Unifor gears up to strike after FCA negotiations go sour

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Canada’s preferred choice in unions, Unifor, has warned that contract negotiations with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are progressing more slowly than expected over the weekend. News of a strike began to spread on social media on Wednesday. Local 444 was posting updates on the FCA-WAP negotiations on Twitter and Facebook that included marching orders in case the day’s talks did not end with a handshake.

“To make sure we are ready for a strike, or the strike coordinators have worked to finalize the details necessary to begin, if and when it is needed,” the union wrote to the members. “If a tentative agreement is reached by 11:59 pm on October 14, with no extension in place, Local 444 along with brothers and sisters across the country in all FCA facilities will be on strike. As discussions continue late into the night, all updates will be posted to our social media pages and webpage. ”

This scenario looks increasingly likely, especially as Unifor explained that there was little progress to report all afternoon. It also opened this week, suggesting that contract negotiations were “not quite what we think [they] should be with this limited time remaining on the clock. ”

Unifor wants to structure its agreement with FCA after the agreement reached with Ford Motor Co. in September. This arrangement involves significant commitments to existing installations (with a twist). It also gets a bit more liberal with raises, bonuses, and offers an easier route to both. Fiat Chrysler is said to be holding things up almost everywhere. The union told us the automaker was unwilling to budge on wages or health care benefits (which I thought Canadians got through government) and was lacking “commitments” firm on investments in facilities and product allocations ”.

This is an important issue for Unifor, particularly at FCA’s ailing Windsor plant, responsible for producing vans. The union wants the site to see fresh metal injected as family vans continue to lose market share. Canada is not looking forward to losing existing facilities and would like to see additional investment, especially in EV programs where it seems happy to spend taxpayer dollars. It wouldn’t be the first time that the fate of a Canadian auto plant has been decided by the extent to which the government could soften the deal.

The likely strike would suspend production of the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager in Windsor. Meanwhile, Brampton would take a break from the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodger Charger. FCA’s casting plant in Toronto is also set to shut down, potentially impacting other facilities in its supply chain.

[Image: BobNoah/Shutterstock]



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