TORONTO -- Contract talks between General Motors and Unifor were described by local union leadership as intense but progressing just hours before Sunday night’s strike deadline at CAMI Assembly in Ontario.
Unifor Local 88, which represents about 2,750 workers at GM's Ingersoll, Ont., assembly plant, said in a Sunday evening post on its website that it was “starting to see some movement” in the labor talks.
The update came after the union on Saturday night described a deal as not appearing “reachable” and began making preparations for a strike. The current contract at the plant ends at 10:59 p.m. Eastern time.
Should workers strike, production of the Chevrolet Equinox, GM’s top-selling crossover in the United States and Canada would cease at the plant until a deal is reached.
In its Sunday evening post, Local 88 advised CAMI workers to be prepared to report to work should a tentative agreement be reached before the deadline.
A spokeswoman for GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Negotiations between GM and Unifor have been contentious. The talks come just days after GM wrapped up a round of layoffs at the plant and during renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which the union has blamed for the loss of Canadian auto manufacturing jobs.
GM announced on Jan. 8 it would move production of its redesigned GMC Terrain to Mexico from Ingersoll, a decision which led to the layoffs.
A long-term strike could bring sales trouble to GM. According to the Automotive News Data Center, average U.S. Equinox dealer inventory stood at 53 days supply on Sept. 1, down from 74 days on Aug. 1 and well below the average 82-day inventory for all Chevrolet models.
Ingersoll was not part of a four-year labor deal the union negotiated with GM Canada last September, which secured $554 million of investments for other plants in Ontario.
Canadian autoworkers last struck a Detroit automaker in 1996, when the Canadian Auto Workers union walked out on GM plants across Canada in an effort to secure jobs at an Oshawa, Ont., fabrication plant and a Windsor, Ont., trim plant.
Workers at the GM CAMI plant, a joint venture between the automaker and Suzuki until 2009, are on a separate contract from other Canadian GM plants.