Ford Plants in Canada also Face strike on Monday night

Source: CNN

There are other labor issues that manufacturers and US car buyers need to be concerned about in addition to the United Auto Workers (UAW) union’s strike. The Canadian autoworkers’ union, Unifor, is getting ready to walk out against Ford on Monday night.

Ford won’t comment on how it sees the contract talks going, but Lana Payne, president of Unifor, told CNN on Saturday that the two sides are very far apart, particularly in terms of money. She said that the union had turned down Ford’s first two offers.

We’re not at all close. To reach a deal by Monday at midnight, a lot of work needs to be done, according to Payne.

Unifor and Ford have not stated their positions on wage increase offers, in contrast to the UAW, which has outlined its initial bargaining demands, including a 40% pay raise over the course of the contract. However, the union is seeking significant wage increases, pension improvements, and job security guarantees as the auto industry invests billions in its plans to switch from conventional gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming years. All of these issues are at the center of the negotiations.

In Canada, Ford operates a single assembly facility in Oakville, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. The Ford Edge and the Lincoln Nautilus SUVs are made at the plant by the 3,400 Unifor workers.

Just across the river from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, Ford also operates two engine factories. There are 1,700 Unifor members in total at the two sites.

The factories produce V-8 engines for the company’s best-selling F-150 pickup and Mustang muscle cars. If there is a strike, customers will be able to purchase those vehicles with 6-cylinder engines, but the only plants that produce V-8 engines are those in Windsor. The Ford Ranger pickup and the Bronco SUV, both produced at the Warren, Michigan, assembly plant where UAW members are on strike, may soon be hard to find at dealerships in the United States and Canada, along with the Edge, Nautilus, and V-8 variants of those two important Ford goods.

All three of the traditional Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis, which produces cars for the North American market under the Jeep, Ram, Dodge, and Chrysler labels — saw their contracts with Unifor expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday. However, the union has picked Ford as its “target,” focusing on talks with the business while giving the other two contract extensions. After reaching a settlement with Ford, whether through a strike or not, Unifor will attempt to persuade the other two to use the Ford agreement as a template for their own contracts.

The UAW has often followed the same strategy, but this year it defied convention and for the first time in its history went on strike against all three at the same time. However, it also broke with tradition by having 12,700 members protest against just one company’s assembly factory, as opposed to all 145,000 of the three unions’ members striking simultaneously. If there is no improvement in the negotiations, the union says it is ready to strike a greater number of plants.

The UAW may effectively shut down all business operations for the Big Three in the United States, Canada, and Mexico if it decides to shut down engine and transmission plants. According to industry expert Jeff Schuster, global head of automotive for GlobalData, shutting down only one transmission factory at each business could halt nearly 75% of North American production at the three.

You can essentially idle North America with two facilities per firm, he said.

As she holds her own conversations with Ford, Payne claimed that she is certainly closely monitoring US negotiations.

This is the first time that the Canadian and US auto unions have bargained concurrently since 2009, when GM and Chrysler underwent bankruptcy and bailouts and Ford was also on the verge of going bankrupt. When Unifor renegotiated its prior contracts during the pandemic in 2020, a year after the UAW contracts were reached, it wanted a little shorter contract to be on the same schedule as the UAW. Normally, contracts expired in different years.

Payne claimed that in order to deal with the rising prices they have noticed in Canada, just like US autoworkers have, members are requesting considerable improvements in both salaries and pensions. And given the record or nearly record profits among the three manufacturers, she anticipates finally coming to solid agreements. The UAW has received 20% raises from each of the three automakers during the course of their contracts, according to records. The UAW claims that those offers are insufficient to make up for the ground that members have lost to inflation in recent years, which is why they are on strike. Payne claimed that her colleagues at the three automakers share the same suffering and are asking for comparable pay increases.

We are aware of the high standards held by our members, she added. The fact that we are coping with rising pricing at this time is something (the automakers) need to comprehend. Five years ago, the world was not the same as it is today.

Ford has long enjoyed positive labor ties with its employees in both the US and Canada. Neither a US strike nor a Canadian strike have occurred since 1978 or 1990, respectively. But Payne claimed her Ford employees are ready to walk off the job Monday night if the corporation doesn’t accede to their demands.

Learn More:

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