Canada's Unifor union reaches tentative labor contract agreement with Ford

Canada's Unifor union says it has reached a tentative agreement with Ford Motor company that "addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining." If ratified by members, the agreement will avert a strike. Photo courtesy Unifor

Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The Canadian autoworker union Unifor reached a tentative new labor agreement with Ford Motor Company, avoiding a looming strike.

The union announced the deal Tuesday night, saying the tentative agreement, which must be ratified by Unifor members before it becomes final, was the result of weeks of painstaking hard work.

"When faced with the prospect of an all-out strike by 5,600 Unifor members at every single one of Ford's facilities in Canada, the company made a significant offer to the union," Unifor said in a statement. "This offer was received just minutes before our strike deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 18. It was significant enough to allow for a 24-hour extension."

Details of the terms will be presented to Unifor members in ratification meetings in coming days.

The union said the bargaining resulted in "fundamental, transformative gains that addressed our core priorities of pensions, wages and the EV transition."

"We believe that this tentative agreement, endorsed by the entire master bargaining committee, addresses all of the items raised by members in preparation for this round of collective bargaining," Unifor President Lana Payne said.

She added the agreement solidifies foundations "on which we will continue to bargain gains for generations of autoworkers in Canada."

Ford confirmed the agreement, but said in a statement that it would not discuss specifics of the agreement "to respect the ratification process."

Unifor extended its contract with Ford Tuesday for another 24 hours in order to reach the agreement. The union instructed its members to remain on the job while the talks that reached the tentative agreement continued.

Unifor negotiators were seeking higher wages, pensions, support for the transition to electric vehicles and investment options.

If union members approve the agreement, Unifor will use the deal as a pattern to reach similar agreements with GM and Stellantis.

Unifor is Canada's largest private-sector union, representing 315,000 workers across the Canadian economy.

In the United States, the United Auto Workers union warned earlier this week that more union workers will be called to join an ongoing strike at Ford, Stelantis and General Motors if progress on negotiations is not made.

"Autoworkers have waited long enough to make things right at the Big Three. We're not waiting around, and we're not messing around. So, noon on Friday, Sept. 22, is a new deadline," UAW President Shawn Fain said. "Either the Big Three get down to business and work with us to make progress in negotiations, or more locals will be called on to stand up and go out on strike."