Members of Unifor, the union representing Canadian autoworkers, voted to ratify a new labor pact with the Ford Motor Co., ending the threat of a walkout that would have led to more disruption in the North American auto industry.
The union, which represents 5,600 Ford of Canada workers in Windsor and Oakville, Ontario, said members overwhelmingly approved the new contract, which includes a pay increase, large signing bonus and significant pension improvements, and re-starts cost-of-living adjustments frozen a decade ago.
Unifor chief hails new pact
“This contract will change lives in a profound way. It fundamentally transforms pension plans, provides protections during the EV transition, and includes the highest wage increases in the history of Canadian auto bargaining,” said Lana Payne, Unifor general president, who adopted a less confrontational approach to the negotiations than her UAW counterpart Shawn Fain.
The Unifor’s new three-year contract with Ford will now serve as the template for the union’s new agreement this year with General Motors and Stellantis.
A Ford worker employed by Ford of Canada with one year of seniority will move from $25.75 to $46.13 in Canadian dollars, with the predicted COLA adjustment by the end of this three-year collective agreement — a wage increase of almost 80% in addition to a $10,000 signing bonus, Payne said.
According to Unifor, highlights of the new contract include base hourly wage increase of 20% for production and 25% for trades over lifetime of agreement; General wage increases in each year of the agreement with 10% in year one, 2% in year two and 3% in year three. The wage progression to reach top pay was cut in half to four years from eight, the union said.
Ford is enhancing the income maintenance and eligibility during the Oakville Electric Vehicle Centre (OEVC) retooling period, modernizing the workforce design to support the EV future, the union noted. The contract will also introduce new investment and added capacity at Essex Engine Plant for the 7.3-liter gas engine in Windsor.
Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford of Canada, said, “This contract invests in our talented and dedicated employees, who remain consistently focused on the critical work of assembling our vehicles, building our engines and components, improving customer satisfaction, and expediting parts delivery service to our more than 400 dealers.”
Talks continue in U.S. as strikes spread
Meanwhile, more 18,000 members of the United Auto Workers in the United States remain on strike in walkouts that have curtailed operations at all three of Detroit’s automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, and drawn the attention of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
UAW Chief Fain has invited Biden, who likes to say he is the most pro-union President in U.S. history, to show his support by picketing with union members and Biden is now expected in Detroit.
Trump has blasted Biden, warning his push for electric vehicles will eliminate the jobs of thousands of unionized autoworkers. He is expected to bring his message to Detroit Wednesday for a rally at an auto supplier this week.
The UAW expanded the selective strike Friday to include 38 parts distribution warehouses operated by GM and Stellantis spread across the U.S., sharply restricting the flow to dealers of the parts required to service customer vehicles.