Unifor has announced that it will sit down with GM as the next target company in contract negotiations with the Big Three Detroit automakers. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, and represents workers at GM, Ford, and Stellantis. Unifor has also announced that its members have ratified a new three-year collective agreement with Ford of Canada. The new Ford agreement will be used as a template in negotiations with GM and Stellantis.
“We’ve got an incredibly strong pattern agreement at Ford that will serve us well over the coming years,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne in a recent video message to union members. “Our job now is to negotiate that pattern in the form of a renewal collective agreement with General Motors and Stellantis. General Motors will be our next target company.”
Unifor will begin contract negotiations with GM on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023. The Canadian labor union represents 4,300 GM workers, including workers at the St. Cathatrines Powertrain Plant, the Oshawa Assembly Complex, and the Woodstock Parts Distribution Center. Unifor members produce a variety of different engines for several different GM vehicles, as well as both light- and heavy-duty variants of the Chevy Silverado pickup trucks and stamped parts for use at various GM production facilities.
Payne added that Unifor has a good deal of “negotiating leverage with GM.”
“[GM’s] Oshawa facility is working around-the-clock producing very lucrative pick-up trucks. The St. Catharines engine and transmission facility, like Ford’s powertrain operations, is a lynchpin for GM’s North American operations. Our Woodstock distribution centre is also a key element of the company’s parts network,” Payne said in her address.
Unifor members voted to ratify the new agreement with Ford by a relatively slim margin, with 54 percent of the 5,600 Unifor members working at Ford voting in favor. Highlights include a 20-percent base hourly wage increase for production workers, a 25-percent increase for trade workers, reduced wage progression, and higher pensions, as well as new investments for existing production facilities. The new contract will expire in 2026.
“I don’t expect this to be an easy round of talks and I want to make sure our union is best positioned to move this pattern forward for the benefit of all members, active and retired,” Payne added with regard to negotiations with GM.
Unifor’s progress in negotiations stand in contrast to ongoing strikes by the UAW against all three of the Big Detroit automakers in the U.S.