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Ford offers Unifor 'substantive' benefits in new collective agreement, voting to take place this weekend

Several days after reaching a tentative collective agreement, 5,600 Ford workers across Canada will cast their vote this weekend for what’s been called the “largest negotiated general wage increase in Unifor and CAW history.”

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.

With voting set to take place this weekend, this will have a direct impact 1,700 hourly production and skilled trade workers in Windsor at the Essex Engine and Windsor Annex plants.

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.

"This has been called substantive, transformative generational — these are all words used by the union bargaining committee,” explained Automotive News Canada Digital Editor, Greg Layson. "When all is said and done, it's in the ballpark of what they went in looking for."

So what are the big takeaways?

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.

For production workers, this will amount to an hourly wage increase of approximately $5 per hour – equaling from $37.33 to $42.39 per hour.

"When you roll it all together and include the cost of living allowance and the increase for new hires in particular, they did get 20 per cent,” Layson explained.

Employees are also in line to receive a $10,000 signing bonus.

In addition, 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.

Layson said it's not a slam dunk among membership, who believe they should be demanding a 40 per cent wage increase, similar to the UAW in the United States.

“Members really think and believe they hold the hammer in these instances, and have turned down initial deals to try and get a better one,” he said.

Voting wraps up at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with results to be shared shortly after.

If workers accept the offer, Layson said a strike will be averted, but he expressed one final word of caution.

"There's a lot of unhappiness. I’ve had no one reach out to me and say they're voting in favour of it, I've had no one reach out to me and say it's a good deal, I have had everyone that has reach out to me say it's a bad deal, it should be voted down, and now we wait,” he explained.

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. Top Stories

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