WINDSOR, Ont. — Unifor President Jerry Dias said Thursday he remains “optimistic” that General Motors will cancel recently-announced plans to close its Oshawa assembly plant at the end of 2019.
Dias said he and Unifor officials spent two hours outlining for some of GM’s top executives in Detroit a series of options and solutions to keep the Oshawa plant operating beyond 2019.
Dias said GM executives did not “unilaterally close the door on keeping the plant open.” The meeting didn’t include GM CEO Mary Barra, Dias said.
Key players at the meeting for GM were Alicia Boler-Davis, head of global manufacturing; Gerald Johnson, head of North American manufacturing, and new GM Canada president Travis Hester.
“They said they had listened to our proposals and would get back to us one way or the other by Jan. 7,” added Dias during a press briefing at Unifor Local 444/200 offices across the Detroit River in Windsor. “I am optimistic that they understand the importance of the Canadian market to their global operations.”
Dias said those proposals include launching GM’s new Blazer in Oshawa rather than Mexico, extending truck production in Oshawa, extending two existing passenger vehicle programs and bringing product back to Canada from Mexico.
“If those products can go from Canada to Mexico, they can certainly come back,” said Dias. “The ball is now clearly in GM’s court.”
GM said in November it would stop the truck shuttle program that sees the automaker ship unfinished outgoing models of the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado to Oshawa from a plant in Indiana. The automaker also said it will stop building the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS.
Dias pointed out that Canadians produce more than 300,000 GM vehicles every year and that Canadians consumers buy just as many.
By contrast, he said, Mexico produces more than one million GM vehicles but Mexican consumers buy less than one-quarter of that amount.