United Auto Workers members to vote on General Motors agreement
The head of the union representing Canada’s auto workers says he expects General Motors Co. workers in the country — thousands of whom were temporarily laid off in recent weeks amid a strike in the U.S. — to return to work in a matter of days.
GM reached a tentative agreement Wednesday with the United Auto Workers (UAW), the union that represents auto workers in the U.S., after 50,000 GM workers walked off the job over a month ago. The UAW will vote Thursday on the agreement and whether workers should return to work during the ratification process, which could last a couple of weeks.
“Today will be a big day. Once they make the decisions whether or not they’re going back to work, that will start the ball rolling,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday.
Dias said he expects that it will “take a few days at minimum” for GM plants in Canada to be fully operational, depending on how long it takes for the resumption of shipments from the U.S.
“I expect it will take a few days but it’s not going to take weeks,” Dias said.
Colin James, president of Unifor Local 222 representing workers at the GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ont., told BNN Bloomberg employees and suppliers have been told to report to work Friday.
“The company will probably have them cleaning the area and preparing with them being optimistic that [the tentative agreement] will be ratified,” James said in an email.
Meanwhile, parts production at GM’s St. Catharines, Ont. plant is expected to resume as early as Sunday if U.S. workers return to work, while assembly at the facility would likely resume mid-week, Unifor Local 199 President Greg Brady told BNN Bloomberg.
Dias said he’s not surprised about the prolonged strike in the U.S., comparing it with the GM strike in Canada in 2017.
“GM is going to fight, they always have. They’re no pushover at the bargaining table, so I wasn’t shocked at all,” he said.
“If you look at the issues that we dealt with in 2017, it’s exactly what they’re dealing with today. It was really the straight migration of our jobs to Mexico.”
Dias added GM can afford to concede to the demand of workers, despite Wall Street forecasts of a downturn in revenue.
“GM is doing very well,” Dias said. “No tears for them.”
--With files from BNN Bloomberg’s Paige Ellis