I’ve got my eyes on the strike at Ingersoll’s Cami plant.
I get why it’s not big news in Sarnia-Lambton as our industry is focused more on energy and less on energy-efficient vehicles, but I can’t help but watch what is going on there in the battle between Unifor Local 88 and General Motors Canada.
I was in university pursuing my journalism degree when the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement was hotly debated and signed. The signing of the NAFTA agreement followed some years later as a way to further open and ease trade between Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Even then there were those who touted the agreement as a means to expedite trade of goods and others who warned of dire consequences to the work force because of the inequity created by competition. Most specifically, the wage disparity between workers in Mexico and those organized in Canada and the U.S.
Fast-forward two decades and there is a reality television star in the White House with a blustery interpretation of NAFTA and suddenly North American trade talks are back on the table. And because of Donald Trump’s instability, North American manufacturers are a little cagey about how they see their future in a world with NAFTA changes bearing the stamp of approval from a whirling dervish like Trump. Who knows where he might land on this. He has said he’ll remove the U.S. from the deal, he has said he wants sweeping changes to the deal, and his advisors – as they so often have – have tidied up behind him with compliments to their counterparts in Mexico and Canada. Heads of manufacturers are listening…and waiting.
Meanwhile, down the road at the Cami plant there are 2,800 men and women who are walking the picket line after eight years of working mandatory overtime, keeping up with consumer demand for their highly industry-rated Equinox.
As the clock ticked down on talks for a new contract, the discussion about increased pay and pensions quickly took a back seat to one thing. Job security.
GM asked plant workers to work more while consumers bought up their popular product. Now plant workers are asking GM to acknowledge their contribution with a letter that states that Cami is their lead plant – the main point of production for the Equinox, always working at least one more line than any plant in Mexico producing the Equinox. It’s a smart move on the part of Unifor after GM decided to hedge their bets and moved production of the Terrain to Mexico costing 400 jobs at Cami. Those workers in Mexico will make less and secure GM a larger slice of the pie.
Should employees be demanding their letter of security?
Should Canadians be outraged that less than 10 years ago in 2008 the Canadian government and the Province of Ontario helped secure the future of General Motors Canada with a $3 billion loan and are now watching GM Canada hesitate at showing the same support for Canadian workers?
You bet your Canadian dollar.
Come on General Motors Canada, sign the letter and let us know that you support us like we supported you.