Unifor has picked General Motors Canada as its next bargaining target, a day after union members narrowly ratified a three-year collective agreement with Ford Motor Co. of Canada that set the pattern for this year’s auto talks.
The union secured double-digit wage gains, a path back to defined benefit pension plans and one-time bonuses of $10,000 for full-time workers in a Sept. 19 tentative agreement with Ford that came following a last-minute company offer and a 24-hour strike-deadline extension. Fifty-four per cent of Unifor members voted to ratify the deal in two days of voting over the weekend, narrowly meeting the required majority needed to approve the deal.
With members at Ford locked into a new collective agreement that won’t expire until Sept. 20, 2026, Unifor will turn its attention to GM.
Unifor President Lana Payne said the union will be at the table with the company starting tomorrow and expects GM to “follow the pattern set at Ford.”
“We hold a lot of negotiating leverage with GM right now. Their Oshawa facility is working around the clock producing very lucrative pickup trucks. The St. Catharines engine and transmission facility, like Ford’s powertrain operations, is a lynchpin for GM’s North American operations,” she said in an update to members.
GM has roughly 3,100 hourly workers at its Oshawa Assembly Plant, 1,100 in St. Catharines, as well as 80 at its Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre. Unifor also represents about 1,500 at GM’s CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ont., but members at that facility fall under another contract.
As it did with the other two members of the Detroit Three, Unifor opened negotiations with GM Aug. 10, before pausing them Aug. 29 to focus on Ford.
GM Canada spokesperson Jennifer Wright said the company welcomes the resumption of talks.
“We look forward to working with our Unifor partners to build a competitive future that also recognizes our employees’ contributions to our shared success,” she said in an email.
Payne said she doesn’t expect talks to be easy but wants to make sure Unifor is “best positioned to move this pattern forward.”
The union would have less leverage engaging with Stellantis, she added, because of the Windsor Assembly Plant’s upcoming retooling.
“There is still a lot of necessary information we need to receive from Stellantis about the forthcoming Brampton assembly investment and retool. And I believe we need to have greater clarity on this before our talks commence.”