International News

Unifor says talks with Ford ‘meeting resistance’ as deadline nears

Canadian autoworkers say negotiations with the Big Three automakers — Ford, Stellantis and General Motors — have entered a “most crucial time” with just days until a strike deadline. Their U.S. counterparts were poised to walk off the job Thursday night.

Unifor president Lana Payne said on Thursday that talks with Ford, which they chose as their target company for the ongoing negotiations, have not stalled but the union has rejected two offers from the company.

“Things are moving but we are certainly not there yet,” she said in remarks Thursday night. “Yes, we are having constructive dialogue and we are making progress in certain areas, but I want you to know we are meeting resistance from Ford on priority issues for our members.”

The deadline for an agreement is 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 18, and the union still has planned talks leading up to Monday.

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Payne said their talks are focused around four “core economic pillars” including pension improvements, wage package improvements, electric vehicle transition supports and investment.

Click to play video: 'United Auto Workers prepares to strike against Detroit Three automakers, rejects offers'

United Auto Workers prepares to strike against Detroit Three automakers, rejects offers

However, Payne said the union will not release information about the first offers because it had made the decision not to bargain publicly, calling it a strategic decision.

“There can be misunderstanding and confusion that can harm the process,” she said. “There is no deal with Ford until there is a final deal that can be supported by rank-and-file leaders here. We don’t have an agreement on anything until we have an agreement on everything.”

Unifor’s negotiations with the Detroit Three are coming as the United Auto Workers (UAW) in the U.S. are in the midst of their own talks with the same companies. In late August, the UAW voted in favour of a strike, followed by Unifor doing the same the week after.

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While both unions are attempting to reach a tentative collective agreement, Payne said Unifor is negotiating its own deal separate of the UAW, and that Canadian members should not look to reports about the negotiations in the U.S. or compare pay rates, work standards and job security, among other issues between the two countries.

The UAW will be in a legal strike position at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday.

Ford Motor CEO Jim Farley told CNN the proposal by the UAW to hike wages by 40 per cent would “put us out of business.” He said there were no talks going on, and that the automaker has received no counteroffer to its plan to offer 20 per cent pay hikes.

No one at Ford has commented on the talks with Unifor.

There has been concern on both sides of the border about how job action could impact the auto industry, but economist Moshe Lander told Global News last month that there is the potential for supply issues arising.

Click to play video: 'Unifor autoworkers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strikes at GM, Ford and Stellantis'

Unifor autoworkers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strikes at GM, Ford and Stellantis

Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association president Flavio Volpe, however, cautioned that a strike in the U.S., could mean redirecting resources to avoid any major impact.

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While an agreement has not been reached, auto council chair and Ford bargaining chair John D’Agnolo said all local unions are looking to make arrangements to ensure “maximum membership participation,” and ensure everyone can cast an informed vote.

With negotiations ongoing at Ford, Payne reminded members that talks with Stellantis and General Motors are on hold until an agreement is reached with Ford.

— with files from The Associated Press and Reuters

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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