Ford Motor Co. and Unifor, the Canadian union representing some 6,200 blue-collar auto workers at the company’s plants in Ontario, have fashioned a new tentative labor contract.
Jerry Dias, Unifor president, in a press conference carried on Facebook, said details of the settlement were being withheld pending a ratification meeting set for Sunday.
However, he said the agreement includes a commitment by Ford valued at $1.8 billion Canadian dollars to build a new line of electric vehicles at the Ford assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario. The commitment was a key part of the agreement, Dias said.
“Today is an historic day. We are not only talking about solidifying the footprint of the auto industry in the short term, but for the long term. I think it’s fair to say that as an organization we hit a home run,” said Dias in a statement.
Ford confirmed the settlement, which came 11 hours after the original strike deadline imposed by the union, but declined further comment pending ratification by Unifor’s members. The deadline had been extended by the union to late Monday as the negotiators neared an agreement.
The lack of a commitment from the company to build a new product at that specific Canadian assembly plant prompted the union representing auto workers in Canada to target this year’s negotiations for a new labor contract.
Dias said previously Unifor, which represents workers at Ford, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors, said Canada’s largest private-sector union is pushing for new product commitments at Canadian plants belonging to Detroit’s automakers just as he did in 2016.
The union especially wants to see electric vehicles built in Canada, Dias said.
Unifor’s negotiations were held as Ford employees face expiring product lines in Oakville, Ontario, while Fiat Chrysler workers have seen shift cuts in Windsor and Brampton, Dias noted.
He said it was important to Unifor’s Ford’s section that the company chosen “understood we need product,” and “understood the importance of their footprint to the community.” Fiat Chrysler is the next negotiating partner.