Late last week, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union began a targeted strike against Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis after the sides remained far apart on terms defining their next four-year contract, though talks remain a work in progress. However, Ford is also in the midst of negotiating a new deal with the Canadian union Unifor, talks that the sides have called “complex” as the future of automotive manufacturing plants in that country remains up in the air amid the ongoing EV transition. Unifor selected Ford as its target company to negotiate with early in the process, but just last week, rejected the automaker’s first two offers, which it said “did not come close to meeting our expectations.” However, as last night’s deadline to reach a new deal came and went, Unifor opted to extend its deadline by 24 hours rather than strike, according to Automotive News Canada.
“Unifor is extending negotiations with Ford Motor Company for a 24-hour period,” the union said in a statement. “The union received a substantive offer from the employer minutes before the deadline and bargaining is continuing throughout the night. Unifor members should continue to maintain strike readiness.”
Prior to this development, Unifor President Lana Payne told members that a strike was a “strong possibility,” adding that the union would not take a targeted approach like the UAW. “If there is a strike, this will be a total strike,” she said. “Every single one of Unifor’s 5,600 members at Ford in Canada will be on picket lines. Our Oakville assembly plant, our Windsor powertrain operations, our parts distribution centers, our office and technical units, everyone together.”
Last month, the Unifor bargaining committee received overwhelming support for a strike, with 98.9 percent of its 5,700 members voting in favor of such an action, if it becomes necessary. For now, that would only affect Ford, as Unifor extended its contracts with Stellantis and General Motors as it focuses on hammering out a new three-year deal with The Blue Oval before moving on to those two automakers. Unlike the UAW, Unifor hasn’t revealed any of its specific demands – nor discussed what Ford has offered thus far – but is reportedly seeking pay increases, higher pensions, and greater support for its workers as the automaker continues to transition its existing facilities for the production of EVs and EV components.