Timeline: GM Canada’s rise, fall, bailout and eventual departure from Oshawa
The company is slashing approximately 15 per cent of its workforce and closing five facilities in North America, including its 55-year-old assembly plant in Oshawa. The move is expected to leave approximately 2,500 union workers without jobs in Oshawa once production ceases.
Here’s how General Motors’ tenure in Oshawa unfolded over its more than 100-year history.
1907-1908 – Carmaking comes to Oshawa
Oshawa businessman Robert McLaughlin and his sons, Sam and George, decide to overhaul their carriage-making facility so they could start making their own automobiles.
The company starts producing McLaughlin Buicks before adding Chevrolets and Pontiacs to its lineup, as part of a business relationship with General Motors in the United States.
WATCH: ‘They’re not closing our damn plant without one hell of a fight’ says union leader
1918 – General Motors Canada is born
General Motors buys the McLaughlins’ car-making business and transforms it into GM Canada. Sam McLaughlin is named its first president, with his brother George serving as vice-president.
The company grows rapidly over the following two decades. Oshawa also expands and becomes a city in 1924, with 15,545 residents.
Nov. 7, 1953 – Moving to a new assembly plant
GM opens a second assembly plant in Oshawa to handle the booming demand for cars. The original plant becomes a secondary production facility.
1980s – GM expands in Oshawa
General Motors pours $8 billion into expanding its manufacturing facilities in Canada.
The company employs approximately 23,000 people in Oshawa and produces nearly a quarter of a million vehicles each year.
WATCH: Conservatives demand plan from Trudeau amid Oshawa GM closure
1996 – GM, union end three-week strike
General Motors reaches a deal with the Canadian Auto Workers to stop a three-week strike at its facilities across North America.
2005 – GM decides to shut down McLaughlin’s plant
General Motors announces it will close down 12 factories in North America, including the secondary Oshawa plant where Sam McLaughlin founded his Canadian car-making business. The plant closure eliminates 3,750 jobs.
WATCH: Shifting attitudes among drivers and auto industry
2008 – Strike and a closure announcement
General Motors strikes a tentative deal with the Canadian automotive workers on May 15, 2008, to continue production in Oshawa. Three weeks later, the company announces it will close its pickup truck plant, outraging the union workers.
CAW employees stage protests outside GM’s headquarters in Oshawa for two weeks in June.
The plant is eventually closed.
June 2009 – Fast cars and billion-dollar bailouts
GM files for bankruptcy protection. Canada, the U.S. and Ontario give GM roughly US$60 billion in loans to help it continue production through the Great Recession, in exchange for shares in the company. Those shares were all sold off by 2015.
GM announces it will resurrect its muscle-car line, the Chevrolet Camaro, with production to take place in Oshawa.
June 2012 – GM announces plans to close plant
General Motors says it will go ahead with plans to close part of its consolidated plant in Oshawa by June 2013. The move is expected to eliminate 2,000 jobs.
The company repeatedly extends the deadline to meet production of Chevrolet Impalas and Equinoxes.
2014-2015 – Ignition switch deaths
At least 100 people are killed and more are injured in accidents related to the ignition switch in GM vehicles. GM pays out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle more than 4,000 claims.
WATCH BELOW: GM announces compensation plan for victims of faulty ignition switches
General Motors offers buyouts to 18,000 white-collar workers company-wide.
Nov. 25, 2018 – Union notice
General Motors notifies Unifor, the union representing its Canadian plant workers, that it will make a major announcement regarding production on Monday.
Word begins to leak out that the Oshawa plant will be shut down.
WATCH BELOW: Workers fear plant shutdown
Nov. 26, 2018 – Leaving Oshawa
General Motors announces that it will stop assigning work to the Oshawa plant at some point in 2019, as part of a broader “transformation” that will eliminate 15 per cent of its workforce.
Mary Barra, GM’s chairman and CEO, says the move is meant to “stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
Federal, provincial and local politicians widely condemn the move.
WATCH: Politicians react to GM’s departure from Oshawa
“GM workers have been part of the heart and soul of Oshawa for generations – and we’ll do everything we can to help the families affected by this news get back on their feet,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters that he asked GM if there was anything he could do to change their minds, but “basically the ship has already left the dock.”
“They didn’t ask for anything,” he said. “So are we disappointed? Yeah, we’re disappointed in GM.”
— With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
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