Canadian labor union Unifor will begin its negotiations with the Detroit Big Three this month as the union’s current contract comes up for expiration in September.
Unifor president Jerry Dias told Automotive News Canada this week that the union has its “hands full,” at the moment as it prepares to enter contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler in September. Preliminary discussions regarding Unifor’s demands will begin this week as executives from the Michigan-based companies meet with Unifor leaders at a hotel in downtown Toronto.
“It’ll be my opportunity to tell them exactly what’s on my mind and how I expect negotiations to proceed and what my drop-dead positions are,” Dias told AN Canada.
Unifor will be looking for the Big Three to commit to future product programs for all of their respective Canadian factories. GM will avoid having to make any commitments at the moment, however, as the only vehicle manufacturing plant it operates in Canada is CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, which runs on a separate contract that does not expire until next year. That said, the union said it is hoping to secure long-term commitments for GM’s St. Catharines Propulsion plant and an extension of the parts manufacturing operation at Oshawa Assembly.
Similar to the Big Three’s collective bargaining process with the UAW, Unifor will choose one of the Big Three to hold discussions with first and typically uses the first agreement as a sort of framework for the remaining two contract negotiations. Unifor is expected to announce which company it plans to enter a dialogue with first on September 8th.
The contract ratification process will also be complicated by the fact that COVID-19 restrictions will prevent Unfior members from voting in-person. AN Canada reports that some local union leaders have already begun the process of getting members to sign up for online contract ratification and strike authorization voting.
Unfior leaders will meet with Big Three execs in Detroit Wednesday morning and afternoon before holding a press conference on the matter at 3 p.m. ET.