High-profile debuts include Ford’s electric Mustang SUV, a sub-$20,000 Chevy SUV, Land Rover Defender and Bollinger Motors electric SUV and pickup
Detroit Free Press
Ford Motor Co. reached a three-year deal with Unifor National that includes wage increases, bonuses and other benefits for its factory workers in Canada plus a massive financial investment in battery electric vehicles, the company announced Monday.
The union voted 81% in favor of the collective bargaining contract, which includes $1.5 billion (U.S.) in investments to bring battery electric vehicle production to Oakville and a new engine derivative to Windsor, Unifor confirmed.
“This is the single biggest investment in the Canadian auto industry in years,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National president. “The vote … shows Unifor members have a clear vision of a strong and prosperous Canadian auto sector.”
Highlights include $1.4 billion (U.S.) to retool and build new battery electric vehicles in Oakville, “including a crossover utility vehicle, and $148 million for Windsor powertrain facilities,” Unifor said. “Ford has committed to source new 6.X L engines to the Windsor Engine Plant and sole source 5.0L engine assembly and current component machining to the Essex Engine plant, along with any derivatives,” Unifor said.
Engines used for the Ford Mustang and Ford F-Series are built in Canada currently.
The union spotlighted these elements:
- A 5% wage increase over the life of the agreement, along with a 4% lump sum.
- A productivity and quality bonus of $5,418 .
- Inflation protection bonuses and major changes to the New Hire Program, including an eight-year wage grid, and reinstatement of afternoon and midnight shift premiums.
- A 20% wage differential (re-instated) for skilled trades workers.
- Paid domestic violence leave.
- Racial justice advocacy.
“… It’s safe to say we hit a home run on both fronts,” said John D’Agnolo, chair of the Unifor Master Bargaining Committee, in prepared remarks. “… Members … showed unwavering solidarity through some very intense weeks of bargaining.”
Ford goes all in
Ford issued the news first, touting the agreement as a victory for all involved.
“Based on the collective agreement ratified by employees today, Ford is committing to transform its Oakville Assembly Complex from an internal combustion engine (ICE) site to also become a BEV manufacturing facility, starting in 2024, as well as introducing a new engine program at its Windsor operations,” Ford said in a statement.
Ford said increased efficiency measures now include competitive alternative work schedules to maximize production flexibility.
Ford of Canada’s provided additional detail in the contract for its hourly employees:
- 2.5% wage increase twice over the life of the agreement
- $5,418 (U.S.) ratification bonus for full-time permanent employees and $374 (U.S.) for temporary employees
- Reduced grow-in period for new hires from 11 years to eight years
“Working collaboratively with Unifor, and as discussions continue with both the federal and provincial governments, this agreement is an important step toward building a stronger future for our employees, our customers and our communities,” Dean Stoneley, president and CEO, Ford of Canada, said in prepared remarks.
“By introducing battery electric vehicle production at Oakville Assembly Complex, we are cementing our Canadian operations as a leader in advanced automotive manufacturing,” he said.
The pattern collective bargaining agreement will be used as a baseline now for discussion with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and then General Motors. The agreements cover about 17,000 Unifor members at the Detroit Three, although the union actually represents more than 19,000 workers at the companies — 9,000 at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, 6,300 at Ford and 4,100 at GM.
2019 Lincoln Nautilus (Photo: Lincoln Motor Company)
The Ford agreement, which had tentative approval on Sept. 22, involves investment of both the automaker and Canadian government officials. The package, mostly paid by Ford, is meant to transform the auto industry in Canada into a major player in electrification, Dias said previously.
Details of the deal have not been revealed by the company or elected officials.
The investment plan involves building five models of electric vehicles, making Canada a player in the rapidly growing electric vehicle market for the first time. Retooling will start in 2024 with the first vehicle rolling off the assembly line in 2025, Dias said.
More: Ford reaches ‘home run’ labor deal with big investment from Canadian government
More: Autoworkers refuse to fight over scraps during wage talks in Canada, union leader warns
More: Ford’s secret weapon has a passion for batteries and came from NASA
“We generally have a good bargaining relationship with Ford,” Dias told the Free Press after the ratification. “We ended up with major investment from Ford in 2016, too. Ford has a history of finding solutions.”
He noted that Ford is the top-selling brand in Canada.
“This deal with Ford is incredibly important,” Dias said. “When we went into bargaining with Ford, we had no product beyond 2024.”
While global demand for electric vehicles now is in the single digits, he noted, California and other markets are shaping public policy that directly impact the future of internal combustion engines.
2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus (Photo: A.J. Mueller)
Looking ahead, Dias has pointed out Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly plant needs additional product. The company cut its third shift at Windsor as the company ended Dodge Grand Caravan production in August.
The focus, he said, “is definitely going to be job security. We lost the entire third shift in Windsor Assembly — 1,500 people laid off. We need one or two vehicles in Windsor to get back that shift. It’s really going to be about stabilizing the footprint over the next three years.”
Targeting Ford for the pattern was the right move, Dias said. “The fact that the economic pattern is already established will save us from fighting with the other two” automakers.
Read or Share this story: https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/ford/2020/09/28/ford-canada-unifor-contract/3560458001/