Mississauga workers brace for Ford contract talks in Oakville

 

Mississauga workers at Ford's assembly plant in Oakville are bracing for contract negotiations that could reveal the future of the auto manufacturer in Canada.

Worried about plans for the plant, Unifor, the union that represents 6,300 workers at the plant, has named the Ford Motor Co. as its strike target. Many of the workers live in Mississauga, particularly in the Clarkson area.

Traditionally the union selects just one of the big three auto makers to set the tone of all collective agreements during contract negotiations.

"I selected Ford because we think the company is prepared to reward our members, make a commitment to continue manufacturing in Canada, and has a vision that we think is in the best interest of the industry and the economy," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President, speaking at a news conference streamed live. "Worldwide we have seen more than $300 billion dollars announced for electric vehicle production and not one dime is destined for Canada. Our members want that to change."

There has been growing fear the Oakville location could close permanently with the announcement that the Ford Edge will cease production in 2023 and with no replacement in sight.

"The Oakville assembly plant is the last of Ford's assembly plants left in Canada and has no firm product commitment beyond the current generation of the Ford Edge," said Dias. "This is a significant problem for our members and it should be a concern for all levels of government."

Unifor opened formal contract talks with Ford last month with the theme The Future is Made in Canada. The union has urged the federal government to create a comprehensive manufacturing strategy for the auto sector, suggesting that every auto assembly job creates or supports as many as 10 additional jobs throughout the economy.

For decades, it has been the union's practice to strategically choose which of the three Detroit Three auto companies the union will negotiate with first--setting a pattern agreement for auto workers in Canada. There are multiple factors considered by the union, in consultation with the master bargaining committees, in making this decision, based on two key goals: building Canada's auto industry and achieving the union's bargaining objectives.

Once an agreement with the target company is ratified by members, bargaining shifts to a second company, and then the third auto manufacturer. 

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