If the tentative deal reached with Ford is ratified by Unifor union members, it will set a template for upcoming negotiations with General Motors and Stellantis, potentially staving off strikes at those two automotive giants as well. PHOTO courtesy Ford Motor Co.
Canadian metalworking job shops and mold makers serving the country’s automotive sector are breathing a sigh of relief following news that Ford Motor Co. and the Unifor union have reached a tentative deal to avert a strike.
The union says it will bring the proposed three-year contract to its 5,680 members who work at Ford shortly for a ratification vote. The tentative deal was reached three hours before a midnight strike deadline, which itself had been extended by a day so the union could consider a new offer from Ford. A strike would have idled Ford’s SUV assembly line in Oakville, its two engine plants in Windsor, and parts warehouses in southern Ontario and Edmonton.
If the contract is ratified by union members, it will set a template for upcoming union negotiations with General Motors and Stellantis, potentially staving off strikes at those two automotive giants as well.
The ability of the two sides to reach a tentative agreement and avert strike action is in sharp contrast to what’s happening south of the border where 13,000 U.S. autoworkers have been on strike against Ford, General Motors and Stellantis since last week. The United Auto Workers union representing the striking U.S. auto workers is pushing for 40 per cent wage gains. On this side of the border, Unifor has not revealed the wage hikes it sought, says only it wants to see “significant” increases along with improvements to pensions and job security during the industry’s transition to electric vehicles.
While there is good reason to feel optimistic about labour negotiations in the Canadian automotive industry, with 48% of the automotive parts made in Canada exported to the U.S., escalating strike action south of the border is certain to impact Canadian job shops.
“Any shutdown in operations, you’re a day or two away from idling capacity,” Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, which represents Canadian producers of automotive parts and equipment, commented in a BNN Bloomberg television interview.