Auto sector bargaining begins

by MM&D Online Staff

TORONTO, Ontario—Unifor opened formal contract talks with General Motors this afternoon, in what the union says “could be the most important round of auto talks in a generation.”

“Our success in these negotiations will determine the livelihoods of thousands of workers and the future of our industry, and set an important precedent about the kind of economy we want,” Unifor national president Jerry Dias said in a statement.

The formal opening of talks between General Motors and Unifor will be followed Thursday by the formal opening of talks with both Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Talks with all three companies will continue until after Labour Day, when one  company is picked to set the pattern for the Detroit Three automakers.

With pattern bargaining, negotiations focus on one company, establishing a pattern that will model the contracts with the other automakers. Once a deal is ratified with the 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.

Dias said the Detroit Three companies have done well in the four years since the last round of negotiations, with both shareholders and executives profiting. It is now time for the workers to be rewarded, and that begins with new investments in Canada.

As in past negotiations, Unifor plans to advance important social issues at the table. In this round, Unifor will look to the auto companies to join it in advancing Pharmacare.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, including 23,050 auto workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union merged.