Unifor Flings Gauntlet as Ford, Fiat Chrysler Negotiations Open

AutoInformed.com - Courtesy Unifor

Posturing or power? September will show.

“We have one simple message for all the Detroit Three automakers: there can be no deals without commitments to new investments in Canada,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias again today – as he did yesterday at GM – when  contract talks opened with Ford and Fiat Chrysler.

“It just makes sense to invest in Canada. Our workers are the most highly skilled and productive in the world,” said Dias.  (See Canadian Unifor Opens Talks with Detroit Three This Week)

Talks with General Motors formally began yesterday with GM releasing an aggressive statement that said “As we have underscored for the past two years, GM won’t make any future product decisions for Oshawa Assembly until after these negotiations.” This is an award-winning plant from independent quality and efficiency measures.


Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, with more than 310,000 members across the country, working in every major sector of the Canadian economy, including 23,050 auto workers. It was formed Labor Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged. Dias has an aerospace background at then de Havilland Aircraft, now Bombardier Aerospace.

Dias has been characterized by the Canadian press as one of the most feared men in Canada. (AutoInformed used to hold that distinction for one Joseph Henri Maurice when he came into the old Madison Square Garden on 48th street to play the hapless New York Rangers. Maybe he didn’t score all 50 goals against the Broadway Blues, but it sure felt like it. Pocket Rocket and Dryden fans – we understand your feelings too.)

GM Canada directly employs ~8,400 employees in Canada (6,500 hourly + 1,900 salaried). GM Canada is responsible for indirectly employing another 1,350 contract support employees, primarily in Oshawa in its OnStar customer support operations.

During 2015, GM Canada increased its market share to 13.6% and sold 263,335 vehicles through Canada’s largest dealer network of 451 dealerships. Canada is GM’s 5th largest sales market by country. Canada is the 3rd largest Cadillac market in the world. Canada is the 2nd largest GMC market in the world. They are extremely profitable.

Products Produced at GM Canada

  • CAMI Assembly Plant, Ingersoll – Chevrolet Equinox and the GMC Terrain
  • Oshawa Assembly Plant – Chevrolet Equinox (Consolidated Line), Chevrolet Impala, Buick Regal, Cadillac XTS (Flex Line)
  • Catharines Propulsion Plant – V6, V8 engines, front wheel drive transmission

The next-generation Regal will be made in China,” claimed Greg Moffatt, Unifor’s master bargaining committee chairperson, at a news conference in Oshawa Tuesday.

Now that formal negotiations have begun, talks with all three companies will continue until after Labor Day, when one company is selected to set the pattern for bargaining with the other Detroit Three automakers.

With pattern bargaining, of course, negotiations focus on one company, establishing a standard that will model the contracts with the other automakers. Once a deal is ratified with the automaker that was the selected pattern target, focus shifts to the next company, and then the third.

At its June 1 meeting, Unifor’s Auto Council, with elected representatives from every bargaining unit involved in this round of negotiations, voted unanimously to make new investments in Canada, including new product allocations, the top priority of the talks.

Since the last round of negotiations, the past four years have been very profitable for all of the Detroit Three companies, particularly for shareholders and executives, Dias said. He added, “It is now time for the workers to be rewarded and the first step is with new investments in Canada.”

As in past negotiations, Unifor said it will advance important social issues at the table in order to make gains not only for its members, but for all Canadians. In this round, Unifor will look to the auto companies to join it in advancing Pharmacare. As new investments are made in Canada, there will be greater opportunities for good jobs for diverse groups of Canadians.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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