Strike deadline draws near as GM, union talk

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TORONTO – The union that represents auto workers at General Motors says a lot of issues remain unresolved in negotiations with the company, but progress is being made.

In a memo updating its talks with GM, Unifor says it’s still trying to secure further product investment before a strike deadline set for Monday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Unifor, which represents about 23,000 auto workers in Canada, selected GM as its target company in the opening round of contract discussions with the so-called Detroit Three automakers.

The union said any deal reached with GM would serve as a template for negotiations with the other two automakers, Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

Going into the discussions, union president Jerry Dias said he was aware negotiations with GM would be tough — but that was precisely why the company was chosen.

A focal point of the negotiations was securing more work at GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ont., where the company employs 2,500 unionized workers.

One of the plant’s two assembly lines makes the Chevrolet Equinox, but production is scheduled to halt next year.

The facility’s other assembly line, which produces the Chevrolet Impala, the Buick Regal and the Cadillac XTS, has no vehicles scheduled past 2019.

GM has said it wouldn’t make any commitments on investing in its Canadian operations or allocating any new products to its Oshawa plant until after an agreement with the union was ratified.

Dias has said the union would not agree to any contract that didn’t guarantee more work for its workers in Oshawa and further investment in GM facilities overall.

Members of the union voted last month in favour of strike action to back their contract proposals, which in addition to securing more work include wage increases.