Contract talks between Unifor and Stellantis are coming to a head in the lead up to the union’s Oct. 29 strike deadline, as the UAW in the United States begins the ratification process for its newly inked tentative agreement with Ford Motor Co.
The union that represents about 8,200 hourly workers at Stellantis workplaces in Canada said Oct. 25 that bargaining with the company has entered a “crucial stage.”
Unifor negotiators continue to focus on “securing the core economic pattern” established in new collective agreements struck over the past month with Ford Motor Co. of Canada and General Motors Canada, President Lana Payne and other members of the union’s bargaining committee told members Wednesday.
Key components of those deals include compensation gains of nearly 20 per cent for longtime workers over the three-year term, bonuses of $10,000 for full-timers and a path to defined-benefit pension plans for all workers.
Unifor reopened talks with Stellantis last week, setting a strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 29.
In addition to the key compensation gains, union negotiators have prioritized securing a clearer picture of Stellantis’ electric-vehicle transition plan at its Brampton Assembly Plant, including details on the retooling timeline, future product and staffing levels.
Similar clarity on product plans at the Windsor Assembly Plant and Etobicoke Casting Plant, as well as the extension of bargaining rights to the company’s NextStar Energy battery-cell plant currently under construction in Windsor, are also on the agenda as top union and company executives meet Thursday and Friday, Unifor said.
Brendan Sweeney, managing director for the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, said meeting Unifor’s demands will be costly for Stellantis, but he expects the final member of the Detroit Three to come to the table.
“Two of three companies have said, ‘Yes, we can make this deal work for us.’ I think Stellantis, they’re not really in a position to deviate significantly from the pattern.”
But internal tension and developments south of the border add layers of complexity for Unifor, Sweeney said.
Dave Cassidy, president of Unifor Local 444, which represents workers in Windsor, said earlier this month that his membership “will not accept what was delivered” under the Ford and GM agreements. Cassidy has said that the local will be looking for more from the company that has built minivans in the city across the river from Detroit since the 1980s but has not shared specific demands.
Unifor’s national office, meantime, has maintained it will be fighting to bring the same gains won in its Ford and GM agreements to Stellantis members.
Sweeney said a local chapter going against the pattern set by the national union would be largely unprecedented, and he is skeptical of the benefits.
“This is already a really expensive deal for the companies. I don’t know how much more you can get out of it.”
The final days of contract talks between Unifor and Stellantis also come against the backdrop of a long-awaited UAW deal south of the border.
On Oct. 25, UAW President Shawn Fain said the union had struck a tentative deal with Ford following a six-week “stand-up” strike. The accord will send picketing workers at select Ford plants in the United States back to work, though the agreement still needs to work its way through the ratification process before being finalized.
The tentative deal, which is the first the UAW has reached with any member of the Detroit Three this year, includes wage gains for workers of 25 per cent over the contract’s 4.5-year term. Adding in cost-of-living allowances (COLA), pay for longtime UAW workers is expected to rise about 33 per cent through April 2028.
This compares to general wage increases of 15 per cent over three years for Unifor members at Ford and GM. Including COLA, pay for longtime workers at the two automakers is expected to increase about 19.3 per cent through September 2026.
Full details of the tentative UAW deal are not yet available.
The union is expected to share a complete accounting of the agreement with members Oct. 29, the same day as Unifor’s strike deadline with Stellantis.