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Unifor Taps Ford to Lead Labor Talks

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Ford Oakville Assembly Ontario Canada | Unifor Taps Ford to Lead Labor Talks
Unifor looks to secure a new production mandate at Oakville
Photo: Ford

One day after Labor Day (or, in Canada, Labour Day), Unifor announced that Ford Motor Company will be its target as it pursues new contracts with Detroit’s big three automakers. Unifor will work toward a new three-year deal to secure the future of employees at the Oakville Assembly Complex.

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“Ford of Canada has a long history of working collaboratively with Unifor and looks forward to reaching a collective agreement in order to remain operationally competitive amidst intense global competition,” said Ford of Canada Vice President of Human Resources Ryan Kantautas. Kantautas was present at the ceremonial opening of negotiations, which took place at the Sheraton Center in Toronto, Ontario, last month.

Kantautas said in a statement Tuesday that Ford is committed to maintaining jobs in Canada. However, a June report from AutoForecast Solutions Vice President Sam Fiorani suggests that the automaker will not move forward with production of the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus after both reach the end of their lifecycles around 2023. Ford builds both vehicles at Oakville Assembly Complex. Discontinuing both leaves the plant and its 4,200 employees with no production mandate moving forward.

Dias seeks shorter deal for better competition with UAW

Unifor President Jerry Dias said during a press conference on Tuesday that the labor organization is seeking a three-year deal rather than the usual four-year contract. This would result in the next contract coming up in 2023, aligning Unifor’s next round of negotiations with the next contract talks between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers in the United States.

“We’re sick and tired, frankly, of going to bargaining a year following the U.S. contract negotiations and fighting for product. We’d rather negotiate product in 2020 and then go head-on in 2023,” Dias said.

According to Automotive News Canada, a UAW spokesperson said that the organization supports Unifor in its aims.

Dias confirmed that the Edge will live to the end of the next contract. This round of negotiations, he notes, seeks to secure a future for Ford employees in Canada beyond 2023.

“You need to solidify those investments today for years down the road. That’s the way the industry works,” he said. “Decisions aren’t made overnight.”

Ford of Canada and Unifor will have several more nights to hash out a new deal. The contracts between Unifor and Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and General Motors expire before midnight on Sept. 21.

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