Canadian auto workers and GM reach Preliminary contract agreement to end strike

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General Motors and the Canadian auto workers’ union have reached a tentative contract agreement, ending a strike that began shortly after midnight. Approximately 4,300 striking workers at two GM factories and a parts warehouse will return to work, with a vote on the three-year deal scheduled for later.

The Unifor union president, Lana Payne, stated that GM had no choice but to follow a pattern agreement set earlier with Ford, including items like pensions, retiree income support, and the conversion of temporary workers into permanent employees over the agreement’s duration. GM confirmed the deal, emphasizing significant pay and benefit increases, as well as enhanced job security.

The new contract covers autoworkers at GM’s Oshawa assembly plant, St. Catharines powertrain plant, and Woodstock parts distribution center. The strike occurred after Unifor workers ratified a new three-year labor contract with Ford the previous month.

The tentative agreement with GM, pending member ratification, would leave only Stellantis (maker of Jeep) without a Unifor contract. The deal includes substantial pay raises, with nearly 20% for production workers and 25% for skilled trades. These raises comprise 10% in the first year, 2% in the second, and 3% in the third, along with the restoration of cost-of-living raises in December 2024. Temporary workers will receive pay increases, and those with a year of service will gain permanent positions. Workers with defined-contribution retirement plans will transition to defined-benefit pensions on January 1, 2025.

The union had strong bargaining leverage due to the profitable Chevrolet pickup production in the Oshawa factory. However, demographics, likely referring to an aging workforce, posed a significant challenge.

Unifor had previously avoided striking against Detroit automakers, unlike the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the United States, where around 25,000 UAW members were on strike against Detroit automakers at several locations. A separate bargaining agreement covers Unifor members at the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, who did not participate in the strike. Unifor is Canada’s largest private sector union, representing 315,000 workers across various industries.

(Source: Associated Press)

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