Ford Motor Co. could be facing strikes on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, depending on how negotiations with Canada's autoworker union shake out ahead of the 11:59 p.m. Monday expiration of the current contract.
Unifor, the union representing roughly 18,000 autoworkers at Ford, General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV, signaled Monday afternoon that a strike is possible, given that the union has yet to reach a tentative agreement with Ford, which the union selected as the lead company in talks with all three automakers.
"Unifor bargaining committees continue to negotiate with Ford Motor Company ahead of the union's midnight strike deadline. Unifor's priorities remain the same. Pensions. Wages. EV transition. Invesment," Unifor President Lana Payne said in a statement. "As of now a tentative agreement has not been reached. While we remain at the table the likelihood of a strike increases with each passing hour. Unifor has advised more than 5,600 members at Ford facilities in Canada to prepare for all scenarios, including strike action.”
"We are hard at work at the bargaining table with Unifor to create a blueprint that leads our employees, our business, our customers, and our communities into the future," Ford spokesperson Said Deep said in a statement. "As Lana Payne said in her webcast last week to Unifor members, these discussions are best left at the bargaining table."
The deadline looms as a strike of all three Detroit automakers by the United Auto Workers in the United States rounds out its fourth day. The UAW struck three plants — a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan; a GM plant in Wentzille, Missouri; and Stellantis plant in Toledo, Ohio — early Friday.
Unifor in August announced that it had selected Ford to serve as the lead company with which it would bargain to model contracts with the other automakers.
Payne said at the time that she "saw the clearest path on what will be a historic EV retooling of the Oakville Assembly Plant" and that she was "encouraged by Ford Motor Co.’s transparency with our union on product programs and business plans."
Ford announced earlier this year that it would invest $1.3 billion to transform its Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario to assemble multiple electric vehicles and battery packs starting in 2025. The facility has about 3,000 employees.
Unifor represents 5,680 Ford members at the Oakville Assembly Plant, Windsor Annex Engine Plant, Essex Engine Plant, Bramalea and Paris Parts Distribution Centres, Casselman Parts Distribution Centre, Edmonton Parts Distribution Centre, and office and clerical workers in Windsor and Bramalea, according to the union.
Unifor members last month voted overwhelmingly in favor of authorizing strikes.
Payne has repeatedly emphasized that, despite bargaining with the Detroit automakers at the same time as the UAW for the first time in a generation, Unifor has its own strategies and priorities, separate from those of the UAW. Unifor has expressed solidarity with UAW members as they strike the Detroit automakers.
"Autoworkers in Canada and North America have a history of setting industry standards that extend past the Detroit Three. What we win at the bargaining table raises the bar for all working people. The jobs of unionized autoworkers go well beyond just building cars — they build strong, vibrant, communities on both sides of the border," Payne said in a letter Friday to UAW President Shawn Fain.
"Our own union’s bargaining teams at Ford, GM and Stellantis recognize that the current negotiations are taking place at a time where working people are seeking the strong pensions, fair wages and job security they all deserve. We support you in achieving a contract that meets these objectives for your members."
Unifor opened negotiations with Ford, GM and Stellantis Aug. 10. The union has said that pensions, wage increases, new plant investments and support for workers during the transition to electric vehicles are its top bargaining priorities.
The union expects to provide another update Monday evening.
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