Canada’s Unifor Satisfied With Results of 12-Hour GM Strike

The new tentative agreement covering almost 4,300 GM workers calls for base hourly wage increases of nearly 20% for production employees and 25% for skilled tradespersons over the next three years.

Keith Nuthall, Correspondent

October 11, 2023

3 Min Read
Unifor picket Oshawa ON 10-10-23 screenshot
Unifor union members picket Oct. 10 outside General Motors’ Oshawa, ON, Canada assembly plant. Strike ended after 12 hours when tentative agreement was announced.Unifor

OTTAWA – Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, suspends strike action at most General Motors plants in Canada, saying the company has accepted a pattern-based agreement reflecting the deal struck with Ford last month.

The midday Tuesday announcement halted 12-hour strikes at GM’s Oshawa Assembly Complex (making the Chevrolet Heavy Duty Silverado and Chevrolet LD Duty Silverado) and its CCA Stamped Products plant, plus the St. Catharines Powertrain Plant and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre – all in Ontario.

GM’s CAMI BrightDrop electric-van plant in Ingersoll remained open as it is covered by a separate labor deal to 2024.

The new tentative agreement covers almost 4,300 GM workers. It calls for base hourly wage increases of nearly 20% for production workers and 25% for skilled trades employees over the next three years. There are also general wage increases in each year of the agreement with 10% in year one, 2% in year two and 3% in year three. GM also agreed to increase company contributions to pension plans.

Under the agreement, all full-time temporary workers with at least one year of seniority at ratification will attain permanent status, gaining better pay, job security and benefits. Also, GM agreed to a starting rate for temporary part-time and production workers increasing from C$24.26 ($17.86) per hour to C$29.67 ($21.84), increasing to C$30.26 ($22.27) within 12 months and C$31.16 ($22.93) by the end of this three-year agreement. GM also agreed to eliminate the use of the full-time temporary classification at its Oshawa assembly plant by Aug. 1, 2026. 

“It’s a sweet deal,” says Brendan Sweeney, managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, which raises public and investor awareness of Ontario’s auto sector. “When you look at the amount of temporary employees who will become full-time contracted employees, that’s a really, really big win for the union.”

Moreover, with the Canadian labor market remaining tight (national unemployment being 5.5% in September), GM might come to value this agreement for aiding staff retention, despite the upfront costs, Sweeney predicts.

GM Canada President and Managing Director Marissa West says: “Work will resume at all three facilities this afternoon. This record agreement, subject to member ratification, recognizes the many contributions of our represented team members with significant increases in wages, benefits and job security while building on GM’s historic investments in Canadian manufacturing.”

Unifor members voted by a 54% margin last month to ratify the three-year tentative agreement with Ford.

Sweeney says Unifor’s upcoming talks with Chrysler parent Stellantis could be the toughest among the Detroit Three automakers in this round. While the company might be keen to settle, union members at its two major assembly plants in Windsor and Brampton, ON, are experienced, older and have strong labor movement traditions. “The difficulty with Stellantis might not be getting a deal with the company but getting it passed by the members,” he predicts. 

Unifor had adopted the traditional tactic of striking all facilities of a single automaker – in this case, GM. The UAW, by contrast, has launched targeted strikes against selected U.S. plants and parts distribution centers belonging to GM, Ford and Stellantis. Negotiations with all three automakers continue.

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