General Motors to shutter eight plants including Oshawa

Monday November 26, 2018
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
November 26, 2018 – General Motors (GM) has officially announced the "unallocation" of its assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, along with four other plants in the United States and three overseas, all by the end of 2019.  

In addition to the Oshawa location, assembly plants at Detroit-Hamtramck in Detroit, Michigan and Lordstown in Warren, Ohio will close. The company will also shutter the propulsion plants Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland and Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan. 

The company previously announced the closure of the assembly plant in Gunsan, Korea, but has said today that the operations of two additional plants outside North America will also cease operations. 

Global salaried and contract staff will be reduced by 15 per cent, which includes 25 per cent fewer executives, the company says.

"The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future," says GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra. "We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.

GM says it will double resources allocated to electric and autonomous vehicle programs in the next two years, and increase its use of virtual tools to lower development time and costs. It also plans to integrate its vehicle and propulsion engineering teams, and focus on next-generation battery-electric vehicle architectures to optimize its portfolio amid lower market demands for cars.

Workers walked out of the Oshawa plant on Monday after being told by their union, Unifor Local 222, to go home for the day and await further instruction following the union's afternoon meeting with GM. Sources had already been reporting Sunday that GM would announce the closure.

Both the federal and Ontario governments have expressed displeasure at the news, and support for the workers and families affected by the pending closure. 

"Our government is disappointed by General Motors' announcement regarding its operations in Oshawa as part of their global restructuring," says Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development. "We've been steadfast in our support of auto workers and the auto industry since we formed government, investing $389 million in 37 projects. Canada's auto sector remains strong, with total investments exceeding $5.6 billion over that period, creating and maintaining tens of thousands of good middle-class automotive jobs."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford released a lengthy statement Monday that acknowledged the direct and indirect impact the plant closure would have on Ontarians. "It is disappointing that GM failed to see and build upon this competitive advantage," Ford says. "While the company is entitled to make its own business decisions, I am confident that history will prove them wrong.

"We are also asking the federal government to work with their U.S. counterparts to remove all tariffs so that impacted auto parts suppliers can remain competitive after the Oshawa assembly plant closes its doors."

Ford also says the Ontario government has already deployed Employment Ontario's "Rapid Re-Employment Training Services" program, which will work with the Durham region and provide services to affected employees including support for employment insurance access. 

Ford has called on the federal government to extend EI eligibilty by five weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks in the impacts areas, as well as an extension of work sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks to a toal of 76 weeks. 

The provincial government has also asked for Canada to re-instate the Career Transition Assistance initiative to re-train workers, and to come up with a plan to further increase EI durations for long tenured workers.

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