The aging paint shop at Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ont., assembly plant will be gutted and rebuilt in 2017 as part of the tentative labor deal the automaker and Unifor reached on Monday, a significant victory for the union following weeks of contentious talks.
The deal, which also includes an investment in the Etobicoke casting plant in Toronto, wage gains and changes to pension plans for new hires, was reached late Monday just minutes before workers were set to strike at midnight.
About 9,750 FCA workers represented by Unifor are set to vote on the contract this weekend. Should workers ratify the deal, Unifor will immediately begin negotiating with Ford Motor Co. on Oct. 17, with a strike deadline of Oct. 31.
Unifor President Jerry Dias’ sales pitch to his members early Tuesday morning was simple: The union wanted to secure jobs in Brampton by investing in the paint shop, and it was able to do that.
“What we’ve wanted for years is a paint shop,” Dias said. “Our paint shop is one of the oldest within the entire Fiat Chrysler chain. Starting with a complete rebuild in 2017, it will be the newest paint shop within their family.”
Investments at Brampton would total C$325 million, Dias said. Improvements would begin in the summer of 2017.
The investments come despite FCA previously balking at committing to following the pattern set by the new contract reached with General Motors in September, which included product commitments for plants and similar wage gains. According to the union, the FCA until late Monday had deemed the pattern to be “too rich."
Dias said the investment commitments mean Unifor was able to meet its top goal in negotiations with FCA: Securing the long-term prospects of the automaker’s three Canadian plants.
“Things are starting to change in a significant way in this country,” Dias said. “We are now seeing a major investment occurring now in Canada.”