Members of Canada’s autoworkers union, Unifor, began voting Saturday on a tentative three-year agreement the union announced it reached with Ford Motor Co. last week.
The deal, which Unifor calls “exceptional,” was unanimously endorsed by leadership from the local unions on Friday, the union said in a news release. Voting for members — the next step in the ratification process — opened Saturday morning, and the results will be released Sunday.
“This was an extraordinary round of collective bargaining, taking place in an extraordinary time,” the union’s leadership wrote in a joint message to union members included in the bargaining report. “Autoworkers, like all workers, are gripped by an affordability crisis and rising costs. High interest rates are fueling economic uncertainty for families. We are still reeling from a devastating pandemic and damaging supply shortages that have affected our jobs. Amid these challenges comes a once-in-a-century auto sector transformation that, if done right, will grow Canada’s industrial footprint.”
The agreement addresses Unifor’s core priorities, including improved pensions and income security to support a transition to electric vehicles. It includes a wage increase of 10% in the first year of the agreement, effective September 25, followed by a 2% and 3% increase over the next two years of the contract.
The agreement also eliminates the health care deductible for all current and former employees, and marks the first time since 2005 the union has negotiated pension improvements. The new deal grants quarterly payments of up to $148 to all current retirees who retired before October 1, 2023.
If passed, the deal will affect nearly 5,700 union members, including 5,300 workers at three plants, and almost 400 workers spread across three distribution centers and two offices. The deal will also be used as a blueprint in Unifor’s pattern bargaining and could pave the way for new contracts with Stellantis and General Motors.
Ford has said it will not comment on the terms of the tentative agreement while Unifor conducts its ratification vote.
The provisional agreement comes as Ford is making headway in its negotiations with the United Auto Workers, the union representing American workers. “We do want to recognize that Ford is serious about reaching a deal,” UAW President Shawn Fain said Friday.
Because of this, the strike against Ford has been contained to just one location, while the union expanded its strike to all parts distribution centers at General Motors and Stellantis.
The UAW said it did not have a comment on the terms of the Unifor deal with Ford.
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