Ford Canada and the Unifor private-sector labor union have until midnight tonight to finalize a new labor contract, according to Automotive News. Failing that, the union’s 6,700 Ford workers could find themselves on strike.
Unifor’s contract negotiations with Ford have been “painfully slow,” according to the union, with Ford being apparently reluctant to adhere to the pattern established by negotiations with Fiat Chrysler and General Motors. “The employer continues to insist that the pattern Unifor achieved with GM and FCA can only be met if there are significant offsets,” read a Saturday update on the union’s website. Those offsets reportedly include “the immediate introduction of temporary full-time employees that would receive a lower starting wage and the elimination of the long-term care plan.”
Unifor’s new labor contracts with FCA and GM secure hundreds of millions of dollars in new investments and revise the 10-year wage grow-in period for new hires to allow workers to start receiving pay increases sooner. Ford is particularly caught up on the latter issue, as the automaker brought in 1,000 new hires to the Oakville Assembly Complex starting in 2014; adopting the new pay grid for all those newbies might prove costly.
Of course, even if Ford and Unifor manage to finalize a deal before tonight’s midnight deadline, it still has to be ratified by the workers. That might prove difficult given Oakville Assembly’s 5,000-strong majority and demand for a more generous deal; new product investments are of little concern to workers there as little, if any, of the capital would go to that plant.