Unifor, the autoworkers' union in Canada, and Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday night they had struck a tentative agreement, averting a strike for the Dearborn automaker in a second North American country.
Details on the deal won't be presented until after they are shared with Unifor members at ratification meetings being held "in the near future," according to a news release. The parties early Tuesday morning had agreed to extend the talks 24 hours after the original deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday with Unifor instructing its members to remain at work unless they received alternate instructions from the union.
“We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a statement. “We believe that this agreement will solidify the foundations on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada.”
Ford of Canada said in a statement sent by spokesperson Said Deep: "Ford of Canada and Unifor have reached a tentative agreement on a three-year national labour contract covering more than 5,000 unionized employees in Canada."
"The agreement is subject to ratification by Ford-Unifor members," the statement said. "To respect the ratification process, Ford of Canada will not discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement.
Ford on Monday had presented a "substantive" offer "minutes before the deadline," according to a Unifor statement sent by spokesperson Kathleen O'Keefe at the time, which also noted "members should continue to maintain strike readiness."
Payne had said on Monday if the union did strike, all of its 5,600 members at Ford would have been on the picket line at Oakville Assembly Plant, two engine plants in Windsor, parts and distribution centers, offices and technical units. Downtime at those plants could have had implications for production at plants in the United States.
“In addition to reaching a master agreement, our members at each Ford location face their own unique set of issues that needed to be resolved by our committees at the bargaining table,” Unifor Ford Master Bargaining Chair John D’Agnolo said in a statement. “This agreement makes the kind of gains our members need today and adds greater financial security for the future.”
Obtaining an agreement without a strike action juxtaposes with the United Auto Workers' negotiations strategy. Unifor's approach was more traditional, selecting a lead company to start the pattern with the threat of a national strike if discussions stalled. Meanwhile, the UAW opted to continue talks with all three of the Detroit automakers and on Friday began executing its "stand-up strike" strategy. It has sent one plant on strike from each of the companies with the risk the union could add more as soon as noon on Friday if "substantial progress" isn't made by then.
An agreement between Unifor and Ford without a strike doesn't necessarily mean the Canadian union had the superior strategy, said Marick Masters, a management professor at Wayne State University, but the approaches do reflect the different circumstances in which the unions find themselves.
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