EDITOR’S NOTE: Automotive News All-Stars is an annual awards program at the sibling publication of Automotive News Canada. COVID-19 has given the industry its sternest test since the Great Recession. This year’s All-Stars stepped up to the challenge by fostering cross-company collaboration, doing business in new ways, helping economically impacted consumers cope and continuing to innovate as the automotive landscape evolves. Canadian Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, has been honoured for his work in labour, while negotiating with the Detroit Three.
JERRY DIAS, Labour
Unifor President Jerry Dias entered bargaining with the Detroit Three knowing many of Canada’s plants were in desperate need of investment and new product.
He exited talks after having secured up to $4.9 billion in investment plans, including Canada’s first major foray into electric vehicle production and the resurrection of vehicle assembly at General Motors’ Oshawa, Ontario, factory.
“I’ve been listening to the skeptics that have been saying for years that the auto industry is a dying industry in Canada, that the auto industry is somehow a sunset industry,” said Dias, 62. “But the reality is, it’s a sunrise industry.”
Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, assembly plant, which was without a product commitment beyond 2023, will begin building EVs by 2026.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor, Ontario, factory saw its third shift cut this year amid slumping minivan sales in the U.S. and Canada. FCA plans to revive the shift in 2024 to build EVs or plug-in hybrids.
And the GM Oshawa plant will build pickups by 2022, an idea that seemed unthinkable to many when assembly ended there last year.