The company concessions were unprecedented in decades of auto bargaining, and on the surface, the contract deal with Ford appeared to be a once-in-a-generation win for Unifor. But with intense union drama and lofty expectations after years of stagnant wages, it was a deal that nearly wasn’t.
Despite double-digit pay increases, pension improvements and other significant gains at the bargaining table, only a slim majority of Unifor members at Ford Motor Co. of Canada voted to ratify the union’s new collective agreement with the automaker in late September.
The 54-per-cent membership approval is a “pretty low mandate” in traditional collective bargaining, said Brendan Sweeney, managing director of the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing. But it’s not necessarily reflective of the “whale of a deal” hammered out by the Unifor bargaining committee, he said.
“You look at that deal objectively, and you go: ‘Whoa.’ They’ve made material progress on everything they wanted to make material progress on.”