By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Thousands of people have signed their name, calling for General Motors to keep the lines moving at the Oshawa Assembly.
Unifor Local 222, the union that represents workers at the plant, has launched a new online petition that calls on the automaker to keep car production in Oshawa. According to Colin James, the union local’s president, the response has been positive so far.
“A lot of our members have been getting the petition signed by their neighbours, friends and family. We’re getting lots of signatures,” James tells The Oshawa Express, adding that the petition has received approximately 8,000 signatures as of July 15.
“We’re probably going to keep the petition going for at least another month, so before the start of bargaining. Bargaining opens Aug 10. So until then, for sure.”
Signatories to the online petition, available on Unifor Local 222’s website, also have the option to have a letter sent on their behalf to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne, among others, to call on their support for keeping the Oshawa Assembly open.
The petition is the latest facet of Unifor Local 222’s Built in Oshawa Matters campaign, which was launched at the same time the union announced it would not sign a new deal with the automaker unless product is guaranteed for the plant.
“We’ve had our members holding signs on bridges getting some attention, our presence at Canada Day (celebrations at Lakeview), handing out buttons saying ‘Built in Oshawa Matters.’ I think we’ve handed out about 1,000 of them,” James says.
“We’re going to keep putting it out there, making the public aware of what’s going on and how it’s going to impact the community.”
When asked for comment, Jennifer Wright, a spokesperson for General Motors of Canada, did not directly discuss the petition, but did say the automaker is evaluating the current landscape of the auto industry to address how it will head into contract discussions.
“The rapid transformation of the auto industry to new technologies and approaches requires us to think differently about this agreement and ensure we in Canada have the most collaborative and competitive approach to winning in both traditional manufacturing but also to grow through advanced engineering and innovation work that will drive the future for our customers,” she says in an emailed statement.