Unifor opened formal contract talks with Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors in Toronto telling automakers the theme of these talks is The Future is Made in Canada.
“There is no secret our members are looking to secure and manufacture new products to build this industry and create good jobs for the future,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias after handing the union’s proposals to the companies’ Canadian-based officials while wearing a red Unifor mask with the theme. “It is not lost on us that auto sales were slowing before COVID-19 forced plants to shut down but we also see opportunity here to find a Made in Canada solution as the industry rebounds.”
Dias also urged the federal government to expedite a manufacturing strategy, pointing out that auto assembly jobs help stimulate the economy, as every job on an assembly line creates or supports approximately 10 additional jobs.
“As we sat down today with the Detroit Three we were very emphatic about what needs to happen in this set of negotiations if we are going to have successful conclusions to this bargaining,” said Dias during a news conference streamed live on Unifor’s Facebook page. “We understand the industry, we understand where it’s heading, and we do not intend on having this industry and our members be left behind as we are heading to more global consolidations and major investments into electric vehicles.”
“Our plants in Windsor, Brampton, Oakville, and Oshawa all present an opportunity to increase volume and capacity and the pandemic exposed the fact that Canada has a well-established infrastructure, secure supply chain, along with research and development expertise that must be built upon,” said Dias.
Unifor will continue its long-standing practice of pattern bargaining. The union is expected to choose which automaker it will negotiate with to establish a pattern that the remainder of the contracts will be based on.
“We will work collaboratively with Unifor to ensure we remain operationally competitive amidst intense global competition,” said Ryan Kantautas, vice-president, human resources, Ford Motor Company of Canada. “Over the last decade, Ford has invested nearly $2 billion in its Canadian operations, and we are always looking for new investment opportunities that improve our competitive position. It is a shared responsibility to ensure the company can emerge from the COVID-19 crisis positioned for future success. Together, we can strengthen the business case for auto manufacturing in Canada.”