GM plays Mexico wildcard in Canada

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Earlier this month, Dias called the strike the "poster child with what's wrong with the North American Free Trade Agreement" - the policy now being renegotiated by Canada, the USA and Mexico.

Tony Faria, a professor at the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business, said Unifor is right that Canada's automotive sector has lost out because of the trade deal, getting none of the last 10 assembly plants built in North America, while nine are going to Mexico.

Jerry Dias, the president of the Canadian auto union, says that General Motors has declared war on Canadian workers with its threat to move production to Mexico. Union leaders are anxious about job security amid the threat that more work could be taken from the plant, which is among GM's busiest in North America.

"This is GM's way of saying not only to Canada but to the U.S., 'We're going to do what we want, '" Mr. Dias said in an interview.

It is not possible to cut Canadian costs below those of Mexico, where workers make $2 an hour, Dias said.

GM Canada was not available for comment.

The escalation of the assembly plant strike comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau begins an official visit to Mexico, while NAFTA negotiations continue in Washington.

The provincial government of Ontario urged both sides to immediately resolve the high-stakes dispute.

"GM has a capacity issue in North America and they need to close a plant. It's no more complicated than that", said Susquehanna International Group auto analyst Matthew Stover.

Unifor Local 88 at CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario and some 2,500 employees went on strike at 10:59 p.m. September 17 with the goal of having GM make their plant the main producer of the Chevrolet Equinox and job security.

Unifor is pushing for a commitment from GM that the Ontario plant will be the main producer of the hot-selling Equinox SUV.

Canada must discuss the issue with the United States and develop a strategy to stem the "influx" of vehicles from Mexico, Dias told reporters in Washington.

GM temporarily laid off some workers at three of its plants producing parts for the CAMI plant: a transmission factory in Ontario and two engine plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee, and Flint, Michigan. The company would not speculate on any impact from a production shift to Mexico. At the same time, the source points out GM has invested $800 million in the Ingersoll plant implying that should speak to the company's commitment to its workers. GM could shift most or all of CAMI's output to the Mexican factories, though that would likely disrupt some production of other vehicles made there, according to research firm J.D. Power. The company now has two plants in Mexico that build the Equinox. "The answer is absolutely yes".