Government officials join UAW in fight for GM plant

And so it starts …. there’s a similar movement in Oshawa, Ontario, near us here at

It seems the Oshawa plant is one of the most efficient of GMs plants, so why are cuts happening there? And there are, of course, similar rationalizations for every plant … this one has the shortest unit cycle time, this one has the shortest changeover time …

The United Auto Workers local at General Motors Corp.’s West Mifflin metal stamping plant has formed a coalition with government officials to fight the plant closing scheduled for 2007.

The coalition was formed in response to GM’s Nov. 21 announcement that it would close its Pittsburgh Metal Center plant as part of a companywide restructuring that will eliminate 12 plants and 30,000 jobs between 2006 and 2008. The closing would eliminate about 640 jobs at the West Mifflin plant.

Here’s a couple of Oshawa articles:

Layoffs a bitter pill for Oshawa’s auto workers

One of North America’s most efficient plants will lose almost 4,000 jobs

The Globe and Mail

Employees at General Motors of Canada Ltd.’s sprawling Oshawa factory learned a harsh lesson yesterday as layoffs hit North America’s largest car manufacturer. No matter how productive the company’s Canadian plants are, the financial woes at the struggling U.S. auto giant are now too deep to escape.

Hampered by mounting losses and trying to cut costs, Detroit-based parent General Motors Corp. stunned employees by announcing 30,000 layoffs at 12 of its North American plants, including extensive cuts at its GM Canada unit’s two Oshawa operations.

The Oshawa plants are among the most efficient in North America — ahead of several Toyota and Honda operations — and form Canada’s largest auto manufacturing site.

GM’s deepest cutbacks since 1991 will see 3,900 Canadian jobs, most of them in Oshawa, eliminated by the end of 2008.

Further on it says:

The company’s battles with rising labour costs, including soaring heath care bills in the United States, are well known throughout the struggling North American auto sector. Still, Oshawa employees were angry the Canadian plant is being targeted, saying the plant is paying for corporate mistakes south of the border.

Kevin Sexton, an assembly line worker with 22 years experience at the company’s Windsor and Oshawa plants, said the Canadian operations are being forced to prop up the U.S. factories.

“We shouldn’t have to pay the price because of their inefficiencies and their problems but that’s what’s happening,” Mr. Sexton said.

The Oshawa plants have fared well in two key industry rankings this year, placing first and second in J.D. Power’s annual quality studies, which track customer satisfaction and defects. Meanwhile, Oshawa No. 1 scored the highest in North American productivity rankings compiled by Michigan-based Harbour Consulting. Oshawa No. 2 wasn’t far behind in fourth spot.

Both plants manufacture cars that aren’t selling well for General Motors. Industry watchers said the Canadian layoffs are a sign of how deep the troubles run at GM.

“The fact that General Motors can’t make good productive use of one of the most efficient automobile factories in North America indicates that the problem isn’t merely on the factory floor,” said Peter Morici, an auto industry expert at the University of Maryland.

Another newspaper,, a more regional one, had this to say:

Oshawa Mayor confident that GM layoffs can be mitigated

Mayor John Gray started Monday morning’s strategic initiatives committee meeting on a grim note, when he confirmed for councillors that General Motors had just announced staggering job cuts at its Oshawa plants.

In a memo provided to the Oshawa mayor and councillors, General Motors indicated that the changes at Plant 1 could be managed through attrition and without layoffs.

“We are seeing a bit of bad news this morning, but I’m hoping that the situation is not as bleak as it would appear,� Mayor Gray said just after hearing the news. “Some changes won’t be in effect until 2006 or 2008, so we have time to mitigate the damage.�

And a few other comments …

From Yahoo News Canada

The city of Oshawa, Ontario may be a good 4-1/2 hour drive from the home offices of Detroit-based General Motors Corp.. But when General Motors sneezes, Oshawa quickly catches a cold.

The decision, which comes as GM struggles to compete with rivals led by Toyota Motor Corp., was particularly surprising to some, given the Oshawa plants ranked first and second in the most recent J.D. Power and Associates quality survey of North American assembly plants.

“It came as a complete shock,” Oshawa Mayor John Gray told Reuters.

“Obviously, we knew that GM is in some difficulties, but it did come as a surprise that they would want to touch probably their most productive, efficient award-winning plants.”

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