It’s the end of an era as General Motors prepares to shutter its Oshawa assembly plant Wednesday.
After more than 100 years in the Motor City, it’s a day those who dedicated their lives to the plant, never thought they would see.
“If you got a job in there you were done, you’ve got it made and most people thought that about GM,” explained Bernie Jones, a maintenance worker of nearly 30 years before retiring six years ago.
“It was great. Management was fair. It was a good place to work but as things started to tighten up, it became more difficult.”
GM announced in November 2018 it would wind down production at the plant, which has been in operation since 1954. The last of the pick-up trucks rolled off the line Wednesday, as some 2,600 workers walked off the job for the last time.
About 300 jobs are being saved through a $170-million investment by GM to turn part of the operation into a parts plant
“They had a good apprenticeship because every three months they’d move you to a different area and it was like working for a different company, all the machinery changed, paint shops, body shops — wherever you went.”
The retirees consider themselves lucky — they got out when the going was good, before government bailouts and financial insecurity.
“He’s not too happy about it obviously, but you just have to roll with the flow,” added Jones, whose 36-year-old son works at the plant.
“He’s got to start all over again.”
During what the boys refer to as “the glory days” back in the 80s, more than 23 thousand people worked at the facility, producing more than 720 thousand cars and trucks a year.
“It was like working for family, the people were so nice, even the management,” said Keith Watson, who worked at the Oshawa plant for 30 years. His daughter used to work there during the summer before becoming a nurse.
“I never didn’t enjoy coming into work. I always enjoyed coming into work.”
GM has been working to help employees find other new jobs. About 1,200 of the employees qualify for full retirement packages.