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Canadian auto union faces Catch-22 in General Motors fight

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TORONTO (Reuters) – Jerry Dias, the leader of Canada’s auto union, is unsparing in his rhetorical attacks on General Motors Co’s decision to close its Oshawa, Ontario, assembly plant and lay off thousands of union workers by year-end.

Unifor national president Jerry Dias addresses General Motors assembly workers and supporters protesting GM’s announcement to close its Oshawa assembly plant during a rally across the Detroit River from GM’s headquarters, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

But when it comes to action, Unifor’s president has been far more circumspect.

Dias promised “drastic measures” to compel GM to extend production of sedans and pickups, including the Silverado, to Sept. 21, 2020, when the current labor contract expires.

For more than a century, GM’s complex in Oshawa, a city east of Toronto, has been an economic engine for Ontario and Canada, anchored by thousands of highly paid manufacturing jobs.

After GM’s November announcement of a broad restructuring, including Oshawa, the union backed brief production disruptions, a call to boycott GM’s Mexican-made vehicles and a “solidarity” concert for workers by British musician Sting.

But Dias has not yet deployed the biggest weapon in his arsenal – a general strike to fully halt production of Silverado and Sierra pickups, vital to the Detroit automaker’s profitability.

Dias concedes there is mixed support for a walkout among union workers. Some Oshawa workers fear that shutting down GM Canada would hurt them much more than the company.

Unifor represents 2,600 assembly-line workers at GM Oshawa and 1,800 workers at plants supplying the Oshawa operations, whose contracts typically have lower pay, benefits and security. Some 1,500 work at feeder plants that are entirely reliant on Oshawa.

That is a sharp drop from the mid-1990s, when Unifor’s predecessor union counted 14,750 hourly members in Oshawa.

“We’re working in the GM plant, but we’re not GM,” said Sheri Steel, a forklift driver at CEVA Logistics. “Whenever GM shuts down, we do too. We get sent home and we lose pay.”

Strikes can be a “dangerous tactic” when plants face closure, and could drive GM to an earlier exit, she said.

Workers are pressing for talks on closure terms, which can improve on guaranteed worker provisions in a contract, said CEVA local Chairperson Keith Poulin. Unifor has declined those requests, saying it intends to keep the plant open, he said.

“We live paycheck to paycheck,” said Poulin’s wife, Jean Poulin. More than seven years ago, the couple were hired by companies supplying the GM plant for C$14 an hour.

Over time, their wages rose to C$20.50, but the 51-year-olds say that with limited severance, no pension and no savings, they cannot afford to retire.

“With a mortgage and bills, we are scared,” said Jean, who delivers parts for Syncreon Automotive.

‘THEY DON’T SCARE ME’

Some union members are nervous about their future, Dias told Reuters in an interview, but he is not. “They’ve got a lot of power,” he said of GM. “But they don’t scare me at all.”

Unifor has laid the groundwork for tougher action. It charged GM with breaking terms of the 2016 collective agreement, committing it to keep Oshawa open until the deal ends in 2020. It filed a grievance that is proceeding to arbitration.

GM Canada says the agreement notes that market conditions may arise beyond the company’s control. “The union has also been aware since 2016 that Oshawa truck production was temporary and ending in 2019,” said spokesman David Paterson.

So far, GM Chief Executive Mary Barra has refused to retreat from her restructuring plans despite criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, Canadian politicians and unions in both countries. She has also declined to meet with Dias.

“We have a lot more cards to play,” Dias said. “But I’m not going to find a solution playing solitaire.”

Dias has looked for support from his U.S. counterparts in the United Auto Workers union. The two unions, which broke apart more than three decades ago, discussed cooperating on their campaigns to save plants, but provided no details.

In the past 23 years, there have only been two autoworker strikes in Canada, said Unifor’s director of research.

“We used to have strikes at every round of bargaining among auto assemblers right from the beginning in 1937,” said Bill Murnighan. “But Canada now has a very low number of strikes compared to past eras and compared to other countries.”

A GM THAT CAN SAY NO

GM’s decision to end production at Oshawa and four U.S. plants is emblematic of a global shift, as automakers restructure and invest in next-generation vehicles, including electric and self-driving cars. With North American sales projected to flatten or decline, automakers are also wary of maintaining unnecessary capacity in the region.

Politicians on both sides of the border have reminded GM that the U.S. and Canadian governments rescued it with public money a decade ago.

After contributing more than C$10.5 billion to the 2009 GM bailout, the Canadian and Ontario governments sold their final equity stakes in 2015. A set of financing commitments, including domestic production, expired one year later, GM’s Paterson said.

Trump has threatened to cut all GM subsidies, a tough stance that Unifor has asked Canadian officials to adopt. But politicians from Ottawa and Toronto have taken a more moderate approach, saying there is nothing more they can do without GM’s cooperation. Dias calls their response inadequate.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth. … We have been having conversations repeatedly,” said a federal government official. “I don’t think the solution is just throwing money at the company.”

The provincial government agrees.

“We’ve asked many, many times – and offered all kinds of different things – What can we do, as the government of Ontario, for you to change your mind?” said Economic Development Minister Todd Smith. “And the answer has always been: ‘Nothing.’”

($1 = 1.3176 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Joseph White and Peter Cooney

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Ottawa’s not-for-profit book publisher provides Ottawa authors with hardcover printing

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Are you a writer in Ottawa seeking to become a self-published author? It has now become much easier to put your work up for sale and exceed your book sales target.

In previous times, authors were only able to publish their work traditionally and this process had many restrictions. Now with self-publishing, it is very easy for writers to get their work in front of their readers without spending lots of time and money.

Even with self-publishing, it is still important to choose the right platform as many authors who are in a haste to publish, easily fall victim by investing in the wrong platform and overlooking the key principles of success.

Despite how popular self-publishing has become amongst aspiring authors, only a handful of self-published books achieve high sales. In fact, only less than 1 per cent of most self-published books are really good and less than 5 per cent can pass as decent. 

Now, with professional guidance, self-publishing platforms like AgoraPublishing.com stand out from the rest particularly because of their commitment to ensuring that your work is of top quality, allowing it to attain mass marketability effortlessly.

Based out of Ottawa, Agora Publishing is a not-for-profit book publishing agency that has over the years supported self-published authors to achieve their book sales target. The agency has been in operation for over 20 years, consistently serving writers all around the globe who seek to take advantage of their numerous full-service options which are not provided by other competing platforms like Lulu or CreateSpace.

Unlike other comparative services that are driven by for-profit ethics, Agora Publishing pays critical attention to the quality and readiness of the writer’s manuscript, copy editing, book cover design and other areas of the book production and marketing process. They also provide professional hardcover printing services, which is a rarity for most self-publishing platform who only focus on producing digital copies.

While digital media has disrupted other industries such as news publishing and the entertainment business, a lot of readers still love to own physical books. According to a 2019 report by the Association of American Publishers, of almost $26 billion made from book sales in the U.S., book print made up over 90 per cent ($22.6 billion) of sales revenue compared to $2.04 billion for ebooks. These figures include genres such as trade, education as well as fiction and points to the fact that hardcover books are still very relevant.

“I think the e-book bubble has burst somewhat, sales are flattening off, I think the physical object is very appealing. Publishers are producing incredibly gorgeous books, so the cover designs are often gorgeous, they’re beautiful objects,” said Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers’ Association in the U.K. in CNBC report.

Agorapublishing.com stands out from other self-publishing platforms and has become a great option for writers who want to self-publish high quality and mass marketable books in Ottawa in both digital and print formats.

The agency provides a host of professional community-driven services which include ISBN registration, book cover design, the book’s internal graphic design and typesetting, copy editing or substantive editing, book website design, author news blog design, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), the writing of informative promotional articles, distribution, printing, and many more.

Even with a captivating manuscript, having a below-par book cover can contribute to a dent in sales. Some new authors try to save cost by patronizing cheap homemade book covers that look inferior and this can drastically affect sales as readers still “judge a book by its cover”—especially cheap-looking books.

Nonetheless, platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com seek to serve writers in Ottawa with free professional consultation and advice on the readiness of their manuscript for production and a hands-on approach to ensuring that writers are provided with a high level of service at all levels of the production process. This way, your book goes through rigorous quality checks to ensure that only the best is made available to the public.

Agora Publishing has built a successful roadmap for its authors which includes their book production and marketing strategies. Their team of professionals work with authors to print highly durable and beautiful hardcover books with quality prints to attract the attention of book buyers.

Racing into the world of self-publishing can hit you with a cruel reality, therefore the only chance for success is having proper planning and preparation. AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa writers with expert services, handling the entire process for you to ensure your book attains the desired success almost instantly.

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Book Self-Publishing: AgoraPublishing.com is the best choice for Ottawa authors

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For writers in Ottawa, it is now easier than ever to put your work up for sale by becoming a self-published author. Unlike traditional publishing, self-publishing makes it very easy for writers to get their work in front of their readers without spending lots of time and money.

However, for many self-published authors who are in a haste to publish, they easily fall victim by overlooking key principles of success, leading to the failure of their books in achieving the desired sell-out rate.

Quite a large number of authors who are new to self-publishing get so many basic things wrong. Now, with professional guidance, self-publishing platforms like AgoraPublishing.com stand out from the rest particularly because of their commitment to ensuring that your work is of top quality, allowing it to attain mass marketability effortlessly.

Unlike other self-publishing platforms (CreateSpace, Lulu etc.), Agorapublishing.com is a great option for writers who want to self-publish high quality and mass marketable books in Ottawa.

Published authors earn money through book sales by receiving royalties—a percentage of the book’s retail price. The obvious way a published author makes money is through book sales. In traditional publishing, you could expect to receive around 8 to 15 per cent royalty on each book sale depending on your status as an author, the publisher, or your target market.

However, authors in Ottawa are choosing to self-publish with Agora Publishing as they can earn much more money from royalties. When you self-publish your book, you can earn much more in royalties.

One of the most common reasons for poor sales for Ottawa authors is being in a haste to self-publish a book without adequate planning. Some upcoming authors share the misconception that having a book means it’s go-to-market ready. But there must be adequate planning, enough promotion, a considerable amount of followership, amongst others.

Racing into the world of self-publishing can hit you with a cruel reality, therefore the only chance for success is having proper planning and preparation. Professional services like AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa writers with expert services, handling the entire process for you to ensure your book meets the highest standards. This way, you are certain that your work would attain success almost instantly.

Irrespective of how captivating your book might be, to capture the attention of readers, there needs to be some form of marketing. However, a lot of self-publishers make the mistake of assuming that once they’ve acquired the services of a publicist, listed it on Amazon and made social media posts, it is enough marketing.

Contrary to that belief, getting your book as much attention as needed requires you to exhaust every available marketing options at your disposal. AgoraPublishing.com provides professional marketing services to Ottawa authors and this makes it possible for their books to achieve a high number of sales.

For most traditional publishers in Ottawa, they tend to prioritize authors who have already created a specific niche. This leaves aspiring and relatively unknown authors with nothing more to do than wait in line before their book gets any sort of attention. Self-publishing is a much appealing option because no one is excluded or given preferential treatment; anyone has the potential to become a best-selling author. If you have good material, you can publish your book with professional guidance from Agora Publishing.

If you are worried about your book getting rejected by traditional publishers in Ottawa, self-publication with Agora Publishing is the best option for writers. It doesn’t matter how controversial your content is, opting to self-publish gets your work into the marketplace faster.

For self-published authors in Ottawa, they have more control over their work and choose any country, through any channel, and in any format (print, eBook, or audio) they want it sold. With help from Agora Publishing, authors can decide where and when to sell the book and the best way to promote it to reach a global audience.

Nonetheless, even with a perfect manuscript, having a below-par book cover can contribute to a dent in sales. For some new authors—in a bid to save cost—they tend to patronize homemade book covers that carry an inferior look. This can drastically affect sales as readers and book buyers do “judge a book by its cover”, especially terribly cheap-looking book covers.

Another quality check for any book that more often than not fails is the book description. Having a book description that is two-sentence long doesn’t qualify either does a lengthy preview of the first chapter.

Nonetheless, platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com provides Ottawa authors with unprecedented quality control and checks on all books to ensure that only the best is made available to the public.


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Book Self-Publishing: AgoraPublishing.com provides quality control that Amazon’s KDP lacks

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Many of today’s best-selling writers have chosen the path of self-publishing to become authors, bypassing traditional publishing. However, getting a highly successful self-published book can be quite a difficult task.

Technology has opened up new possibilities in the book publishing industry, changing the way publishers communicate with authors. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has adopted a more digital experience for customer interaction, but there is a tendency to overlook the fact that self-publishing platforms such as AgoraPublishing.com provide much better quality control.

While the implementation of chatbots for customer interaction seems like a fascinating idea, human interaction is still the most preferred choice of communication. Verbal communication is faster, easier, and more effective than typing messages back and forth.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Humans generally speak at 125-175 words per minute and can listen at a rate of up to 450 words per minute. In contrast, the average typist does 38-40 words per minute — and that’s on a full-fledged keyboard, not on a mobile phone.”

The success of a book is attributed to the level of planning, preparation and the amount of hard work put into it before it is launched into the market. For authors, even after hitting the shelves, there is still the need to diligently follow up on book sales and revise your plan wherever necessary.

While the idea of using a chatbot for customer communication might sound very progressive, the most preferred choice for authors remains human interaction and there are various reasons for that.

In the younger generations, many people are getting accustomed to the use of automated forms of customer service through mediums such as chatbots. However, human interaction is overall still the most preferred choice.

When trying to solve a customer service issue, 83 per cent of consumers would rather talk to a human than lay complaints via digital channels, according to research from Accenture Strategy. Despite the ability for Amazon’s KDP chatbot to respond to queries much faster or provide similar answers, it simply cannot provide the same feeling and assurance that speaking to a human at Agora Publishing provides.

Additionally, Agora Publishing provides offline accessibility while Amazon’s KDP chatbot requires internet connection before it can be accessed. Therefore, you would need to either download the app or visit their website to initiate a conversation with the chatbot or access the knowledge base content. This isn’t very reliable as in the event of poor internet connectivity, human-based customer service would always provide the authors with the required support.

Robots would always be robots; and while Amazon’s KDP chatbot is built on a framework loaded with different algorithms and scripts, no amount of programming would be enough to replace a human’s distinct ability to read subtle details from a person’s mood or language.

For example, if an author contacts a publisher and becomes agitated due to poor sales during the first few days of publishing, even the most sophisticated chatbot would never be able to replicate the warm, calm and empathetic response that a customer service representative would provide.

Additionally, in the cases of delayed publishing, having a conversation with an actual person who can provide a detailed explanation and subsequently apologize for the delays can be much more soothing to the customer than interacting with a chatbot.

Amazon’s KDP chatbot is capable of providing authors with basic help on some common issues, but unlike Agora Publishing, they are incapable of resolving every challenge that authors often need assistance solving.

For example, if an author needs help deciding what name would be best for a biography a deceased loved one and has questions about the cover design, royalty rates and marketing techniques. All of these multiple questions would come sequentially with each question and answer leading to the next. A chatbot would be unable to handle this kind of complexity due to the multiple requests being made by the author.

In conclusion, while technology has made self-publishing much easier than before, a human agent is still the most effective way to communicate with publishers. They can sympathize with an author wherever necessary before proceeding to provide detailed responses to every query.

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