Over the weekend, Canadian Ford employees - members of the Unifor union - voted on the tentative agreement reached with Ford last week. In all, 54 percent of the 5,600 members working at Ford sites in Canada voted in favour of the agreement.
This is obviously a victory, but it’s also clear some members were hoping for more, and perhaps wishing to emulate their Americans counterparts, some of whom have been on strike since September 15.
The new three-year agreement includes significant wage gains and pension improvements. It will enable Ford to invest in increased production at one of its powertrain plants, in Windsor, Ontario, starting in 2025.
Union president Lana Payne said in a statement that Unifor's negotiating team squeezed everything it could out of Ford to secure a contract that "will profoundly change lives. It fundamentally transforms pension plans, offers protections during the transition to electric vehicles and includes the largest wage increases in Canadian automotive bargaining history.
Hourly wages for workers with four years' seniority, the new deadline for earning the highest production wage (previously eight years), will rise by 13.6% overnight following ratification of the agreement. Long-serving workers will earn $42.39 an hour from September 25, up from $37.33 previously. The new wage includes a cost-of-living allowance of $1.21 per hour, which will be paid for the duration of the agreement.
By way of comparison, some workers on the U.S. side earn $16 an hour. It helps to understand the different realities.
Other wage increases that will come later are also planned.
By the end of the third year, top salaries will reach $44.52 an hour, 19 percent more than is currently possible. For new employees, wages jump by 22 percent to $29.67 an hour (from $24.26 before). In three years' time, it will be $31.16, almost 30 percent higher than at present.
And as mentioned, the pension plan benefits have been significantly boosted.
Ford of Canada CEO Bev Goodman said the agreement ensures that the company's Canadian operations will “continue to deliver”.
She added that “This contract invests in our talented and dedicated employees who remain consistently focused on the critical work of assembling our vehicles, building our engines and components, improving customer satisfaction and accelerating parts delivery service to more than 400 dealerships.”
The automaker added that the 15-percent across-the-board wage increase included in the agreement is the “largest uplift in Ford of Canada history”.
Now that the Ford file has been settled, Unifor will use the deal as a parameter in negotiations with General Motors (GM) and Stellantis.
Unifor will negotiate next with GM. Unifor President Lana Payne said in a statement issued Monday that "Our job now is to negotiate that pattern in the form of a renewal collective agreement with General Motors and Stellantis. General Motors will be our next target company. Starting [Sept. 26], Unifor will be at the table with GM.”