Issue #19 - October 10, 1996 - GM's Operations in Canada Come to a Halt

Issue #19 - October 10, 1996 - GM's Operations in Canada Come to a Halt

CAW president Buzz Hargrove and national secretary-treasurer Jim O’Neil walked the picket line in Windsor Wednesday evening as CAW members from the GM Windsor transmission and trim plants went on strike for a made in Canada settlement.

With workers in Windsor, London and Woodstock joining the escalating strike, 26,000 CAW members are now on strike bringing GM’s operations in Canada to a halt.

Workers on the picket lines said that wages and benefits don’t mean a lot if you don’t have a job and said they were prepared to walk the line for as long as it takes. Several said they felt like Canadian workers were being "punished" by General Motors for doing exactly what GM tells its employees they need to do on a world-wide basis.

One woman with 17 years senority said, "We make a whopping profit for them, we win quality awards, we’re productive but we have to strike for job security. They’re punishing us."

Hargrove said, " There’s no logic to GM’s position. Chrysler, a company that only made $1 profit for every $17 that GM made says the contract is a win for Chrysler allowing the company to continue its success building quality cars, vans and parts.

Chrysler Canada president Yves Landry announced after the pattern settlement was ratified that Chrysler expects to put a third shift in the Bramalea plant.

As the GM strike escalated, the chief executive officer for GM world -wide, Jack Smith, told U.S. reporters the CAW’s bargaining position would ‘cripple’ the company.

Hargrove said, "That’s absolute nonsense. First of all, the company made its $1.39 billion profit - $51,000 profit per worker - with the operations it wants to sell, close, wind-up or outsource. Secondly, GM has not made one economic argument across the bargaining table as to why they can’t meet the Canadian pattern."

"I can only conclude Jack Smith really doesn’t know the Canadian operations are extremely profitable," said Hargrove.

To reporters who asked if the CAW will bend in its determination to get GM to meet the pattern, Hargrove said, "GM is going to want to get production started at some point -- they need workers to build their products and they are going to have to settle with the pattern to do that."

Dave Vyse, CAW master bargaining committee chairperson said, "The CAW top economic committee is remaining at the Royal York Hotel for the Thanksgiving weekend prepared to talk if GM is interested, but the CAW/GM master and local committees will be spending the weekend with their families, after weeks at the bargaining table, and returning to Toronto Tuesday."

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