"So I'm hoping — hoping — that we get out of this crisis a lot quicker than anybody had anticipated," he said. "Do I expect a second wave? The answer is yes. Can I predict the future? The answer is no. But I do know that what we're dealing with today is significantly different than 2008-2009."
Dias acknowledged that the union he's led since 2013 faces "serious, serious challenges" as it seeks product commitments. Uncertainty surrounds each of the three assembly plants under the expiring contracts. (A fourth Canadian Detroit 3 assembly plant — GM's Ingersoll, Ontario, factory — is on a separate contract that expires in 2021.)
That uncertainty is sharply felt at the Ford plant. Citing industry sources, AutoForecast Solutions in June said the automaker no longer plans to build the next-generation Ford Edge crossover there. Ford has not confirmed the report, though Dias said Unifor would not accept a deal without "a solution" for Oakville.
When asked last week by Automotive News if Ford was considering ending vehicle production in Canada, outgoing CEO Jim Hackett said he had "nothing to report yet on the negotiations," adding that Jim Farley, named to succeed him Oct. 1, and Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, would lead talks for Ford.
"When I got the job, I went up there and looked at the factory. I wanted to meet with Unifor and see the people. I came away very impressed with the quality of the work force and the facility," Hackett said. "I've met with the prime minister once or twice to get his views on Canada having auto production. Waiting also for USMCA to get settled, so all those variables precede the contract."
FCA's Canadian assembly plants have questions of their own. FCA cut one of three shifts at its Windsor plant in July amid slumping demand for minivans. The future of the Brampton plant, which builds the aging Dodge Charger and Challenger, is also murky, though the muscle cars are believed to remain profitable for the automaker.
Michael Martinez contributed to this report.