Canadian GM workers ratify contract for commercial electric van production

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. employees at its CAMI Assembly Plant ratified a new three-year contract that will bring production of electric commercial delivery vans to the facility in Ingersoll, Ontario, the Canadian auto workers' union, Unifor, said Monday.

Members of Local 88 on Sunday supported the proposal by 91%. CAMI will be GM's fourth electric vehicle plant in North America. The Detroit automaker plans to invest $800 million to build the EV600 van, which GM's new business entity BrightDrop showcased last week at the virtual Consumer Electronics Show.

The General Motors CAMI Assembly factory is shown in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.

BrightDrop, a new GM startup that aims to help logistics and delivery customers, and the EV600 are part of GM's aggressive push to rebrand as an EV maker. It plans to have 30 electric entries globally by 2025. BrightDrop also developed the EP1, an electric pallet that GM says can move product over short distances.

CAMI currently builds the Chevrolet Equinox, which also is assembled in Mexico. It employs 1,900 Unifor members. Work on the two-year transformation is set to begin immediately. Equinox production will end there in 2023.

Last fall, GM negotiated a new contract with Unifor that included a $1.03 billion investment at the Oshawa Assembly plant to build full-size trucks starting next year. CAMI falls under a different contract that wasn't set to expire until September 2021, but GM and the union moved up contract talks to the start of the year.

The first 500 EV600s are scheduled to be delivered to FedEx Express by late 2021. The van will be available to more customers in 2022. GM's new Ultium battery technology will debut in the commercial market on the EV600. The van has an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge. 

Altogether, the three Detroit automakers negotiating with Unifor say they will invest $4.7 billion into Canadian plants, according to the union. That includes support from federal and Ontario governments.

“To achieve this level of commitment for auto manufacturing," Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, said in a statement, "shows what can happen when we have a collective vision to secure this sector and create good jobs for Canadians."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble