Strike Action Now in the Toolbox As Detroit Three Bargaining Continues in Canada

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Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in the Greater South Detroit Area (GSDA, also known as Canada), has voted to add a walkout to its list of bargaining tools. The union’s membership, unsurprisingly, voted to allow their bargaining committees to threaten or initiate a strike if Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler don’t pony up at the table.

There’s a good possibility Unifor members might get a chance to exercise this time-honored tactic of organized labor, if last fall’s GM walkout in the U.S. is any indication. And we all know that Canada, which has already lost plenty of auto manufacturing in past decades, has a lot more to lose.

“Our members voted overwhelmingly to support their bargaining committees and our bargaining priorities, including; job security, product commitments and economic gains for all members” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “We will continue to push our agenda at the bargaining table, but remind government that they have an active role to play in securing our auto industry’s future. A future made in Canada“.

Not only did last year see American GM workers walk off the job for six weeks (doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago?), it also saw the end of vehicle manufacturing at the automaker’s Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant. The automaker’s CAMI plant in Ingersol, Ontario is down to one product, the Chevrolet Equinox, which is also built for less money in Mexico.

No member of the Detroit Three has a firm hold on Canadian soil anymore. Fiat Chrysler’s Windsor Assembly Plant builds minivans for a market increasingly shunning the bodystyle. Its Brampton facility cranks out the ancient Dodge Charger and Challenger, as well as the doomed Chrysler 300.

Full-size, rear-drive passenger cars. In 2020.

At Ford, rumors swirl around the the future of Oakville Assembly, located just west of Toronto. Home to the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus, word has it that the models will disappear at the end of their current product cycle in order to prevent overcrowding in the brand’s utility vehicle stable. Electric mid-size SUVs are also said to be on the way, likely taking their place.

For Unifor, which kicked off talks on August 12th, the latest round of bargaining amounts to securing a Canadian car-building pledge from all three. Product has dried up by that much.

The union plans to announce its strike target “on or around” Labor Day, revealing which company will set the stage for contracts hammered out with the other two. It added that it “will continue negotiations with that company until reaching a settlement and no later than the strike deadline on September 21 at 11:59 p.m.”


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