Unifor president wants ‘substantial’ improvements for Oakville auto workers

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Published August 16, 2023 at 1:43 pm

Members of the Unifor union in Oakville should expect along battle with Ford if the opening public statements are any indication.

“I made it very clear to the companies today that our members’ expectations are very high,” Lana Payne, Unifor National president, told reporters at a recent press conference after delivering initial offers to Ford, Stellantis and General Motors.

“Workers have shown time and time again they are prepared to fight and to strike if necessary to have their demands met. This is the moment we are in and no one should underestimate it.”

Contract negotiations between the Big Three automakers and the union that represents 18,000 autoworkers, including more than 4,000 at the Oakville Ford Assembly Plant, are set to formally kick off in Toronto next week.

“Profits are up and so is the cost of living,” said Payne at the news conference.

Payne said Unifor’s bargaining priorities going into these contract negotiations include:

  • improvements to pension benefits
  • “substantial” wage improvements
  • transition support for workers as auto plants retool to assemble electric vehicles
  • more investments by the automakers’ in their Canadian facilities

A major point for workers in Oakville is transition support as the plant will begin a six-month process of retooling and modernizing to become the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex in mid-2024.

Other priorities for the bargaining committee include:

  • a reduction of the eight-year time period to reach the top wage rate
  • improvements to health benefits, and health and safety protections
  • mental health supports
  • a three-year agreement

Unifor’s existing collective bargaining agreements with Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis will expire on Sept. 18.

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