A Unifor strike at Ford Motor Co. of Canada plants in Ontario would have serious repercussions for the automaker’s wider North American supply chain, particularly for output of Ford’s best-selling pickups, according to U.S.-based auto analyst Sam Fiorani.
“Twenty-nine per cent of F-Series trucks built in North America get an engine that’s built in Canada,” said Fiorani, vice-president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions.
Ford’s two Windsor powertrain plants, which collectively employ about 2,000 workers, build the 5.0-litre V8 Coyote engine for the Ford F-150 and Ford Mustang, as well as the 7.3-litre V8 for Ford Super Duty pickups.
“If a strike goes down, that’s about 1,000 vehicles a day that are affected by those engines,” Fiorani said.
Because the Canadian plants are the only sites that build those two engines, the prospect of shutting down production creates significant leverage for Unifor, he added.
As top negotiators from Unifor and Ford Canada kept talks moving late Monday, union President Lana Payne said Unifor will not shy away from making full use of its position in the supply chain.
“Ours is a small but highly consequential footprint for Ford operations in North America,” she told members late Sept 18. “This is our leverage, and we will use it.”
Unifor’s contract with Ford was poised to expire at 11:59 p.m. yesterday, but the union extended the deadline 24 hours after receiving a last-minute offer from the company it described as “substantive.”
Earlier Monday, Payne said any Unifor strike against Ford would be a “total strike,” comprising all 5,600 of its members at Ford workplaces in Canada. It would be Canadian auto workers’ first walkout at Ford since 1990.
Ford also builds the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus at its Oakville Assembly Complex. But unlike engine output in Windsor, shutting down production of the midsize crossovers would be of less concern to Ford, Fiorani said.
Buyers are currently moving away from the midsize category and the plant is already scheduled to shut down for an electric-vehicle retool late next spring, he added.
Unifor and Ford each said early Sept. 19 that they plan to continue bargaining to a new deadline at 11:59 p.m. tonight.