The Camaro That Almost Was by TCC Team (1/23/2006)
How GM’s hot concept pony car got that way.
2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part XIII by Richard
Camaro’s backstory, Wrangler four-door—Cherokee?—for New York.
Members of Canadian
Auto Workers Local 222 in Oshawa, Ont., have approved a series of work rule
changes that could lead to General Motors announcing soon that it plans to
move ahead with plans to build a new Chevrolet Camaro.
Camaro was one of the big favorites of journalists and car buffs at the North American International Auto
Show in Detroit in January. GM's executives have promised they will decide
quickly if they will turn the concept Camaro into a production car before end of
the feasibility study still in the works, GM negotiators recently settled in for
eleven days of intense negotiations with CAW representatives from the Oshawa
assembly complex where GM now has three assembly plants. CAW officials have said
that the negotiations are a prelude to a decision on actually building the
last week, the workers at Oshawa voted in favor of what CAW officials described
as a cost-saving agreement demanded by GM. The production members of CAW Local
222 voted 74 percent to support the proposal, while skilled trades voted 70
percent. With the union’s acceptance of GM’s demands, GM Canada management
should now be in a position to make its pitch for future product allocation from
Detroit, said Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local 222.
very difficult decisions have been made, not only by the union leadership, but
by our members as well. Without a doubt, this has been a very emotional event.”
changes will not affect the wages, benefits, pensions, or time off the job for
CAW members. However, union officials said that the agreement does make room for
as many as 2500 CAW members, nearing retirement age, to leave the GM payroll
changes in the agreement are designed to make the Oshawa facility more
competitive in the global market. The complex currently has about 11,000
employees who staff three different assembly plants and other units.
GM said last November that one
of the assembly plants in Oshawa will close in 2008 as part of cost-cutting
initiatives. Targeted for shutdown is the Oshawa No. 2 plant, which currently
builds the Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick LaCrosse/Allure. The No. 1 plant is set
to lose assembly of its Chevrolet Monte Carlo and Impala models in 2009 and
would pick up the rear-wheel-drive Camaro along with other models under the
proposal approved by the CAW. The Monte Carlo and Impala would likely become
CAW says turning Oshawa’s two car factories into one flexible assembly plant
that can produce different vehicles would better position GM Canada to secure as
much as $701 million in new investment from General Motors.
were fortunate in Oshawa to have had the opportunity to work on securing our
futures,” Buckley said. “There are a number of GM facilities in North America
which will not, and will unfortunately close, putting thousands of working
people on the unemployment line. Our members in the vehicle assembly plants and
in the parts suppliers deserve a secure future. CAW members at GM have done
their part; it’s now time for General Motors to step up to the plate,” said
Buckley, who said the Oshawa complex now had a good shot a winning the Camaro
the complicated internal politics of GM product allocation decisions, the CAW
maintains it has first claim on the Camaro because the last Camaro had been
built at an old GM assembly plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec, that had been staffed
by CAW members.
the likelihood of a smaller work force at Oshawa, the union said it did not want
to flirt with the chance of GM opting to close both car plants and losing about
5600 jobs. There is also a truck assembly plant at Oshawa.
wants to be having this vote, so in that regard there is not a lot of good
feeling,” said CAW spokesman Peter Kennedy.
Other potential changes that were rejected by the union during contract negotiations last September include outsourcing janitorial staff and getting rid of an in-house construction crew, opening the door for outside contractors to come into the complex, the CAW said.