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General Motors Closure

General Motors announced today that it intends to shut down 4 Canadian factories, including a plant in Oshawa that employs over 2500 workers.   The announcement has infuriated the Canadian Auto Workers, and rightly so if the CAW’s claims about what happened  in the recent bargaining session are accurate.  About 2 weeks ago, the parties agreed to a new collective agreement and according to the CAW part of that deal included assurances from GM that the Oshawa factory would remain open for at least the duration of the agreement.   The CAW told its members this when it put the agreement to them for ratification (see the earlier news release)

The CAW is claiming that the announced closure would violate the Collective Agreement.   Whether that is true would turn on  the language of the agreement, which I haven’t seen.  But law students might also be wondering if the sudden announcement raises a possible bad faith bargaining complaint issue.  Remember Consolidated Bathurst [1983], OLRB Rep. 1411?   In the case, the employer announced a plant closing 3 weeks into a collective agreement, but had not mentioned that it was planning on doing this during bargaining.  The Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled that the employer violated its duty to bargain by failing to disclose its plans.   Looks a lot like what  has happened here, although we don’t have all of the facts.

Of course, the most important issue is what remedy would be ordered by either an arbitrator or the labour board if G.M. has violated the Agreement or the Act.  Do you think a remedy might be an order to “reopen” the factory for the duration of the newly signed collective agreement?   Do you think that such an order would be lawful?  Should it be?

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