Unifor has something to prove in this year’s contract talks with the Detroit Three, not just to current members at Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, but to thousands of others poised to start work in Canada’s automotive supply chain in the next few years.
Union President Lana Payne is fond of saying this is a special “moment” for the labour move-ment in Canada. The ongoing 2023 auto talks will put that refrain to the test.
The first happens this weekend, when Ford workers cast their ballots in a ratification vote.
Automaker profits are up, inflation is high and the Canadian auto industry is on firmer footing than it has been in decades. All this puts Unifor in a strong position to hammer out a precedent-setting deal for the roughly 20,000 workers it currently represents at the Detroit Three.
Union leadership has not disclosed specific wage demands, but Payne and other top negotiators haven’t been shy about their intentions to meet high worker expectations. Given the current climate, it’s unlikely that workers are ready to accept a collective agreement offering anything less.