| TORONTO, June 26
TORONTO, June 26 Canadian autoworkers
acknowledged that General Motors Corp's (GM.N) decision to
close a Oshawa, Ontario, truck plant next year was irrevocable,
a union leader said on Thursday after a meeting with company
"Are we accepting it? Eventually, if someone keeps hitting
you over the head with a sledgehammer, you're going to wake
up," said Buzz Hargrove, president of the Canadian Auto
Workers, said at the union's headquarters.
Hargrove said GM told the union it may decide to build a
new model in its Oshawa car plant, where the new Chevrolet
Camaro muscle car is set to begin production, but he added the
situation looked bleak.
"We talked about putting together an incentive program that
will help with the downsizing of the Oshawa operation over the
next four or five years," said Hargrove.
The CAW said it would take a couple of weeks to look at the
GM proposal on incentives before responding.
About 2,600 unionized workers will lose their jobs when the
truck plant is closed.
GM's announcement of the closure ignited a firestorm of
protest that included a 12-day blockade of GM Canada's
headquarters. It came just two-weeks after the company signed a
new three-year labor agreement with the union in which it said
it would keep the plant open until at least 2011.
An Ontario judge ordered an end to the blockade, but added
that GM acted with "almost deceitful behavior" in the contract
negotiations, which could make future bargaining difficult.
The union has not totally given up hope on the fate of the
plant, hoping the cyclical nature of the auto industry will
allow GM to reopen it in the future, said Chris Buckley,
president of CAW Local 222, in Oshawa.
"Their business is changing every month ... so we're hoping
that over the next year or two... things will turn around
somewhat," he said, saying the union hoped GM could eventually
find a vehicle that could fit into the Oshawa truck plant
without a huge capital expenditure.
"The key is for them not to demolish that facility," he
GM shares dropped to their lowest in 53 years on Thursday
after Goldman Sachs cut the struggling U.S. auto industry's
largest manufacturer to a "sell rating" and warned it would
have to raise capital. See [ID:nN26451117]
The housing and credit crises in the United States, along
with the high price of gasoline, has put a big dent in U.S.
auto sales, especially trucks and SUV's.
GM makes the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra at the
Oshawa truck plant. It is one of four truck plants in North
America the company said it would shutter to scale back
GM officials left the meeting without speaking to
(Editing by Frank McGurty)