Unifor suspends attacks on GM as parties negotiate future for Oshawa plant

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News
Uniifor is suspending its media campaign against GM after talks between the two parties appear to progress toward a future for GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant. Workers from the plant rallied in January in Detroit's Hart Plaza.

The union representing Canadian auto workers, Unifor, is suspending its media campaign against General Motors Co. after talks between the two parties appear to progress toward a future for GM's Oshawa Assembly Plant.

“I am much more confident today than I was a month ago that together we will find a resolution,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said in a Tuesday statement following a meeting with GM manufacturing leaders in Detroit.

GM hasn't committed to extending vehicle production at Oshawa, Ontario, one of five North American plants slated to lose production in the coming months. But the union and GM are "examining the potential to transform operations so as to maintain a base level of hourly employment," Unifor said in its statement.

GM said it "acknowledges" the Canadian union's statement and confirmed a meeting between the parties Tuesday but declined to comment further. The automaker in November announced plans to stop production at Oshawa and four plants in the United States.

Unifor kicked off its aggressive media campaign against GM, which later included a contested Super Bowl ad, with front page advertisements on Dec. 20 issues of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The union also called for an official boycott of Mexican-built GM vehicles in January, after the automaker rejected Unifor's pleas to keep the Ontario plant running.

"The parties have agreed to continue talks over the next few weeks and Unifor’s priority is to save as many jobs as possible in Oshawa," Unifor said. "As a result of these ongoing talks, Unifor has suspended what has been an aggressive multi-media campaign to persuade the automaker to reverse its November decision to close the Oshawa Assembly Plant."

News began to leak late on the Sunday after Thanksgiving that GM planned to close the Oshawa plant, which builds the Chevrolet and Impala and Cadillac XTS. GM confirmed the plans the following morning, which are part of a larger restructuring that would also leave four union-represented plants in the U.S. "unallocated." Lordstown Assembly in northeast Ohio was the first GM plant to stop production, drawing Twitter attention from President Donald Trump.


Twitter: @NoraNaughton