General Motors in Detroit. (Photo by Adelle Loiselle.)

GM launches legal action over Unifor Super Bowl ad (VIDEO)

General Motors has lodged a formal complaint against Unifor, accusing it of “purposely misleading the Canadian public” with an ad that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The commercial is the latest escalation in Unifor’s fight to have GM’s decision to close its plant in Oshawa throwing 2,900 employees out of work. Four other plants will also close in the U.S. At the centre of the ad’s message is the contention that Canada and the U.S. bailed out General Motors after the financial meltdown of 2009, not Mexico.

The company has claimed it needs to close the plants in Oshawa and the U.S. to generate additional resources to invest in innovation. The union said the company plans to ramp up production in Mexico.

Unifor wants on Canadian consumers to boycott all GM models produced in Mexico until General Motors reconsiders the closure.

“Canadians are asked to support good-paying jobs by checking the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to ensure that they are buying Canadian and U.S. union-made vehicles,” said¬†Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

Photo of the sit-down protest at GM Oshawa courtesy of Unifor.

Photo of the sit-down protest at GM Oshawa courtesy of Unifor.

Before the ad aired during Super Bowl LIII, Dias remained defiant.

“Clearly, General Motors doesn’t want Canadians to see this ad. To see its actions and the damage that GM plans to inflict on workers, communities and our national economy if it closes Oshawa,” he said.

General Motors said it respects Unifor’s rights to protest, but “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.”

It said since 2009; GM Canada has contributed over $100-billion to the Canadian economy including $8-billion invested into worker pensions.

GM CEO¬†Mary Barra has been invited to speak before the federal government’s Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Windsor West MP Brian Masse introduced a motion to extend the invitation saying an explanation is required after the Canadian automotive and manufacturing industry “took a disproportionate hit compared to the U.S.” where 3,805 jobs will be cut.

Meanwhile, on January 25, Dias hinted to reporters the ad campaign and boycott might not be the largest weapon in its arsenal. He suggested if GM does not live up to its contractual obligations to keep the Oshawa plant open until the end of the current collective agreement, the union may stage a strike.