General Motors wants to negotiate a fresh labor deal at an Ontario plant where it could produce the next-generation Chevrolet Equinox if the business case makes sense.
Canadian Auto Workers Local 88 President Dan Borthwick confirmed that the automaker has asked to open labor negotiations early at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, where the contract is to expire in September.
"My understanding is General Motors wants to know their long-term costs going forward," Borthwick said.
The automaker is weighing whether to make the next version of the popular Equinox crossover at the plant, where it currently produces the Equinox and the GMC Terrain. The plant made 305,415 vehicles in 2012.
Successful negotiation of a labor deal with terms similar to the general CAW contract signed in the fall could pave the way for GM to locate the next-generation Equinox at the CAMI plant.
"There's always concern about future products," Borthwick said. "We can do everything we need to do here cost-wise, quality-wise and productivity-wise, and we believe if we do that we should have future generations of product."
Borthwick said the CAW Local 88 bargaining committee has recommended that members approve early bargaining. The chapter will meet Feb. 10 to vote on whether to approve early negotiations. Toronto's Globe and Mail first reported that GM had asked for early negotiations at the plant.
Borthwick said, "We haven't heard any negative feedback" from members yet. The plant is not covered by the CAW deal negotiated last year with GM, but through the process of pattern bargaining, the plant is likely to end up with similar contract terms. Still, GM executives have described Canada as the most expensive country in the world in which to produce vehicles, giving the company incentive to continue shifting production out of the country.
For example, GM recently said it would move production of the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro from Ontario to its Lansing Grand River plant.
GM spokeswoman Adria MacKenzie said in an e-mail that the company sees a "benefit of moving ahead with discussions sooner rather than later."
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