A tentative deal has been reached between Unifor and Stellantis for its Canadian plants and workers, according to the union. In an emailed statement sent at 7:40 a.m., Unifor’s director of communications, Kathleen O’Keefe said, “A tentative agreement has been reached with Stellantis ending strike action at all Unifor facilities.”
Thousands of its members employed by automaker Stellantis went on strike at midnight after a contract deal could not be reached by deadline late Sunday. In a social media video, Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy, who represents Windsor workers said he’s “very happy” to bring back the deal to members.
“We will go through the highlights and everything, we’ll be presenting to the membership,” he said. “It’s been a long couple days here.” Cassidy said the afternoon shift is expected to run as normal today.
“I just want to be clear with everybody that the strike is over.”
Members at the Windsor assembly plant have told CBC News they were informed there will be a ratification meeting Nov. 4, followed by an online vote. Overnight, Unifor said talks would continue despite its 8,200 members — most of whom are in southern Ontario — going on the picket line.
Stellantis North America COO Mark Stewart said he’s “very proud” of the negotiating teams and thankful for their commitment and focused effort on securing a tentative agreement. “Once ratified, this agreement will reward our 8,000 represented employees and protect the long term health of our Canadian operations,” he said.
“Out of respect for the bargaining process, we will refrain from commenting until the ratification process is complete.”
LouAnn Gosselin, head of communications for Stellantis in Canada, said the company was “extremely disappointed,” when the strike first began, before the tentative agreement was announced. In Windsor, Ont., picketers faced rain and single-digit temperatures as the strike action began.
“It’s pretty miserable out, but we’re willing to do what we have to do to fight for what we want,” said Shawn Bezaire, strike captain at the main gates of the plant.
Mike D’Agnolo, vice-president of Unifor Local 444, which represents workers in Windsor, was among those on the picket line.
“Our members have made it quite clear what they’re worth and our team in Toronto is trying to achieve that for them,” D’Agnolo said.
Stellantis, known for brands including Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge, is the last of the Detroit Three automakers to negotiate with the union since talks began in August. Stellantis has an assembly plant in Windsor, which makes minivans including the Chrysler Pacifica, as well as an assembly plant in Brampton, Ont., responsible for the Dodge Challenger, Charger and Chrysler 300 models.
It also has a plant in Toronto’s Etobicoke neighbourhood that makes die castings, and parts distribution facilities in Mississauga, Ont., and Red Deer, Alta. Unifor has said one of its priorities is securing bargaining rights for workers at the upcoming NextStar electric vehicle battery plant in Windsor, which is set to create 2,500 jobs. The plant is expected to open sometime next year.
The union has also highlighted protecting jobs in the transition to electric and securing new vehicles for production in Brampton. Unifor and Stellantis had been at the table for about two weeks. The union was negotiating with the automakers through pattern bargaining, where an agreement with one company sets the template for the others.
Unifor has called on Stellantis to meet that pattern deal. It includes what the union calls record-setting pay increases, with starting wages set at nearly $30 per hour and the return of a cost-of-living allowance. There’s also enhancements to pensions and benefits.
Specific to Stellantis, the union said it was advocating for protection against outsourcing at parts distribution centres among other priorities. In a video update on Friday night, Payne said that earlier on during bargaining, the company had offered concessions that broke the contract pattern set in the deals with the other automakers. But the two sides had moved closer together on Friday, she said.
“The deals we reached with Ford and GM formed a strong pattern that delivers impressive gains for Canadian autoworkers, including industry-leading wages, pensions and benefits,” she said at the time.
U.S. Stellantis workers reach deal
The Stellantis strike in Canada comes just days after the United Auto Workers union — which has been conducting strikes at select U.S. auto plants — reached a tentative deal with Stellantis. Asked about the significance of the number strikes in Canada this year, including the 192-day long strike at Windsor Salt, D’Agnolo said the union is going to stand up for its members to achieve collective agreements that reflect the times.
“These times dictate better wages, better pensions, better everything across the board,” he said. “And when companies are making what they make, it’s time for them to step up.”
Source: CBC News