Super Bowl Ad Prompts General Motors To Threaten A Lawsuit Against Union

The automakers union from Canada isn't interested in playing nice.

General Motors
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The automakers union from Canada isn't interested in playing nice.

After learning about a Super Bowl ad paid for by Canada’s autoworker union, General Motors threatened to sue in advance of its showing. The ad was critical of the auto manufacturer and aired in Canada during the big game.

Called “GM Leaves Canadians Out in the Cold,” the 30-second ad appeared on YouTube, on the union’s Facebook page, and on television. The general message is that because Canadians have been supportive of General Motors, the company has turned its back on that loyalty.

On Friday before the big event, lawyers for General Motors wrote to the Canadian union, Unifor, demanding that the union “cease and desist from any further publication (in any form and media whatsoever) of the advertisement,” Unifor said in a statement.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the union refused to obey General Motor’s demand in advance of the ad’s airing.

Unifor has been quite vocal about their displeasure with General Motors after the company revealed it would permanently halt operations at the Oshawa assembly plant in Ontario, as well as four other facilities located in North America. Between the four facilities, 6,000 factory jobs are set to be obliterated.

“We stand by the belief that if GM wants to sell here then it needs to build here, and we will not be intimidated from sharing that message with Canadians in this ad,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias.

The autoworkers union is also less than thrilled with General Motors because it allegedly offered $10.8 billion in support to the automaker after it breathed new life followed a 2010 bankruptcy. Essentially, GM Canada received support in the form of an interest-bearing loan which was paid back in full with interest.

“Repayment of both the principal loan and all interest due was accomplished in the form of both cash and equity shares in the new GM, which shares were obtained at fair value. The Canadian Government later decided, on its own volition, to sell its shares in GM many years ago on that same open market,” the statement said.

Unifor is also calling for a boycott of GM vehicles since the company has relocated its operations to plants abroad, where the cost of manufacturing vehicles is cheaper, particularly in the form of wages.

“While GM respects Unifor’s rights to protest, we cannot condone purposely misleading the Canadian public,” said GM Spokesman Pat Morrissey. “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.”