Unifor desires three-year contracts with the Detroit Three as a substitute of four-year ones, hoping that negotiating similtaneously the UAW will make it simpler to draw main investments to Canada sooner or later.
“I’m sick and tired of playing catch-up,” Unifor President Jerry Dias mentioned.
“When we go into bargaining with the Detroit 3, we’re always cognizant of the major investment announcements coming out of UAW bargaining.”
Unifor on Tuesday, Sept. 8, chosen Ford Motor Co. as its goal firm, with the goal of patterning contracts with General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles after no matter deal it reaches with Ford.
The Canadian union represents about 17,000 auto employees underneath contracts with the Detroit automakers set to run out Monday, Sept. 21.
Unifor’s bargaining with the Detroit Three comes a 12 months after the UAW wrapped up its contentious talks, which included the longest nationwide strike towards GM in virtually half a century. The relative timing has typically labored to Unifor’s drawback when in search of investments as few merchandise stay for allocation.
Should the automakers conform to the three-year contracts Dias goes after — because the union’s predecessor, the Canadian Auto Workers, negotiated earlier than the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler — Unifor and the UAW would as a substitute negotiate for brand new manufacturing on the identical time.
That would current its personal dangers for Unifor, equivalent to permitting automakers to pit the unions towards one another, mentioned Kristin Dziczek, vp of trade, labor and economics on the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Going in simultaneously, it does create … more opportunity for whipsaw,” she mentioned. “They can go to one bargaining table and say, ‘Well, this union is willing to give us X, Y and Z. What are you willing to give us?'” And the UAW, being the bigger union, would usually have extra leverage than Unifor, she mentioned.
“I think it’s still going to be a struggle,” Dziczek mentioned.
“There’s never a good time to be the little brother.”
Dias, in an interview with Automotive News Canada, dismissed considerations that pursuing a three-year contract this 12 months might incentivize Ford to push off long-term product selections till 2023.
The union desires to safe work for the Oakville, Ontario, plant, the place manufacturing of the Ford Edge crossover is slated to finish that 12 months, in accordance with AutoForecast Solutions.
“You need to solidify those investments today for years down the road,” Dias mentioned. “That’s the way the industry works. Decisions aren’t made overnight.”
Despite the potential dangers, transferring to a three-year contract does present alternatives for Unifor, Dziczek mentioned.
“You don’t want to be locked into a contract that was negotiated in a down year when three years out the industry is healthier,” she mentioned. “If the cupboard is a little bare this year, it’s not going to be three years from now.”
And because the trade seems to be to adjust to the brand new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, many automakers are submitting different staging plans to the nations, one other issue that might profit Unifor, Dziczek mentioned.
“They have to show the governments a five-year plan to come into compliance with the new trade agreement, including the investments they’re going to make to make that happen,” she mentioned.
“We didn’t know what the requirements of alternative staging would exactly be. But it’s a little clearer this year than it was last fall, and that might be something that weighs in Canada’s favor a bit.”