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General Motors Hit with Union Strike in Canada

by | October 10, 2023

More than 4,300 members of Unifor went on strike against General Motors. They walked out just after midnight Tuesday morning after negotiators for the two sides couldn’t reach a tentative labor agreement in Canada. Union officials said the company won’t follow the pattern agreement agreed to by Ford.

Unifor GM striker

Unifor members walked off the line at GM facilities in Canada after talks broke down.

Unifor began a strike against General Motors early Tuesday after negotiators from GM failed to reach a tentative labor agreement with the union representing workers at GM installations in Canada.

The Canadian strike raises pressure on GM, which is facing targeted strikes at in the United States that have idled two of GM’s assembly plants and parts warehouses.

Last minute talks fall short

Lana Payne GM strike

Unifor’s chief Lana Payne said GM needs to follow the pattern agreement.

The walkout began shortly after midnight at a GM assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, a powertrain plant in St. Catharines, and a parts distribution center in Woodstock, Ontario, Unifor said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Your bargaining team has announced strike action against General Motors. This strike includes all GM members at the Oshawa Assembly Complex and CCA Stamped Products, St. Catharines Powertrain Plant and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre,” Unifor said in a statement posted on the union’s website.

“The decision to strike was not taken lightly. After working throughout the Thanksgiving weekend and into the final hours before the deadline, General Motors made it clear that they would not agree to meet the conditions of the pattern agreement. We cannot and we will not settle for less than pattern — not today — not ever,” the statement continued.

The statement added the strike is the result of the company’s unwillingness to agree to the union’s core pattern demands on pensions, as well as supports for retirees and instituting a clear path to permanent jobs for full-time temporary part-time workers, as well as a series of other unresolved issues.

Unifor GM strike logo

“General Motors members have a proud history of fighting back and winning. In 1996, we successfully fought GM when they tried to break the pattern. We won pattern then and we will win it now.

“Members should continue to report for your next scheduled shift to speak with your strike captain for picketing duties. Your local and national leadership team will provide you with more information as soon as possible,” Unifor added.

Last month, Unifor successfully negotiated a new three-year contract with Ford Motor Co.

New bid for labor peace with UAW

The strike at GM’s Canadian operations began after the company made another offer on a new contract with the UAW, which included a restoration of a cost-of-living allowance and offered to increase the company’s 401K retirement accounts for employees hired after 2007. The UAW has been demanding a restoration of the older style defined benefit pension plans.

Analysts from J.P. Morgan have said the strike is costing GM, the most profitable North American automaker, about $200 million per week.

Unifor GM strike 2023 one

The union’s core pattern includes demands on pensions, support for retirees and a clear path to permanent jobs for full-time temporary part-time workers.

Last week, GM offered what the UAW described as a breakthrough when it agreed to include workers at new battery plants under the new master agreement. The offer prompted the UAW suspend plans for a targeted strike at GM’s assembly plant in Arlington, Texas, which builds full-size sport-utility vehicles and is considered GM’s most profitable assembly plant in North America.

UAW President Shawn Fain said, “GM has now agreed in writing to place their electric battery manufacturing under our national master agreement. We’ve been told for months this is impossible.”

However, Fain said on Facebook Live that GM and the UAW and GM remain far apart with all three of Detroit’s automakers on several key issues such as pensions, eliminating the tiered-wage structures and shortening the work week to 32 hours.

The UAW also is using targeted strikes in the U.S. against Ford and Stellantis. It also launched a strike against Mack Truck at three plants in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida Monday morning.


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