Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, said it had reached agreement on a tentative contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles covering 9,000 FCA employees.
The announcement just as the old agreement expired after a tense evening of bargaining that left Unifor members poised to strike at six FCA plants including the massive Windsor, Ontario plant that produces the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.
The details of the deal will be presented first to Unifor members during a series of virtual ratification meetings this weekend. Members will then vote on whether to accept the agreement during a 24-hour period, starting at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Jerry Dias, Unifor president, made new investment in the Canadian plants the top priority in this set of talks.
The demands for new investment took on new urgency this past summer after FCA eliminated the third shift at the company’s big assembly plant in Windsor. New investment was the key to getting a new contract last month with Ford. That $1.95 billion deal covers some 6,200 Unifor members.
“This is the single biggest investment in the Canadian auto industry in years providing long-term job security for Unifor members,” Dias said at a press conference.
Before the tentative settlement with FCA was announced, the union had said the progress had been slow during the run up to the deadline.
The union said FCA was challenging the union on key elements of the pattern agreement, reached with Ford, including wages and lump sum payments, health care benefits and other matters.
As the strike deadline approached, Unifor also waited for firm commitments on facility investments and product allocations, according to Dias, who was in contact with FCA executives at the company’s North American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
In order to reach a settlement, the two sides held discussions throughout the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The union’s Master and Local Committees stayed in Toronto on resolving many of the outstanding issues at the table. The Committees wanted to reach a strong settlement that secures the FCA manufacturing footprint and meets the economic pattern established by Ford, union officials said.
Once the tentative FCA settlement is ratified, the union expects to reach a new settlement with General Motors as well.