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Mike Van Boekel Interview with captions

Posted in Unifor Local 88

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Rogers TV:
So this morning at 11:00 a.m., GM Canada made an announcement to Unifor Local 88

Mike Van Boekel:
Yeah, they informed us that there’s gonna be some down weeks to come up for our membership. Everybody, starting September 30th will be our first week.

Rogers TV:
And how many employees will that impact?

Mike Van Boekel:
We’ve got about 2200. About 2000 production and then the trades will keep working.

Rogers TV:
Okay. And that means a complete shutdown of the lines at CAMI?

Mike Van Boekel:
Yup, it will be shut down one week at a time.

Rogers TV:
And what are they attributing that to?

Mike Van Boekel:
Ah right now, they are saying just a softening market. Sales are starting to slow down a bit.

Rogers TV:
For Equinox? or just all across the board?

Mike Van Boekel:
I think more or less just the industry as a whole. I know there’s been different layoffs announced at Chrysler, Ford, Toyota have all announced different slowdowns. So I think it’s just the industry in one of its cycles.

Rogers TV:
And, is this have anything to do with the Mexican plants? or is the Mexican plant that produces Equinox getting affected too?

Mike Van Boekel:
Yeah, they are. There is a Mexican plant, SLP, that produces Equinox’s as well. They informed us this morning that they’re taking a shift out permanent in Mexico. So it’s not good news for the Mexican plant. But obviously we’re only going down, it says, right now for one week with possible more weeks in the fourth quarter. But the one Mexican plant, we’ll be losing a shift.

Rogers TV:
So right now, this is only going to impact the fourth quarter?

Mike Van Boekel:
Yep.

Rogers TV:
And are they giving any sort of forecast of what’s going to happen next?

Mike Van Boekel:
No. Right now, they said next year looks strong, but right now, the fourth quarter just we’re in overbuild.

Rogers TV:
And this announcement just happened. What is the rank and file talking about right now? it’s just come out. We’re they expecting this?

Mike Van Boekel:
No, not at all. I think most people are a little bit worried. Obviously, layoffs are never good. But the worst word you can get in the auto industry or any other job. But I think our plants great. It’s perfectly situated for future growth. We’ve got a weld shop that’s empty that can take another product as quick as they can say yes. So I think long term we’re very good at just hopefully just a speed bump.

Rogers TV:
Okay. And so you are still looking forward to a new product.

Mike Van Boekel:
Yes.

Rogers TV:
When would that be coming potentially?

Mike Van Boekel:
I don’t know a lot of that. And right now they’re they’re negotiating with the UAW. So I don’t expect any announcement this calendar year, but hopefully next year there’ll be an announcement.

Rogers TV:
And what would you say to the membership right now in the face of this layoff? I mean, you’ve come through a long strike two years ago, which was very, very difficult. And now you’ve got to look at this. I mean, what would you say to them?

Mike Van Boekel:
Well, I would say kudos to the members, because I do believe GM had to make a very tough decision. Mexico obviously builds trucks cheaper than we do. We’re never going to compare and cost. But we are number one in GM, across North America, in all the major metrics that matter, we’re number one in quality by a wide margin. We’re the leanest plant, North America. So I know they have a tough choice to decide. Do you take down the plant that’s a little bit cheaper to make them? or do you take down the plant that’s number one in every category? And I’d like to think GM chose quality over quantity. So they are rewarding our members are looking that way that we build them. Right. We do it right the first time. We are the best in the GM family. And why would you shut us down? I understand for a week here and there, but to probably take off a third shift, I think would have been very tough on our members. Everyone’s married, kids, so hopefully it’s a speed bump. Unfortunate for the Mexico plant, but it’s great for it’s good news for us at least that we’re not losing the shift.

Rogers TV:
Ok. So you’re still very, very hopeful. Right behind us you’re putting an addition on your union hall….

Mike Van Boekel:
yup, no, I’m very optimistic for the future. We we are so far, number one, in almost every area that measures not just with GM, but across the board. We just won the J.D. Power Gold Award for quality and the market shifting. It’s been shifting for a few years now, but the sedan markets almost done. It’s less than 20 percent. And the SUV market just keeps on getting bigger and bigger. And we’ve got a great, great selling vehicle. It’s just right across the chain. The sales have just come down a little bit across the industry.

Rogers TV:
How many vehicles are you making a day now?

Mike Van Boekel:
We made close to nine hundred every day. And then Mexico would probably make close to 600. So we simply make a lot. They sell a lot, which is good. But right now, we’re just in a bit of a valley.

Rogers TV:
Still feeling optimistic?

Mike Van Boekel:
Yeah, very optimistic.

Rogers TV:
All right. The community really relies on you guys.

Mike Van Boekel:
Yeah, that’s for sure. We are putting a new addition on our hall right now. We’re putting in proper office spaces, so we’re making a big investment, but we do believe our future is very solid.

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