Unifor, a Canadian labor union, announced on Tuesday that it will initiate strikes at three General Motors facilities in the country. This action comes as a result of the union’s inability to reach an agreement on a new contract that would enhance wages and pensions before the midnight deadline.
Unifor, which represents about 4,300 workers at GM covered by the talks, said it would go on strike at three Ontario facilities — the Oshawa assembly complex, St. Catharines powertrain plant and the Woodstock parts distribution centre — adding to labour unrest across the North American auto industry.
Lana Payne, Unifor’s national president, stated that the company is still failing to meet our requests regarding pensions, assistance for retired workers, and taking significant actions to convert temporary positions into permanent, full-time jobs.
In a statement, the automaker expressed their disappointment in not being able to reach an agreement at this moment. However, they mentioned that they will persist in negotiating with Unifor.
Unifor represents about 18,000 workers at the Canadian facilities of the Detroit Three automakers, which also include Ford and Chrysler parent Stellantis.
Approximately 25,000 employees of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, who are employed by the Detroit Three automakers in the United States, have embarked on specific strikes. Additionally, UAW members at Mack Trucks, which is owned by the Volvo Group, initiated a walkout on Monday after overwhelmingly rejecting a proposed contract lasting five years.
Last month, Unifor approved a new three-year agreement with Ford. The contract included wage boosts of up to 25 percent for over 5,600 employees in Ford’s Canadian facilities. Despite earlier threats of striking, Unifor successfully negotiated a tentative deal without resorting to a strike.
Last week, Unifor stated that GM was showing resistance towards several crucial aspects of its agreement with Ford.
Members of Unifor are currently on strike at GM Canada’s Oshawa Assembly Complex, St. Catharines Powertrain Plant, and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre. #AutoTalks2023 (link to a tweet)
After Ford, the union selected the company as its second choice for negotiations among the Detroit Three automakers.
The Canadian branches of the Detroit Three are not as large as their counterparts in the United States, however, all three car manufacturers have important manufacturing plants in Canada.
“Everything our members do, from the trucks we assemble, the stamping plant we run, the engines and transmissions we build and the parts we deliver, are all critical to GM’s bottom line,” Unifor GM master bargaining chair Jason Gale said. “This dispute can only end one way: with GM agreeing to the same terms in our pattern agreement with Ford.”
Unifor stated that the employees at GM’s CAMI assembly facility in Ontario were subject to a distinct collective agreement and would not participate in the strike.