OTTAWA – Ford and Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, reach tentative agreement on a three-year contract covering all Ford operations in the country.
The agreement was reached Tuesday night and followed the extension of talks for 24 hours beyond 11:59 p.m. Monday, when the last Unifor/Ford deal expired.
A Unifor statement says: “We leveraged our union’s most powerful weapon: the right to strike. The gains achieved were hard fought for over weeks of negotiations at every subcommittee, local and main economic bargaining table. This painstaking work has resulted in fundamental, transformative gains that addressed our core priorities of pensions, wages and the (electric-vehicle) transition.”
The agreement followed Ford offering Unifor an improved deal minutes before Monday’s deadline expired, with the union planning a strike by all of Unifor’s 5,600 Canadian Ford members, at the company’s Oakville Assembly Plant, Annex and Essex Engine Plants in Windsor, ON, in addition to parts distribution centers in Bramalea, Paris and Casselman, ON, and Leduc, Alberta.
Unifor national President Lana Payne says: “We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining. I want to thank our bargaining team who overcame immense and unprecedented challenges to deliver on our members’ priorities.”
Rose Pao, senior manager, communications, Ford of Canada, confirms to Wards: “Ford of Canada and Unifor have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year national labor contract covering more than 5,000 unionized employees in Canada. The agreement is subject to ratification by Ford-Unifor members.”
She adds, “To respect the ratification process, Ford of Canada will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement.” Unifor also did not release details, saying the union will present the deal to the membership at upcoming ratification meetings, but it did indicate Monday that it was seeking improved offers on pay and pensions.
Dino Chiodo, Unifor auto director, says the union was pressing for a firm “wage package proposal on affordability,” with “significant and aggressive general wage increases, stronger cost-of-living protections and wage grid improvements.”
Mark Brennan, chairperson of the Ford master bargaining committee, says pension, vacation and benefit packages that take account of the upcoming retooling of plants to make EVs are also a key issue. Ford will begin to retool its Oakville complex in Q2, a job that Brennan said should take six months.
As for whether a Canadian deal would affect the ongoing negotiations and strikes by the UAW in the U.S., a union spokesperson had not responded to Wards as of late Tuesday.
In Canada, Unifor had launched talks on a new deal with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis on Aug. 10, before picking Ford on Aug. 29 as an initial pattern-setting agreement, putting the GM and Stellantis negotiations on hold in the meantime. These will be resumed if the Ford deal is ratified by Unifor members. The union received near-unanimous backing on Aug. 27 for contingency strike action at any of the Detroit Three companies’ plants in Canada.
Unifor represents 18,000 workers at those factories.
Contracts for Unifor members at GM and Stellantis had already been extended to allow for the Ford negotiations to be completed as a target company. As a result, only Ford members were to be on a legal strike position as of 11:59 p.m. Monday.