and the importance of maintaining a strong Canadian footprint. What we can’t support is a campaign that boycotts GM products that we help make. It does not make any sense to ask people not to buy GM products that create good jobs for our members working in St. Catharines, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Oshawa and all the dealerships across Canada. After much dialog the message has been modified. The Local Union has made it abundantly clear to the National Union that although we support Oshawa in their campaign to stay open we will not do anything that will put our facility at risk.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the impact on our plant if these plants are closed. It is important that our members in St. Catharines understand that less than 10% of our volumes go to these facilities and we are already working to secure volumes that will help offset that reduction.
Members are also concerned that if Oshawa closes at the end of 2019 there will be preferential hire from Oshawa. This is a possibility, however, it’s important to note that if anyone comes here under preferential hire language they will have date of entry seniority. They can’t bypass anyone already working here. That includes layoffs, transfers, job postings, vacations etc. Our members who went to Oshawa can attest to that.
If Oshawa does close at the end of 2019, there will be an impact to our facility in the HFV6 and Gen 5 areas with the loss of volume associated to the closure. That said we have secured work in January for the Gen 5 even though Arlington has shut down for a month with no impact to our location.
What’s up for 2019
In 2019 the Auto sector will be constantly in the media. The USMCA has just been signed and Donald Trump is weighing in on the US Plant closures; meanwhile the UAW is heading into bargaining. This means 2019 is shaping up to be a tumultuous year to say the least!
As always, we will continue to seek opportunities to bring work to our facility and the dialog has already started on replacements for products we currently produce. We continue to work with the National Union and the Company. We have had a great deal of dialog and will continue to meet with the Federal and Ontario Ministers who oversee the auto industry in Canada. They in turn have met in Detroit with Mary Barra C.E.O of General Motors to press the case for new investment by the automaker at its Canadian operations. “High-paying auto assembly jobs, which also create parts supply and other spinoff jobs, have been a key driver of Ontario’s economic engine.”
As your Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson of the Master Committee, I have had the opportunity to attend numerous meetings in Canada and Detroit on the future of St. Catharines. In addition, the Shop Committee have had dialog with prominent GM Management personnel to make sure that they continue to see St. Catharines as an attractive place to do business. In every meeting we have NEVER missed the opportunity to point out we have a work force that is second to none. I can say with all honesty that it is the hard-working men and women in St. Catharines that gives this Committee and myself the ability to fight for this facility and our local. Remember Canadian plants have always had a “value-added” boost, including “high quality, high-skilled labour”. St. Catharines has many advantages to offer GM for high-quality, competitive, profitable production.
There will be a number of key people coming to our facility over the next few of weeks. This will be a fantastic opportunity for “You” to demonstrate that “We” are nothing short of “The Best!”
We will continue to have many meetings in the coming months and we will report back to the membership on any future developments.
Just prior to Christmas St Catharines was awarded BIQ 4 ready. This is the final step to becoming BIQ 4 Certified. To be given any new product a facility must have BIQ certification so this is an important milestone for our facility. We expect we should be certified by the end of the first quarter.
Last year’s transfers (62s) become null and void January 28, 2019. The Company will accept new transfers as of January 21, 2019 and they will become valid February 4, 2019.
UAW Bargaining this year
The UAW will be starting negotiations with the Detroit 3 in 2019. Following GM’s announcement of idling two major American assembly plants at Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan and Lordstown, Ohio. There is speculation that GM could be playing those communities against each other and may be willing to restore production to one of those plants. That could create some contentious bargaining sessions this year and some internal strife within the UAW. We don’t know what will happen in these negotiations or what they will agree upon, but we do know what is negotiated will impact Canada. Therefore, we have already engaged in talks with the Company so that we are prepared to pitch Canadian facilities prior to products being assigned to other countries. It’s going to be very important to continue the dialog so that we are not an afterthought and can achieve our goal of having sustainable work in our facility for the long-term viability of our plant.
A Word of Caution
All our members should be fully aware that GM can and will make life altering decisions that impact and devastate communities. This is the time to stand with your Union! We need you to support the #InvestGMStCatharines campaign which is ramping up to gain public support for our cause!
Once again, on behalf of the Bargaining Committee we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
Issued by; Tim McKinnon, GM Unit Chairperson on behalf of the GM Bargaining Committee
Paul Dortono, Doug Wark, John Rakich, Trevor Longpre, Ken Naldjieff