Canadian workers assembling one of General Motors’ hottest-selling vehicles could go on strike on Sunday night if Unifor and the automaker fail to reach a new labour contract.
A strike deadline of 10:59 p.m. Sunday is set for the CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont. The plant employs about 2,750 workers and builds the Chevrolet Equinox crossover.
Unifor Local 88, which represents the workers, set a ratification meeting for Sunday morning, according to its website. Should a tentative agreement be reached by that time, members will have a chance to vote on it, according to a post on the local’s website.
If no deal is reached or if workers reject an agreement, Unifor would be in a legal strike position at 10:59 p.m., when production at the plant would stop.
In the latest bargaining update posted on the Unifor Local 88 website on Tuesday, local leadership said progress was being made on “non-economic” issues in bargaining. It had yet to begin discussing key economic issues such as wages, benefits and investments in the plant.
A strike would halt the plant’s production of the Equinox, GM’s third-highest selling model in the United States and fourth-highest selling model in Canada. According to the Automotive News Data Center, GM sold 16,956 Equinox crossovers in Canada through August, a 40 per cent gain from a year earlier. U.S. sales of the Equinox have jumped 17 per cent to 185,223 units during the same timeframe.
A long-term strike could spell trouble for GM. U.S. Equinox dealer inventory stood at 53 days supply on Sept. 1, down from 74 days on Aug. 1 and well below the average 82-day inventory for Chevrolet models.
While GM also builds the Equinox at its Ramos Arizpe and San Luis Potosi plants in Mexico, combined production there has paled in comparison to production figures at CAMI. Combined Mexican production of the Equinox totaled 3,182 units through August of this year, compared with 132,288 vehicles built at the Ingersoll plant, according to the Data Center.
Unifor Local 88 leadership declined to comment, while a request for comment from GM was not returned.
The negotiations come just days after GM wrapped up a round of layoffs at the plant. GM laid off about 400 workers at the plant last month as it shifted GMC Terrain production from Ingersoll to a Mexican plant. Another 200 workers took early retirement packages earlier this year.
Unifor President Jerry Dias told Automotive News Canada last month that the union’s top priorities in negotiations were to find a way to get laid-off workers back to work and to “maximize the output in the plant,” potentially through new investments and product.
GM invested $800 million into the plant in 2015 to equip it for next-generation Equinox production.
The CAMI plant, originally a joint venture between GM and Suzuki before GM took full control in 2009, operates on a separate contract from the company’s other Canadian assembly plants. Unifor and GM reached a new contract for the other plants last year that included $554 million in total investments.