Canada’s Auto Union To Negotiate Most Important Deal With Detroit Three

Aug 11, 2016 11:30 AM EDT | Rubi Valdez

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Canada's auto union is holding talks with three of the world's largest carmakers on Wednesday and Thursday to negotiate the most important deal of this generation. Unifor President Jerry Dias said the union is committed not to engage in any contracts without certain investments in exchange.

"These are perhaps the most important auto contract talks in a generation. I am dead serious. This is about the future of the industry here in Canada, so I have nothing to lose," Dias said in a statement. Unifor's contract with GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler expires on Sept. 19, 11:59 P.M.

Detroit Free Press reported the union is looking to secure product commitments for three plants; otherwise, there is a risk of closure. These plants either have outdated products or design subject to discontinuation once the contracts expire.

Unifor expressed concerns with GM's Oshawa assembly plant in Ontario, Ford's site in Windsor, and Fiat Chrysler's plant in Brampton. They employ a total of 7,200 workers combined or one-third of Canada's union population.

Unfortunately, UAW made earlier product commitments which put Unifor in a greater disadvantage. Even if the Detroit Three will not lay off workers, president of Labor and Economics Associates Arthur Schwartz said it might cut down on plant investments, wages, and benefits.

Schwartz added the union's only hope is to produce products that are not foreign made. This is considering Mexico's far cheaper labor costs, making it an ideal investment ground for car manufacturers. Currently, Mexico comprises 20 percent of North America's light vehicle production capacity in nine out of 11 assembly plants.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the union had only two cost-of-living adjustments since 2007and workers do not receive profit-sharing compensation. Unifor represents 20,000 employees in the auto industry, but Dias said more than 71,000 workers may be affected if the issue is not resolved.

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