TORONTO — Unifor is heading into the final weekend of its negotiations with Stellantis before a strike deadline, as the United Auto Workers in the U.S. also move into a new stage of talks.
Unifor has set Oct. 29 at 11:59 p.m. as the deadline for talks with the automaker.
The union said in an update this week that it is working to secure the same gains it established at Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, as well as specifics from Stellantis on its electric vehicle plans for its Canadian plants.
It said that along with securing the core economic pattern set with the Ford agreement, it is also pushing hard to resolve important issues specific to Stellantis.
While talks in Canada continue, the UAW announced a breakthrough Wednesday with a tentative deal with Ford that came after about six weeks of escalating strikes.
UAW has announced some of the key gains, including roughly 25 per cent wage gains over the life of the four year contract, but won't be releasing the full details until the proposal is reviewed by a union committee.
Barry Eidlin, an associate professor of sociology at McGill University, said that based on the details released so far, the UAW deal looks to be better than what Unifor secured here.
"Based on what's publicly available, it does seem like the UAW deal is superior," said Eidlin.
"It's not that the Unifor deal isn't good. It's quite good, it's by far the best contract they've won in decades. but it's also important to keep in mind that the UAW was digging itself out of a much deeper hole than Unifor was."
He noted that temporary workers will especially see bigger gains in the U.S., though again from a lower starting point, and UAW workers will also get to full pay in three years rather than the four that Unifor secured. Both though, are significantly faster than the eight years both faced before.
Unifor has emphasized that it's difficult to make direct comparisons between gains between the two unions because there are so many differences in operations and contracts.
But as Unifor pushes for Stellantis to agree to the pattern it has set, union members at the company have expressed dissatisfaction with the gains made.
Eidlin said that the pressures from the UAW could be adding pressure for Stellantis to want to avoid a Unifor strike, it remains to be seen if workers will accept the deal.
“The question then becomes, what are the Stellantis workers going to say about the agreement. Because they are the ultimate arbitrators.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2023.
Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press