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GM to go first in tense contract talks with Canadian union

Unifor members at a rally in Canada
Unifor members in Labor Day parade

Unifor will sit down at the bargaining table with General Motors first in its upcoming contract talks with Detroit-based car companies.

The talks could be even more tense than usual. 

That's because union leaders suspect GM may have long-term plans to pull more jobs out of Canada. 

Unifor wants GM to promise new models for its Oshawa plant, but GM is balking. 

Harley Shaiken is a labor expert at the University of California-Berkley. He says it makes sense the union is worried about losing more jobs.

"Mexico has expanded dramatically in the last five or six years," says Shaiken. "Much of that has come at Canada's expense.  You've got very high quality and productivity in new Mexican plants at far lower wages (than Canadian plants.)"

Unifor represents about 23,000 GM, FCA, and Ford workers in Canada. Union leaders say the entire future of the Canadian auto industry could depend on what happens during this year's contract talks.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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