GM plays Mexico wildcard in Canada

Company negotiators on Wednesday told the union representing about 2,500 workers at GM's CAMI factory in Ingersoll, Ontario, that it will boost production of the Chevrolet Equinox SUV at two GM plants in Mexico to offset the almost monthlong strike, said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, which represents Canadian auto workers.

Workers at the CAMI are fighting to make the Ingersoll plant the leading producer of the Chevrolet Equinox in North America.

The union's national president Jerry Dias said on Thursday that GM representatives told the bargaining committee that the automaker is ramping up production of the Equinox at two plants in Mexico.

"The issue is that Mexican autoworkers earn USA $2 per hour and the movement generates good middle-class jobs in Mexico", Dias explained during his recent participation in talks about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, GM suggests that could change if Unifor doesn't throw in the towel soon. Mr. Dias said GM's relocation of some SUV production to Mexico is "the poster child for what's wrong with Nafta".

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"We've been very clear from day one that those are long-term trade and market things that we just aren't going to be able to sign up for", said the spokesman.

Mr. Dias said the union wants GM to designate CAMI as its primary North American factory for the Equinox, a compact crossover SUV and GM's No. 2 vehicle by USA sales volume.

GM's decision to build the Equinox and Terrain in Mexico is a major issue in the contract dispute between the automaker and the Canadian union.

"This is GM's way of saying not only to Canada but to the U.S., 'We're going to do what we want, '" Mr. Dias said in an interview. The automaker invested $800 million to retool the plant for the new model. The company now has two plants in Mexico that build the Equinox.

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Unifor's Dias has blamed Nafta for the job losses, complicating Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's effort to promote the benefits of open trade in response to US President Donald Trump's criticism of the deal.

Concerns about global trade began for the union after GM relocated production of the GMC Terrain earlier this year to Mexico, which resulted in the loss of about 400 jobs in Ingersoll.

The Equinox was the second best-selling model in the United States Chevrolet lineup in September, and GM had just 41 days' worth of the vehicle in stock at the end of last month, according to Automotive News.

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