In Ontario Canada has lost about 53,000 auto jobs since 2001, according to a 2015 report by the Automotive Policy Research Center.Among the reasons: a post-bankruptcy consolidation of production, Canada’s high energy costs and the rapid growth of Mexico as a North American production and export base.
Unifor President Jerry Dias has framed this round of negotiations with the Detroit 3 as a pivotal moment. “Things are starting to change in a significant way in this country,” he said this month when announcing a then-tentative contract with FCA.
Unifor is negotiating with Ford on a contract patterned on recently ratified agreements with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. Here are highlights of those agreements;
* Investments: GM committed to invest $554 million Canadian ($424 million) in its Oshawa assembly plant, which was in danger of closing after 2019. FCA pledged to invest $325 million Canadian ($245 million) in its Brampton Assembly Plant’s aging paint shop. Smaller investments also are planned for GM’s St. Catharines Powertrain plant and FCA’s Etobicoke Casting Plant in Toronto.
* New products: The Oshawa plant will do final assembly on Chevrolet Silverados from GM’s Fort Wayne, Ind., plant. FCA says it could assign new-vehicle production to Brampton by 2020 if certain market conditions are met and if the Canadian government provides sufficient support.
*Wages/bonuses: GM and FCA workers each will receive a $6,000 Canadian ($4,500) signing bonus. Veteran workers also get three $2,000 Canadian ($1,500) lump-sum payments plus two 2 percent pay increases over the life of the contracts. New hires will remain on a 10-year grow-in period to full pay but now will receive pay increases each year.
* Pensions: New hires will be put on a defined-contribution benefit plan. Workers will be required to contribute 4% of their earnings to the plan, which the automakers will match.
* Next up: Unifor and Ford are negotiating against an Oct. 31 strike deadline. The union’s top priority is securing investments at Ford’s two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario.