The union representing Canadian auto workers, Unifor, has finalized a new contract with the Ford Motor Company.
The deal, which sees the manufacturer make its first electric vehicle investment in the country, received an 81% favorable vote from represented workers and unanimous support from local leaders.
“There’s always a way to find a settlement if you’re motivated to do so.” — Jerry Dias, Unifor
The union will now move on to pattern bargaining talks with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – a negotiation many analysts expect to be the most difficult.
Officials say the automaker’s Windsor assembly plant will be a main focus. Unifor president Jerry Dias says the facility, which produces Chrysler’s minivans, recently lost a shift.
“We need probably two vehicles for our Windsor assembly plant,” says Dias, “in order to get back the third shift. We have 1,500 of our members laid off and that clearly is the priority.”
Michelle Krebs is an automotive analyst for Auto Trader. She says a production pause currently in place at the site highlights a main issue the plant is facing.
“Minivans are selling slowly and they have too much inventory,” says Krebs. “So they will stop production to adjust the inventory. And minivan sales have generally not been very strong. So that’s going to be a big challenge there.”
Dias says the union will also seek a product commitment for Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario plant and hopes the automaker will take a page from Ford’s book at the bargaining table.
“There’s always a way to find a settlement if you’re motivated to do so,” says Dias. “Ford was very incredibly professional through the entire negotiations. They knew it was important for them as well to find a solution.”
Union officials say talks with Fiat Chrysler are now underway. A work stoppage at Canadian FCA plants is expected to being October 15th if a new agreement is not reached.