Unifor Starts Talks With Detroit Big 3

Written by Ethan Bernard

Canadian union Unifor kicked off negotiations with the Detroit 3 automakers today, with its president saying the “talks will be the most consequential and closely watched in decades.”

“The 18,000 Unifor members covered by these collective agreements head into negotiations with similar challenges to what workers are facing across the industrial sector,” Lana Payne, Unifor national president, said in a statement on Thursday.

Recall that the labor contracts between the United Auto Workers (UAW) union and all of the Detroit 3 automakers expire on Sept. 14 at 11:59 p.m.  Negotiations are currently underway, with the UAW making big asks from the automakers. Unifor’s agreement with the Detroit 3 expires on Sept. 18.

“We are keeping close watch of parallel talks between UAW-represented autoworkers and the Detroit automakers as well, and we are in contact with the union there,” Payne said.

Still, she commented that, “Regardless of what transpires over the coming months, we will chart a distinctly Canadian path just as our union has done for nearly 40 years.” 

Payne said that wages haven’t kept up with rising inflation and don’t reflect the recent profits of employers. And pensions – especially for new hires – are “precarious and sub-standard.”

She also noted that parts shortages and supply-chain breakdowns have hit union members hard for the past three years. “Autoworkers face regular bouts of layoff and hardly know when they are working week to week,” she added. 

Payne also cited the “challenging situation” regarding the shift to electric vehicles (EVs), with the solution being “to make income and job-security protections more robust.”

“It’s hard to predict how things will unfold in any set of negotiations,” she said, adding that a lot will happen between now and the deadline.

Ethan Bernard

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