Workers at General Motors' CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, have been on strike since Sunday night. And a new interview with Unifor President Jerry Dias suggests that the strike could go on for some time.
The CAMI plant, short for Canadian Automotive Manufacturing Inc., started as a joint venture between Suzuki and GM. It's now solely owned by GM, and is one of three plants building the Chevrolet Equinox SUV. About 2,750 workers are employed by the plant. Because of the origins of the facility, it has labour agreements separate from that of the other GM plants in Canada.
Dias told Automotive News that the two sides have "major philosophical differences" over the future of the plant, and that could put workers on the picket line for a long time.
Unifor is looking to have CAMI designated as the lead North American plant for the Equinox, but Dias said that GM is unwilling to do that. GM recently laid off about 400 workers and gave 200 more early retirements when production of the 2018 GMC Terrain moved to Mexico.
"This is one of GM's most profitable plants," Dias said. "They can't make a unilateral decision to take away the Terrain and lay off hundreds of people and be naive enough to think we won't have a reaction."
The union is looking for investments in the plant that show a long-term commitment, but Dias said that GM is doing "nothing more than maintenance."
A statement issued yesterday by GM said that "the company is disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement. We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement."
GM CAMI has built just over 130,000 Equinox crossovers this year, while the two Mexican plants handling assembly have built around 40,000.