The union representing thousands of Canadian auto workers, Unifor, has announced that General Motors is the target company that will set the pattern agreement in the current round of negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers.
“These negotiations are about the future of local communities, good jobs and the industry. Our demand is clear, invest today to build a future for tomorrow,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said.
“The strength of the auto industry in Canada is not only vital to those in the industry, but to the entire Canadian economy,” said Dias, who has emphasized throughout the negotiations the need for GM to bring new investment into Canada.
“Policy makers and the public need to understand what is at stake here.”
General Motors employs 6,600 Unifor members in Oshawa, Ingersoll and St. Catharines making the Impala, Equinox, Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS, and GMC Terrain, as well as engines, transmissions and components.
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Of the 6,600 members, there are 2,600 working at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll who are not part of the Master Agreement. About 23,050 Unifor members work at all of the Detroit Three companies.
“At GM Canada we remain focused on working with Unifor to reach a mutually beneficial and competitive new agreement,” GM said in a statement released after the company was named the target.
Unifor’s current contract with the Detroit’s automakers expires 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19. Should a new agreement not be reached, Unifor autoworkers voted overwhelmingly to give their bargaining committees authorization to call a strike if necessary to achieve key priorities, Dias said.
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In all, GM, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler employ 23,300 workers in Canada. Almost all of the jobs are located in the province of Ontario.
Last week, Unifor released what it described as independent study found that said losing the auto jobs provided by the GM, Ford and FCA would eliminate $26 billion from the Canadian economy, cut 150,000 jobs in related and cost $4.7 billion per year in government revenues.
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The study was meant to reinforce the message that autos remain a critical part of Canada’s economy even with the rapid development of the auto industry in Mexico in the past decade.