GM HEADQUARTERS BLOCKADE ENTERS ITS FIFTH DAY:
As Molly writes this the blockade of the GM headquarters in Oshawa Ontario has entered its fifth day. The blockade has so far been supported by a "drive-by" protest that shut down production at the Oshawa truck plant yesterday, even though the union leadership has been quite reluctant to call for any more militant actions. Here's a story from the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press about the latest protests about this event.
GM workers continue protest over Ontario truck plant plans
- General Motors Corp. workers took their protest on the road Saturday over plans to close an Ontario pickup truck factory, and the automaker's production was disrupted for part of the day.
A Canadian Auto Workers union blockade of GM's Oshawa offices that began Wednesday remained in effect. A vehicle convoy Saturday involving about 100 people circling the Oshawa truck and car plants prevented deliveries.
Trucks delivering parts could not get in, and union spokesman Keith Osborne says that forced a temporary shutdown at both the car and truck plants. The truck plant set to be closed employs 2,600 hourly and 300 salaried workers.
"General Motors experienced a little bit of heartburn today," said CAW Local 222 president Chris Buckley. "That's nothing compared to what 2,600 of my members feel every day right now. It's a lot more than heartburn."
Buckley said the union would only take legal protest measures for now.
GM spokesman Stew Low said the automaker lost a little bit of production Saturday at the plants, but not a substantial amount. He said Saturday afternoon that production was back up and running.
CAW President Buzz Hargrove met Friday with GM CEO Rick Wagoner in Detroit. Hargrove has said the automaker committed to keeping the Oshawa truck plant open in a contract agreement May 15. Hargrove said the agreement also included a promise that the Oshawa plant would build a new hybrid truck, keeping it running until at least 2011.
But GM announced Tuesday it would close the plant in 2009. GM says it's closing Oshawa and three other pickup and sport utility vehicle factories as $4 per gallon gas has caused sales to tumble.
GM said it can shut down factories if market conditions warrant and that the Oshawa truck was picked for idling because it makes the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra -- high-end pickups with costlier options, a segment of the market affected severely by the sales decline.
Hargrove said market conditions haven't changed in the 2 weeks since GM agreed to the new three-year deal with the CAW. Low said that at the time of negotiations, GM still believed that the slumping pickup market could recover. Since then, the trend away from trucks to cars has accelerated, he said.