Canada union picks GM as strike target, warns of big impact

Tue Sep 6, 2016 3:58pm EDT
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By Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's main autoworkers' union on Tuesday named General Motors Co as its strike target in contract talks, and its top official warned that any walkout could disrupt the automaker's production across North America.

Bargaining with the Canadian arms of GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles kicked off in August. The union, Unifor National, typically selects one company for intensive negotiations. That company's deal sets a pattern, and other auto manufacturers are expected to agree to similar contracts.

Union President Jerry Dias set a strike deadline of Sept. 19, the expiration date for four-year contracts covering GM, Fiat Chrysler and Ford.

Among GM plants that could be hit by a strike are the St Catharines, Ontario, powertrain facility, which supplies engines to the company's CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The CAMI plant assembles the strong-selling Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC Terrain.

While CAMI workers would not walk out in any strike because they work under a separate labor contract, Dias said the union's members at CAMI would not accept engines from other sites.

"The reality is we are not going to accept engines from anywhere else to go into our CAMI facility," Dias said in an interview. "General Motors would be foolish to attempt to ship in engines from somewhere else."

Dias also said he expected U.S. plants represented by the United Auto Workers would not increase output to replace production from St Catharines.

"I would expect that the UAW will respect any action that we have here in Canada," he said.   Continued...

Newly built cars sit in a shipping lot near  General Motors Car assembly plant in Oshawa, June 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch