Unifor concerned over U.S. tariffs and GM restructuring as new NAFTA signed


November 30, 2018

TORONTO – As the new NAFTA, is signed today, the ongoing tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood, steel and aluminum and the threat of the closure of the General Motors Oshawa Assembly plant are of major concern to Unifor.

“The new trade deal has provisions designed to begin the process of leveling out the playing field in terms of low-wage auto production in Mexico but it will be years before it comes into effect,” said Dias. “GM is avoiding the spirit of the deal by moving to shutter Oshawa, one of the most productive plants in its global chain, in order to capitalize on cheap Mexican labour ahead of the new regulations.”

Earlier this week, GM announced restructuring with no product allocated to the Oshawa Assembly plant after December 2019. The future of four American plants are also in jeopardy.

As part of the new NAFTA, now called the CUSMA by Canada, Unifor welcomes the immediate implementation of side letters on auto trade that exempt 2.6 million vehicles each from Canada and Mexico from potential U.S. auto tariffs. While the CUSMA must still be ratified by the three nations, the side letters took effect today.

“The Trump administration is reportedly looking at the possibility of using these letters to put an auto tariff in place that could be specifically applied to General Motors imports from Mexico, which would put tremendous pressure on the company to rethink its plans,” said Dias.

Unifor is encouraged that Prime Minister Trudeau raised the GM issue and the ongoing tariffs to President Trump today.

“Unifor calls on the federal government, since Ontario already threw in the towel, to join with the U.S. to develop a joint strategy to save these plants and the tens of thousands of direct and spin off jobs that depend upon them,” Dias said.

The union also maintains its strenuous objection to tariffs imposed on Canadian softwood, steel and aluminum.

“The U.S. needs our softwood, steel and aluminum so the only thing these tariffs are doing is hurting Canadian companies while American consumers pay the price,” said Dias.

As the CUSMA now goes through the ratification process in Parliament, Unifor is also looking for the creation of new measures to insulate Canadian dairy farmers from any financial harm that could result from new import rules. 

For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O’Keefe at @email  or 416-896-3303 (cell).