Unifor, GM Canada reach contract agreement
By: Lindsay Wadden
Unifor and General Motors of Canada came to a tentative contract agreement late Monday night just before a strike deadline.
The four-year contract covers roughly 4,000 autoworkers and will include signing bonuses, wage increases and lump-sum payments. The deal also secures investments for the GM distribution center in Woodstock, Ont.
“There’s a future in Oshawa for me, I can continue working and providing for my family, contributing to the economy and my company,” Jeremy Pooler who represents the workers at the General Motors facility in Oshawa, told Humber News on Tuesday.
“This seems like a reasonable deal,” said Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“It’s a private sector company and a private sector union so there’s no direct impact on taxpayers,” he said.
Wudrick said it’s interesting that Unifor agreed to defined-contribution pensions for new employees.
“Hopefully public sector unions take a similar approach, as it would be much better value for taxpayers in terms of the cost of public sector pensions,” said Wudrick.
Oshawa will have the first GM plant in North America with the ability to build both cars and trucks. The agreement states that production from Mexico will be moved to the St. Catharine’s plant.
“I am relieved that an agreement has been reached that will put families in our community at ease, and ensure Oshawa’s future as the Motor City,” said Oshawa’s MPP Jennifer French in a statement shared with Humber News.
She hopes the thousands of employees will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief after months of waiting.
GM Canada stated that the agreement will enable significant new product, technology and process investments at GM’s Oshawa, St. Catharine’s and Woodstock facilities. GM Canada directly employs approximately 8,400 employees, almost 5,000 of their total direct and indirect jobs are in Oshawa.
The new vehicle being built in Oshawa is unknown at this time.
Greg Keenan, a journalist for The Globe and Mail that covers the auto industry said that because of this agreement, we may expect similar promises from Ford Motor Company that make engines in Windsor and from the Chrysler automobile plant in Brampton that builds larger cars.
“The union negotiates in what is called pattern bargaining, where they pick one of three companies to negotiate with and once they reach a deal with that company, that agreement becomes a template for the other two companies,” said Keenan.
The automotive sector is important to Canada because the number of jobs is very large, roughly 45,000 in direct vehicle assembly, said Keenan.
A press release by Unifor said they will work with GM to continue to finalizing the agreement