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Unifor Chooses Ford Motor Company To Set Contract Talks Pattern

Tuesday September 8th, 2020, 1:56pm


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Unifor National President Jerry Dias announced Tuesday that Ford Motor Company has been selected to establish the pattern agreement for 2020 auto bargaining. Last week workers from Chrysler, Ford and GM voted to strike should negotiations fail by September 21st.

“I selected Ford because we think the company is prepared to reward our members, make a commitment to continue manufacturing in Canada, and has a vision that we think is in the best interest of the industry and the economy,” said Dias. “Worldwide we have seen more than $300 billion dollars announced for electric vehicle production and not one dime is destined for Canada. Our members want that to change.”

The union says it has been their practice for decades to strategically choose which of the three automakers the union will negotiate with first — Ford, General Motors, or Fiat Chrysler — setting a pattern agreement for auto workers in Canada.

Officials say there are multiple factors considered by the union, in consultation with the master bargaining committees, in making the decision which is based on two goals: building Canada’s auto industry and achieving the union’s bargaining objectives.

Once an agreement with the target company is ratified by members, officials say bargaining shifts to a second company, and then the third.

“The Oakville assembly plant is the last of Ford’s assembly plants left in Canada and has no firm product commitment beyond the current generation of the Ford Edge,” said Dias. “This is a significant problem for our members and it should be a concern for all levels of government.”

Unifor represents 6,300 workers at Ford Motor Company, 9,000 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and 4,100 at General Motors, and Dias says those numbers along with the numbers of vehicles produced in Canada continue to decline.

“Back in 1999, Canada was number four in the world in manufacturing vehicles,” Dias said. “We went from number four in the world to number twelve behind Thailand and we now have Turkey and Indonesia nibbling on our heels.”

Dias said in 1999 Canada produced three million vehicles but that number declined to 1.9 million in 2019.

Unifor has urged the federal government to create a manufacturing strategy for the automotive sector, and the union says that every auto assembly job “creates or supports as many as 10 additional jobs throughout the economy.”

“We have no national auto strategy in this country while other progressive nations do,” Dias said, pointing to countries such as Germany and France which he noted have received over $15 billion in government investment in the auto sector.

Unifor opened formal contract talks in Toronto on August 12th.

Windsor Assembly Plant

Dias noted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employs the largest number of Unifor members and said negotiations would need to secure new FCA products in order to bring back the third shift in Windsor.

“We have been talking to Chrysler and we know that we need at least one, possibly two vehicles in this set of negotiations in order to bring back our third shift,” Dias said.

The recent cancellation of the third shift at the Windsor Assembly Plant resulted in the loss of over 1,500 employees in Windsor.

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