The UAW’s troubles with organizing Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plants are well known throughout the auto world, but Unifor, the Canada union that was once known as the Canadian Auto Workers union, now claims that it has enough union cards to hold a vote on representation.
Ford Oakville, Ontario, Canada Assembly Plant
The Toronto Star is reporting that Ford Motor Co. will soon announce a ~$700US million investment in it’s Oakville, Ontario plant, where it assembles the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX midsize crossovers. According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail newspaper, $135 million of that will come from the Ontario and Canadian governments, which recently divested some of their bailout related shares in General Motors. The investment by Ford follows commitments made to the Canadian Auto Workers, now under the banner of Unifor, to add 600 jobs to the Oakville facility.
Ontario is home to a number of auto plants, both import and domestic, union and non-union, as well as numerous suppliers. None of them are so tightly intertwined as General Motors is with the town of Oshawa, about 40 miles from Toronto (though, as any area resident will tell you, it’s really 2 hours away, thanks to our horrendously inadequate infrastructure). For nearly a century, GM has been building cars in Oshawa in one form or another, as the plant has established a reputation as one of GM’s best, consistently building high quality cars, trucks and crossovers over the decades. But that tradition may be coming to a close by 2016.
CAW members at GM’s CAMI plant in Ontario have voted to begin negotiating their contracts as early as this week after a vote by workers. At stake is the production of the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox, two popular crossovers that may have their production moved to Mexico or the United States.
The cost of doing business in Canada may be high for auto makers, but that isn’t stopping GM from looking to re-negotiate their contract with the CAW nearly a year in advance as a means of keeping production of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain at the CAMI plant in Ontario.
The Canadian government will put up $250 million as part of an “auto innovation fund”, a continuation of a 2008 program which the government claims led to over $1 billion in spending.
A merger between the Canadian Auto Workers union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union passed a ratification vote Monday, which will see the two unions merge and create the largest private-sector union in Canada. The new union won’t be limited strictly to workers either.