GM Should Hire Displaced Workers

UPDATED MAY 31, 2022

  • May 31, 2021 – Letter to Mary Barra (GM CEO) and Scott Bell (GM Canada President signed by four members of Local 222.
  • June 8, 2021 – GM’s response sent to the four members and to the Solidarity Movement email address.
  • June 11, 2021 – Solidarity Not Slander – A response to attacks on the members who sent the letter.

Solidarity Movement Letter to Mary Barra and Scott Bell

When GM ended vehicle production in Oshawa on December 18, 2019 it meant the elimination of 5,000 jobs. Some senior GM employees were eligible for full pensions plus an incentive. Junior GM workers, especially tier two workers and TPTs were eligible for much less. Most of the over 2,000 supplier workers had no options and received the statutory minimum or slightly more. Now that GM is restarting pickup truck assembly they have announced that they will hire 1,500 assembly workers. This letter was sent to General Motors on May 31, 2021 urging GM to offer the new jobs to the workers they displaced in 2019:

May 31, 2021

Sent via Email

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors Company

Scott Bell, President and Managing Director, General Motors Canada

RE: The hiring of displaced workers, including supplier and support workers at the GM Oshawa Assembly Plant

This email was sent to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors Company, and Scott Bell, President of General Motors Canada on May 31, 2021 by four Local 222 members of the Solidarity Movement

As members of Unifor Local 222 and the Oshawa community we believe that it is a matter of justice that General Motors Canada offer employment on a priority basis to displaced autoworkers, including supplier workers.

GM alone decided to close the Oshawa plant, a decision that was made to serve only the interest of the company, despite the pleadings of workers, politicians, and Canadians across the country. While it is true that some high seniority GM workers may have left with a well earned pension and severance package, thousands of others directly impacted by your decision did not.

Over 80% of supplier and service workers were not eligible for any pension and left jobs whose wages didn’t provide enough to have savings to cushion the blow of lost employment. Also negatively affected by the closure were 400 workers in the second tier wage progression (many who were full-time temps for years before getting hired as seniority employees), 500 TPTs (many that were full time), and hundreds of other workers who were forced to abandon good wages and pensions when GM ended vehicle production.

Many workers severed their employment relationship with GM because they felt they had no choice. GM was only offering to maintain 300 jobs in Oshawa. They accepted as true what you told them – that GM was ending vehicle assembly. It was impossible for them to know that less than a year later GM would announce the return of the highly profitable Sierra and Silverado pickup trucks.

Supply chain workers at companies like CEVA, Syncreon, Lear, Inteva, and others, were not even given a choice in the decision to sever. They had their lives turned upside down through no fault of their own.

Now General Motors will hire 1500 assembly workers for the new pickup truck operation. GM, you have the ability to hire the workers whose work contributed to your profits over the years, including the workers from the supplier and service companies that were the hardest hit by GM’s decision to end operations in Oshawa.

This request is not without precedent. GM has previously offered jobs to workers affected by plant closure in our community. In the case of the Acsys closure, GM agreed to employ nearly every Acsys worker. In this case, GM is solely responsible for the loss of jobs and livelihood. GM may not have a contractual or legal obligation to rehire the workers they displaced, but GM certainly has a moral obligation to mitigate the harm they have caused.

We want to remind you that Canadians value loyalty and fairness. We are asking you to commit to hiring all displaced autoworkers, including the supplier workers, and requiring any company you contract with to do the same. This would be a small step towards repairing your relationship with the community.

These workers deserve the opportunity to put food on the table, look after their families, pay their rent, and get back to work.

We look forward to your reply.

On behalf of the Local 222 Solidarity Movement,

Rebecca Keetch, Vic McCullough, Chris White, Tony Leah

Original letter:

GM of Canada Response to the May 31, 2021 Letter

Solidarity Not Slander

Solidarity Not Slander – Leaflet published June 11, 2021.

On Monday May 31, 2021 we sent a letter to GM asking them to hire the auto workers and supply workers that GM displaced in 2019. This is basic union solidarity – we should be supporting workers who paid dues to Local 222 for years. Unbelievably, instead of supporting displaced workers, some people have been attacking us for sending the letter. We have been accused of misrepresenting ourselves and even forging signatures.

There have been all sorts of rumours circulating and lots of anger and confusion to go along with them. The main rumour seems to be that GM froze or canceled the agreement to allow workers in CCA to move to Truck as reprisal for the letter we sent. Frankly, this makes no sense.

But let’s unpack it…

  • The Local 222 ratification brochure stated ( that “…all employee movement to the Oshawa Assembly Plant will be restricted for the life of the collective agreement unless otherwise agreed between the parties through mutual agreement.” But also that “…We have already moved this needle forward and have agreements to allow employees from CCA and the plant to transfer through mutual agreement subject to the eligibility criteria.”
  • The March 18 GM Shop Committee update reported that “The Union has successfully secured movement to Truck which far exceeds what was originally negotiated. Members will be able to canvass/post to preferred and non-preferred jobs. In the weeks ahead we will begin canvassing for critical positions…”
  • Jason Gale’s Summer Oshaworker article reports that “With the first round of production job canvassing completed, we will focus on the second round of production job canvassing…”

Clearly Unifor and GM have an agreement regarding the movement of people from CCA to Truck. How could a letter from a laid off worker and some retirees that respectfully asks GM to hire displaced workers derail the agreement? The Shop Committee should be able to defend the agreement they made.

We identified ourselves as ‘members of Local 222 and the Oshawa community’. We signed the letter on behalf of the Local 222 Solidarity Movement and sent it from the Solidarity Movement email account. We cc’d the GM Plant Chair and Local 222 President as a courtesy. We were being transparent, not going behind their backs. We have nothing to hide.

We have been told that some union leadership have been claiming we forged the names of the GM Plant Chair and Local President on the letter. The email is reproduced on the back of this flyer in its entirety. You can clearly see who the signatories are and who is only cc’d. At NO time did we misrepresent ourselves as elected leadership and we did NOT forge any signatures. We did not send multiple emails. If there are people in our union leadership who don’t know what a ‘cc’ is on an email we hope they aren’t negotiating contracts. Contract language is a lot tougher to understand.

Forgery and misrepresentation are serious offenses – those people who are making these vicious accusations should retract these lies and apologize. We are sickened and furious with this slander, which has led to threats, calls for termination, and banishment from worker communication groups.

Anyone who attends union meetings or follows social media will know that we are not afraid to voice our opinions publicly. We clearly signed our own names to this email. Can anyone really believe we would be stupid enough to forge signatures? We would never do something so reckless, wrong, and illegal.

We want to be clear, we stand by our letter. Fighting for the displaced workers is what solidarity demands. Members that were in the wage progression, full-time TPTs, supplier workers, mid-seniority traditional employees were all dues paying members of Local 222. They deserve to be fought for.

Honest debate is healthy and promotes solidarity. False accusations and slanders against people you disagree with does not. Who actually benefits from the slander? It’s not us and it certainly isn’t the membership. Seven months after the collective agreement was ratified, the membership should be able to see the actual language and MOU’s that have been negotiated. At the very least, there should be GM unit meetings where the membership can receive updates from our elected leadership and discuss issues openly.

In solidarity,

Rebecca Keetch, Vic McCullough, Chris White, Tony Leah.

Latest News

Dias says he’s “… hunting elephants”.

· Petition hits 1,400 signers
· Coverage by Automotive News
· Dias says “I don’t chase mice when I’m hunting elephants”.
· Unifor belongs to the members
We have reached over 1,400 signatures – let’s keep it going.
The campaign has caught the attention of the Automotive News, “the newspaper of record for the automotive industry”.
The story published September 1st reports:
“Rebecca Keetch, a laid-off worker at General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario, plant told Automotive News Canada the petition stems from frustration with the ratification process. Without knowing the full details of the contract ahead of time, it is impossible for workers to ask all the relevant questions they might want answered during ratification meetings with union leadership, she said.”
“This isn’t an attack on leadership in any way. This is an exercise in achieving our democratic rights,” Keetch said. “Our union constitution is full of statements about transparency and democracy, so I think that it’s important that whenever possible our union uphold these standards to the fullest.”
Automotive News also contacted Unifor President Jerry Dias about the petition. Instead of acknowledging that this issue is one that concerns thousands of Unifor members, including the 1,400 who have already taken the step of signing the petition, Jerry’s response was unfortunately dismissive:
“Unifor President Jerry Dias said the petition was not on his radar”.
Who does Jerry think are the mice?
Automotive News continues with this cryptic quote from Jerry:
“I’ll take my lead from the leadership, and leadership will make a decision on what they want to do internally within their own workplaces,” Dias said. “I don’t chase mice when I’m hunting elephants.”
The article ends with this common sense quote from Rebecca Keetch:
“The highlights sheet and the information meeting are extremely important aspects of this,” she said. “But how can you know what questions you need to ask when you’re handed a sheet just before you go in?”
She urged Unifor to follow the example of the UAW in the U.S. The UAW posts its “white book,” which details in full changes to the contract and agreements between the union and automaker, in the days leading up to a ratification vote.
“I think that a pretty important component to democracy is being able to make an informed decision,” Keetch said.
The members are the ruling body
The Unifor Constitution makes it clear that Unifor is intended to be a democratic organization, and that the members control the union. Article 2, Section 1:
“Unifor is a voluntary organization that belongs to its members. It is controlled by members and driven by members. Its role is to serve their collective interests in the workplace and in our communities. The life of Unifor is shaped by the essential ingredient of democratic participation. Democratic values are the foundation of all that we do. Our commitment to the principles and practices of democratic unionism define who we are and are reflected in our rules, structures and processes.”
When is the last time well over a thousand Unifor members signed a petition asking the union leadership to meet a simple democratic demand? The members’ concerns should be acknowledged not simply dismissed. Real democracy means taking our lead from the members.
We can only win what we are willing to fight for. Please sign and share the petition and spread the word.

Why do UAW members get to see the full contract before they vote, and Canadian autoworkers don’t?

Update: August 14, 2020

Canadian rank and file workers have long wanted the release of the full contract before ratification meetings. We shouldn’t have to find out later about details that weren’t revealed. We shouldn’t be handed a brochure as we walk into a meeting where we are expected to discuss and vote on our contract before we have done more than skim the information.

It’s important for autoworkers in Canada to know that members of the UAW in the United States organized around similar demands and won important victories.

The UAW now publishes the ratification highlights brochure and the full contract with all changes, on their website – where members can read it before they go to their ratification information meetings or votes! (

The White Book:

The ‘white book’ is the full master agreement, with all changes shown. In the GM ‘white book’ all new language is underlined. Every word that is deleted is shown crossed out. Every new or changed paragraph is shown on a page with the date it was agreed, and with the initials of the parties.

The ‘white book’ also contains a list of all paragraphs that have not been changed or deleted. You can view the ‘white book’ for the 2019 contract with GM at this link:

This is an incredibly important resource. Ordinary workers have time to look through the agreement and look for the information that is most important to them. People have a chance to discuss with each other, ask questions, and consider the importance and impact of each change. This is exactly what the Solidarity Movement is demanding from the Unifor leadership. If the UAW can do it, so can Unifor.

How UAW members won advance disclosure:

The UAW started sharing the ‘white book’ in response to rank-and-file organizing by the New Directions movement and others. New Directions was concerned with the direction their union was taking. They fought to empower the membership and increase democracy. Sharing the full collective agreement before ratification voting was one of the democratic demands made by New Directions. Finally the UAW leadership agreed to produce limited copies of the ‘’white book’ and send them to Local unions. By the time of the 2011 contract with the Detroit 3, the UAW leadership was posting the highlight brochures and the ‘white book’ on their website. The UAW leadership listened and responded to the demands of the membership.

Would you buy a car after only looking at the highlights of the contract?

Our collective agreement is incredibly important, and determines our working conditions, benefits and pay for the next 4 years. It is profoundly undemocratic to force us to vote based on a list of ‘highlights’ when we have the technology to provide full disclosure. We elect a bargaining committee and trust them to bargain for us. In return, they should trust the membership and give us full information about what they negotiated 5 days before we vote.

Sign and share the petition – over 1,000 signatures and growing.

900 Signatures Reached

[This message was sent August 11, 2020. We are now over 900 signatures.]

A message to Unifor members in ‘Big 3’ bargaining.

Sisters and Brothers,

Over 700 autoworkers from 8 different Locals have signed the petition to ask Jerry Dias to provide full disclosure of the collective agreement 5 days ahead of ratification and for a clear statement in the ratification highlights of all money and benefits negotiated on behalf of union representatives and any money or benefits negotiated to be paid to the Locals and/or National Union.

We are told to trust our elected representatives to bargain for us and we do. Big 3 bargaining basically takes place behind closed doors with very little information or room for membership participation. It is up to our elected representatives to do this very important work. But when the bargaining is done, it is up to the membership to vote to ratify the agreement. It is at this stage that the membership must have all of the information, both the actual contractual language and the presentation explaining the leadership’s position on what is being proposed.

This request should not be construed as an attack on leadership but rather an opportunity to strengthen communication and trust between leadership and the membership. Our union’s constitution is built on transparency and democratic values; informing and educating the membership is key to upholding these principles.

Members must have the right to look at, digest, and formulate questions on the document that will shape their work lives for the next 4 years and beyond. This cannot be done in any meaningful way as our ratification process is currently done.

This petition cannot ‘make’ leadership do anything but it is important that we make the effort to collectively communicate and it’s important that leadership listens.

Let’s send a strong message! Please sign and share this petition with your co-workers! It is challenging to reach everyone and can’t be done without YOU. Please have the conversation with your local leadership as to why this issue is important to you. Nothing will change if we don’t even try.

For those not on social media the petition can be found at

Petition Launch!

Full Contract Disclosure Before Ratification Votes

To members of Unifor in the auto plants:

Sisters and Brothers,

Solidarity Movement petition.
Sign and share widely!

As 2020 bargaining is starting there is an issue that impacts all of us, no matter which company we work for, that must be addressed. The membership needs to send clear direction to the National Union that we must have full disclosure of the contract before we vote to ratify it.

This has been something discussed for years and it is long past time that this should have occurred. We have the technology to do this, we have the democratic right to have access to the entirety of what we are voting on, and the UAW posts the ‘white book’ ahead of ratification for their members.If the UAW can do it, why can’t Unifor?

The ratification highlight sheet and presentation are very important and appreciated but the current structure of ratification does not give members the opportunity to consider what they are being asked to vote on or to properly ask questions or raise concerns. This will be even more challenging during the pandemic as we can’t gather as usual for ratification meetings and votes.

It’s 2020 and it’s time.

We are asking members to sign and share this petition. For members that are not online there is a PDF version that can be printed and taken around the workplace if safety permits as well. (This can be found at the bottom of the electronic petition page.)It is up to all of us to make this happen. This is an opportunity for the membership to speak directly to leadership.

Please sign and share!

Petition to Unifor National President Jerry Dias:

The undersigned demand Unifor leadership provide full disclosure of the contents of the contract, 5 days before ratification, by publishing all revisions, additions, deletions and changes to the contract, clearly marked, on the Unifor National website and the websites of the locals involved in ‘Detroit Three’ bargaining. The UAW does this with their ‘white book’.

We also demand that the ratification highlights include a clear statement of all money and benefits negotiated on behalf of union representatives and any money or benefits negotiated to be paid to the Locals and/or National Union.