Unifor President Jerry Dias will meet with General Motors executives Tuesday afternoon in Detroit to discuss the future of the automaker’s Oshawa assembly plant, which slated to stop production after December 2019.
Dias spoke briefly with GM Monday as planned but had no comment following the phone conversation, according to a spokeswoman for Dias. She said the union president said he will speak publicly in Windsor, Ont., following the Tuesday meeting, which is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET.
Dias told Automotive News Canada on Sunday that General Motors executives in Detroit wanted more time to consider the union’s proposals to keep the Oshawa Assembly plant open.
Dias said GM officials were to hold “a major internal meeting” regarding the matter Monday.
The union on Dec. 20 put forth a trio of proposals to save the plant from closure. Dias and other union members met with GM officials — but not CEO Mary Barra — for about two hours that day, outlining several proposals to keep the plant operational.
General Motors originally said it would officially respond to the union’s proposals by Jan. 7, but Dias said it’s in the union’s best interest to allow the automaker all the time it needs to make a decision.
“The bottom line is that we need a solution. And the only solution is to keep Oshawa open,” Dias said Sunday.
The automaker said in November it would no longer allot product to the plant beyond 2019. It will end a shuttle program that sees unfinished outgoing models of the GM Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado shipped to Oshawa from Indiana for final assembly at the Ontario plant. GM also said it will stop making the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS, both of which are built in Oshawa.
The union’s 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, Dias said. The Oshawa plant is “one of the only plants in North America that can build both cars and trucks.”
Dias has talked with GM a number of times since that Dec. 20 meeting, but is willing to “waiting for something more concrete.”
GM served notice to the union in November that it intends to end production in Oshawa, something the automaker had to do in accordance with the current collective bargaining agreement. But, there is nothing to say GM can’t reverse that decision.
Meanwhile, Unifor is continuing an international ad campaign to pressure the automaker to keep Oshawa running.
And Unifor promises to get more aggressive if General Motors won't reverse course.
Since that Dec. 20 meeting, Unifor launched radio and social media campaigns in Canada and began rolling out print advertising in the United States, including an ad in the Jan. 7 issue of Automotive News.
The automaker directed requests for comment to GM Canada, which didn't return phone calls and emails last week.
Dias said the original ads in GM's hometown newspapers were designed to get the automaker's attention "in a minor way" and promised a "no holds barred" media campaign on both sides of the border if the company doesn't signal that it could back away from its plans for Oshawa.
Should Unifor find GM's response to the union's proposals unsatisfactory, it will ramp up its spending on both sides of the border in an effort to persuade GM to reverse its decision. It's even called for Canadians to boycott GM products after 2019 should the Oshawa plant close.
At the same time, the UAW is reportedly suing GM, saying the company should transfer workers from its Lordstown, Ohio, plant to Fort Wayne, Ind. The Ohio plant was slated for future closure along with Oshawa and three others in North America.