Unifor targets Oakville-based Ford Motors as lead company in auto contract talks


Published August 30, 2023 at 8:59 am

TORONTO — Unifor has picked Ford Motor Co. as the lead company for negotiations with the Detroit Three automakers as it works to hammer out new contracts.

The bargaining with Ford will serve as a blueprint for workers at General Motors and Stellantis, the union’s national president said Tuesday, as it focuses on securing electric vehicle production investments.

Lana Payne said she is encouraged by Ford’s transparency with the union in key areas, but warned workers are prepared to strike if necessary.

Unifor members at Ford have voted 98.9 per cent in favour of a strike if the bargaining committee fails to secure a new collective agreement.

“We’re feeling strong, supported and ready to bargain,” Payne said.

The union kicked off negotiations with the major auto companies earlier this month as the contract for 18,000 autoworkers at the Detroit Three is scheduled to expire on Sept. 18.

It will now pause its discussions with GM and Stellantis while it keeps its focus on Ford.

“We will approach these talks with Ford to secure the best possible contract for our members. That is our goal,” Payne told reporters and union leaders in Toronto.

“The tentative settlement we present will be the one that our committee can stand behind, an agreement that our members can be proud of,” she said.

“And if that can’t happen, then there will be no deal. And if anyone thinks that I’m bluffing right now, just follow what our union has been doing this past year, these past weeks.”

Payne may have been alluding to ongoing action by Unifor members at 27 Toronto-area Metro grocery stores, who have been on strike since July 29. The union has said it wants a strong deal that it hopes to repeat in contracts with other grocers in a tactic borrowed from auto negotiations.

In the U.S., members of the United Auto Workers are bargaining simultaneously for the first time in 25 years.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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