(Recasts with comments from union leader on potential impact of
By Allison Martell
TORONTO, Sept 6 Canada's main autoworkers' union
on Tuesday named General Motors Co as its strike target
in contract talks, and its top official warned that any walkout
could disrupt the automaker's production across North America.
Bargaining with the Canadian arms of GM, Ford Motor Co
and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles kicked off in August.
The union, Unifor National, typically selects one company for
intensive negotiations. That company's deal sets a pattern, and
other auto manufacturers are expected to agree to similar
Union President Jerry Dias set a strike deadline of Sept.
19, the expiration date for four-year contracts covering GM,
Fiat Chrysler and Ford.
Among GM plants that could be hit by a strike are the St
Catharines, Ontario, powertrain facility, which supplies engines
to the company's CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The CAMI
plant assembles the strong-selling Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC
While CAMI workers would not walk out in any strike because
they work under a separate labor contract, Dias said the union's
members at CAMI would not accept engines from other sites.
"The reality is we are not going to accept engines from
anywhere else to go into our CAMI facility," Dias said in an
interview. "General Motors would be foolish to attempt to ship
in engines from somewhere else."
Dias also said he expected U.S. plants represented by the
United Auto Workers would not increase output to replace
production from St Catharines.
"I would expect that the UAW will respect any action that we
have here in Canada," he said.
A UAW spokesman said the union's president, Dennis Williams,
was traveling and unavailable for comment.
"I'm not sure how sympathetic the UAW would be because one
of the issues could be taking product away from them," said
Arthur Schwartz, a labor analyst and former GM negotiator.
At an earlier news conference, Dias said he does not expect
a strike, but added that the carmaker must change course and
announce investment plans before any deal is ratified.
FOCUSING ON AN AGREEMENT
"We continue to remain focused on finding a new agreement
that is mutually beneficial and competitive," said David
Paterson, GM Canada's vice president for corporate and
He did not repeat the company's longstanding stance that it
cannot make any investment decisions until after a new labor
contract is signed. GM declined to comment on the impact of a
shutdown at St Catharines.
Kristin Dziczek, labor analyst at the Center of Automotive
Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said there is no obvious
candidate for GM vehicle production to be added at Oshawa,
Ontario, which is a union priority.
"You've got to take the chance of a strike seriously," said
Dziczek. "These are tough issues they've got to get over."
The Oshawa plant has one assembly line scheduled to shut
down in 2017. On its newer flex line, it builds the Cadillac
XTS, which is not a strong seller, the Buick Regal, which
sources have told Reuters will likely move to China or Europe in
2017, and the Chevrolet Impala, which is also made in Detroit.
(Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; Additional reporting
by Alastair Sharp in Toronto and Bernie Woodall in Detroit;
Editing by David Gregorio and Leslie Adler)