Unifor Prepares to Strike After FCA Negotiations Go Sideways [UPDATED]

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
unifor prepares to strike after fca negotiations go sideways updated

Canada’s preferred choice in unions, Unifor, warned that contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were progressing slower than anticipated over the weekend. By Wednesday, news of a strike had begun brewing over social media. Local 444 was issuing FCA-WAP bargaining updates on Twitter and Facebook that included marching orders in the event that the day’s discussions didn’t end in a handshake.

“To ensure we are prepared for a strike, or strike coordinators have been working to finalize the details needed in order to begin, if and when necessary,” the union wrote to members. “If a tentative agreement is reached by 11:59pm October 14th, without an extension in place, then Local 444 along with brothers and sisters across the country at all FCA facilities will be on strike. As the talks continue late into the night, any updates will be posted to our social media pages and web page.”

That scenario is looking increasingly likely, especially as Unifor has explained there was little progress to report all afternoon. It also opened this week suggesting contract talks were “not quite where we feel should be with this limited amount of time left on the clock.”

Unifor wants to pattern its deal with FCA after the deal it reached with Ford Motor Co. in September. That arrangement involves some sizable commitments to existing facilities ( with a twist). It also gets a little more liberal with raises, bonuses and provides an easier pathway toward both. Fiat Chrysler is allegedly holding things up nearly across the board. The union told us that the automaker hasn’t been willing to budge on wages or health care benefits (which I thought Canadians got through the government) and lacks “firm commitments on facility investments and product allocations.”

That’s an important issue for Unifor, most notably at FCA’s ailing Windsor plant responsible for minivan production. The union wants the site to see some fresh metal inject as family vans continue losing market share. Canada is not eager to lose the existing facilities and would like to see additional investments, especially for EV programs it seems happy to spend tax dollars on. It wouldn’t be the first time the fate of a Canadian auto plant was decided by how much the government could sweeten the deal.

The probable strike would suspend production of the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager in Windsor. Meanwhile, Brampton would be pressing pause on the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodger Charger. FCA’s casting plant in Toronto would also need to be shut down, possibly impacting other facilities in its supply chain.

[Update 10/15/2020: Unifor has reported it reached a tentative agreement for 9,000 Canadian FCA workers at the very last minute. It declined to go into specifics prior to voting but stated that the arrangement would be patterned after the Ford deal. Virtual ratification meetings and voting begin on Sunday.]

[Image: BobNoah/Shutterstock]

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  • Pig_Iron Pig_Iron on Oct 15, 2020

    "Brampton would be pressing pause on the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodger Charger." Please awaken the copy editor, gents. This is a rare blemish on your normally excellent publishing.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Oct 15, 2020

    I'm surprised that the threat of strike worked so quickly. FCA being sued by GM may have been a contributor. Minivans and muscle cars will keep getting built for now.

  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.
  • Kendahl One thing I've learned is that cars I buy for local errands tend to be taken on 1,000 mile trips, too. We have a 5-speed Focus SE that has gone on longer trips than I ever expected. It has served us well although, if I had it to do over again, I would have bought an ST. At the time of purchase, we didn't plan to move from 1,000 feet elevation to 6,500. The SE is still adequate but the ST's turbo and extra power would have been welcome.