The labor strife in the U.S. auto industry halted at the Canadian border Wednesday as Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, said Wednesday it has reached a tentative contract with Ford Motor Co., ending the threat of a strike by 5,600 Ford employees.
“We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.
“We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of auto workers in Canada.”
A different strategy
From the start of negotiations, Payne has pursued a quieter and less confrontational strategy than Shawn Fain, the combative president of the United Auto Workers, who last week sent 13,000 UAW members out on strike at key Ford, General Motors and Stellantis plants in the United States.
The collective agreement between Unifor and the company expired Sept. 18 at 11:59 p.m. but Unifor agreed to a 24-hour extension to see if negotiators from both sides could finish off the tentative agreement.
Unifor said it was withholding details of the proposed contract, pending ratification meetings with union members. But Payne said this week Unifor was looking for substantial increases in pensions and wages. However, Unifor confirmed the tentative agreement also includes local pacts at all of Ford’s various sites across Canada.
Ford officials confirmed the tentative settlement but declined to discuss any of the specifics of the proposed contract.
UAW strike continues
Some 13,000 UAW members are on strike in the United States, including about 3,800 at Ford.
Fain warned Tuesday the UAW would expand its strike beyond the three plants in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri if the current negotiations don’t yield and signs of progress by Friday morning.
“I have been clear with the Big Three every step of the way. And I’m going to be crystal clear again right now. If we don’t make serious progress by noon on Friday, Sept. 22nd, more locals will be called on to Stand Up and join the strike,” Fain said.
It’s a threat he reiterated Tuesday on social media.
“Autoworkers have waited long enough to make things right at the Big Three,” Fain added on the union’s Facebook page. “Either the Big Three get down to business and work with us to make progress in negotiations or more locals will be called on to Stand Up and go out on strike.”
GM and Ford both confirmed negotiations with the UAW were continuing but offered no comment on progress.
Stellantis said of the ongoing talks with the UAW, “The discussion was constructive and focused on where we can find common ground to reach an agreement that provides a bridge to the future by enabling the company to meet the challenges of electrification.
“We continue to listen to the UAW to identify where we can work together,” the company’s statement added.