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Cami plant in Ingersoll is on strike. Here are the basic facts

Patrick Maloney

By Patrick Maloney, The London Free Press

Cami employees picket outside the delivery entrance at the Ingersoll Automotive Assembly Plant on Day One of a strike by workers on Monday, September 18, 2017
(MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

Cami employees picket outside the delivery entrance at the Ingersoll Automotive Assembly Plant on Day One of a strike by workers on Monday, September 18, 2017 (MORRIS LAMONT, The London Free Press)

 Here are several facts about Cami, the automotive plant in Ingersoll where thousands of workers have gone on strike.

-- The automotive factory was opened in 1989. It’s owned by General Motors of Canada Limited. Its last major strike was 1992, lasting five weeks.

-- The picket lines will be packed: there are 2,800 unionized workers at Cami, and there are about another 300 salaried staff. About three weeks ago, workers voted 99.8% in favour of a strike.

-- A key issue is job security – stoked by GM Canada’s decision to this summer move production of one vehicle, the Terrain crossover SUV, to Mexico. That cut 400 jobs at the factory. The union, Unifor, wants a pledge that the remaining vehicle, the Equinox, won’t be moved to another plant.

-- The strike’s ripple effects are already being felt: GM Canada’s plant in St. Catharines will shut down this week and Ingersoll supplier Autrans Corp. – which, located near the Cami plant, does some engine assembly – is already shut down. So several hundred workers are off the job in those spots, too.

-- Cami workers have been working mandatory six-days-a-week overtime for seven years.

-- GM Canada concluded talks with its other Unifor plants in September 2016. Those workers received wage increases, a higher starting wage for new hires and a signing bonus. The company also pledged a new vehicle for its Oshawa assembly plant, and made 700 temporary jobs permanent.

-- In early 2015, not quite three years ago, General Motors invested $560 million in the Cami plant. One analyst said it suggested very good things for workers there: “It indicates GM is still committed to Canada,” Carlos Gomes said at the time.

-- The last contract talks, in September 2013, ended with 89% of workers approving a four-year pact that, among other things, extended benefits and other full-time perks to about 300 people who’d been contract workers. Cami workers at the highest end of the wage grid are paid $34/hour, though many make much less.

pmaloney@postmedia.com