GM CHAIRPERSON REPORTS – 2024 (Drive Unit Update)


Drive Unit Update
February 29, 2024

On Sunday February 25th we held a Drive Unit Information meeting at the union hall. I would like to thank those who were able to attend and for the questions and concerns they raised. This gave us an opportunity to answer questions with factual information about the future of St Catharines. This update is for the members who were not able to be in attendance. The information contained in this leaflet pertaining to the Drive Units is meant to give you some of the details that were discussed at the meeting and is in no way an exhaustive update. Further questions should be directed to your shop committeepersons.

Since the signing of the 2007 Competitive Operating Agreement that helped secure the GF6 Investment which also helped secure the upgrade to Gen5, St. Catharines has repeatedly done the right things over the years to position itself for potential future investment by being a high producing, cost competitive plant. Not everyone liked the changes that were made in ’07 but they were necessary to ensure the plant stayed open which we all have benefited from. Since then, St. Catharines continued to build its reputation by winning awards within the Company for best in manufacturing and quality for all the products we’ve produced during those years.

In 2012 and 2016 bargaining the Local Union continued to bargain to position us for future investment. By 2020 bargaining we tried to capitalize on the trend of electric investments that were announced during the Ford and Stellantis negotiations. Of the Big 3, GM negotiated last in 2020, but the Company didn’t have new core work to award us during this time even though we knew we had done enough to earn it. We managed to negotiate the DCT transmission, which was only assembly work, building from customer supplied parts, supplementing the main producer, on one shift employing 50 members. But the Company did give St. Catharines a separate letter to confirm to the Union ‘that based on past operating performance, St. Catharines is well positioned to be considered for future product allocation and commits to explore and consider potential product programs and investment opportunities for the facility.

You may recall the priority for the Union for 2020 GM negotiations was primarily to reopen the Oshawa truck plant. But what you may not know, for the Company to agree to re-open Oshawa, the Local Committee would need to come into agreement on a new Competitive Operating Agreement(COA). They did, and Oshawa re-opened with their truck investment.

Three weeks later Cami would be called upon to move their bargaining timeline ahead 10 months to discuss what would be the Brightdrop Investment. They too would be required to agree to terms of a new COA, which of course they did, and the investment was awarded.

These two new agreed to COAs would help secure investments for these GM of Canada facilities and would set a pattern for future investments. In time we would learn what those details were in the Oshawa and Cami COAs and noticed similar topics between the two agreements. This gave us an insight into what the Company would likely talk to us about when our turn came. Those topics were TPTs, Material Handling, Trades training, Quality sorts, and Misc Workplace issues.

Two years later in November 2022, the Company approached Union Leadership to discuss the potential of product investment for St. Catharines. In order to continue those discussions Union representatives were required to sign non-disclosure agreements as the information being discussed was confidential to GM. The Union was presented with information pertaining to Drive Units for Battery Electric Vehicles. There were 2 sites already identified who would be making Drive Units. St. Catharines could potentially be the 3rd site if terms of a new COA would be agreed to. The Company informed us they had conducted a study of the square footage of the plant, along with the expiring timelines of existing product. They determined that St. Catharines had the capability to build Drive Units. We got the impression that we were the only ones being talked to for site 3 but the Company made it clear that other facilities had the capability, like Tonawanda, so it was ours to lose.

Nearly a month later we came to terms for a new COA for Drive Units. February 20th, 2023 Company Executives, Local Plant Leaders along with Unifor Leadership and Local 199 Members participated in the announcement of the Drive Unit Investment for St. Catharines.

It’s important to note that some of the information contained in the new COA is still considered GM confidential. GM reserves the right to maintain certain information confidential to ensure their competitive advantage and potential market share within the Electric Vehicle Market space.

Items that are still considered confidential are the total dollar value of the investment from the Company, the pending government support, and the names and number of electric vehicles that get drive units that have not already been publicly announced.

This is why there was limited information pertaining to Drive Units in our ratification Highlighter. The Company would only agree to the two bullet points that were published in that highlighter. As a reminder, those two points were:

1) Negotiated commitment from company to provide investments to the plant to ensure job protection, without loss, and continued operations in the transition to drive unit production.

2) Every full-time worker will have employment when drive units are in production.

Recently the Company communicated to the Union that while some details are still GM Confidential, the working conditions are no longer. This gave us the opportunity to communicate the details of the COA with the membership.

The following information compares some of the COA details pertaining to working conditions.

It’s worth noting that Oshawa had 18 items negotiated in their COA, Cami had 13 and St. Catharines has 8.

  • The creation of a new Drive Unit Division consisting of Assembly, Machining, Bev IMM, Bev Electrician.
  • TPTs – Oshawa 15%, Cami 30% (if awarded Battery Electric Assembly work – which they were), St. Catharines 18%. At the time of the writing of this COA the Company made a point of mentioning we had 25% TPTs in the plant. All full-time members currently laid off must be called back before TPTs can re-enter the plant. Keep in mind 154 of these TPTs were converted to Full-time at bargaining which will reduce the number of TPTs the Company will now need for the Drive Unit area.
  • GSC/Material handling – Oshawa agreed to outsource their material handling group to a 3rd Cami did not have Material Handling mentioned in their COA. The Company initially demanded to outsource GSC/Stores/TOOL Tech plantwide in St Catharines to a 3rd party. It was agreed to keep GSC in areas now considered ‘old’ work consisting of the V8 and DCT, all ramps and yard drivers. New technology in seegrids and vecnas and a small number of 3rd party will be used to move and stage material in the new Drive Unit Area, similar to how GF6 originally was set up.
  • Quality Sorts – Oshawa and Cami out sourced quality sorts to a 3rd party plantwide with no restriction on the kind of sort or the duration of sort. St. Catharines’ old arrangement allowed 3rd party to sort customer supplied defects for 3 days or 9 shifts. New agreement gives 3rd party one extra day to perform the same type of work. 4 days or 12 shifts.
  • 5 minute Wash-up time – the Company wanted to eliminate this plant wide. It was agreed to keep the washup time in the old work areas of V8, DCT and GSC. The two 5 minute washup periods are eliminated in the new Drive Unit Area
  • Skilled Trades training – IMMs will be trained to content from the 433A classification and captured on the versatility charts and be expected to work to their level of ability. Electricians will be trained from the 442A classification and captured on the versatility charts and be expected to work to their level of ability.
  • Transfer Lock-in period. St. Catharines will maintain the 6 month lock-in period for assembly and GSC and the 24 month for Machining and Trades transfers.
  • Pending Government support.

There are additional details pertaining to the Drive Units themselves. We will be making a high volume of front-wheel drive (x76) and rear-wheel drive (x77) units, and we will have the capacity for future expansion for an all-wheel drive (x84) units. Some vehicles take more than one drive unit.

Machines should start being installed this summer in the old HFV6 area. Start of regular production is scheduled for summer of 2025. There will be an assembly room similar to the DCT room. Other facility upgrades include mechanical, structural, architectural, electrical to support the new business.

We understand there is a lot of information contained in this leaflet that will generate questions. Please contact your shop committeepersons for further information.

Issued by,

Trevor Longpre, GM Unit Plant Chairperson
On behalf of the Bargaining Committee, Scott Little, Tony Verde, Stan Kuczma, Ed Steers


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GMIN Update & General News      

January 24th, 2024      

 GMIN Update – The Union is pleased to report to all production members impacted by the GMIN shuffle that their date of entry into the plant will now be recognized along with their full-time conversion date followed by their gmin from low to high to determine their plant seniority. We were striving to do what was right and restore fairness for those that were negatively impacted.

While this is less of an issue in previous rounds of smaller full-time hirings, this last round of 154 conversions highlighted the adverse effects of such a large group being sorted solely by gmin order from low to high. This shuffle seen members with 3yrs of service end up near the bottom of their full-time hire group because of a high gmin number, while others who may have only had a year of service were placed higher in their group because they had a lower gmin number. With indefinite layoffs pending for the retooling of our plant, the urgency to get this done was a priority for me.

When the gmin letter was agreed to 4yrs ago no one then could have known the kind of impact the gmin shuffle would have had until it happened, especially in a large group like this. This had the potential to be 30+ year problem and we needed to find a way to make it fair and equitable for everyone. Former SWEs had the 5-digit clock number to keep them in plant entry order. The Union’s priority was to find a way to honor plant entry time for the gmin group in a similar way to the old clock number did for the SWEs.

We listened to the stories from our Local 199 members, we received support of the National Union,  local day shift bargaining and benefit committee representatives were able to share their input as well on this issue with local company leadership this week. Even though we struggled through initial conversations in early November the Union stayed persistent in this cause because we needed to make it right, not just for today but on a going forward basis.

After many discussions and hearing the impact to our members the union was pleased to hear this week that the company also wanted to make it right for our members. We worked collaboratively to come to an agreement to honor date of entry for all new hires hired since September 2020.

With this new development this will cause a delay in receiving February’s plant wide seniority list. Once we receive the new list from the company, we will repost it in the west clock house with the updated changes.

Layoff notices will be rescinded and reissued to the appropriately affected members who were last on the updated seniority list. For those members impacted please see Vince Filice in the EI office in the West Clock house for any layoff questions and see Lawrence in the same office for any benefit questions you may have.

For those impacted by the EV layoff you have Union Resources available to you that are encouraged to utilize. As we published in our ratification material every fulltime worker has gainful employment when the Electric Drive Units land. Every fulltime member has contractual call back rights as per 54F of the Master Agreement. This call back option has also been made available locally for the TPTs who are getting laid off who remain in good standing. To be clear, ALL fulltime members will be called back before any TPT.

EV Transition – Just for clarification, the week of January 28th 2024 is the official start of the EV transition.

Transfers – The 2024 Transfer list is now taking transfers. Updates to this list occur every Wednesday. Contact your Committeeperson for any assistance you may need. Reminder – there is a max of 4 entries. Submit all your entries online in consecutive order from 1st preference to last.

TEMPORARY PREFERENTIAL HIRE REQUEST *UPDATE* Calls have been placed to both Cami and Oshawa to see if there are opportunities to temporarily pref-hire to these locations. At this moment neither Oshawa nor Cami are in a position to take St. Catharines members. We are asking if any members who are interested in this potential option if/when it becomes available to leave their updated contact info in the Trades Union office.

 Issued by,

Trevor Longpre, GM Unit Plant Chairperson

On behalf of the Shop Committee, Stan Kuczma, Scott Little, Tony Verde  

No one has been disciplined for working safely. Take your time. Do it Safe. Do it right.




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V6 End of Life Update    

January 11, 2024 

 Layoff Numbers – Thursday, the Company handed out layoff notices to those members who will be impacted by the first phase of layoffs that are related to the End of Life of High Feature V6. After looking at past layoff announcements from the Company it was noticed they never announced the number of people impacted but many members have been asking for those numbers. Low Seniority Production Members impacted – 30, Low seniority IMMs impacted – 23, Low seniority Electricians impacted – 19.

Layoffs – Why are we doing a forced layoff by seniority instead of a voluntary inverse layoff?

This question from members has come to the Union’s attention this week and we would like to clarify this issue for our members so there is no misunderstanding. Since April of 2023 the Bargaining Committee has met with the Company many times to try and prepare for the eventual End of Life for V6 and the manpower movements that would follow. From the very beginning the Union has tried to negotiate and volunteer Inverse layoff just like we’ve done so often in the past. However, we have not been able to get the Company to agree to an inverse for the retooling period for a couple of reasons. The Company has stated there are additional costs of an inverse layoff for this extended length of time and the retooling period itself exceeds our temporary layoff language. The duration of the retooling period isn’t specifically known but it is projected to be at least 12-18 months. This timeline is dependent on many factors that are outside of St. Catharine’s control, such as tear out, infrastructure build back, machine delivery and install, safety and quality test runs, ect. With a project this size there is the potential for delays, just like we seen with the DCT installation.

Since the Union is unable to get an agreement with the Company for an inverse layoff, our remaining option was to follow our Local Language which lays out the contractual process for members to exercise their seniority on a plant-wide basis.  This can be found on page 9&10 of the Local, paragraph 17 B 3.

CALL BACK RIGHTS – members will be called back to work in line with their seniority. Contractually members with less than 1 year of seniority have 3 yrs call back rights and members with more than 1 yr seniority have 5yr call back rights as per paragraph 54 F of the Master Agreement on pg38.

Drive Unit Department – is currently scheduled to populate a small number of trades members this summer to work with engineering with the majority of trades and production to populate in the 2nd quarter of 2025. All positions to the Drive Unit Department will be populated by seniority through transfers.

EI information – Vince Filice and Adam Nie are ready and available to help answer any member’s questions pertaining to EI. He has updated information from negotiations that highlights the gains made to the EI/SUB program. Please visit his office beside the elevator in the West Clock House for more information.

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Benefits information – Lawrence Robson is also located in the same office beside the elevator and can answer your benefit questions. If you have been given a layoff notice this week, be sure to visit these reps to get the information you need and the answers to your EI and Benefit questions.

Pension/Incentive – Ken MacLean has been the busiest person in the plant this week. He is working hard to use his knowledge to provide great service to all our members by taking the incentive. Thank you Ken for your diligence and long hours as you serve all the members preparing to retire. To our members who have taken the incentive, Congratulations again!


TEMPORARY PREFERENTIAL HIRE REQUEST – Calls have been placed to both Cami and Oshawa to see if there are opportunities to temporarily pref-hire to these locations. Our current contractual language is for permanent Pref Hire situations, but the call has been made to see if a temporary opportunity is available for our retooling period. As details become available, we will provide them in future updates.

GMIN # – The Union is in continuous discussions with the Company to address this issue to make it right. As details become available, we will share with all new hires.


Issued by,

Trevor Longpre, GM Unit Plant Chairperson
On behalf of the Shop Committee, Stan Kuczma, Scott Little, Tony Verde  


No one has been disciplined for working safely. Take your time. Do it Safe. Do it right.


Click here for printable version


Scroll down for past 2024 Chairperson reports


January 3, 2024 

Happy New Year!

Welcome Back – I hope everyone was able to enjoy the holidays and were able to spend time with the ones you care about most.

IMPORTANT! As we get back to work, we all need to be reminded to think, act and work safely as we go about our work within these walls, our future depends on it.

What many members may not be aware of, as we were closing out 2023 in the month of November and December our energy control violations were trending in the wrong direction. They were on the rise. This is a very concerning trend towards the end of the year that we need to reverse. It’s on all of us to work safely and follow our energy control procedures properly. Our plant has more than enough reason to be vigilant in not having another critical injury.

It doesn’t pay to cut corners with safety. In fact, just the opposite. An energy control or lock out violation comes with an automatic 3 day served discipline. Note: The Union has never needed to represent any member for working safely. Part of our job is to follow GM safety policies. WE urge everyone at the start of this New Year to take the time to work safely and properly follow all ASA & Lockout procedure. You are being paid to work safe, not fast. If you encounter instruction to do otherwise this must be escalated immediately to your rep or to the safety department.

Congratulations – to all 104 members who applied for the incentive into retirement. This was a demand from members to achieve at Bargaining and we are to have delivered for these 104 members. We all wish you the very best in retirement. Congratulations again!

WE are not authorized to share names for privacy reasons, but the breakdown is 74 Production and 30 Trades. As the Company plans for the manpower changes ahead, the Union will stay close to those discussions and provide details to the membership as soon as we are able.

Note: These discussions are very fluid and details are changing on an hourly basis sometimes. This is made more challenging since the corporation has yet to provide publicly a definitive end date for the V6, which is like trying to hit a moving target.

Transfer news – For the first 3 weeks of January the current transfer list will be frozen. Monday January 22nd is the 4th Monday of the month which is the expiry date of the old transfer list. New submissions can be made after this date. A new transfer list for 2024 will be created the following week on Monday, January 29th with new submissions as per Local Language – Supplement No.1 of the Local Seniority Agreement pg17 & 18. After the first week the transfer list will be updated every Wednesday at 3pm. We can use the same QR code as last year to submit transfers. Contact your Rep if you have any questions. For New Hires, you must have 1 year of seniority to be eligible to submit your transfers.

This year will be filled with changes and challenges as we retool our plant to prepare for Drive Units. To clear up any mis-information on the floor, the anticipated plan is still to proceed with a plantwide seniority bump. If this anticipated plan changes we will communicate it to the membership.


V6 – End of production for assembly is scheduled for the week of January 8th. Headline has small volume until the end of February.

There are discussions on how to best celebrate the successful run of the HFV6 Engine, and the hundreds of people who’ve helped build them. This department has been the backbone of St. Catharines Quality and reputation for more than 2 decades, with numerous awards and countless memories.

V8 – Steady at 3 shifts in machining and 3 shifts in assembly. There is a constraint of V8 blocks in the system. There is the potential for supply interruptions, but the demand is very high from our customer, so every engine we make is going into a sold truck.

GF6 – volumes in the GF6 are stable with one shift in assembly with 3 shifts in machining. Plans are being developed to go to 2 shifts in machining. More information to follow.

DCT – is steadily running on one shift.

Union Awareness – Vince Guardari our Workplace Training Coordinator and his team of trainers led by Ashley Kofsky have done a great job delivering the Workplace Training material since ratification. I want to thank the entire team for all their efforts in providing a great atmosphere for education and dialogue. A new module is nearly finished being developed for the team to be trained on. We hope to have that available by the summer.

New for Attendance Program – All 6 Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) days reload January 1st. PEL’s can now be used on the weekend without the need to substantiate. Once all PEL days have been used substantiation will be required for each absence thereafter.


Issued by,

Trevor Longpre, GM Unit Plant Chairperson
On behalf of the Shop Committee, Stan Kuczma, Scott Little, Tony Verde  

 No one has been disciplined for working safely. Take your time. Do it Safe. Do it right.



Click here for printable version