Top union and company negotiators hammered out the three-year deal late Tuesday, six weeks after the bargaining process began in August, and nearly 24 hours after the original strike deadline passed.
“This tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining,” Unifor President Lana Payne said in a statement. “We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada.”
Unifor did not release any details included in the tentative agreement, but the union said repeatedly throughout the talks that its bargaining committees would not accept a deal that did not deliver improved pensions and wages, as well as greater job security for members during upcoming retooling periods.
One source with knowledge of the talks said Unifor was asking for a "substantial wage increase ... north of 20 per cent." The source also said pensions were the biggest sticking point as discussions continued into extra innings.
The accord was announced about two hours before Unifor’s second strike deadline of 11:59 p.m. ET Sept. 19.
The previous three-year contract with Ford initially expired at 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept 18, prior to the union adding another 24 hours to the clock in response to a “substantive” last-minute offer from Ford.
Ford confirmed it had reached an agreement, but Steven Majer, vice-president of human resources at the automaker would not comment on the details before the deal is put to a vote.
The tentative agreement has the sign-off of Unifor’s bargaining committee, but requires approval from rank-and-file union members at Ford workplaces in Canada before being ratified. Unifor said it will present the full details of the deal to members at ratification meetings in the “coming days.”
If approved by union membership, the agreement sets Unifor’s 2023 bargaining talks on a different course than those in the United States.
UAW members at one Ford, one General Motors and one Stellantis plant have been on strike since early Sept. 15. The union plans to escalate the strike Friday if no progress is made this week.