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GM plans to bring pickup truck assembly back to Oshawa after tentative deal with union

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GM Canada says it will bring back pickup truck assembly work to its plant in Oshawa, Ont., if a new labour deal with its largest union is ratified.

Unifor had set a midnight deadline on Wednesday to reach a new, three-year labour deal with GM and had a mandate to strike from its members if the deadline passed.

But the union said just before the deadline that its master bargaining committee had had a breakthrough and wanted to keep talking.

About four and a half hours after extending the deadline, a tentative deal was reached. A ratification vote will happen on Sunday.

Unifor said the deal is being unanimously recommended for 1,700 members working at GM plants in the southern Ontario cities of St. Catharines, Oshawa and Woodstock.

In a statement, the Detroit automaker said the deal would see more work for all three of its plants in Canada, including the return of assembly work to its facility in Oshawa, Ont.

“Subject to ratification of our 2020 agreement with Unifor, General Motors plans to bring pickup production back to the Oshawa assembly plant while making additional investments at the St. Catharines propulsion plant and Woodstock parts distribution centre,” GM Canada president Scott Bell told CBC News in a statement.

The company says the deal would bring between $1 billion to $1.3 billion of new investment to Oshawa with the expected hiring of 1,400 to 1,700 hourly workers. That would mean as many as 2,500 people would be employed at the plant.

That’s about the same number as worked there when GM suddenly withdrew most assembly work from the plant about two years ago. The last car assembled in Oshawa rolled off the line in December of 2019, and the facility has been a parts plant since then. It also produces N95 masks as part of a government contract announced earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to kickstarting Oshawa, the deal would bring $109 million worth of investments to St. Catharines and $500,000 to Woodstock.

The new as yet unknown pickup truck model would roll off the line starting in 2022.

3rd deal with Big 3

The stunning news came after Unifor warned that GM had not offered concrete commitments on future product plans, and was falling short of earlier agreements struck by Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

A key plank of the deal with Chrysler will see the company get government help to redesign its Windsor, Ont., plant to produce at least one electric vehicle.

It’s unclear if any government cash will be part of the expansion at GM.

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