After nearly nine months off the job due to the worldwide semiconductor shortage, employees at GM Canada’s CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ont., will soon return to work and a local union representative is hoping for bigger and brighter things next year.
Mike Van Boekel, Unit 1 chairperson with Unifor Local 88, told Global News that a skeleton crew will come in the week of Oct. 25 to get the lines filled and work out any bugs that have popped up since the plant’s been down.
“Then on November 1, we’ll bring in one full shift. For the first four weeks, there’ll be one full shift. We’re working that out yet on who’s coming in, but that’s how it’ll work. And then hopefully the semiconductors keep coming and we have two full shifts going on in December.”
Van Boekel says the return to work is long overdue and is hugely important for his members both financially and emotionally.
“We have got a lot of young families in there with both partners that are both at CAMI and that made it doubly tough. So it will be really good for our members, both financially and mentally especially to get back to work and get it going again.”
The CAMI plant used to have three shifts, Van Boekel explained, but there have been more than 600 retirements in the last year at CAMI Ingersoll. Before the semiconductor shortage, there would normally be 1,600 employees work at the plant on a given day.
“We still have some extra people floating around, but we’ll have more retirements as we go. And then hopefully when we launch the BrightDrop late next year, we’ll have three shifts. Hopefully (in the) not too distant future again and hopefully even be starting to hire again.”
The BrightDrop is GM’s new electric vehicle for commercial use. The CAMI Ingersoll plant will start producing the vans beginning next year.
GM Canada previously announced the plant would be producing the BrightDrop EV600 starting in November 2022 and the BrightDrop EV410 starting in 2023.
“They’re starting to build a few of them in Michigan just to get the, hopefully, bugs and everything worked out. That’ll take a few months. And then we’re going to go down at some point next year, retool and hopefully in the fall (of 2022) we’ll launch the BrightDrop and start on our way down the electrical path.”
While Van Boekel doesn’t believe supply issues surrounding semiconductor shortages are over, he’s confident the situation is improving and pointed to a recent announcement about a semiconductor plant planned for Michigan.
“Hopefully the worst is behind us.”