Unifor, the union that represents about 40,000 workers in the auto industry, wants to ensure parts workers affected by General Motors’ decision to end vehicle assembly at its Oshawa, Ont., plant are fairly compensated for the coinciding loss of jobs.
Unifor claims an estimated 1,700 members in the parts sector are facing job loss due to the Oshawa closure, which is to begin winding down production in September. It will cease completely in December.
General Motors will no longer produce the Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala. It will also stop final assembly of the outgoing Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra in Oshawa, leaving workers there with no product to assemble after December.
“This will cause the closure of several independent parts suppliers,” Unifor said Tuesday in a news release.
The majority of the job losses will occur at CEVA Logistics, Syncreon Supplier Park, Inteva, Oakley, Auto Warehousing, Marek Hospitality, Securitas, Robinson Solutions, Robinson Building Services and Lear Whitby, the union says.
“The workers deserve respect and support as operations are restructured or wound down,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a statement. “Unifor is determined to secure agreements that address important issues such as transition to retirement opportunities, financial support, and adjustment support.”
On Sunday, Lear Whitby workers who are members of Unifor Local 222 in Oshawa, met with local and national union leadership to discuss concerns over pension eligibility, severance, and health-care benefits.
“In every one of these workplaces, severance is a key issue. Workers facing job loss need a financial bridge as they transition. That is why we are demanding that all of these companies step up and provide enhanced severance for affected workers,” Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222, said in a statement.
About 350 workers at Lear Whitby produce car seats for GM’s Oshawa plant. The earliest retirement age under the pension plan at Lear Whitby is 60.
Dias said “the vast majority of the workers” at Lear Whitby are in their “mid-fifties and have at least 30 years of service.”
“The closure creates a massive problem as it currently prevents many of these members from reaching retirement eligibility under the pension plan. This issue highlights why we fought so hard to try to convince GM to keep building vehicles in Oshawa,” Dias said. “On the other end of the spectrum are companies like Oakley and CEVA where our members are younger and need access to adjustment centre funding as they try to transition to new employment.”