Camaro loss means 1,000 Oshawa GM jobs lost, CAW union says
OSHAWA -- The Canadian Auto Workers Union says 1,000 jobs will be lost at the Oshawa General Motors plant if plans proceed to move production of the Camaro to Michigan and no other product replaces it...
OSHAWA -- General Motors announced December 19 that the next generation Camaro will be built in Lansing, Michigan instead of Oshawa. December 19, 2012.
OSHAWA -- The Canadian Auto Workers Union says 1,000 jobs will be lost at the Oshawa General Motors plant if plans proceed to move production of the Camaro to Michigan and no other product replaces it.
Officials made the remarks Wednesday afternoon at the CAW Local 222 hall in Oshawa at a press conference called to respond to a decision from General Motors to move production of the Camaro to Lansing, Michigan. The decision affects the next generation of Camaros and union officials expect it to take effect in late 2015 or early 2016.
CAW reps said they were shocked by the news and there was no hint of it during their last round of negotiations with GM, which concluded in September.
"Had General Motors come clean with us ... we would have rolled up our sleeves and said 'hey, what do we need to do to save those jobs'," said CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley.
He added that for every plant job at General Motors, there are nine spin-off jobs in the community. Mr. Buckley said he's still working on identifying the parts manufacturers that would be affected by the news, but he cited Johnson Controls Whitby, the sole manufacturer of Camaro seats, as one example of a local company that could be affected.
The Camaro represents 25 to 30 per cent of production at the Oshawa plant with roughly 100,000 cars built annually. Union officials said they made concessions to bring the Camaro to Oshawa and in subsequent contract talks.
General Motors officials would not estimate how many jobs the decision would impact.
"At this stage, there's no immediate impact on employment. In the longer term, we really can't speculate at this time," GM Canada spokesperson Faye Roberts said in a conference call with reporters.
Meanwhile, CAW national president Ken Lewenza called the decision "a betrayal" of not only Canadian auto workers but of taxpayers who funded the auto bailout.
"Frustrated is an understatement, we are outraged by this decision."
Under the terms of the 2009 bailout funded by the federal and provincial governments, General Motors committed to building 16 per cent of cars for the North American market in Canada until 2016.
Mr. Lewenza said GM officials told the union they were consolidating rear-wheel drive productions in Michigan, but declined to say what kind of savings or efficiencies would be realized through the move. He dismissed the idea that the announcement was related to Michigan's new "right-to-work" legislation, saying the decision was made before the legislation passed.
The CAW called on the federal, provincial and municipal governments to create an auto plan that would prevent the loss of more jobs and demanded GM either restore Camaro production or replace it with another product.
Beyond speaking with the government, union officials will meet to discuss further actions.
"I think our members are going to demand a more aggressive response because they've been beat up and knocked down," said Mr. Lewenza.
In addition to the Camaro, GM also produces the Buick Regal at its Oshawa flex plant. GM officials announced the new Cadillac XTS and the next-generation Chevrolet Impala will also be produced at the flex plant and a third shift will be added in 2013.
However, GM is winding down operations on its consolidated car line, which will be closed in 2014. Union officials say that will leave GM with about 3,000 employees at its Oshawa plant in 2014.
Oshawa Mayor John Henry said he too was shocked by the news and reiterated the City's positives including an educated work force. He stressed Oshawa is open for business.
With respect to expected job losses, he said it impacts not only Oshawa, but the surrounding community.
"This has a big ripple effect across the economy of Ontario."
--With files from Torstar News Services
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