Unifor members ratify 3-year deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

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Unifor members have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a new three-year contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The vote percentage in favor, at 78%, was not quite at the level of the Ford (81%) ratification vote last month, but represented a high level of support nonetheless.

The most significant part of the deal is the return of a third shift at the Windsor (Ontario) Assembly Plant by 2024 and as many as 2,000 jobs as well as FCA’s commitment to launch a new platform to build plug-in hybrid and/or battery electric vehicles.

“The commitments we have secured in these negotiations will stabilize FCA’s operations in Canada and position us as a global leader in the transition to zero emission vehicle production,” Unifor National President Jerry Dias said in a news release. “Workers who have feared plant closures and job losses in recent years can now look forward to a bright future with good jobs for years to come.”

The deal follows the pattern at Ford. It includes 5% hourly wage increases, a $7,250 signing bonus, $4,000 inflation bonus, shift premiums and the restoration of the 20% wage differential for skilled trades, according to Unifor.

In addition, the deal promises a $50 million (Canadian) investment at the Brampton Assembly Plant to extend the Chrysler 300 and build derivatives of the Dodge Charger and Challenger, and $14 million in investment at the Etobicoke Casting Plant in Toronto, which will see a 22% increase in the hourly workforce, the union said.

FCA noted that the agreement amounts to as much as $1.58 billion (Canadian) in total investments and covers more than 8,400 Unifor-represented workers.

“FCA has maintained a strong footprint in Canada for nearly a century. Over the last decade, we have invested over $4 billion in our Canadian manufacturing facilities, more than any other OEM in the country and it is our intention to maintain this leadership,” Mark Stewart, chief operating officer for FCA North America, said in a news release. “This agreement bolsters our global competitiveness and positions us for future growth with new product investment and new jobs, while also demonstrating our commitment to our employees, their families and the communities we represent.”

A major investment by the federal and provincial governments designed to bring battery electric vehicle production to the Oakville Assembly Plant helped secure the Unifor/Ford agreement. It’s not clear what the government might be prepared to do related to FCA, but Dias had indicated discussions had taken place.

John Power, a spokesperson for Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, provided a statement after the FCA/Unifor vote saying the country is well-positioned to become a leader in electric vehicles and battery production and noted the government’s support for the automotive industry.

“We have always been at the table to support Canadian auto workers — from investing in the sector to secure tens of thousands of jobs since 2015, to negotiating the new NAFTA, to creating a policy vision toward an all-Canadian electric vehicle supply chain from mining to battery manufacturing. We remain prepared to support the future of our auto sector,” according to the statement.

With the Ford and now FCA agreements wrapped up, Unifor turns its attention next to General Motors, with talks planned later this week.

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