Company Town

When GM announces it’s closing shop in Oshawa, Ont., an embattled union and its disillusioned workers face the fight of their lives.
Green Jobs Oshawa activist Rebecca Keetch
Available on CBC Gem

Company Town

CBC Docs POV

UPDATE: On November 5, 2020, General Motors announced that it will once again build pickup trucks at the Oshawa plant pending a deal with the union. This could create 1700 jobs.

In 2018, workers at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont., were rocked by a bombshell announcement just weeks before the holiday season.

After 100 years of production, GM would be shutting down operations at the end of 2019, despite receiving a multibillion-dollar government bailout as recently as 2009. The city once known as “The City that Motovates Canada” was shaken to its core.

Unifor, the powerful national union representing the auto workers, immediately went on a war footing.

Launching a massive anti-GM media campaign and calling for a boycott of the company’s vehicles, Unifor soon found an unlikely ally in rock superstar Sting, who — while in Toronto to perform in The Last Ship, his play about union struggles in England in the 1980s — stepped up to perform a solidarity concert for the GM workers. Firebrand Unifor leader Jerry Dias was adamant there would be no plant closure “without one hell of a fight.”

Approximately three months later, in the spring of 2019, GM came to the table with a new offer of enhanced settlement packages for its departing workers and an agreement to retrofit the plant to make automotive parts — but with the promise of only 300 jobs. While keeping any production at the plant was a partial victory for the union, the reality was that 2,200 GM workers would still be walking out of the plant for the last time at the end of the year.

Equally devastating was the fact that the shutdown of the plant would also wipe out another 2,000 union jobs through a network of supplier companies whose existence was directly tied to GM assembling vehicles.

Featuring the heart-wrenching personal stories of rank-and-file members of Unifor Local 222 in Oshawa, Company Town takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as the clock ticks down to the closure of the plant. With exclusive access to Jerry Dias and his senior negotiators, it documents a dramatic fight to the finish as the fates of thousands of workers and their families hang in the balance.

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Stream Now on CBC Gem

Company Town

CBC Docs POV