GM Reported Ready to Close Canadian Plant, Fire 2,800 Workers

Paul Ausick

Canadian TV network CTV reported Sunday evening that General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) will close its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, according to unnamed sources. The assembly plant employs about 2,800 workers who build the popular Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups and two slow-selling GM passenger cars. The closure is expected to be announced to plant employees on Monday.

Unifor, the union that represents about 2,200 of the plant’s worker, issued a statement Sunday saying that while it did not have detailed information, “we have been informed that, as of now, there is not product allocated” to the plant past December of 2019. That does not mean that the plant will shut down completely, according to Unifor officials who, according to the Toronto Star, are speculating that GM will commit to building new vehicles at Oshawa to help meet the company’s goal of adding 7 million electric cars to the U.S. fleet by 2030.

Like other automakers, GM operates too many plants building vehicles that buyers don’t want. In North America that means passenger cars like the Chevy Impala and Cadillac XTS, both assembled in Oshawa. Sales also have slowed in China, GM’s largest market for new vehicles.

The plant in Oshawa, just outside Toronto, was key to an agreement between GM and Unifor in September 2016 that averted a strike, according to union president Jerry Dias, when GM “committed hundreds of millions” of dollars to the Oshawa plant that was expected to become the only facility in North America capable of building both cars and light trucks. At the time, Dias said, “The fear of a closure in 2019 is over. The facility clearly has a bright future.” Oshawa Mayor John Henry told the Star that he was shocked at the new because GM had recently spent $500 million in upgrades to the Oshawa plant.

GM has also offered buyouts to some portion of 18,000 of its 50,000 eligible salaried employees in North American. CNBC reports that interest among salaried employees has been lower than expected and that the company is expected to announce involuntary layoffs perhaps as soon as this week.