Soon after their American colleagues in the UAW (United Automobile Workers) authorized strike action against the big three US automakers (Ford, General Motors and Stellantis), members of Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, have also voted for strike mandates if agreements on new contracts are not reached next month.
The union reported that its members at Ford and at GM each voted nearly 99 percent in favour of strike action; the vote was almost as unanimous at Stellantis, at 98 percent. Unifor's collective agreements with the automakers expire at 11:59 p.m. on September 18.
On the U.S. side, the current agreement expires four days earlier, at the same time.
“Canadian autoworkers have sent a strong message to D3 automakers that they are united behind our bargaining committees in an effort to improve pensions, increase wages, and secure good, union jobs in the EV future,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne. “Our bargaining teams are set to resume negotiations with the unwavering support of Unifor members across the auto sector. Make no mistake, our union is fully prepared to take any and all necessary action to achieve our collective bargaining objectives.”
- Lana Payne, president of Unifor, via a press release.
She added that “Our negotiating teams are ready to resume talks with the unwavering support of Unifor members across the automotive sector. Make no mistake, our union is fully prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to achieve our collective bargaining goals.”
Since the vote announcement, Unifor union leaders have confirmed they’ve chosen Ford as a target for negotiations.
The union, which began negotiations with the companies earlier this month, will resume talks after pausing to organize votes to secure strike mandates over the weekend. Unifor represents around 18,000 auto workers linked to Detroit automakers.
It's important to stress that we're not talking about a strike at the moment. A mandate given via a vote gives the union and its members an additional option, but above all, an important means of pressure.
Another thing to note is that, for the first time in a generation, the two unions are negotiating at the same time with the Detroit automakers.
We'll be keeping a close eye on this situation.