Canadian Union Won’t Give Up on Closed GM Plant
It looks like a losing battle. But Canada’s Unifor union is hoping to somehow resurrect the Canadian assembly plant General Motors closed this week in Oshawa, Ont.
The venerable factory has been making cars since 1907. In its heyday more than three decades ago, the plant employed some 23,000 people and cranked out more than 700,000 vehicles per year.
Now Oshawa is destined to become a facility that employs a mere 300 people to make metal stampings and assemble parts for GM’s 30-year-old CAMI Automotive affiliate in Ingersoll Ont. The Oshawa plant site also hosts a test track for the development of autonomous vehicles.
Years on Life Support
The Oshawa complex, which once consisted of two plants, has produced a long list of Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac models over the decades. But the facility, a past winner of multiple quality and efficiency awards, also has been on a bumpy downward slide for years.
GM has scheduled the plant for closure repeatedly since 2005, only to extend its life each time for a few years more. In 2008, the company decided to end operations at the No. 2 plant, which had been making light-duty trucks.
But GM’s manufacturing overcapacity in North American finally got the best of the facility, a past winner of multiple quality and efficiency awards.
The final death knell came in November last year, when GM announced capacity cutbacks that closed the company’s compact car plant in Lordstown, Ohio, last May and doomed Oshawa to closure by the end of December. The Canadian factory assembled its last vehicle, a 2019 model GMC Sierra fullsize pickup, on Dec. 18.
One More Chance?
Unifor President Jerry Dias still isn’t ready to give up on the vision of Oshawa one day returning as a major player in the auto industry. “there’s always hope we’ll have another vehicle to assemble,” he tweeted earlier this week. “We haven’t thrown in the towel.”
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Here's an overview of the study of assembly plant productivity that gets the undivided attention of all automakers: "The Harbour Report." Although the Big Three companies are getting better, they still have a way to go. But given the levels of competition, better won't be good enough for some plants, it seems.
I'm not talking about a plastic Revell model of a '57 Chevy, but a real vehicle, one that rolls off an assembly line in 1999 with another 99,999 just like it right behind. Is it possible, or is this just a fantasy of the marketing department at Elmer's?