The president of Unifor said her bargaining team made no concessions during contract negotiations with Ford Motor Co., and that the tentative deal the union reached with the carmaker can benefit striking autoworkers in the U.S.
Lana Payne told BNN Bloomberg that Unifor negotiators were looking to make progress on four core issues facing autoworkers: pensions, wages, security during the EV transition and long-term investment in Canadian facilities.
“We made progress on all of those things,” she said in a Wednesday interview. “That’s why (the agreement) has the full recommendation of our master bargaining committee.”
The tentative deal with Ford was reached late Tuesday, averting a strike, but it still needs to be voted on and ratified by union members.
Payne said that Unifor’s tentative agreement can be beneficial to the striking autoworkers in the U.S., who remain on strike at some Ford, General Motors and Stellantis facilities.
“The fact that we were bargaining at the same time added a lot of pressure on these companies,” she said. “The fact that we’ve been able to achieve this, I think is going to be very beneficial to the UAW in the United States in terms of what they can now achieve, as well.”
Despite Payne’s optimism, autoworkers and automakers in the U.S. were no closer to reaching an agreement Thursday, and the union threatened to expand the labour actions if progress is not made in talks with the companies by Friday.
The head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association told BNN Bloomberg on Wednesday that Unifor’s tentative deal with Ford averted a “real big problem” in Canada, but ongoing job action in the U.S. will still affect Canadian workers, as the two countries’ automotive industries are deeply integrated.
“Get to the table and stop talking like we’re in the WWE,” Flavio Volpe urged U.S. car companies and the UAW, who he says have a more combative relationship compared to their Canadian counterparts.
UNIFOR’S NEXT STEPS
Payne said Unifor now will turn its attention to Stellantis and General Motors, with whom they’ve yet to secure contract deals for their workers.
The union will attempt to use its tentative agreement with Ford as a template with those companies, Payne said, but she is not ruling out pushback from the other two automakers.
“There’s always pushback, but our job here is very clear: it is to take this agreement and pattern it with the other automakers, and then by doing this, we will raise living standards for every single autoworker in Canada,” she said.
“These companies need workers right now, and it’s going to be made very clear that they’re going to have to do more for those members.”
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