Detroit Three Strike Target ID'd Tuesday; Unifor Looks to Bring Public Cash Onside

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

With its members having recently voted to strike if bargaining teams don’t make headway, Canadian autoworkers union Unifor plans to reveal its first target next Tuesday. Contract talks kicked off last month, with Unifor aiming to maintain, at the very least, the current complement of Detroit Three workers north of the border.

With the auto industry in continued retreat in Canada, Unifor knows that the next four years could be the term in which one of the Detroit Three ceases to manufacture vehicles on Canuck soil. What’s left in the country is starting to look threadbare and futureless. Maybe some public cash will sweeten the landscape?

The governments of Canada and the province of Ontario have historically ponied up bushels of cash to retain auto jobs, and things don’t seem to have changed on that front. Unifor’s counting on the taps opening up.

“On Tuesday I will announce the company that I believe will give Unifor the best chance to address our bargaining agenda and our vision for the industry, including job security issues, new product allocations and economic progress for our members” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias in a release.

“We will also continue to push provincial and federal governments to be active participants in support of our efforts to secure our auto industry’s future. A future made in Canada.”

The deal eventually hammered out with Unifor’s initial target will set a course the other two will have to follow. Chances are it won’t be Fiat Chrysler. Whoever it is, there’s a September 21st strike deadline to consider — and last fall’s GM walkout illustrates that unions aren’t afraid to use the tactic.

Of course, GM and others depend vastly less on Canada for its new rolling stock, diminishing Unifor’s hand at the bargaining table.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
2 of 8 comments
  • OldWingGuy OldWingGuy on Sep 06, 2020

    Good luck, Unifor. There is a refinery in Regina, workers represented by Unifor. Unifor at the refinery had a strike mandate, issued 48hr notice. The refinery immediately followed up with a lockout notice. In Sask, unions and company typically have to issue 48hr notice before commencing job action (union) or lockout (company). But once a union issues notice, they don;t have to go out. They can play games - rotating one day walkouts etc. Companies have wised up and now more often issue lockout notice then lockout after 48hr. That happened in this case. Employees received lockout notice after issueing strike notice, 48hr later were locked out. Were out for approx 6 months. On the picket line thru a Sask winter - it gets a bit cold in Sask in winter! The main issue was pension - the employees had a full company funded defined benefit pension plan. The company wanted them to start contributing. The refinery brought in trailers and replacement workers - the refinery continued to operate for those six months. The union got little public support as few people have company pensions, let alone entirely paid for by the employer. In the end, the employees gained little, perhaps going backwards. All they really accomplished was losing six months pay. So, it will be interesting to see if Unifor learned anything. Perhaps whatever company they choose to strike will let them go out and stay out.

  • Ackcontrols Ackcontrols on Sep 06, 2020

    Unifor must be asking itself "Where did everyone go?" right about now. GM hasn't been committed to Canada since the truck plant left in 2009. Sure there's CAMI and the Engine Plant, but those two plants are on borrowed time as they don't have any leverage as there products are and can be made elsewhere. Those two plants solely exist to potentially suck money out of taxpayers. There isn't a compelling reason for GM to continue manufacturing in Canada. Ford is in a similar situation in Canada. The property where the Oakville plant sits will more than pay for closing up shop in Canada. Ford may have been better off keeping the St. Thomas plant open for closer access to the Michigan plants and less expensive labour, but I digress. FCA Canada is in a different situation. The minivan is only made in Windsor and continues to sell well. Additionally, the Brampton plant makes the 300, Charger, and Challenger that continue to sell well late into their model lives and aren't made anywhere else. FCA Canada is clearly going to be the strike target as GM and Ford undoubtedly are ready to walk away from Canada. Should Unifor pick GM, I see the final result is they will close St. Catharines and the remaining facilities in Oshawa. If Unifor targets Ford, it will likely expedite closure of Oakville. It's an election year in the US and assigning any product to Canada is going to come at a political cost the US manufacturers. Unifor is in no position to bargain and the Canadian taxpayers are tired of handing out money when the Big Three come with hat in hand. Jerry Dias should start looking for another job. Get your popcorn ready.

  • SPPPP Too much individual choice in that program, maybe?
  • Eric I would like one of each, please. But make that a '641/2 Mustang and a 1970 240Z
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Funny comparison:
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Some insight.
  • Amwhalbi I know this is apples and oranges, but I'd rather have an Elantra N, a Jetta GLI or a Civic Si than either the Mustang or the Z.