OTTAWA – Union members at Canada’s Unifor ratify a tentative contract struck last week with General Motors Canada. The deal was circulated to 4,300 auto workers at Unifor locals 222, 199 and 636 in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock, ON, with balloting staged over the weekend.
With 80.5% voting in favor, support for this contract was stronger than for Unifor’s earlier September pattern-setting deal with Ford, which was supported by just 54% of members.
Thanking GM members for “their incredible support and solidarity,” Unifor national President Lana Payne, Jason Gale, GM master bargaining chair and Trevor Longpre, GM master bargaining vice-chair say, “The agreement was supported by a majority of production and skilled trades.”
Payne adds: “This agreement reflects true collective bargaining. Our goal was to bring more fairness and equity to auto workplaces and to lift everyone up.”
The 4,280 Unifor-represented GM Canada workers staged a 12-hour strike Oct. 10 that was called off when the tentative agreement was announced.
Unifor secured base hourly wage increases of nearly 20% for production workers and 25% for skilled trades employees over the next three years, with 15% general wage increases over the three-year deal. GM also promised to give permanent status to all full-time temporary workers with at least one year of seniority at ratification, plus increases in company contributions to pension plans and a quarterly payment for Canadian GM retirees.
An additional Unifor statement stresses the importance of reducing the wage progression grid from eight to four years: “This improvement is particularly significant for members at Oshawa Assembly Plant, where the majority of workers were hired since the plant reopened in 2021.”
The agreement does not cover GM’s CAMI electric-van plant in Ingersoll, ON, which operates under a separate contract expiring next September.
Marissa West, president and managing director, GM Canada, says the deal is “emblematic of GM’s track record of constructive partnership with Unifor,” offering “significant increases in wages, benefits, and job security while positioning GM Canada to remain competitive in the future.”
Noting that GM has invested more than C$2.6 billion ($1.9 billion) in GM Canada’s manufacturing since 2020, West says the St. Catharines plant will “soon begin retooling to build Ultium electric drive motors as well as engines and transmissions for our fullsize trucks and Corvette” sports car.
Unifor’s attention will now turn to the final Detroit Three automaker with an outstanding Canadian agreement: Stellantis, with whom talks are expected to begin this week.
Unlike the UAW, which has launched targeted strikes against factories and parts warehouses belonging to each of the three automakers, Unifor took the traditional approach of naming one company a strike target – GM Canada in this case – and using terms of the tentative agreement as a pattern in negotiations with the other automakers. The UAW strikes have entered their second month.