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New General Motors investments worth pension concessions for new hires: union president

Click to play video: 'GM, union avoid walkout with tentative deal' GM, union avoid walkout with tentative deal
WATCH ABOVE: Unifor and General Motors of Canada have reached a tentative contract settlement, averting a walkout that was scheduled to begin on Monday night – Sep 20, 2016

TORONTO – Unifor president Jerry Dias says securing hundreds of millions of dollars of investment from General Motors in its Canadian operations was worth the trade-off that the union made on pensions for new hires.

The union, which represents about 3,900 workers at GM plants in Ontario, reached a tentative agreement overnight with the automaker, averting a possible strike.

If ratified, the four-year deal – which includes wage increases, signing bonuses and lump sum payments – will see new hires start with a defined contribution pension plan, rather than the hybrid plan for current employees.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about contract negotiations between Unifor and GM

Dias says the concession was well worth it in order to secure investments in GM’s facilities in Oshawa, St. Catharines and Woodstock.

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There had been fears that the Oshawa facility would shut down in 2019, but Dias says the contract ensures that won’t happen.

The settlement would also see some production moving from Mexico to its engine plant in St. Catharines, reversing an exodus of jobs to that country.

READ MORE: Union for GM auto workers says many issues still unresolved as strike deadline nears

“Frankly, we created history,” Dias said in an interview Tuesday.

“This is the first time that we are seeing not only a solidifying of the footprint, but real opportunities for growth. So I’m thrilled.”

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