Workers at Unifor, the Canadian autoworkers union, voted to approve an agreement with Ford Motor Co., according to results released Sunday, finalizing the first agreement with a Detroit Three automaker as contracts in both the U.S. and Canada reached their end this month.
The three-year deal acknowledges workers' greatest priorities, the union said Saturday, and includes the single largest negotiated general wage increase in the history of Unifor, formerly the Canadian Auto Workers.
The deal offers increases of 10% the first year, 2% the second year and 3% the year after, as well as cost-of-living adjustments. It also reduces the amount of time an in-progression employee needs to reach the top pay scale from eight years to four. For those workers who haven't reached top scale, it raises the percentage those workers get in the first three years.
Over the life of the agreement, senior employees would see their hourly rate rise from $37.33 Canadian to $44.52, an increase of 19.2%. The Canadian dollar is equivalent to 74 cents in U.S. currency.
The approval of the deal means 5,600 Ford employees, split between three plants in Ontario — Oakville Assembly, Essex Engine and Windsor Engine — once again have a contract. Unlike the United Auto Workers, Unifor opted to negotiate only with one company at a time. The UAW went on strike Sept. 15 at selected facilities of Ford, General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV.
Canadian workers did not go on strike, instead extending their contract at the last minute after Ford presented a "substantive" offer "minutes before the deadline," according to a Unifor statement sent by spokesperson Kathleen O'Keefe at the time.
“Our Unifor-represented autoworkers are the heart of Ford of Canada,” Bev Goodman, president and CEO of Ford of Canada, said in a news release announcing the approval. “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.”
Permanent workers will get a ratification bonus of $10,000 Canadian while temporary ones will get a $4,000 Canadian bonus. The agreement also includes "significant increases" to retirement programs, Ford said.
Unifor will announce its next target company "in the near future," according to a letter signed by Unifor President Lana Payne, Ford Master Bargaining Chair John D'Agnolo and Ford Master Bargaining Vice-Chair Marc Brennan.
"On the behalf of the entire bargaining team, we would like to thank all members for their support and solidarity throughout the negotiations," the letter continued.
In the U.S., the UAW is striking only a single Ford facility. Workers are striking at Michigan Assembly in Wayne in the final assembly and paint shops. The company was spared from the expanded strike that the American union launched Friday against 38 GM and Stellantis parts facilities nationwide. UAW President Shawn Fain cited progress in talks with Ford as the reason the company was excluded from the expanded strike.
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