General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) auto workers working at a Canadian plant went on strike for the first time in 21 years over lost jobs in Mexico, cutting the production of a key sport utility vehicle called the Chevrolet Equinox that was redesigned for the first time in seven years.
The strike group called Unifor represents about 6,500 workers in Canada and is demanding the company to give the plant another vehicle to build in place of the GMC Terrain, which was moved to Mexico earlier this year, costing 600 jobs at the Ingersoll, Ontario plant. As a result, the union has been pushing to stop a wave of auto jobs and investment moving towards cheaper locations south of the border. The company is urged to designate this plant which is the leading producer of the top selling SUV model, the Chevrolet Equinox. This plant has more than 3,000 employees and is recognized as one of the most productive plants in the world.
Under Nafta, Mexico’s vehicle production tripled from 1.1 million units in 1994 to about 3.5 million units last year. Canada’s job force lost more than 53,000 from 2001 to 2014. The Ontario factory was excluded from the labor agreements that Unifor struck with American auto companies in 2016 which secured more investment in Canada. General Motors agreed to invest C$554 million in other Canadian operations which included an assembly plant, an engine factory, and a parts distribution facility. Unifor is encouraged to resume negotiations for an agreement in a statement where the two plants in Mexico is weakening the union’s bargaining position.