Unifor, the union representing General Motors Co. employees in Canada, agreed to a contract extension rather than go on strike, helping the two sides forge a new tentative agreement in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
The union’s agreement to set aside its traditional “no-extension” policy carries no deadline, which apparently allowed the two sides to get the new deal done. Unifor officials are meeting with the media this morning to discuss the agreement.
GM was the final automaker to go through the pattern bargaining process, following Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Back in September, Unifor extended the contract with the Ford Motor Co. overnight when it was close to an agreement, which included a pledge from the company to invest $1.46 billion in an assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, protecting the jobs of some 4,000 members.
Last month, Unifor also negotiated a new contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.
As was the case with the Unifor-Ford agreement, the Unifor-FCA agreement included a commitment from the company to invest more than $1.4 billion in a big assembly complex in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit.
When Unifor began its negotiations with Detroit’s automakers on the new labor contracts, Dias said he expected the union to come out of talks with new investment commitments from all three companies, including GM.
Unifor and its members believe they were shortchanged two years ago when GM announced plans to shutter an assembly plant in Oshawa, Ontario, outside Toronto where the company assembled vehicles for than a century.
Dias said before the negotiations entered the final phase that he expected GM to agree resume building vehicles at the Oshawa complex. GM, however, has offered no indication that its prepared to make a major investment in Oshawa or at another Canadian plant.
GM Canada and Unifor announced reached a deal last year to transition Oshawa Assembly operations to parts manufacturing and advanced vehicle testing. Throughout the years, Unifor has complained frequently about the fact GM has preferred to invest money in Mexico where GM employees are paid significantly less than in U.S. or Canada. The last strike by Unifor against GM in 2017 revolved around GM’s decisions to steer investment from Canada to Mexico.
The new United States Mexico Canada free trade agreement enacted this year by the Trump administration includes new rules of origin that require greater North American content and new rules requiring companies to pay Mexican workers higher wages.