Canadians will learn Sunday whether Unifor members have accepted a tentative deal reached with Ford Motor Co. this week that includes what the union has described as the “single largest negotiated general wage increase in Unifor and CAW history.”
Ratification meetings are being held this weekend with voting closing at 10 a.m. Sunday and results expected “shortly after,” a union spokesperson said.
The deal was reached after Unifor extended its strike deadline by 24 hours late Monday after receiving what it called a “substantive offer” from Ford.
Details of that offer have since been made public and include changes to what Unifor calls its four core priorities: pensions, wages, electric vehicle (EV) transition supports and investment.
Among the highlights of the tentative deal is the first cost of living adjustment (COLA) since 2008, the union says.
Once the COLA fold-in is applied, “members will receive what is an extraordinary 10 per cent general wage increase, effective September 25,” the union says.
Members would see a two per cent wage increase in the second year of the deal and a three per cent wage increase in the final year.
Skilled trades would see additional wage adjustments of 2.75 per cent in year one and 2.5 per cent in year three.
Additionally, the time it takes for those hired after 2012 to reach the prevailing rate of pay has been cut in half from eight years to four. That also means that Unifor members with four to seven years of seniority would automatically be moved up to the top rate of pay upon ratification of the agreement.
The tentative deal also includes special EV transition supports specific to the Oakville assembly complex, which will be undergoing a retooling period. Those supports include employees receiving their Income Maintenance Plan after only one year of seniority instead of five, and Ford repaying members for any EI clawback payments they have to make to the government.
Outside of the Oakville plant, the deal would see members on EI receiving only a portion of their regular weekly earnings topped up to 70 per cent of their regular amount, up from 65 per cent.
For pensions, Unifor says the tentative deal improves pension security for all members “regardless of what plan they are in.” The deal also includes a new special quarterly payment for Unifor retirees, ranging from $125 to $200 depending on when the member retired.
“The matter of gains for retirees was the very last matter discussed at the bargaining table before a deal could be reached,” a union statement says.
“It was among the reasons for the union’s extended deadline.”
The tentative deal also includes a commitment from the automaker “to no closures of our facilities over the life of the agreement.” The deal also sees Ford reconfirm its plans to transform the Oakville plant into the Oakville Electric Vehicle Complex.
Negotiations with Ford are expected to set expectations for what workers will get in contracts from General Motors and Stellantis, the other members of the so-called “Detroit Three” group of major automakers in Canada and the U.S.
Unifor represents about 5,600 Canadian autoworkers and was pushing for higher wages and job protection for its members.
Negotiations began last month for a new contract to replace the old collective agreement, which expired on Monday. Union members had voted overwhelmingly for a strike to begin at midnight Tuesday if a new deal wasn’t reached.
That strike deadline was extended by 24 hours after the latest offer from Ford was presented late Monday.
The tentative deal was reached as an autoworkers strike in the United States against the Detroit Three companies approaches the one-week mark.
With files from The Canadian Press.