About 17,000 Canadian auto workers represented by Unifor today voted in favour of a strike should negotiations with Detroit’s Big Three fail three weeks from now.
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Unifor president Jerry Dias and other union leaders began talks with management on August 12 looking for a new four-year contract to replace the one that expires on September 21 at 11:59 pm.
Unifor wants major investments from the three automakers following the plant closures and job cuts that were announced in recent years, most notably the end of vehicle production at GM’s Oshawa plant in 2019.
The last strike by auto workers in Canada occurred in 2017 and hit GM’s CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll. Last year, U.S. workers represented by the UAW also went on a strike—the longest at GM in 50 years.
This time, with the economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the stakes are even higher. In an interview with Automotive News Canada, Dias said Unifor members “understand that we’re in for the fight of our lives.”
More specifically, the negotiations centre around three vehicle assembly plants including Oakville (Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus), Brampton (Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Challenger) and Windsor (Chrysler Pacifica and Grand Caravan), as well as GM’s St. Catharines propulsion plant and converted stamping facility in Oshawa. A test track for autonomous and connected vehicles along with a parts plant will also be built there.
Unifor will seek to maintain jobs in Oakville amid growing rumours that Ford will either end or relocate Edge production when the current generation comes to a halt.