Ripples from Chevrolet Equinox Strike Force Slowdowns, Layoffs

The Chevrolet Equinox assembly line at General Motors’ CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, remains shuttered, and the impact from the dried-up flow of crossovers now extends across the border.

Unionized workers at the plant walked off the job Sunday night after their Unifor Local 88 bargaining team failed to reach a contract agreement with GM. Though the week began with marching and signs in Ingersoll, it ended with layoffs at an Ontario transmission plant and the promise of more in Michigan and Tennessee.

At least 255 of the 350 workers at GM’s St. Catharines, Ontario, transmission plant, which produces about 90 percent of CAMI’s transmissions, have been told not to show up at work Monday.

“We’re off until they get it settled,” Unifor 199 chairman Tim McKinnon told Automotive News. “Every time they sneeze, we catch a cold. If they pick up more volume, we pick up more volume.”

McKinnon claims the plant ran all week on the assumption that Unifor and GM might strike an agreement. It’s now left with a stockpile of transmissions. The Equinox’s 1.5- and 2.0-liter engines are sourced from plants in Flint, Michigan and Spring Hill, Tennessee. Those plants are now anticipating short-term layoffs, but components used by other models aren’t affected, GM claims.

Auto parts supplier Magna International has also turned off the taps headed to CAMI.

Sales of the newly downsized and fuel efficient Equinox soared in August — a month where GM’s industry-bucking sales climb can be laid solely at the feet of its extensive crossover lineup. Equinox sales rose 85 percent, year-over-year. No doubt the automaker has concerns about inventory drying up during the strike, impacting future sales sheets.

Not surprisingly, the top concerns are a little different over at the union bargaining committee. In addition to the usual pay and benefits demands, Unifor Local 88 wants assurances from GM that the CAMI plant will remain the lead Equinox assembly location. Smaller numbers of Equinoxes roll out of Mexico, which is where the recently-departed-from-CAMI GMC Terrain went for a permanent vacation earlier in the year. The union also wants another product in order to safeguard the plant.

On Wednesday, the union reached out to GM in the hopes of re-starting negotiations. So far, there’s no word on any scheduled meetings.

Speaking to CBC, Unifor Local 88 president Dan Borthwick said, “We’re just trying to be responsible and see if there’s any way we can bring a quick resolution to the work stoppage and minimize the effects on our members and the suppliers and the surrounding community.”

[Image: General Motors]


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