Despite the efforts of General Motors to cease and desist, Canadian autoworker union Unifor went ahead and aired a 30-second ad critical of the company during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Titled "GM Leaves Canadians Out in the Cold," the spot reminds viewers that the Canadian government spent nearly $11 billion bailing the company out after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a decade ago. The ad is in response to the company's announcement in November to close five North American plants, including Oshawa Assembly plant in Ontario.
"GM, you may have forgotten our generosity, but we’ll never forget your greed," the ad says. "If you want to sell here, build here."
On Friday, lawyers representing GM sent Unifor a letter to "cease and desist from any further publication (in any form and media whatsoever) of the advertisement," the Detroit Free Pressreported.
"While GM respects Unifor’s rights to protest, we cannot condone purposely misleading the Canadian public," a GM spokesman told the paper. "The new Unifor advertisement scheduled to air during the Super Bowl is misleading and inaccurate. Unifor knows that GM Canada repaid its 2009 loans in full, and that the restructured GM fulfilled all the terms of its agreements with the Canadian government many years ago."
Unifor has been sparring with GM since the company announced the plant closures, with Unifor president Jerry Dias swiftly calling for a boycott of the company's Mexican vehicles.
"They are naive to believe that Canadians won't betray them for their blatant disloyalty," Dias said at a press conference. "When they needed us, we were there. Mexico never gave them a dime."
The company's Mexican-made cars include the Chevrolet Cruze compact, Chevrolet Equinox SUV, GMC Terrain SUV, Chevrolet Trax compact SUV, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew cab pickups, and the new Chevrolet Blazer SUV.
Last month, the U.S. union UAW also released a video in support of the boycott campaign, noting that the company made record profits after making cuts to its blue-collar workers.
The company's plant closures also include Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, which the company built by using eminent domain to displace a community of 4,000 people in 1981. In all, the cuts call for a 15 percent reduction of the company's salaried workforce, or more than 14,000 workers. Last year, the company reported North American pre-tax profits of $12.8 billion.
The company says the cuts are necessary to retool itself to achieve its vision of "zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion," but critics note the vehicles that the soon-to-be-closed plants made were all sedans. In the short term, that means GM will be pushing its more popular (and gas-guzzling) SUVs and trucks.
You can watch the Unifor ad below, or read more about backlash against GM in Metro Times'cover story this week.
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