[lbo-talk] Sam Ginden on GM's plant closure in Oshawa: "unexplored opportunities"

Marv Gandall marvgand2 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 29 19:15:28 PDT 2019

Excellent piece by Sam Ginden on the closing of the GM assembly plant in Oshawa. Once the biggest auto complex in North America, the steady decimation of its workforce in the wake of tech change and the relocation of production to new zones of exploitation in China and Mexico is one of the more dramatic illustrations of the hollowing out of the industrial sector in the US and Canada.

It’s now rumoured that GM will retain 600 workers in a stamping plant at the facility, representing 3% of the 23,000 workers it once employed at its peak - a token concession to a public relations campaign and a call for a boycott of GM vehicles originating in Mexico waged by Unifor, the Canadian autoworkers union.

Ginden says it was never in the cards that the company would substantially reverse its decision to close the plant. Instead, the union “in coalition withe the community” should have embarked on a bolder and more imaginative strategy calling on the government to nationalize the plant and retool it to produce electric vehicles and other advanced equipment to deal with the climate crisis and the needs of an aging population: “the accelerated production of wind turbines and solar panels; energy saving lighting, heat pumps, small motors and generators for energy transmission; energy efficient doors and windows as well as modified appliances for every home and office; electric cars and electric fleets of utility vehicles…wheel chairs, wheel mobility scooters, disability ramps, home lifts, accessibility beds, oxygen treatment equipment.”

It’s improbable that the union’s members at this stage of the process will respond to Ginden’s call “to put their own stamp on the remarkable resistance that has flowered elsewhere”. But “fighting back has no guarantees, only possibilities worth considering and trying”, he says. "Something historic is happening around the world – sometimes with dark and negative undercurrents, but at its best, inspiring and hopeful.”


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