Newspaper article The Canadian Press

GM Workers in Oshawa, Ont., Brace for 'The Fight of Our Lives' in Auto Talks

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

GM Workers in Oshawa, Ont., Brace for 'The Fight of Our Lives' in Auto Talks

Article excerpt

Oshawa, Ont., ground zero for auto talks

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OSHAWA, Ont. - Just over a year ago, Corina and Joe Colacicco -- both employees at the General Motors facility in Oshawa, Ont. -- sold their house and bought a bigger one to accommodate their growing family.

Today, the couple is contemplating what might happen to them and their four-year-old son if GM decides to close up shop in the southern Ontario city just east of Toronto.

"We've got all our eggs in one basket," says Joe, whose father spent 30 years working for GM before retiring several years ago.

"I grew up on a GM paycheque my whole life, like most of my family has, so it's hard to even fathom the thought that they might not be there one day."

Oshawa is a ground zero of sorts for the ongoing contract negotiations, which kicked off last month, between the Detroit Three automakers and its unionized workers.

The plant, whose future is on the line, represents the struggle between the union's desire to keep investment in Canada and efforts by the Detroit Three to move production to jurisdictions such as Mexico and the southern U.S., where labour and power costs are lower.

GM's operations in Oshawa include two production lines. The consolidated line, which produces the Chevrolet Equinox, was originally expected to close in 2005 but continues to operate.

It is scheduled to close next year, and if that happens, Joe expects he'll be shown the door.

As a supplemental workforce employee, Joe doesn't enjoy the same pay, benefits or job security that his wife Corina, an employee of 14 years, does. Over the past decade he has been laid off several times before being called back to work.

But even the flex line, which Corina works on, faces an uncertain future.

The flex line produces the Chevrolet Impala, the Buick Regal and the Cadillac XTS, but it has no product scheduled past 2019.

That has given rise to concerns that the automaker could be planning to pull out of Oshawa entirely. …

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