200 Workers At GM Oshawa Supplier Lear Corp Walk Off The Job

'It's not just about General Motors' workers'

Unionized workers walked off the job at Lear Corp’s seat plant.

200 Workers At GM Oshawa Supplier Lear Corp Walk Off The Job
GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant produces the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. [Photo: GM Canada]

Unifor, a worker’s union representing workers at GM’s Oshawa, Canada plant, staged the latest measure in its campaign to keep operations running through September 2020. 200 workers at Lear Corp, a seat plant in Whitby, Ontario, just walked off the job in response to GM’s decision to close Oshawa Assembly. According to a Reuters report, the workers left the site and would not return for their 6:30 AM to 2:30 PM shift.

Lear Corp is just-in-time seat supplier for the GM plant, which manufactures the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac XTS, as well as the last-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. Under a just-in-time strategy, GM works with local companies like Lear to supply parts for their vehicles as they need them, rather than keeping a significant stockpile on site. The idea is to work them into the production schedule to keep things running smoothly.

200 Workers At GM Oshawa Supplier Lear Corp Walk Off The Job
Lear Corp’s walkout could impact Oshawa’s production output. [Photo: GM Canada]

‘We demand that government act’

At the moment, Lear employs 350 unionized workers at its plant. Unifor also represents 2,600 assembly line workers at the GM Oshawa plant, as well as 1,800 workers employed with GM suppliers. Unifor present Jerry Dias said of General Motors’ decision to close Oshawa by the end of 2019, “We demand that [the Canadian] government act to protect these workers who stand to lose everything, and work with Unifor and GM to find a solution for the Oshawa assembly plant.”

It’s unclear what effect this will ultimately have on GM’s vehicle production, or whether the walkout would continue past Friday. Unifor Local 222 president Colin James said this was about more than just the Oshawa plant. “The message that we’re sending is that it’s not just about General Motors’ workers. All the suppliers, including Lear Whitby, are impacted by a potential closure.”

In addition to its Canadian plant closure, GM also plans to close four more plants in the United States.