General Motors (GM) has reached a tentative agreement with Canadian auto workers, who are represented by the Unifor union. This development follows a national strike initiated by the union after the two sides failed to reach an agreement by the Monday night deadline.
Described as a “record” by GM, the agreement is contingent on member ratification and includes substantial increases in wages, benefits and job security. “When faced with the shutdown of these key facilities, General Motors had no choice but to get serious at the table and agree to the pattern,” says Lana Payne, President, Unifor.
Unifor had been at odds with GM over several issues, including the transition of temporary workers to permanent employees and pension funding. The proposed three-year agreement incorporates hourly wage increases of up to 25%, the reactivation of a cost-of-living allowance to combat inflation and a shortened progression period for workers to reach their maximum pay, among other new or revised benefits.
"This agreement delivers the kind of historic pay increases our members need and significant pension improvements that will protect their living standards in retirement," says Jason Gale, GM Master Bargaining Chair, Unifor.
Should the agreement be ratified, Unifor will then initiate negotiations with Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, which also has a significant presence in Ontario, Canada. Payne anticipates that Stellantis negotiations might follow a similar pattern to those with GM.
The strike briefly affected several GM facilities, including an assembly plant that produces Chevrolet Silverado trucks, an engine plant, a stamping facility and a parts distribution center. The strike impacted the production of engines for profitable full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.
Unifor, representing 18,000 Canadian auto workers at Detroit automakers, adopted a different approach to negotiations compared to its US counterpart, United Auto Workers (UAW). While the UAW has been conducting targeted strikes after failing to reach agreements, Unifor negotiated separately with each automaker, using one deal as a template for each company.