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Ford named Detroit Three target company

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Unifor announced Ford Motor Company as the union’s Detroit Three target company in its current round of negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

The union announced Ford would be selected as the setting target during a media conference Tuesday at the Sheraton Centre in Toronto. Unifor national president Lana Payne said the union was encouraged by the company's transparency and that Ford publicly stated their desire to lead.  

Payne said she's concluded moving forward with Ford is the best opportunity for the union's 18,000 members. 

“Although as we will always expect this, there are certainly areas of disagreement, there are also areas of alignment. And this is important," she said. 

Payne said the union feels they are in a "very strong bargaining position with the company."

"Oakville is a centrepiece of Ford’s EV ambitions in North America," she said. "The Windsor operations produce some of the most sought after engines and component parts for most lucrative vehicles in the Ford line-up.” 

The announcement comes one day after workers at the Detroit Three have voted “overwhelmingly in favour” — nearly 99 per cent of its members — of allowing their union to call a strike if bargaining committees can’t secure new collective agreements in the coming months.

The union usually picks one automaker with which to concentrate bargaining. Whatever terms are agreed to with that target company generally carry over to the other two.

Payne said the union will be focusing on four key issues: pensions, strong wage packags, investments and supports for the transition into electric vehicles. 

“Conversations around improving pensions and managing the EV transition are complicated, technical and will take time to figure out," Payne said.

"So we will take the time necessary to get this right. No half measures, no short-cuts."

John D’Agnolo, Unifor Local 200 president and Ford master bargaining chair, said the bargaining team will be collaborating with all three sites to get the best deal.

“This isn’t just Ford in isolation. I think it’s important that we recognize every member, every autoworker across Ontario and Canada. So I’m looking forward to it. We have a great team, led by Lana, and the national staff, brother Shane Wark (Unifor assistant to the national officers) and I can’t wait to get at it. To get to the bargaining table." 

Stellantis master bargaining chair and Unifor Local 444 vice president James Stewart said he believes the decision to have Ford as the target company was the right call.

“Just like in past bargaining, this round, I think the expectations are much higher and we have a good relationship, both Jason (GM master bargaining chair) and I, with John (D'Agnolo) and we know we’re going to be talking with our locals to make sure we don’t miss anything," he said. 

“Windsor, Brampton are both going through an EV transition, a retooling that comes with a lot of issues. And we’ve got a lot of work that can’t be forgotten to make sure those members don’t fall through the cracks. I'm here to support you, let's get 'er done." 

The current batch of collective agreements, which cover 18,000 workers at the Detroit Three automakers,are set to expire before midnight on Sept. 18.

-- With files from The Canadian Press 

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