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General Motors’ Canadian plants have reached a resolution to the strike in less than 24 hours, as confirmed by Unifor, the labor union representing over 4,000 autoworkers employed by the company.
According to Unifor, the strike commenced at 11:59 p.m. on Monday after GM declined to agree to a settlement similar to the one previously reached with Ford. Such an agreement is commonly referred to as a pattern agreement.
The union reports that as soon as the strike began, the company promptly accepted the union’s demands.
Lana Payne, national president of Unifor, stated, “When confronted with the potential closure of these significant facilities, General Motors had no alternative but to approach the negotiations seriously and adhere to a predetermined pattern,” she continued, “The united front maintained by our members has resulted in a comprehensive tentative agreement that strictly follows the pattern established by Ford.”
The union has decided to pause the strike action to allow its members to vote on the temporary agreement. If the general membership does not ratify the deal, the strike may resume.
However, it remains uncertain whether the agreement will gain the members’ approval. Only 54% of Unifor members at Ford voted in favor of the previous deal.
The Unifor strike occurred while GM, along with rivals Ford and Stellantis, was already grappling with a strike led by the United Auto Workers union. The UAW strike began on September 15, targeting specific facilities of each of the three companies. At present, more than 25,000 UAW members, including approximately 10,000 at GM, are on strike.
In GM’s statement, it was mentioned, “This groundbreaking agreement, pending member ratification, recognizes the substantial contributions made by our represented team members, with significant increases in pay, benefits, and job security, all driven by GM’s substantial investment in Canadian manufacturing.”
Specific details about the Unifor agreement have not been disclosed yet. However, the agreement with Ford included a 10% wage increase in the first year, followed by increases of 2% and 3% in the subsequent two years. Additionally, the agreement reinstated the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to safeguard workers from inflation.
The settlement with Ford also reintroduced a pension plan for recent Unifor hires at Ford, replacing the previous 401(k)-style retirement accounts. Moreover, it converted full-time temporary workers into permanent employees.
Both Canadian and American autoworkers had COLA clauses in their contracts, along with conventional pension plans that provided retirees with a fixed monthly amount for the duration of their lives. During the financial crisis from 2007 to 2009, when automakers faced significant difficulties, unions on both sides of the border eliminated COLAs for all members, as well as traditional pensions for new hires.
The restoration of these concessions has been a crucial demand in the negotiations for both Unifor and UAW.