(CANADA) – FORD – As the strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union continues to impact the automotive industry, another labor crisis looms on the horizon. Unifor, the union representing Canadian autoworkers, is making preparations for a strike against Ford scheduled to begin on Monday night.
While Ford has remained tight-lipped about the ongoing contract negotiations, Unifor President Lana Payne disclosed on Saturday that significant differences exist between the two parties, particularly concerning financial matters.
Payne mentioned that Unifor has rejected Ford’s initial two offers, emphasizing that there is still a considerable gap to bridge before an agreement can be reached by the midnight deadline on Monday.
Canadian Autoworkers group, Unifor strikes against Ford
While the UAW has publicized its initial bargaining demands, which include a 40% pay increase over the contract’s duration, neither Unifor nor Ford has revealed their positions on wage hikes.
However, the union is advocating for substantial wage raises, improved pensions, and job security guarantees, all central issues in the negotiations between the UAW and the automakers it represents in the ongoing strike.
Ford’s operations in Canada are concentrated in Oakville, Ontario, where approximately 3,400 Unifor members produce the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus SUVs.
The automaker also operates two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario, employing a total of 1,700 Unifor members, which manufacture V-8 engines for Mustangs and the popular F-150 pickup trucks.
A strike at the Windsor plants could have implications for the availability of V-8 versions of these vehicles, potentially leading to shortages in dealerships in the United States and Canada.
This situation adds to the challenges faced by the automotive industry, already grappling with the effects of the ongoing UAW strike in the United States.
Unifor’s contracts with all three major automakers – Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis – expired on Monday at 11:59 p.m. ET.
However, the union has chosen Ford as its primary focus, granting contract extensions to the other two automakers.
Unifor intends to use the Ford deal, whether achieved through negotiation or a strike, as a pattern for the subsequent contracts with General Motors and Stellantis.
The UAW, on the other hand, has taken a different approach this year, initiating a strike simultaneously against all three automakers for the first time in its history.
The union has also opted for selective strikes at individual assembly plants rather than a widespread strike involving all members.
If the UAW were to expand its strikes to include engine and transmission plants, it could halt most of the operations of the Big Three automakers across North America, affecting production in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
The UAW has indicated its readiness to escalate the number of plants involved in strikes if negotiations do not progress.
The labor negotiations in both Canada and the United States represent a significant development, marking the first time since 2009 that the Canadian and U.S. auto unions have engaged in concurrent bargaining rounds.
The decision to align the contract expiration dates was made by Unifor during the pandemic in 2020 to coincide with the UAW’s schedule.
Unifor members are seeking substantial improvements in wages and pensions to address rising costs of living, much like their UAW counterparts. With record or near-record profits reported by all three automakers, Unifor expects robust agreements.
Currently, the automakers have offered the UAW a 20% wage increase over the contract duration, but the UAW deems these offers insufficient to offset recent inflation. Unifor members share similar concerns and demands.