By on August 7, 2020

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

Canadian auto manufacturing has steadily declined over the past several decades, and the future looks cloudy for workers at Detroit Three plants. It’s under this gathering gloom that the union representing these workers, Unifor, enters into contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler.

The last round of collective bargaining was rough, but the near-closure of GM’s Oshawa Assembly (where auto production ceased last year) provided Unifor with a grim portent of what could await other underutilized Canuck plants.

Formal contract talks begin August 12th, Unifor said Friday.

“These are significant negotiations at a time when the auto sector needs new investment to rebuild our economy with more Made in Canada manufacturing,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a release. “Our union is committed to negotiating a solid agreement that makes progress on wages and working conditions for our members.”

Journos won’t be in attendance for these physically-distanced talks as both sides attempt to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

With nearly 20,000 workers to back, Unifor needs commitment that plants like Ford’s Oakville Assembly and FCA’s Brampton Assembly will soldier on with new vehicles after the current product dries up. And there’s definite fear that they won’t.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Ford plans to ditch the Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, both built in Oakville, Ontario, to provide some room in the center of its crowded utility lineup. Brampton houses the ancient full-size LX-platform cars, two of which are due for a revamp in the near future. The Chrysler 300 is not expected to see a new generation.

Meanwhile, FCA’s Windsor minivan plant remains committed solely to a rapidly shrinking segment.

Unifor, who, in early 2019, boycotted the Mexican-built Chevrolet Blazer, has long been critical of Detroit’s preference for choosing low-cost manufacturing south of the Rio Grande over more expensive Canadian builds. While the new trade pact between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada includes a Mexican wage increase plank aimed at narrowing the cost gap, choosing south over north is still a thriftier option.

Exactly how the coronavirus pandemic will factor into the negotiations — and the thinking of Detroit execs — remains to be seen. Ford recently saw its flow of truck engines from Mexico stemmed on account of local anti-virus measures.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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22 Comments on “With Plants at Stake, Unifor Prepares to Plunge Into Detroit Three Negotiations...”

  • avatar

    Trying to delay the inevitable.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Yes, flogging a dead horse. The ‘Big 3’ have no commitments to new products for their Canadian manufacturing/assembly facilities.

    Only what was the CAMI plant in Ingersol might be safe.

    That is unless there are changes in the relationship between the White House and 24 Sussex before these plants close.

  • avatar

    Higher total wage and benefit than the USA.
    As USA runs to Hecho and Chinesium.

    Doesn t look good. When you sstudy the #s. Mexico is the place to be.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Mexico is the place to be.”

      You’re right, and not just for manufacturing but also for agribusiness, livestock and social lifestyle.

      Many people are moving to Northern Mexico, especially from California, and some of those brought the Wuhan virus to Mexico with them. It’s really, really bad there.

      It’s a good thing that Old Mexico wants their North American neighbors to come visit and/or stay thus stimulating their local economies.

      Unions have historically collectively-bargained their employers into financial ruin and bankrupture, and unions can be reasonably expected to continue to do so in the future. What is old is new again, and the more things change the more they stay the same.

      The USMCA is a fantastic agreement as long as the US does not get taken advantage of again, as in the past, and Mexico and Canada do not revert back to their evil ways, like with aluminum products, for instance.

      • 0 avatar

        “The USMCA is a fantastic agreement as long as the US does not get taken advantage of again, as in the past, and Mexico and Canada do not revert back to their evil ways, like with aluminum products, for instance.”

        The USMCA isn’t appreciably different than the old agreement and any concessions made by Canada were one’s planned in the TPP that the Moron-in-chief tore up.
        As far as aluminum products, there hasn’t been any “dumping”. There was a backlog of demand in the USA due to the previous imposition of tariffs. Aluminum industries on both sides of the border think that the new round of tariffs is stupid.
        As far as anyone “taking advantage” of the USA, you gotta stop watching Faux News or on-line sources.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m very happy with the steps the current US government is taking in balancing fair trade, and I hope that President Trump gets re-elected and unleashes payback time on all the inequities the US had to suffer with its trading partners.

          But in the worst case analysis, I will continue to #BOYCOTTCHINA and buy MADE IN AMERICA whenever I can, if I have a choice.

          (While in Mexico 13March2020 – 3Aug2020 I had to buy a lot of Hecho en Mexico goods. But I had no choice and no other alternatives.)

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            And just what positive steps has he taken?

            Allowing Ivanka to cut special deals with her Chinese suppliers?

            Causing havoc in the US agriculture industry and having to then subsidize it with billions of dollars?

            This current tariff on Canadian aluminium? Which are not finished goods but primarily bulk shipments to be used by American companies to produce products such as appliances?

            I am all for ‘fair trade’. Meaning trade with other democratic, first world nations. But the current president is running around with no concept or long term plan and in return is upsetting America’s best clients and long term allies. Which serves to strengthen the world position of Russia.

            It’s time to put an adult in charge. Too bad the Democrats have selected someone who is so uninspiring.

          • 0 avatar

            Arthur, you may be surprised to find that a lot of Americans support what President Trump has done. Long overdue.

            I didn’t vote for him in 2016 but I will in 2020. Surprisingly so will my wife, a life-long ‘crat.

            Of course there aren’t enough supporters to reelect him so it will be up to the Independents to cast the deciding votes.

            I hope that the Chinese virus will have diminished enough by election day for us to cast our ballots in person in El Paso, TX. Right now we are in NM, isolated and quarantined in the desert.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            I have frequently posted how I oppose ‘free’ trade deals with dictatorships or nations that do not follow the rule of law, or which are not democracies or even which manipulate their currency.

            However to do so effectively requires long term planning, strategic initiatives based on research, and consistency.

            None of these apply to the current administration. I realize that HRC was widely disliked, and ran a terrible campaign. I also realize that Biden is past his ‘best before date’ and does not inspire people. However looked at objectively the current administration has accomplished few of Trump’s campaign promises despite holding a majority in the Senate and House for 2 years. And Trump’s refusal to implement a national ‘pandemic’ program has left the USA in disarray.

            Objectively the USA is in a worse state in regards to national debt and international prestige than it was prior to his election. And instead of relying on science and research the ‘anti-intellectualism’, cronyism, and biases of the president are harming Americans.

            As for his economic record, just review the objective summaries. National debt is at record levels. The creation of new jobs was b below the levels of Obama’s last 2 years. Tariffs against China resulted in over $20 billion of loans to large, primarily international agricultural conglomerates.

          • 0 avatar

            Arthur, keep in mind that Americans always get what they deserve, because we vote for it.

            And we have Presidential elections every four years, at which time we can vote to replace the occupant of the White House, or not.

            And to make all states “equal” without regard to size or population, we have the Electoral College.

            I have no doubt that the ‘crats will do anything and everything they can to regain power by hook, nook or crook. I want my vote to count so I will vote in person or by Absentee ballot (not Universal Mail-In Ballot.)

            Many Americans have prepared themselves for either eventuality, win or lose, but for those who did not, this could be a roller coaster ride of uncertainty.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            There are a great many other nations that also hold regular democratic elections.

            And apart from the USA what other 1st world, rule of law nation has concerns about rigged elections and voter fraud?

            How many are experiencing the same internal division, strife and politicians putting party ahead of country?

            How many have a political leader who publicly insults his opponents, denounces them as criminals, publicly denounces the legitimacy of the voting and judicial system, takes the word of other ‘world leaders’ over the advice of his intelligence community and attempts to silence the ‘free press’?

            What many Americans do not seem to realize is how their nation is being viewed internationally. The USA is no longer seen as a firm, dependable, trusted ally. The holder of the presidency is no longer seen as the leader of the ‘free world’. Internationally the USA has been diminished under this administration.

            And that has served to strengthen Russian influence over Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

          • 0 avatar

            Arthur Dailey, as always you make well-reasoned, well-thought out comments for those who share your opinion and point of view, but the supporters who voted Candidate Trump into power in 2016 demanded change from the status quo held by previous administrations.

            So we’ll know on/after Nov 03, 2020, if there were enough Americans to reelect President Trump to a second term. I think there will be, all things considered TODAY; he’s got at least two more, me and my wife who will vote for him.

            I say “after” Nov 03, 2020, because the Universal Mail-In ballots have been an unmitigated disaster in much smaller, current races.

            If President Trump gets reelected that should mean a referendum on his policies, like it was in 2016. If he doesn’t get reelected, it’s a moot point.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Thanks for the undeserved compliment.
            I fully understand the appeal of Trump in 2016. And I also understand the appeal of populism. We in Ontario recently elected a populist Premier.

            Despite my concerns regarding Trump’s missteps, personal immorality, and constant turnover of and then criticism of his handpicked staff, if I were to place a bet it would be that he is re-elected. And that increases my trepidation for how the world and the USA will look in the near future.

          • 0 avatar

            Arthur, re: “missteps”, one political side believes that nothing President Trump does is right, and his supporters believe he can do no wrong.

            What matters to me, and many other Americans, is how has ANY administration done for ME AND MINE.

            And so far, President Trump has been the best President of MY lifetime, even better than Reagan.

            You are a well-thought out, mentally-organized individual. You should seriously consider writing political Op-Eds for your neck of the woods, maybe even on a provincial or national scale.

            What goes for Op-Eds in the US is often not fit for reading.

          • 0 avatar

            I hope you still feel the same after he defunds your Social Security and Medicare, because that is exactly what he’s trying to do.

            “If I’m victorious on Nov. 3, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” Trump said

            “Arthur, keep in mind that Americans always get what they deserve, because we vote for it.”

            Yep, you hire a clown you get a circus

          • 0 avatar

            Lie2me, I’m not worried about President Trump defunding my socsec and Medicare.

            They are such a small portion of our combined monthly income which is anchored in my wife’s CSRS/FERS annuity of $84000/yr ($7000/month).

            The stock market has done well for us and forced unplanned payouts to us of $4800 and $5400, so far. The annuity is tied to the stock market.

            My military retirement is <$17K/yr and my socsec is $1048/month, and I don't even see them because they directly deposit to a fund meant to be passed down to my heirs.

            Like I said before, President Trump has done extremely well for many Americans, just like the last guy in the White House did with his welfare, food stamps, free phones and MedicAid for the habitually unemployed freeloaders.

            I rather have President Trump than the last guy.

          • 0 avatar

            Well, HDC, not everyone is as fortunate as you, but as long as you’ve got yours I guess nothing else matters :(

          • 0 avatar

            Lie2me, I’m not the Lone Ranger in this fortuitous situation. A lot of people were enabled to get their financial ducks lined up after Trump’s policies took effect. And they are now set for life, and beyond for their heirs.

            The policies of President Trump have been superb for a huge number of American citizens, some say wildly beyond expectations and forecasts.

            Frontline has an excellent documentary out called “America: The Great Divide – Obama to Trump.”

            Watch it, if you you want to see some really interesting background on how the last guy destroyed America with his failed policies and then compare and contrast to how President Trump’s policies brought it all back to greatness, and then some.

            Until the Wuhan virus was unleashed by the ChiComs.

            Spoiler Alert: The documentary is very much tilted in favor of Obama, and how he blamed all his policy failures and bad ju-ju on anyone and everyone but himself and the bad advise he got from his underlings and minions.

            But the facts are also well-represented on how America blossomed from Trump’s policies, including the Wall, USMCA, deletion of rules and regulations, expansion of drilling, full employment and on and on.

            Highly recommend watching it. Very informative.

            BTW, the Treasury will float bonds to offset lower revenue intake – an idea the Biden said was great, ten years ago.

        • 0 avatar

          And what Moron-in-basement thinks about all this?

  • avatar

    The 1965 AutoPact meant that a certain amount of auto’s had to be made in Canada if a manufacturer wanted to sell in Canada. NAFTA removed such restrictions. Even with the new USMCS/CUSMA rules forcing higher wages for Mexican labour, there still remains a significant cost savings in Mexico.
    Canada needs to pull their heads out of the USA’s ass and realize that “we” need to seek trade deals with similar sized economies like countries in the EU. The USA and China are going to butt heads on many fronts in the next 20 years and being aligned with “3rd parties” is a safe option.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Both John Diefenbaker and Pierre Trudeau sought this ‘third option’.

      Diefenbaker believe that the Commonwealth would balance out the USA, but the UK was more interested in joining the EU.

      Trudeau wanted to link with the EU bought they have a large market that is geographically close and do not need to export across the Atlantic to Canada’s small market.

      More recently we have looked at a TransPacific economic group. But do you really want to ‘cosy up’ to China?

      What the Canadian government should have done was instead of loaning money to GM and Chrysler was to buy controlling interest in Chrysler. Then sell shares to Canadians while retaining voting control. Create an auto manufacturer which is controlled/protected/favoured/subsidized by the government. This has worked to various degrees in Germany, Japan, China, Korea and to lesser degrees in France and Italy. It did not work out as well in the UK or Sweden.

      Canadian Chrysler could then have entered into agreements regarding technology or manufacturing rights with some of the auto manufacturers who did not have a presence in North America.

  • avatar

    I’m not buying Ford ditching Oakville, there’s no other plant currently ready to accept two CD4 SUVs, and that’s an actually money making market. Now, I wouldn’t mind it, but the leak smells like early contract posturing. (What’re they gonna do, resurrect Wayne Assembly?)

    Windsor and Essex, however?

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