DETROIT—Ford Motor Co. of Canada has been selected as the lead company with which the Unifor labor union will bargain as they negotiate with Detroit’s three automakers on new contracts.
Unifor will bargain with Ford to establish a pattern for the four-year contracts that expire at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 21. The union selected Ford because it felt the most pressing issue was the future of Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex southwest of Toronto. Reports have indicated it could lose its last remaining product in the coming years.
“The Ford Edge is expected [to stop being produced] sometime in 2023, and we have not gotten a firm commitment yet from Ford,” says Unifor President Jerry Dias. “The bottom line is, the group that I think is the most vulnerable are our members in Oakville, and they deserve the right to determine their own fate.”
In a statement, Ryan Kantautas, vice president of human resources for Ford Motor Co. of Canada, says: “Ford of Canada has a long history of working collaboratively with Unifor and looks forward to reaching a collective agreement to remain operationally competitive amidst intense global competition. In light of global economic uncertainties, it’s more important than ever to maintain jobs in Canada. We’ll be asking our employees to work with us to help shape this new reality.”
Contract talks between Unifor and Detroit's automakers began in August. The negotiations come after the United Auto Workers last year secured some $20 billion in investments for U.S. auto plants by Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.
Unifor is seeking to secure a three-year agreement rather than a four-year one. That way, Unifor and the UAW would be in contract talks with the Detroit Three at the same time.
Collectively, the Detroit Three operate just four assembly plants in Canada. Unifor’s current contracts cover 17,000 workers—some 3,600 fewer workers than they did four years ago, due to cuts by the U.S. automakers.
Another of Unifor’s priorities will be securing a plan for GM’s assembly plant in Oshawa, ON, which the automaker transitioned from an assembly plant to a stamping facility.