Cami strike watched at Toyota, Honda plants

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Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:47 pm

Cami strike watched at Toyota, Honda plants


Ripples from the strike at Cami Assembly are being felt on the factory floor of non-union auto assembly plants in Ontario.

Workers at Toyota plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, which lost Corolla production to Mexico, and at Honda in Alliston, are ­paying close attention to the fight in ­Ingersoll, Unifor ­officials said.

There are organizing drives at both Japanese auto plants, where interest has been piqued by the Cami fight over job security and ­ensuring production work in Canada, issues with which all workers ­identify.

“We lost the Corolla and that is a big deal,” said Lee Sperduti, a team leader at the forefront of the union drive at the Cambridge Toyota plant. “It was our bread and butter.”

The Toyota union drive, ongoing for more than four years, had ­sputtered after more than 600 maintenance workers narrowly voted against a union in their area last year.

But in the last two weeks Cami workers have been out, the union has received “dozens” of daily ­inquiries, said Sperduti.

If Cami strikers can win job security language, the moribund drive may spring to life, he believes.

Corolla production in Cambridge will end in 2019, replaced by overflow production of the RAV4 crossover vehicle made at the auto­maker’s Woodstock plant.

With more than 270,000 Corollas a year assembled in the Cambridge facility, that’s a lot of vehicles to replace, said Sperduti.

“We may have the same fight here. There is definitely more interest because of what is going on at Cami.”

At Cami, workers walked off the job more than two weeks ago over job security, wanting to ensure three shifts of production for the life of the contract. It assembles the Chevrolet Equinox and in July, lost GMC Terrain production, and more than 400 jobs, to Mexico.

GM and Unifor Local 88 negotiators met in Woodstock Monday and there was little to report out of it, said Mike Van Boekel, Local 88 chairperson.

“It’s slow and steady. It’s a grind,” Van Boekel said Monday.

At Honda, the card signing is going well, but Unifor is not close to calling a vote, said national representative Danny McBride, who is heading the drive.

“They realize Unifor is doing the heavy lifting for the automotive industry in Canada,” in its fight to keep jobs here, said McBride.

“They are watching. It is no secret our national president (Jerry Dias) has been front and centre in the NAFTA talks, made strides in the last Detroit Three bargaining (last year). I think they appreciate that. They know it is a not about money but about the future.”

Unifor has opened an office in ­Alliston to aid the drive to organize the more than 4,000 workers at the assembly plant making the Honda Civic and CRV crossover vehicle. Honda opened the plant in 1986.

“No one likes a strike, but sometimes you have to do it. This is one of those times,” said McBride.

“We saw Toyota lines move to Mexico and they understand here they are vulnerable. They appreciate what we are doing.” ... nda-plants
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Thu Oct 12, 2017 3:41 pm

GM to ramp up Equinox production in Mexico, Unifor says

Auto giant General Motors has told the union representing nearly 3,000 striking autoworkers that the company is ramping up production of the Chevrolet Equinox at two plants in Mexico, Unifor's national president Jerry Dias, says.

The news comes three weeks after Unifor workers hit the picket line at GM's CAMI plant in Ingersoll, fighting mainly for assurances from the company that the Ontario facility be designated the main producer of the popular SUV.

"That's the equivalent while we're in NAFTA negotiations of telling Canada that they're declaring war," said Dias.

The two Mexican plants will build the SUV for the North American market, Dias said from Washington, where he's attending NAFTA talks.

"This is about autoworkers in Mexico making $2 an hour [and] the movement of good paying middle-class jobs to Mexico," he said.

A 'threat' to the CAMI plant

Dias said GM's plan will have a direct impact on the CAMI plant.

"This has always been about [GM] ramping up production of the Equinox in Mexico and leaving our plant behind. That's their plan and how it's starting to unfold. The facts are that we need to solidfy the footprint in Ingersoll or there may not be a plant [there] in the long term," Dias told CBC's London Morning.

The Unifor president said it's an issue for the international labour movement.

"This is General Motors dropping the gauntlet on autoworkers in Canada and the United States and saying 'we're going to be sourcing your jobs to Mexico and there's not a damn thing you can do about it'. Well, there's a lot we can do about it."

When asked what specifically could be done, Dias replied: "General Motors declared war on Canada, so we're obviously not going to take it sitting down. We're going to do what we need to do to get their attention." He didn't elaborate.

he news also means the strike at CAMI, now nearly four weeks old, will go on longer than anybody anticipated, Dias said.

"They said they're going to satisfy the North American market through their Mexican operations. In other words, the strike that's going on right now at CAMI is going to continue. And I'm not sure when things are going to end," he said.

CAMI strike victim of bad timing: auto analyst

NAFTA negotiations and "America first" trade policies may have contributed to drawing out the strike and causing GM to take a harder line, said Tony Faria, director of the Office of Automotive and Vehicle Research at the University of Windsor in Ontario.

"What Unifor is demanding is maybe the straw that broke the camel's back. [GM could be saying] 'We can't do this. We can't agree to investments, jobs, and everything else for the next five, 10 years down the road when we don't know the size of the road, we don't know if there's going to be a NAFTA five, 10 years from now,'" Faria said.

"It was a gamble on the part of Unifor and a gamble they decided to take, and I'm sure that Unifor is a little upset that GM is taking, it looks like, a harder stand than Unifor expected.

"The auto companies have been setting up their supply chains for over 20 years now with the idea that there is a NAFTA and we can move parts and vehicles all around North America duty free. If NAFTA disappears, that's going to be a real crimp to the auto companies."

There is still "tremendous support" on the picket line, said Dan Borthwick, president of Unifor Local 88, which represents the Ingersoll workers.

CBC News has contacted GM Canada for comment. ... -1.4351282
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