Canadian union Unifor reaches tentative contract with General Motors

Unifor leaders say the three-year deal follows the pattern agreement bargaining teams established with Ford last month.

Supporters for Unifor, the Canadian trade union representing auto workers, attend a rally within view of General Motors headquarters, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, in Windsor, Ont. Workers were protesting the closing of the Oshawa assembly plant.

The union representing Canadian autoworkers, Unifor, has reached a tentative contract with General Motors. It comes after a strike lasting less than a day saw about 4,300 represented employees take to picket lines.

If ratified by union members, the new agreement will last three years. Unifor National President Lana Payne says it includes cost of living adjustments, a path to permanent status for temporary full-time workers and better wages.

“The demographics at General Motors meant that we had a lot of young people in this progression grid.” — Lisa Payne, Unifor national president

“The starting rate will go to just under $30 (CAD) an hour,” says Payne. “And by the end of the collective agreement it will be at $46 (CAD) an hour-plus for production workers and much higher than that for our skilled trades members.”

While the terms of the contract follow the template of what bargaining teams and Ford agreed to last month, Payne acknowledges it was a harder deal for GM to make.

“The demographics at General Motors meant that we had a lot of young people in this progression grid,” says Payne, “a lot of new hires who were going to do significantly well.”

Unifor will hold a ratification vote for represented General Motors employees in the coming days. Payne says Canadian negotiators will now turn their attention to securing a contract with Stellantis — the Detroit Big Three automaker with the largest footprint in Canada.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.