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Here’s the G.M. Collective Agreement Language

Thank you to Buzz Hargrove for sending me the relevant collective agreement language in the G.M. – C.A.W. collective agreement.   Recall that the C.A.W. has said publicly that the sudden announcement by G.M. to close the Oshawa truck assembly plant just a couple weeks after signing a renewal collective agreement violates that agreement.   As is often the case, the language is not clear on the point because of the phrase, “dependent upon market demand” scattered throughout the language.  Buzz’s point is that while market demand may be changing, it could not change that dramatically in 2 short weeks (since the collective agreement was ratified).  An arbitration and bad faith bargaining complaint will likely turn on that point.  G.M. would need to call evidence tracing the origins of the decision to close down the Oshawa assembly plant and to explain what changed so fundamentally in a couple of weeks.

The language also appears to require G.M. to engage with the union “in advance discussions in conjunction with” anticipated changes to the plans for keeping the factory open.  The C.A.W. has claimed publicly that they were told that the decision had been made–doesn’t sound like much “advance discussion” occurred.  Of course, it would be hard to have “advance discussion” here, given that G.M. appeared to decide over night to close the factory.  That is, G.M.’s point is that something so dramatic happened to the truck market in a three week period that it was left with no alternative but to change its plan to keep the Oshawa plant open.

Some interesting litigation could be ahead if no bargained solution can be found.  Again, though, do you think that a labour board or arbitrator would order G.M. to send a vehicle line to Oshawa?   If not, how do you think damages to the union/employees would be assessed given the ‘market demand’ qualifier in the agreement between the parties?   



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