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HomeTop StoriesGeneral Motors reaches deal with Canadian autoworkers hours after union initiates strikes

General Motors reaches deal with Canadian autoworkers hours after union initiates strikes

Unifor worker Rob Nimigon holds a flag at a picket line outside an entrance to the GM’s Oshawa assembly complex, where the company’s profitable Chevrolet Silverado trucks are built, after 4,300 unionized workers went on strike at three General Motors plants, including Oshawa, Ontario, Canada October 10, 2023.

Arlyn Mcadorey | Reuters

DETROIT — General Motors has reached a tentative agreement for nearly 4,300 Canadian autoworkers after the union representing those workers called a national strike early Tuesday.

Canadian union Unifor said Tuesday afternoon the “strike actions are on hold to allow the membership to vote on the tentative agreement.” A majority of workers must vote in support of the pact for ratification.

Unifor initiated a national strike after the sides failed to reach a deal by an 11:59 p.m. Monday deadline. The strike briefly impacted an assembly plant that produces light- and heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado trucks; production of some V6 and V8 engines used in a variety of vehicles such as the Chevrolet Equinox and GM’s full-size SUVs; a stamping facility; and parts distribution center.

“When faced with the shutdown of these key facilities General Motors had no choice but to get serious at the table and agree to the pattern,” Unifor National President Lana Payne said in a release.

The Canadian engine plant marked a major concern for the automaker, which also is facing U.S. strikes by the United Auto Workers union. The facility produces engines for highly profitable full-size pickup trucks and SUVS, among other vehicles.

GM, in a statement, confirmed the “record” tentative agreement: “This record agreement, subject to member ratification, recognizes the many contributions of our represented team members with significant increases in wages, benefits and job security while building on GM’s historic investments in Canadian manufacturing.”

Unifor said the tentative deal with GM follows a ratified agreement reached last month with Ford Motor. The agreement, which covers more than 5,600 workers at Ford facilities in Canada, was ratified by 54% of workers who voted. 

Lana Payne celebrates on stage as Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, announce Lana Payne as their new president to replace outgoing leader Jerry Dias in Toronto, Ontario, Canada August 10, 2022.

Cole Burston | Reuters

The union said the three-year GM deal — like the agreement with Ford — includes hourly wage increases of up to 25%, reactivation of a cost-of-living allowance to battle inflation and a shorter progression for workers to reach top pay, among other new or altered benefits.

Prior to Tuesday, GM and Unifor had been at odds over making temporary workers permanent employees, pension funding and other demands.

“All members will benefit now that the pattern is in place at GM, whether they’re temporary workers, new hires, or already at the top of the pay scale,” said Unifor GM Master Bargaining Chair Jason Gale. “This agreement delivers the kind of historic pay increases our members need and significant pension improvements that will protect their living standards in retirement.” 

GM declined to discuss details of the agreement prior to the ratification vote by Unifor members.

Unifor, which represents 18,000 Canadian workers at the Detroit automakers, took a more traditional approach to its negotiations than its U.S. counterpart. The Canadian union is negotiating with each automaker separately, using one deal as a “pattern” for each company.

That traditional patterned bargaining approach runs counter to the UAW’s new strategy of bargaining with all three automakers at once.

The UAW has been gradually increasing the strikes since the work stoppages began, after the sides failed to reach tentative agreements by Sept 14. The targeted, or “stand-up,” strikes are taking place instead of national walkouts in which all plants simultaneously strike.

Only 25,200 workers, or roughly 17% of UAW members covered by the expired contracts with the Detroit automakers, are currently on strike.

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