CBC News reports that an Ontario General Motors’ plant where Chevy Impalas and Equinoxes were built will be closed down, costing Canadians around 2,000 jobs. GM reportedly plans to partially move production of the Impala to its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan. You may remember the Hamtramck site from the Chevy Volt commercial which trumpeted the building of Volts there. It now seems that low demand for the Volt has led to the plant having enough time to build other, conventionally-powered vehicles. While the Volt may have been the car GM “had to build,” it appears that consumers would “prefer” them to build cars like the Impala.
It is also reported that GM will build 2013 Chevy Malibus at the Chevy Volt plant. The additional tasks will give workers that produce the low-selling Volt something to do, other than stay home on paid leave as they have had to do during shutdown periods for the Volt. It also enables GM to politically tout job creation at the Volt plant. The fact that the jobs have not been created by the “green” Volt and that they come at the expense of lost Canadian jobs is sure not to be mentioned.
Canadians that have a stake in GM are learning what it is like to be part of a group that is not politically important in the US. It must seem confusing to those in Canada who read the American media reports about how great GM is doing and how many jobs are being “saved or created.” The pain is intensified by the fact that Canada chipped in about $11 billion to help GM through their manipulated bankruptcy process. The CBC article quotes some who question what Canadian taxpayers are getting for their money.
President Chris Buckley of Local 222 Canadian Autoworkers Union laments, “I am absolutely disgusted at GM’s decision to close the plant.” According to the article Buckley goes on to state, “Our members have done everything GM has asked us to do for quite some time all in the eyes of having jobs in the future. What more can we do to ensure we have a future?”
Canadian politicians echoed Buckley’s sentiment as noted in this excerpt:
Opposition parliamentarians were quick to agree. “It’s one thing for the company to survive,” NDP MP Peggy Nash said. “If the jobs don’t survive here in Canada, it’s not much good to Canadians.”
Liberal MP John McKay wants Ottawa to review the terms of GM’s original loan. “They haven’t actually paid back the loan at this point,” he said. “They have declared dividends, they have sold off shares and … the poor taxpayers of Ontario and Canada are left holding the bag.”
So, I officially welcome the soon to be unemployed GM workers of Canada and the Canadian taxpayers to the “Hosed by Government Motors Club.” Members of the club include former GM shareholders and bondholders, widows and other accident and asbestos litigants, owners of “Old” GM vehicles who did not have their vehicles’ problems covered by “New” GM, Indian tribes and others who have had their lands polluted by Old GM, Delphi non-union retirees, non-union workers at shuttered GM dealerships and, last but not least, the American taxpayers. The exclusive club does not include politically-favored US unionized labor or legal firms enriched by the GM bankruptcy process. And while it may be hard for Canadians to comprehend the hype about how great a job the Obama Administration did by putting GM through bankruptcy at a huge expense to taxpayers, maybe the fact that the Administration also is credited with assassinating Osama Bin Laden will be of some consolation.
Mark Modica is an NLPC Associate Fellow.