Windsor

No change in how Unifor negotiates with FCA amid GM's plan to save 300 jobs: union president

Auto workers in Windsor are reacting to the news that GM Canada plans to invest $170 million in its Oshawa, Ont., plant, saving 300 jobs in the process.

'I understand that we're in a better place now than we were, but it's still terrible'

Unifor National president Jerry Dias says he's 'not celebrating' after GM Canada announced a plan to save 300 jobs at its Oshawa plant. (CBC)

Auto workers in Windsor are reacting to the news that GM Canada plans to invest $170 million in its Oshawa, Ont., plant to transition the facility from manufacturing vehicles to stamping, sub-assembly and autonomous vehicle testing.

The move will save 300 of 2,600 union jobs at the plant, according to GM Canada president Travis Hester.

But for Unifor National President Jerry Dias, GM's announcement will not change how the union negotiates with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, after it was announced that about 1,500 employees will be out of work starting Sept. 30 due to the termination of the Windsor assembly plant's third shift.

"I'm not celebrating today. I understand that we're in a better place now than we were, but it's still terrible," said Dias.

"I'm preoccupied with how we do the best we can for our members that are losing their jobs, not just that work directly for General Motors in Oshawa but for the supplier base as well."

Kathy McKay, a line worker in the Windsor plant for more than three decades, agrees with Dias, saying the announcement by GM should have "no bearing whatsoever" on FCA's decision to cut the third shift.

"We're still in talks," she said, referring to Unifor and FCA.

"GM for months after this did not talk, which is why we had the January protest across from the GM headquarters during the stockholders meeting."

Kathy McKay has worked at the FCA plant in Windsor for more than 25 years and says GM's move to save 300 jobs in Oshawa should have 'no bearing whatsoever' on FCA's decision to eliminate its third shift. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

She adds talks are continuing to take place between Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy and FCA, which is why Windsor's auto workers "haven't had to pull these sorts of things" like protests.

"We fulfilled our promises. It's just a question of economics right now. There are ups and downs," said McKay.

"I don't want to see the loss of the third shift though."

Meanwhile, Unifor Local 195 said GM's announcement is moving the auto industry in the right direction. 

"At least at this point there is some commitment with GM," said second vice president Emile Nabbout. "Hopefully, it can translate in the future business in this country and maybe can help our plant here in Windsor as well."

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