With rumors of the Ford Edge‘s demise after the current generation model reaches the end of its lifecycle, the future of the Ford Oakville Assembly Plant could be in danger. Canada’s autoworkers union, Unifor, opened talks with the Detroit Three automakers on Wednesday and will ask Ford for a commitment to future product at the Oakville plant avoid a strike.
Unifor president, Jerry Dias, made it clear that the union is ready to fight to get further investment in the manufacturing facilities under its purview. When asked whether or not the union would require language around new commitments to avoid a strike, Dias said “no question that is exactly what has to happen,” reports Windsor Star.
Unifor’s last strike took place in 2017 against Ford’s cross-town rival, General Motors, over contract demands at the GM CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. There hasn’t been a strike involving Ford Canada or FCA Canada in over 30 years.
The news comes on the heels of questions about whether the Canadian government will provide incentives for FoMoCo and other automakers to retool aging facilities in producing greener vehicles. To date, no concrete plans have been announced on that front.
The Ford Oakville factory produces the Ford Edge and its CD3 platform mate, the Lincoln Nautilus (previously marketed as the Lincoln MKX).
Dias also stated that Unifor will not settle on an agreement with The Blue Oval until it nails down a future product for Oakville. It’s unclear if that pressure will be enough to secure a path forward for the facility. The union has not had the best luck with General Motors. After phasing out several vehicles, GM has shrunk its presence in Ontario and plans to cut its workforce in certain facilities by a further 50 percent by 2023.
Dias and Unifor are on board with a potential move to green vehicle production, but that’s mainly because of the lack of manufacturer investment in the region.
“There’s been $300 billion in new investments in EV and AV announced by OEMs and none of it’s in Canada,” Dias noted. “We have a huge problem. If you don’t get in the game now, you’re screwed.”
Unifor isn’t buying any excuses over COVID-19 either. The union believes that automakers were making tens of billions of dollars for years before coronavirus took hold, and says that the pandemic will not alter its position.
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Sadly Unifor’s militant actions have lead to several companies ‘leaving the building’ up here in Canada. Their demands meant the end of the International Harvester plant in Chatham and they also signed their first and last contracts (ONE contract) with the Freightliner plant in St. Thomas. The German owners of Freightliner were NOT impressed with the union. GM has closed the Oshawa plant but the union wasn’t completely responsible there.
Their predecessor, the CAW, was just as militant, if not moreso. They made the UAW at its worst look reasonable.