Bargaining rights for the upcoming NextStar EV battery plant in Windsor, Ont., are among the issues on the table as Unifor continues to bargain with Chrysler parent Stellantis, the union said in an updated Wednesday.
A bargaining deadline is set for Oct. 29 at 11:59 pm. The union says its focusing on securing the elements of the pattern agreement that has now been ratified by members at Ford and General Motors.
"We are entering a crucial stage in our negotiations and in Canada's transition to electric vehicle manufacturing," National President Lana Payne said in a written update to members.
But in addition to the pattern, Payne said in an interview with CBC News there are Stellantis-specific issues.
That includes protections against outsourcing at parts distribution centres, and bargaining rights for the NextStar EV battery plant, which is currently under construction.
"A very big Windsor important [issue] is extension of bargaining rights to the battery plant," Payne said. "So there's a lot of work here left to do and and right now I would say that were at we're up against it at the moment."
Unifor president Lana Payne announces Ford as the strike target for the 2023 auto talks in Toronto in an August 2023 file photo. (CBC News)
Payne had previously said she and the union expected this round of negotiations with Stellantis to be more challenging.
"We knew that this would be a tall order for Stellantis because of the size of their footprint. They have almost double the number of employees as Ford here in Canada and General Motors and of course they've made considerable investments," Payne said
"I would say to you that we have been right ... no doubt about it. This has been a very challenging week and a half here in Toronto dealing with Stellantis."
Unifor 4,500 members at the Windsor Assembly Plant and 3,200 members at the Brampton assembly Plant.
Deals with Ford and General Motors were ratified earlier this fall. Ford members ratified its agreement by a narrow 54 per cent, while General Motors members accepted their agreement by about 81 per cent.
Flavio Volpe is the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. He says while he can't comment on the dynamics of specific negotiations, the tone of the bargaining likely reflects what's at stake for both the union and the company.
"Stellantis bet really heavily on Windsor, both on the the battery plant and on the assembly plant," Volpe said, noting the difficulties with [United Auto Workers] and Unifor bargaining happening concurrently. "We've got 100-year history there."