Canadian autoworkers ratify deal with Ford Motor Company
Five days after reaching a tentative deal, Unifor members voted this weekend and have narrowly ratified a new three-year collective agreement with the Ford Motor Company.
Over this weekend, thousands of Ford workers across Canada cast their vote regarding whether or not to approve a new contract offered by Ford, which the union called the “largest negotiated general wage increase in Unifor and CAW history.”
"Our bargaining team showed exceptional leadership and successfully pushed Ford of Canada on every front," said Unifor National President Lana Payne. "This contract will change lives in a profound way. It fundamentally transforms pension plans, provides protections during the EV transition and includes the highest wage increases in the history of Canadian auto bargaining."
Voting wrapped up at 10 a.m. on Sunday, and according to a post on social media and press release, Unifor members voted to ratify the new three-year agreement, with 54 per cent of members voting in favour.
The deal covers 5,600 workers in Canada, according 1,722 in Windsor.
“I am relieved that it’s been ratified. I was hoping for a higher number, but these are these are the times today,” said Ford Master Bargaining Chair, John D'Agnolo.
On Tuesday, Unifor and the Ford Motor Company reached a tentative collective agreement.
The agreement had expired at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, but negotiations were extended another 24 hours after Unifor received a “substantive offer” minutes before the initial deadline.
On Saturday, Unifor announced the specifics of the new collective agreement.
Unifor leadership said they targeted the four key principles of pensions, wages, EV transition supports and investment.
WHAT ARE THE TAKEAWAYS OF THE NEW AGREEMENT?
Upon signing, members will receive a 10 per cent wage increase in year one of the deal, two per cent in year two, and three per cent in the third year. These increases will be even higher for skilled trades.
The union said this is the single largest negotiated general wage increase in Unifor and CAW history.
Workers will see a base hourly wage increase of nearly 20 per cent for production and 25 per cent for trades over lifetime of agreement. For example, by the end of the three-year agreement, a top-rate production assembler will be paid $44.52 per hour, and a journeyperson skilled trades’ worker will be paid $55.97 per hour.
Full-time employees are also in line to receive a $10,000 signing bonus, with $4,000 for part-time employees.
According to the union, hourly wages for production workers at Ford in Canada is now $11 more per hour, or 35 per cent higher, than comparable U.S. autoworkers at Ford.
In addition, employees will receive additional paid time off, including Family Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Improvements will be made to the new hire wage progression scale, bringing new hires to full pay by year four instead of year eight.
There will also be a reactivation of cost of living allowances, and for the first time in 15 years, what the union calls improvements to pension security, which will see transitioning workers move from a defined contribution plan to the "more lucrative, stable" defined benefit plan.
The agreement will also see improvements to major health benefits, such as increasing the annual maximum for massage therapy and physiotherapy, eliminating requirements for doctor's notes, and improvements to vision and dental coverage.
"Our Unifor-represented autoworkers are the heart of Ford of Canada," said Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford of Canada in a release.
She added, "This contract invests in our talented and dedicated employees, who remain consistently focused on the critical work of assembling our vehicles, building our engines and components, improving customer satisfaction, and expediting parts delivery service to our more than 400 dealers. Together, we are ensuring our Canadian operations continue to deliver with the skills, knowledge, and processes to compete and win."
LOCAL REACTION TO THE NEW AGREEMENT
D’Agnolo of Unifor local 200 in Windsor is the chair of the master bargaining committee, and said the deal also features a promise for new investment at Essex Engine Plant, which D’Agnolo said will likely create more jobs.
“We will be sitting with the company in the next two weeks to go over all the details. And I'll pass that on to the membership immediately,” he explained.
In Windsor, the new agreement will directly impact 1,700 hourly production and skilled trade workers at the Essex Engine and Windsor Annex plants.
The new agreement includes "additional investment and added capacity" at the Windsor plant, and will include "extended and enhanced income and eligibility" during the retooling period at Oakville's Electric Vehicle Centre.
“We wanted to make sure we got gains across the board for all our members. And that's what we did and it reflects in the new agreement,” D’Agnolo said.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
A strike is now averted at Ford Canada — and now a pattern has officially been set for Stellantis and General Motors to follow.
Both Stellantis and GM will take the template set by Ford as a starting point and will bargain with Unifor. But a strike at one of both is still on the table.
“That's their decision. Those workers will decide if they feel this was good enough. And I believe they will,” said John D’Agnolo.
Unifor's Lana Payne will announce the next targeted automaker for negotiations on Monday.
On Aug. 29, Unifor announced the Ford Motor Company as the union’s Detroit Three target company in its current round of negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.
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