GM Chair Report January 9th 2020

GM CHAIR REPORT – January 2020

Happy New Year

We would like to welcome all our members back and hope you enjoyed the Christmas break. On behalf of the Bargaining Committee we would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  There has been a great deal of speculation about the impact on our plant now that Oshawa and Hamtramck are closed. It is important that our members in St. Catharines understand that less than 10% of our volumes went to these facilities and we recently have secured volumes that will help offset that reduction.

Volumes in GEN 5 V8 / HFV6 / GF6 Transmission

The V8 engine volumes in St. Catharines are extremely strong. St Catharines is building both the 5.3 liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines for Arlington in Texas, Fort Wayne in Indiana, Lansing Grand River in Michigan, Ramos in Mexico and Aftermarket Marine Applications (Volvo, Ilmor, Pleasure craft) that feature GM’s Dynamic Fuel Management technology. We currently produce roughly 6000 V8 engines a week on 2 full shifts and 1 partial shift.

The HFV6 engine is sole sourced to Lansing Delta and are currently running 2 shifts with volume increases coming as the 4-cylinder CSS engine is not selling well. The Company has informed the Union there will be a “temporary” increase due to the lack of sales of the 4-cylinder and we will now be shipping HFV6 engines to Brazil. We currently produce roughly 5000 V6 engines a week on 2 shifts. This will be increased to 2 and a partial due to the temporary increase in orders.

The GF6 Transmission ships to Cami in Ingersoll and Ramos in Mexico. Our schedule is currently 2 shifts full out at 4200 transmissions a week. As Cami is our largest customer we will be in constant contact with them regarding their schedule for 2020/2021. A future concern is the Transmission is a 6 speed and could become obsolete in the next 18 to 24 months.

Welcome to our new TPTs: The Company will be hiring 70 TPTs, 35 will be full time for the temporary increase in the HFV6 and the remaining TPTs will be used for traditional coverage. If the volume increase becomes permanent, we will work with management to make them permanent employees and hire them full-time.

Transfers: Last year’s transfers (62s) become null and void January 27, 2020. The Company will accept new transfers as of January 20, 2020 and they will become valid February 3, 2020.

What’s up for 2020

New in Auto: In 2020 the Auto sector will be at the center of much speculation in Canada. The USMCA has just been ratified by all three countries involved with provisions that will make it more difficult to move jobs to Mexico and job increases from the deal can be tied largely to removing the uncertainty of the trade agreements’ fate. The USMCA’s provisions will have some offsetting impacts, particularly related to rules of origin for auto content and higher wage rate requirements for some production. This will make things costlier for all producers, not just for the Detroit Three. Automakers will try to neutralize some of the increases. They’ll look at automation, temporary work and supplier cost reductions as we have seen achieved witnessed in the recently ratified UAW agreement.

Canada’s real competition for automotive manufacturing is not just Mexico and not even Detroit but the southern U.S. where productivity is high and costs for wages, property taxes, electricity and land just to name a few are much less.
Even with the USMCA automotive consultants predict that if there is not a significant change in auto policies at the highest levels in Canada, one by one auto manufacturing plants will disappear and in another two to three decades auto manufacturing will completely fade from Ontario.

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 to press the case for new investment in St Catharines to seek opportunities to bring work to our facility and replacements for products we currently produce.

As your Chairperson of the GM Unit in St Catharines and newly elected Chairperson of the Master Committee responsible for all GM manufacturing/CCA facilities in Ontario, I have had the opportunity to attend several meetings 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.

As we have stated in the past, it is the hard-working men and women in St. Catharines that give this Committee and me the ability to fight for this facility and our local. 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.

UNIFOR Bargaining – 2020 looking forward

As we move forward it’s time to set our sights on 2020 bargaining. Recent events in the U.S. show that we need to set priorities and goals now, mark our progress and strengthen our resolve to meet the needs of our members.

The UAW revealed some very contentious issues in their bargaining sessions this year and some internal strife within the UAW and what they 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 bargaining. 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.

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 your support! There will be several key people coming to our facility over the next few months. This will be a fantastic opportunity for “You” to demonstrate that “We” are nothing short of “The Best!”

Transformation of the auto industry

The industry will change in the future just as it has done for the last 100 years. Old jobs will disappear, and new jobs will be created. The difference is that the change will come much faster in the future with the advent of all the new technologies associated with the desire to become a green energy product.

Today the industry looks like it is heading in the direction of battery-operated vehicles. With that said, the oil giants and other manufactures are not sitting on their hands waiting to die. There is a new initiative to make gas and especially diesel much cleaner. They are already testing a new diesel in Europe and Asia that is 90% Sulphur free.

The OEMs are still not sure where to put their investments as there is still a lot of uncertainty around what the long-term plan in green energy will be. Although batteries are becoming cheaper every year they are still 50% of the price of a vehicle today. The cost of repairs for electric will be higher as today there is no way to test a battery after an accident, so it must be replaced. OEMs are not ready for electric and most countries don’t have the infrastructure in place.

What can Unions do?

We must be engaged in self-assessment and external assessment to see where we are in relation to the new automotive business model to develop a comprehensive action and training plan for our members/employees and make it a priority at bargaining to get the new work. There may be less people in the new model, but the jobs will be better. We need to plan for the future and the increases that will come over time.

We must be in the game if we are going to survive. If you look at our position in relation to Europe, Asia and Africa we must leverage our position in education and technology to get the new work and drive sustainability. We must look at Canada and the Northern U.S./ The Southern U.S. then Mexico as three separate regions in relation to who does what in the existing model. Then put together a plan to position us in the new model that is on the horizon to acquire our fair share of the new work and achieve sustainability in our facility for the future.

Issued by,

Tim McKinnon,
GM Unit Chairperson

On behalf of the Bargaining Committee; Paul Dortono, Doug Wark, Trevor Longpre, Ken Naldjieff & Glenn Currie