Canadian Workers Union Reaches Tentative Agreement With GM, Ending Strikes At Auto Plants

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Oct 10, 2023 - 06:15 PM

Update (1415ET):

About 13 hours after Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, declared a strike at three General Motors plants in Canada, a tentative agreement has been reached between the union and automaker, effectively ending the labor dispute, as reported by Bloomberg.

"Now that a tentative agreement has been reached work will resume at all GM facilities," Unifor wrote in a statement.  

Here's Unifor's statement that includes highlights of the agreement:

Members at General Motors,

Unifor and General Motors have reached a tentative agreement following strike action at Oshawa Assembly Plant, St. Catharines Powertrain Plant and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre.

It is thanks to the solidarity of you, the members, that it was possible to move General Motors to accept the pattern to the letter, including all items that company had initial fought us on such as pensions, retiree income supports and converting full-time temporary workers into permanent employees over the life of the agreement.

Now that a tentative agreement has been reached work will resume at all GM facilities. Unifor members must report for their regularly scheduled work shift in your plant beginning at 2:30 p.m. today.

Details on the ratification process will be sent via email with meetings to be scheduled in the coming days. A master bargaining brochure and a local bargaining brochure with details specific to all General Motors facilities will be made available in advance of those meetings.

Highlights of the pattern agreement include:

  • Base hourly wage increases of nearly 20% for production and 25% for Skilled Trades over the lifetime of agreement.
  • By the end of the three-year agreement, a top-rate production assembler will be paid $44.52 per hour, in addition to a forecasted $1.61 cost of living allowance (a total of $46.13); a journeyperson skilled trades worker will be paid $55.97 per hour, in addition to a forecasted $1.61 cost of living allowance (a total of $57.58).
  • General wage increases in each year of the agreement with 10% in year one, 2% in year two and 3% in year three.
  • Reactivation of the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) in December 2024.
  • Wage progression reduced from 8 to 4 years.
  • Start rate for Temporary Part Time and production workers increasing from $24.26 to $29.67/hr., further increasing to $30.26 within 12 months, and $31.16 by the end of the agreement.
  • The conversion of all full-time temporary workers, with at least one year of seniority at ratification, to permanent status.
  • At Oshawa Assembly, the company has agreed to eliminate the use of the full-time temporary classification by August 1, 2026.
  • $10,000 Productivity and Quality bonus for full-time employees (including current temporary full-time) as well as $4,000 for Temporary Part Time.
  • Improvements to all pension plans.
  • Mandatory company contributions to the DC plan increase from 4% to 7%.
  • Defined Contribution plan members will transition to a new Defined Benefits style pension for current plan members and all new hires on January 1, 2025.
  • New quarterly payment unique to Canadian retirees, called the Universal Health Care Allowance. These quarterly payments will continue in each year of the 3-year agreement.
  • Two new additional paid holidays: Family Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Please continue to monitor your email inbox for upcoming specifics on the ratification meetings.

In solidarity,

Lana Payne, Unifor National President

Jason Gale, Unifor GM Master Bargaining Chair

Trevor Longpre, Unifor GM Master Bargaining Vice-Chair

*    *    *

General Motors' Canadian plants were hit with labor disruption after Unifor, the union representing Canadian auto workers, failed to secure a labor contract with the automaker late last night. Consequently, about 4,300 Unifor workers walked off the job at three locations around midnight. This compounds the challenges for the automaker, which is already dealing with strikes at US plants. 

Reuters said the walkout was triggered when GM "stubbornly refused" to match Unifor's contract demands already met at Canadian Ford Motor plants, which are wage increases of up to 25% for workers over the life of the contract. "The company continues to fall short on our pension demands, income supports for retired workers, and meaningful steps to transition temporary workers into permanent, full-time jobs," Unifor National President Lana Payne said.

The labor action came after Unifor failed to secure a contract that included wage increases, cost of living adjustments, and pension reform over a three-year contract. The deadline was 11:59 p.m. Toronto time. 

"This strike is about General Motors stubbornly refusing to meet the pattern agreement. The company knows our members will never let GM break our pattern — not today — not ever," Payne said. 

She added: "We are not there yet, so as a result, we are on picket lines." 

Strikes in Canada compound the pressures in the US for GM as thousands of United Auto Workers continue to raise hell. Also, UAW workers continue to strike at Ford and Stellantis plants

A Deutsche Bank note pointed out a stunning statistic: GM has lost 34,176 vehicles of production since the start of the UAW strike in September. The good news, GM has 442,586 vehicles in stock. 

Reuters said Unifor went on strike at GM's Oshawa assembly complex, St. Catharines powertrain plant, and the Woodstock parts distribution center. Union members at the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, are still working as they're under a different agreement. 

"We remain at the bargaining table and are committed to keep working with Unifor to reach an agreement that is fair and flexible for our 4,200 represented employees at Oshawa Assembly & Operations, St. Catharines Propulsion Plant, and Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre," Jennifer Wright, GM Canada's executive director for communications, told AP News in a statement.