UNIFOR and General Motors Reach Tentative Agreement

by Fredrick Graves October 3, 2016, 0:53
UNIFOR and General Motors Reach Tentative Agreement

"This framework puts into motion what will be a historic agreement to secure a future for our members, for our communities and for the auto industry in Canada", said Unifor National President Jerry Dias, who led the negotiations.

In Oshawa, where GM employs about 2,600 workers, Dias said the automaker made a commitment to retool the plant so it can build a new auto or truck and said the automaker has earmarked a specific vehicle for the plant.

Among other issues included in the agreement is a wage increase for all employees, as well as a signing bonus and lump-sum payments.

"Oshawa will get a new platform that will be able to be used for both a truck and a auto", says Dias, who promises to provide more details when he presents the complete contract to Unifor members later in the week.

Dias said he chose GM as the target company - meaning any agreement will be used as a pattern to reach similar agreements with Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Canada Inc. - precisely because it poses the biggest challenge. Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, estimates that GM's Oshawa plant spends $500 million to $600 million annually on locally produced parts. Both sides had drawn what appeared to be hard lines in the sand, with the union stating repeatedly that it would not agree to a contract without investment in Oshawa, and GM responding that it would not invest in Oshawa without a contract.

The tentative agreement, which will serve as a template for Ford and Chrysler, will add jobs in Canada and not lead to any losses, Dias said.

Canada's auto output fell to 13 percent of North America production a year ago, from about 17 percent in 2009, according to data from Ward's Automotive Yearbook.

Chris Taylor Unifor Local 200
UNIFOR and General Motors Reach Tentative Agreement

General Motors employs 4,000 Unifor members in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock making the Impala, Equinox, Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS, and GMC Terrain, as well as engines, transmissions and components.

One line in its brief press release may indicate another reason why Unifor was able to achieve so many of its goals, however. As with the GM deal, Unifor's primary objective is to secure commitments from both to maintain and grow Canadian facilities. Also, some facilities will go from part-time to full-time jobs.

"We will look closely at any request they could submit." he said.

The investment at St. Catharines is slated to include moving some powertain work from Mexico, Dias told reporters early Tuesday in Toronto.

The union represents about 23,000 Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada.

GM will work with the government on potential support and provide further details on the investment after respecting Unifor's ratification process, Jennifer Wright, a spokeswoman for the Detroit-based automaker, said in an e-mailed statement.

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