On day 19 of the autoworkers’ strike at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, they marched in solidarity.
On Friday, more than 500 people marched along the road in a show of solidarity with the nearly 3,000 unionized workers who have been on strike since late September.
They were decked out in red and white, waving their union flags and chanting about corporate greed. After walking along the street in front of the plant, union members and their supporters gathered to hear words of encouragement.
Unifor National President Jerry Dias rallied the troops, so to speak, saying they need to stand strong to their demands because GM has gone back on their word before, like they did with the Camaro in Oshawa.
Speaking about trust between GM and their employees, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour Chris Buckley, says it goes both ways.
“Each and every one of the workers in that plant made a commitment to General motors when they got hired. Each and every one of you, and General Motors turns their back. You have met every benchmark that the company puts before you. I get it sisters and brothers, everyday the company wants more efficiency, they want better quality, they want you to get leaner and meaner. You did it all, you did all the right things, all the right things,” he said.
NAFTA came under fire in both the chants and in the speeches made.
The chant “NAFTA, NAFTA we don’t hafta, NAFTA, NAFTA we got the shafta! NAFTA, NAFTA, cut the crappa!” was a particular favourite of Dias’s.
“I love the chant ‘NAFTA, NAFTA we got the shafta.’ Well, you know what? No more are we going to get the shafta. It’s time we took back the politics of our nation, it’s time we took back the politics of trade agreement that are all about corporate rights, they’re not about workers rights, and it’s about time we changed the conversion,” Dias said.
Dias went on to say this fight is about more than the CAMI plant.
“Your fight is also for the 25 plus thousand jobs that depend on you. I’m talking to our sisters and brothers from Autrans, I’m talking to our sisters and brothers from St. Catharines. I’m talking to union and non-union workers across the province that right now are out of work. Why? Because of this dispute. So this dispute is really about the impact it has on the economy and the role of the auto industry in a strong and stable economy,” he said.
Dias adds this fight is a fight for working-class people across the world that are demanding trade agreements that benefit workers, and not just corporations.
Closing off the day’s events was Unifor Local 88 Chair Mike Van Boekel. He’s been in talks with GM for the last several weeks.
“We haven’t stopped talking, and I’ll be honest, up until the day before yesterday (Wednesday), the three days before that were, by far, our best days. We’ve got the contract 90 per cent to 95 per cent done.”
Talks between Unifor and GM are on a break for the Thanksgiving long weekend but are set to resume Tuesday.