New United Auto Workers (UAW) contracts with the Detroit Three appear to make things more difficult for Unifor in its attempts to secure long-term investments and production at Canadian plants in 2020.
The UAW deal with General Motors, which was ratified following a 40-day strike in the United States, includes several provisions Unifor is likely to model in 2020 talks with GM, including a shortening of the 10-year pay grid and bonuses for workers.
“But it didn’t move the needle at all on job security,” said Kristin Dziczek, vice-president of industry, labour and economics at the Center for Automotive Research. “That’s a huge deal for GM and what remains at Oshawa.”
Contracts between the UAW and the Detroit Three in large part set the stage for Unifor negotiations the following year. They can foreshadow which areas automakers might be willing to concede ground to the union and those they will not.
They also can limit production options for plants, should Unifor seek additional product mandates from automakers. Committing, say, $6 billion to plants in the United States as Ford Motor Co. did in its negotiations with the UAW, limits options for Unifor should it seek additional production mandates at Ford’s Oakville, Ont., assembly plant.
Ford and the UAW reached a tentative agreement in the days following the ratification of the GM-UAW contract and workers ratified the deal not long after. Negotiations between the UAW and Fiat Chrysler are ongoing.
Negotiations between Unifor and the Detroit Three were set to begin next year ahead of the current contracts expiring in September 2020. Here is a look at what’s at stake for each automaker and the more than 17,000 hourly workers at their Canadian assembly plants.