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Unifor Members Ratify Tentative Collective Agreement with Ford Motor Co. of Canada
Unifor members at Ford Motor Co. of Canada have voted by a slim majority to ratify the tentative collective agreement struck on September 19 between union negotiators and the automaker.
Membership approval of the three-year deal, which was unanimously endorsed by Unifor’s auto bargaining committee, locks in substantial wage gains and pension improvements for workers, and will see Ford invest to expand production at one of its Windsor, Ont., powertrain plants starting in 2025.
Unifor reported that 5,600 members at Ford workplaces in Canada voted on the deal over a period of roughly 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday, with 54 percent voting in favor.
Union President Lana Payne said the Unifor bargaining team pushed Ford on every front to secure a contract that will “change lives in a profound way.”
“It fundamentally transforms pension plans, provides protections during the EV transition, and includes the highest wage increases in the history of Canadian auto bargaining,” she said in a statement.
The benefits will be immediate.
Substantial Wage Gains for Ford Workers
Hourly wages for workers with four or more years at the automaker, the new benchmark to earn top-end production pay, will rise 13.6 percent overnight following ratification of the deal. Longtime workers will earn C$42.39 per hour ($31.42 USD) starting September 25, up from C$37.33 previously. The new wage includes a C$1.21 an hour cost-of-living allowance fold-in that will run for the length of the deal.
The Canadian dollar is worth about 74 cents in U.S. dollars at current exchange rates.
Improvements to Pensions
Two- and three-percent wage hikes are also included at the start of the second and third years of the deal.
By the end of year three, top-end production pay will hit C$44.52 per hour, 19 percent higher than the rate under the previous contract.
The gains for new workers are even greater.
Starting wages will immediately increase 22 percent to C$29.67 per hour from C$24.26 previously. By the third year of the contract, the hourly rate for new workers will reach C$31.16, 28.5 percent higher than under the previous collective agreement.
The new deal also cuts the grow-in timeline to reach full pay in half to four years from eight years, allowing new hires to climb the wage grid quicker.
On pensions, another of Unifor’s core priorities in this round of bargaining, members currently on defined contribution (DC) pension plans will be switched over to superior defined benefits (DB) plans starting January 1, 2025.
In the current DC plans, Ford contributes 4 percent of an employee’s earnings up to 2,080 hours to the plan. Under the DB plan, the automaker will contribute 7 percent of earnings. Employees pay 4 percent of earnings into the plans in both scenarios.
Ford Canada CEO Bev Goodman said the deal will ensure the company’s Canadian operations “continue to deliver.”
“This contract invests in our talented and dedicated employees, who remain consistently focused on the critical work of assembling our vehicles, building our engines and components, improving customer satisfaction, and expediting parts delivery service to our more than 400 dealers,” she said in a release.
The 15 percent general wage increase included in the deal, the company added, is the “largest uplift in Ford of Canada history.”
Unifor’s Gains amid Labor Tension
Unifor’s significant gains at the bargaining table come amid heightened labor tension in both Canada and the U.S.
While Ford workers north of the border now have a contract running through September 20, 2026, workers at the Detroit 3 in the U.S. remain partially on strike. UAW workers at one Ford, one General Motors, and one Stellantis assembly plant walked out on September 15, and the union expanded the strike to 38 more GM and Stellantis parts facilities on Friday.
In Canada, Unifor will now look to apply its gains with Ford to its collective agreements with GM and Stellantis as part of its patterned bargaining strategy. The union has not disclosed which automaker it plans to target next.