A U.S. truckload carrier has temporarily laid off at least 40 drivers and five mechanics at its Canadian branch because of the strike by auto workers at General Motors (NYSE: GM) plants in the United States, a union official said.
Martin Transportation Systems issued the notice for employees at its Windsor, Ontario, facility on Sept. 17. Unifor, the union representing about 100 of the carrier’s Canadian employees, said the layoffs stemmed from the disruption of the carrier’s cross-border freight business between GM’s U.S. and Canadian facilities.
“Most of those affected handled routes back and forth to the Michigan plants directly affected by the GM strike,” said Manny Cardoso, a vice president with Unifor’s Local 444 in Windsor.
Martin Transportation, based near Grand Rapids, Michigan, did not respond to a request for comment from FreightWaves. The carrier, which has a fleet of 700 trucks, primarily serves the U.S.
But the layoffs at Martin’s Windsor branch could be a sign of further turbulence in Canada because of the GM strike. The U.S. and Canadian auto industries are closely intertwined, with cross-border trucking playing a vital role in the swift movement of intermediate parts in the supply chain.
GM’s plant in Oshawa, already reduced to half capacity, is slated for a full shutdown on Sept. 19 because of its inability to source parts from the U.S.
The number of affected drivers may exceed 100 when owner-operators, who are not represented by the union, are included, Cardoso said.
Cardoso said he expects the drivers will return to service when the strike ends, noting that the temporary layoff allows the employee drivers to collect unemployment benefits.
“Hopefully, it won’t last too long,” Cardoso said.