Unifor, Detroit Three kick off contract talks with official handshakes

The Canadian Press   

Business Operations People and Skills Automotive automotive Collective bargaining manufacturing UNIFOR

TORONTO – Unifor and the Detroit Three automakers have kicked off talks for the next three-year contracts for autoworkers.

The official handshakes Thursday that started negotiations between the union and Ford, General Motors and Stellantis come as the rising cost of living and the transition to electric vehicles are top-of-mind.

The twin pressures facing the more than 18,000 autoworkers covered by the agreements make this round of bargaining especially important, Unifor national president Lana Payne said in a statement.

“These talks will be the most consequential and closely watched in decades,” she said.


“Wages haven’t kept up with rising inflation and certainly don’t reflect the recent record-setting profits of employers.”

Unifor says priorities for bargaining include improvements to pensions and wage packages, clarity around transition issues related to the shift to electric vehicle production and firming up the automakers’ investment and production commitments.

“A challenging situation is unfolding and despite the excitement over the shift to electric cars, many of the transition plan’s details haven’t been ironed out. Autoworkers are rightly concerned,” said Payne.

Steven Majer, Ford Canada’s vice-president of human resources, said in a statement that there’s important work ahead to create a blueprint for the Canadian automotive industry.

He said Ford and Unifor will have to find the right balance between investing for the future and the sharing of profits.

Stellantis said during negotiations it would focus on ensuring future competitiveness along with good benefits and wage increases. The company, which owns brands such as Jeep and Chrysler, said that both it and the union needs to find creative solutions that meet worker needs while maintaining efficient and productive workplaces.

General Motors said it looks forward to working with Unifor to build a competitive future that also recognizes its employees’ contributions to shared success.

The last round of contract negotiations in 2020 led to billions of dollars of investment commitments from the three automakers, while Unifor says increased momentum on the transition to electric vehicles has brought total promised spending across all of Canada’s auto sector to around $25 billion in the past three years.

Talks are expected to stretch into September, with the existing contracts set to expire Sept. 18.


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