Issue #12 - September 27, 1996 - Selective and Escalating Strike Strategy

Issue #12 - September 27, 1996 - Selective and Escalating Strike Strategy


"As we head towards the October 2 strike deadline it is increasingly clear that the 1996 talks are becoming one of the most difficult sets of negotiations ever," said CAW President Buzz Hargrove. "I can’t stress enough how difficult it will be to reverse GM’s decisions without a strike. General Motors has already announced plans affecting 5500 workers -- to sell or close the Oshawa fabrication plant, the Windsor trim plant and outsource 553 Oshawa car and truck assembly jobs and wind up the axle plant in St. Catharines. As well, approximately 240 jobs are slated for outsourcing at the Boisbriand, London and Woodstock facilities."

"In late August the GM bargaining committee began exploring a number of strategies to exert pressure on GM. One of those options is "selective and escalating" strikes. Rather than shutting down all of GM at the bargaining deadline, October 2nd, 11:59 p.m., we would shut down some operations immediately, have other plants join the strike within a few days, and then move to a full shutdown within 7 days."

"The point of such a strategy would be to send the message to GM executives that we don’t want to go to war with GM, but we’re clearly prepared to stand our ground including an all out strike if necessary. This strategy would hopefully mean as the first operations went down, GM would continue to face pressures to bargain to avoid further shutdowns."

If no tentative settlement is reached by Wednesday, October 2, at 11:59 p.m., we would propose striking plants in Oshawa and Boisbriand. On Sunday, October 6, at 11:59 p.m. St. Catharines would join the strike. On Wednesday, October 9, at 11:59 p.m. all the remaining GM workers would join the strike bringing all of GM’s operations in Canada to a halt.

Hargrove added, "Given the difficult issue of GM’s threat to our jobs, I believe this strategy would maximize our chances to reverse these decisions."

"To carry out a selective and escalating strike would require the full and enthusiastic support of the leadership and membership to ensure the pressure stays on General Motors to save our jobs. The membership and leadership in every community will need to come together for possibly the toughest struggle we have ever faced."

Dave Vyse, CAW/GM Master Bargaining Committee Chairperson emphasized, "I think this strategy keeps continuous pressure on GM, not only up to the strike deadline but, in the event we are unable to reach a settlement, the pressure will escalate."

"1996 is not a normal bargaining year," concluded Hargrove. "It is about our ability to force the largest corporation in the world to accept a new moral standard for profitable corporations. It is about reversing decisions the corporation has said it will carry out. It is about the unity and solidarity of our membership, the GM leadership, indeed the entire union."

"The messsage to GM top corporate leadership is," declared Hargrove, "we want a settlement that includes a commitment to our jobs. Escalating strikes show we are not declaring war but we are prepared to have a full shutdown at all GM operations if necessary to defend our jobs ."


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