Strike at GM's Ontario plant threatens Chevy Equinox sales

Aaron Brown
September 19, 2017

When an agreement wasn't reached by the 10:59 p.m. deadline Sunday, workers at the automotive plant walked off the job.

The union representing the workers, Unifor Local 88, announced the strike on Sunday. When production of the GMC Terrain was moved from the plant to Mexico earlier this year, it "shook the union", she said. The move led to 400 layoffs in Ontario, and 200 workers accepted early retirement packages.

Nearly 3,000 workers at a GM manufacturing plant in Ontario walked off the job on Sunday over concerns about the future of their jobs.

GM assembles the 2018 Equinox at CAMI as well as at two Mexico facilities - Ramos Arizpe and San Luis Potosi, both of which are running normally, spokesman Jim Cain told Cars.com.

A strike at a General Motors (GM) plant in Canada could dent sales of the company's top-selling crossover, the Chevrolet Equinox. "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". "We encourage Unifor to resume negotiations and to continue working together to secure a competitive agreement", read a statement from the automaker.

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The union says cheaper labour costs in Mexico and NAFTA are to blame for the job losses this year.

Shares of GM were inching higher during Monday morning trading. GM also for a time shuttled Equinox bodies from Ingersoll to its nearby Oshawa, ON, Canada, assembly plant for finish work. Like the U.S., Canada has lost automotive manufacturing jobs to Mexico in recent decades.

In a statement to Cars.com, GM Canada said it's "made very positive progress on several issues over the past weeks" with Unifor, but it's "disappointed that we were not able to complete a new agreement". The company said that in 2015 it invested 800 million Canadian dollars ($656 million U.S.) in the plant to build the new Equinox.

Equinox sales jumped 85% in August, while 2017 sales are up 17% at 185,223 units through the first eight months of the year. Though a small number are made in Mexico, the vast majority are built at CAMI plant and is the only model the plant now builds. According to the Automotive News Data Center, U.S. dealers held about 53 days of Equinox supply on September 1, well below the 74 days of stock they held on August 1 and behind the average 82-day stock for all Chevrolet models.

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