Mary Barra is on the verge of taking a big step forward in her reinvention of General Motors. The company is expected to make an announcement Monday about its global operations that could affect its historic assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario.
Unifor, the union representing the Oshawa factory workers, said in a statement that GM has ordered vehicles to be produced at the plant through December 2019 — but not after that date. GM makes the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra there. A spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
GM (GM) is preparing for a future in which self-driving electric cars replace gasoline-powered vehicles driven by people. That has shaken up the company’s business model. Last month, GM announced voluntary buyoutsto employees with 12 or more years at the company — about 18,000 of its 50,000 salaried staff in the United States.
The Oshawa plant, located just outside of Toronto, was built in 1953. But Chevrolet has been making cars in Oshawa for more than a century. Over the years, Oshawa has been responsible for producing cars from GM’s most important brands, including Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac, and it is equipped to make just about every model GM sells.
The union is unhappy. It said in a statement that GM’s expected decision does not “live up to the spirit” of certain commitments the company made to union members during 2016 contract negotiations. Unifor said it will hold a discussion with GM Monday.
“Unifor does not accept this announcement,” the union said.
GM is battling rival automakers to be first in line to mass produce the cars of the future. But the automaking leader of the future may not be GM or one of its traditional rivals. Alphabet (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL), Uber and Tesla (TSLA) are leading Silicon Valley’s push into the self-driving car arena. That’s why GM created Cruise, a separate company with big backing from SoftBank and Honda. GM expects to spend $1 billion on Cruise this year to build the car of the future.