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Canadian autoworkers approve labor deal with Ford

by Mark Mendoza

Members of Canada’s autoworkers union, Unifor, have ratified a new three-year agreement with Ford, avoiding a possible strike. The deal was unanimously endorsed by local union leadership and voted on by the rank-and-file members.

The contract, which Unifor described as “exceptional,” addresses the affordability crisis and rising costs that autoworkers are facing. It also takes into account the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and supply shortages. Additionally, it considers the ongoing transformation of the auto sector in Canada.

Unifor represents autoworkers who are employed by Ford of Canada. The CEO of Ford of Canada, Bev Goodman, stated that the contract invests in the talented and dedicated employees who are the heart of the company.

The terms of the agreement reached between Unifor and Ford could have an impact on negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union in the United States. Unifor secured key demands that the UAW is still negotiating with Ford and other automakers, such as the return of a pension plan for recent hires.

The UAW strike, involving 12,700 members, has been ongoing since September 15 and is seeking the resumption of traditional pension plans. While progress has been made in negotiations with Ford on other issues, such as wages and healthcare, the pension matter has not been addressed.

Ford’s progress in negotiations with Unifor raises hope that a deal could be reached with the UAW as well. The UAW strike has been limited to one assembly plant in Wayne, Michigan, for Ford, while it has expanded to other facilities for General Motors and Stellantis.

Unifor’s agreement with Ford sets a precedent for negotiations with other automakers. It could pave the way for new contracts with Stellantis and GM, as Unifor follows a pattern bargaining approach.

The deal includes a wage increase of 10% in the first year, effective from September 25, followed by 2% and 3% increases in the subsequent two years. It also eliminates the health care deductible for current and former employees.

If Unifor had gone on strike, it could have affected production for Ford’s key models produced in the US, as the Canadian factories manufacture V-8 engines used in Ford F-150 pickups and Mustangs.

The ratified agreement between Unifor and Ford will provide stability and security for autoworkers in Canada. It acknowledges the challenges faced by workers and strives to ensure their future well-being. The contract serves as a blueprint for future negotiations with other automakers and could contribute to a resolution of the UAW strike in the United States.

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