Canadian Manufacturing

Unifor set to begin Stellantis negotiations after successful GM vote

The Canadian Press
   

Financing Manufacturing Automotive GM vote stellantis UNIFOR


Unifor will be looking to repeat the terms it set at Ford Motor Co. and that it got GM to agree to as well, but Cassidy said he'll be looking for more from Stellantis.

Unifor is set to begin negotiations with Stellantis after union members at General Motors voted 80.5 per cent in favour of a tentative deal over the weekend.

While the union has yet to announce a specific start date, Dave Cassidy, president of Local 444 that covers the Stellantis plant in Windsor, Ont., said Monday that he’s hoping to begin meetings with the Unifor national committee and the company as soon as Tuesday.

Unifor will be looking to repeat the terms it set at Ford Motor Co. and that it got GM to agree to as well, but Cassidy said he’ll be looking for more from Stellantis.

“In our membership meeting, members weren’t happy with the pattern agreement that was in place,” he said.

“Our members decide whether it’s a good deal or not, so we have some work to do for sure.”

Cassidy declined to name specific areas that he’ll be looking to make inroads, and also noted the important gains made in the contracts already agreed to at the other two automakers.

“This is the best deal that I have seen in 30 years that’s been delivered to the membership.”

The contract includes base hourly wage increases of nearly 20 per cent for production workers and 25 per cent for skilled trades, a faster timeline for workers to reach the top wage tier, improvements to pensions and two new paid holidays, among other gains.

Workers at Ford however only voted 54 per cent in favour, and skilled trades members in Oakville and Windsor did not vote in favour of the deal.

Larry Savage, a labour studies professor at Brock University, said he thinks the union ramped up efforts after the Ford vote to sell members on the benefits of the deal.

The GM vote was also helped by a significant portion of the 4,300 workers being recent hires, who will especially benefit from the higher wage floor and path to seniority, he said.

GM also only agreed to the terms after workers walked off the job last week, in what ended up being about a 12-hour strike, which also likely helped support, said Savage.

“I really do think that the psychological effect of the short strike played an important role in securing a higher yes vote … you’re more likely to stand by an agreement that you struck to win.”

Looking ahead, he expects it will be more challenging to get Stellantis, with more than 8,200 workers in Canada, to agree to the pattern of bargaining.

Unifor president Lana Payne will also have to deal with the added challenge of contending with Cassidy, who she ran against to secure the national leadership.

“I do think that it is going to be much more difficult for the union to secure the pattern at Stellantis than it was at General Motors. And I think there’s no question that Cassidy is the wild card here,” Savage said.

Cassidy however said this isn’t a clash of individuals, or a local union versus the national body, but about doing right by members.

“This isn’t about me, Dave Cassidy. This isn’t about Lana Payne. This union is way bigger than any one person,” he said.

“This is, we need to be putting our nose to the grind, listening to our members, and making sure that we come back with the deal that our members want.”

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