GM Slams Labor Union With Cease and Desist Letter After Controversial Super Bowl Ad

‘You may have forgotten our generosity, but we’ll never forget your greed,’ claims the Canadian TV ad.

byChris Tsui|
GM News photo

Canadians who tuned in to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday were treated to a 30-second ad from Unifor, the country's labor union representing auto workers, that called for a boycott against General Motors. The ad criticized the automaker for shutting down the Oshawa, Ontario plant as part of its massive restructuring announced in November despite the $10.8 billion bailout it received from Canadian taxpayers back in 2009.

On Friday, Unifor received a cease and desist letter from GM Canada lawyers demanding the ad be taken off of YouTube and broadcast TV, reports CBC News. The union, however, appears unfazed and the clip continues to be online as of Monday evening. 

"The commercial points out that Canadians have been loyal to GM and now the company is leaving us out in the cold," said Unifor president Jerry Dias. "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."

Unifor's Canadian Super Bowl spot, titled "GM Leaves Canadians Out in the Cold," equates the massive bailout to $300 out of the pocket of every Canadian and calls out GM's decision to set up shop in Mexico, "a move that's as un-Canadian as the vehicles they now want to sell us." Chevrolet's new 2019 Blazer is being built south of the border at the Ramos Arizpe plant in Mexico.

General Motors, however, is calling the ad dishonest, pointing out that the company's debt to the Canadian government has since been paid back and taking the opportunity to highlight the economic growth the automaker has created for the country. 

"While GM respects Unifor's rights to protest, we cannot condone purposely misleading the Canadian public. The new Unifor advertisement scheduled to air during the Super Bowl is misleading and inaccurate," said GM communications director Jennifer Wright. "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." 

Wright adds that the company "contributed over $100 billion to the Canadian economy including $8 billion invested into worker pensions."

In response, Dias says Unifor is considering running the ad during the Academy Awards in February, among other televised events.