General Motors CAMI plant strike to end after workers approve tentative agreement

Jaclyn Carbone/AM980 London

Workers at the General Motors CAMI plant in Ingersoll will be back on the job Monday night.

Roughly 2,400 Unifor Local 88 members cast their votes. Nearly 86 per cent of production workers and 78.7 per cent of tradesworkers voted in favour of approving the offer on Oct. 16, bringing an end to a strike that began on Sept. 17.

Employees will receive four per cent wage increases over the four-year deal, a $6,000 signing bonus and annual payments of $2,000 each Christmas.

A major sticking point in negotiations was job security. The union wanted General Motors to declare the plant a lead producer of the Equinox after losing production of the GMC Terrain to a Mexican plant that resulted in 600 job layoffs earlier this year.

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Unifor Local 88 Plant Chair Mike Van Boekel said the bargaining team decided to take a new approach last week.

“The company wasn’t real receptive to it but at the end of the day we found common ground,” he explained.

“We especially tied their hands on layoffs in the future or trying to leave. We put a price tag of $300-million if they want to close the plant so we believe if that money got divided — it’s not the goal — but again it’s expensive to leave.”

READ MORE: General Motors reaches tentative agreement with Ontario CAMI plant workers on strike

Local 88 president Dan Borthwick added that while the deal doesn’t accomplish everything they wanted, he believes it’s the best that they can do.

“If we continued another four weeks or six months, would the package or anything be different in six months? We don’t believe it would have been. Only thing that would have been different is our members would have sacrificed more,” he said.

“It’s damn disappointing that we can’t get a commitment, a written commitment from our employer that we would have a future at this location for many years to come. So, as Mike said, we went about it a different way.”

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GM Canada released a statement calling the ratification “welcome news” for the company, employees, and the community.

“Having grown up in Southwestern Ontario, the CAMI plant and the Oxford County community mean a great deal to me,” wrote Steve Carlisle, president and managing director of General Motors Canada.

“The challenges of the past months have been hard on all of us but now it’s time to show the character of our region and our plant. With the recent $800 million investment at the CAMI plant and this agreement, it is up to each of us to demonstrate the unparalleled value we deliver as leaders within Canada’s auto sector,” he stated.

“The employees at CAMI have created a culture of team involvement and continuous improvement resulting in numerous industry awards for vehicle quality and productivity.  I am confident that by working as one team, that will continue for years to come.”

–With files from The Canadian Press

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