GM plays Mexico wildcard in Canada

2,800 production workers at Cami Automotive are on strike to secure new investment in the plant. The facility is owned by General Motors. The Ingersoll facility makes the popular Chevy Equinox

General Motors has declared "war on Canada" by threatening to move more production of the Equinox sports utility vehicle from Ontario to Mexico, Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Thursday.

"General Motors did declare war on Canada", Dias said, in a phone interview Thursday from Washington, D.C., where NAFTA trade talks are being held. A GM official with knowledge of the bargaining says they're still talking but are at impasse over job security. The feud is taking place as GM's CAMI assembly plant located in Ingersoll, Ontario, which has been striking since September 17th.

"GM just told us today that they are going to ramp up production in Mexico", Unifor President Jerry Dias told Reuters.

The Unifor Local 88 called for a strike after contract negotiations between it and GM could not reach a deal by the time the existing contract expired. It has invested $800 million at the Ingersoll plant to make a new version of the Equinox, which is an assurance that GM is serious about keeping work there, he said.

- GM doesn't want to designate one plant as the main producer of a vehicle because it needs flexibility in case market conditions change, the official said.

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The CAMI plant is the only GM plant in Canada covered by the Unifor agreement, meaning there is a scale factor in their negotiating tactics.

- Dias has reason to fear that production could be moved. The United Auto Workers union in the US generally is seen as being more cooperative with companies than Unifor.

In addition to the possibility of moving Equinox production to Mexico, GM also has assembly plants in the US that are underutilized that could produce the popular crossover.

In a Facebook post after the strike began, Dias observed that if you want to see what a NAFTA-caused race to the bottom looks like, go to Ingersoll, Ontario.

The fiery union leader made his comments as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was beginning an official visit to Mexico as negotiators for the two countries continue NAFTA talks with the United States in Washington.

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