On the Picket Line

Unifor strikers vote up new contract at GM in Canada

By Beverly Bernardo
October 30, 2023

OSHAWA, Ontario — The 4,300 Unifor-organized workers at General Motors in Canada voted up a new contract Oct. 15 by 80%. This followed Ford’s union members, who approved their contract by a much closer 54% margin Sept. 24. The union is now looking for a new contract with Stellantis.

The over 2,600 members of Unifor at the GM assembly plant here set up picket lines at all the giant complex’s gates Oct. 10, along with some 1,300 workers at a St. Catharines plant and GM Parts Distribution Centre in Woodstock.

“I work full time now, but don’t know when I’ll be permanent. We’re trying to make sure all workers become permanent,” Samantha Boehter told this Militant worker-correspondent when the strike was on. She has worked for a little more than a year in chassis pre-turnover and is a temporary part-time worker. About half the production workers hired at Oshawa since 2021 are women.

Fifteen years ago the union gave GM, Ford and Stellantis bosses a series of deep concessions when the Big Three faced bankruptcy in the 2008 capitalist economic crisis.

Strikers appreciated the solidarity that they got from many passing motorists, who honked in support or visited their picket lines. “Solidarity is very important. We have to stick together no matter what industry we’re in,” striker A.J. Small said. Rob Wiersma, a millwright at GM for three years, agreed: “We need to stand with our union brothers and sisters in auto in the United States.”

The St. Catharines GM factory makes engines and transmissions essential to running GM plants in the U.S.